Steel Products Prices North America

Letter to the Editor: Surprised at Early June Import License Levels

Written by John Packard

An executive with a large service center group penned us some thoughts about the market (prior to the SSAB plate price increase) on Wednesday of this past week.

“I was surprised at the June import-rate figures, with the forecast/possibility of 3+ million tons. It doesn’t seem like imports are falling as fast as expected for flat rolled and semi. Then, when considering the return of BF melt at USS and AM, along with many Minis moving back to 2 casters when they can, it seems like supply is staying above demand enough to prevent lead-times from moving out with greater momentum than we’ve seen. It’s also worth considering whether mills are running any tons ahead due to labor contracts, which expire in 11 weeks. If they are and there’s no interruption, it will reduce mill production requirements in the fall.

“Certainly not trying to be a naysayer, but looking at CRU prices today, and the fact that Platt’s hasn’t moved pricing levels in weeks, it certainly is static at the moment. I think with the mills being forced to pay up $20-30/ton for scrap based on supply levels in June, I’d be shocked if they can’t recoup that within the next 4 weeks. If they can’t, it’s a red flag for the immediate term as to whether a traditional input cost-push will lead to higher mill prices as well.

“One last note: Plate is awful; lead-time is 4 weeks and price is at lowest level in years. While the imports on plate look to falling nicely, existing stock will keep things upside down for a while….”

SMU Note: SSAB announced a $25 per ton plate price increase last week and Nucor, ArcelorMittal, NLMK USA and California Steel have all announced $20 per ton price increases on flat rolled products as of the end of this past week.

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