Steel Products Prices North America

HRC, Prime Scrap Price Spread Narrows in May

The spread between hot-rolled coil (HRC) and prime scrap prices narrowed in May from April after having widened since the beginning of the year, according to Steel Market Update data.

Both SMU’s hot-rolled coil price average and busheling prices dropped this week.

Our hot-rolled coil average slipped $15 per ton week over week to $1,105 per ton ($55.25/cwt) as of Tuesday, May 9. 

With May scrap tags settled, busheling tags dropped $25 per ton to an average of $510 per gross ton from April, the second consecutive monthly decline after four months of price rises. Figure 1 shows price histories for each product.

SMU HRCvsScrap 051223 Fig1

After converting scrap prices to dollars per net ton for an equal comparison, the differential between HRC and busheling scrap prices is $650 per net ton through May 12, off $17 from last month  (Figure 2). This is the first narrowing since the beginning of January, when it stood at $302.

SMU HRCvsScrap 051223 Fig2

PSA: Did you know our Interactive Pricing Tool has the capability to show steel and scrap prices in dollars per net ton, dollars per metric ton, and dollars per gross ton?

Figure 3 explores this relationship in a different way – we have graphed the spread between HRC and busheling scrap prices as a percentage premium over scrap prices. HRC prices now carry a 117% premium over prime scrap, up from 114% a month earlier.

SMU HRCvsScrap 051223 Fig3

This comparison was inspired by reader suggestions. If you would like to chime in with topics you want us to explore, reach out to our team at

By Ethan Bernard,

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