Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard


The ruling regarding the preliminary determination of dumping of hot rolled steel out of Australia, Brazil, Turkey, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom was announced this evening. You will hear split opinions as to whether the ruling is a “win” or “loss” for the domestic steel mills. It is my opinion that this is a “win” for the domestic steel mills in that a number of countries will have to cease quoting and shipments to the United States. This includes Brazil which was becoming very active in the spot market, which is really what the mills want to control – trying to stop the low end of the market from making too many inroads into what the domestic mills consider to be their market.

The amounts of the cash deposits were higher for many countries than what was expected. I had spoken to one of the Brazilian companies about their expectation last week and they were expecting dumping rates of approximately 18 to 20 percent. Instead they received rates at almost twice what was expected. In any case, Brazil will be out of the U.S. hot rolled market and one company which will be impacted is the CSN steel mill located in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Many analysts don’t understand that one of the targets of the domestic steel mills were conversion mills who bought hot rolled substrate in order to produce cold rolled and coated products. If those companies have to pay higher prices (or have to buy domestic steel in place of foreign) then the domestic mills win twice. They don’t have to compete against the conversion mills quite as hard and they may get to pick up some hot rolled substrate orders.

Australian mill Bluescope, which owns Steelscape and provides hot rolled substrate to the domestic rolling mill located in Washington state, was hit with a dumping margin of 23.25 percent.

Posco, which supplies hot band to their joint venture mill USS/POSCO in California, received a dumping margin of 7.33 percent which was the highest margin for any Korean company.

I spoke with one of the Turkish mill traders this evening after the announcement was made. They were expecting something but they were surprised at the rate they received. However, they advised me that after they spend a few days to let the market absorb what has happened they will be offering hot rolled steel for future delivery.

The Turkish trader advised that they felt the domestic steel mills tried to use a duty-draw back system that existed in Turkey for imported slabs against them. They vowed they would fight and felt what the U.S. mills did was illegal under WTO rules.

Tata Steel n the United Kingdom was hit the hardest with a dumping duty of 49.05 percent. I haven’t been able to speak to anyone at Tata this evening but my gut tells me the company was a mandatory respondent and they either didn’t cooperate or had missing documents which resulted in their high penalty.

From my perspective and opinion, the dumping margins are higher than anticipated and can be seen as a victory for the domestic steel industry. You can expect the domestic mills to continue to negotiate with the Department of Commerce and ITC for even higher margins when the final announcements are made. Mario Longhi of US Steel said as much during his talk at the Platts steel conference in Chicago earlier this week.

With Nucor announcing a plate price increase this afternoon I would expect a sheet increase to follow within the next couple of days. It will take a few weeks to figure out just how volatile prices will become but I would expect hot rolled to reach $450-$480 per ton or higher by May of this year.

As always your business is truly appreciated by all of us here at Steel Market Update.

John Packard, Publisher

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Final thoughts

What's the tea in the steel industry this week? Here's the latest SMU gossip column! Just kidding... kind of. Yes, some of the comments we receive in our weekly flat-rolled market steel buyers' survey are honestly too much to put into print. Some make us laugh. Some make us cringe. Some are cryptic. Most are serious. We appreciate them all. Below are some highlights from our survey results this week. Some of the comments that we can share with you are also included, in italics, in the buyers' own words, with minimal editing on our part.