Steel Products Prices North America

Mills Ending Year on a High (Price) Note

Written by Tim Triplett

With mill order books extending into February on some products, most domestic steel producers have announced price increases. Steel Market Update sees steel prices moving higher for the next 30-60 days.

The steel plate mills were the first to go last week, adding $50 per ton ($2.50/cwt) to the base price of plate steel. SSAB Americas, Nucor and ArcelorMittal USA all announced their intentions to raise steel plate transaction prices by $50, effective immediately. Domestic plate producers raised prices by a total of $130 per ton ($6.50/cwt) in November and December.

Flat rolled producers were quick to follow. By the end of last week, just about all the mills had made announcements on hot rolled, cold rolled, galvanized and Galvalume steels. Led by Nucor, the sheet mills raised prices by $30 per ton ($1.50/cwt). Similar $30 hikes were announced by U.S. Steel, AK Steel, ArcelorMittal USA, California Steel Industries, USS/POSCO and NLMK USA. U.S. Steel, normally quiet about their price increases, came out and put their increase in print for all to see.

ArcelorMittal USA separated themselves from the pack by publishing their new minimum base prices by product. AMUSA told customers that hot rolled base pricing was $680 per ton ($34.00/cwt), while cold rolled and coated steels were referenced at $860 per ton ($43.00/cwt), not counting extras.

Nucor, which led the sheet increase last week, has raised sheet prices three times since October 18 for a total of $100 per ton.

All of this and the calendar year is not yet behind us. At least one commercial manager for a domestic steel mill feels there may be one more increase in this calendar year. “Hot rolled is the darling now. We are selling at the best pricing…of the year. I would not be surprised if we see yet another announcement before we are back to work after the holidays.”

Demand is strong heading into the first quarter and scrap prices have jumped by $20 to $40 per gross ton in December. Higher scrap prices are expected in January, signaling the mills are likely to collect at least some of the increases.

Even so, the collection of any price increase is a careful dance with lots of twists and turns. The same mill commercial officer told us earlier today, “You know, it is really hard to figure out the movement [prices]… We are increasing pricing, but it often is not as neat and clear cut as saying +30. [There are] lots of moving parts and increases could appear uneven depending on the product, gauge, coating thickness…etc.”

Steel Market Update will be following the market closely as 2017 comes to a close and we usher in the New Year.

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