Steel Prices

CRU: US sheet price falls and puts Brazilian slabs under pressure

Written by Brett Reed & Diego Giangreco

Falling US sheet prices have reduced the attractiveness of hot-rolled (HR) coil imports as domestic mills price competitively to secure limited business. However, tightness in the cold-rolled (CR) coil market has extended delivery to June or July in some cases, and buyers may consider to import given competitive prices and arrival times.

Falling HR coil prices have limited the attractiveness of imports, while CR coil imports remain competitive for now

US sheet prices are under pressure from high service center inventory levels, causing domestic mills to aggressively lower prices to secure limited buying interest. This pressure might increase as we expect to see import levels rise over the near term from orders placed months prior when the US market was substantially higher than other areas of the world.

Import attractiveness this month has fallen for HR coil due to its rapid price decline domestically. However, issues at some mills have kept the CR coil market tighter. Buyers report that some mills are unable to make deliveries of CR coil until June or July, which will likely drive some buyers to import material instead. The latest offers we have seen for CR coil from Asia to the Gulf Coast range from $1,000-$1,070 /short ton (st) FOB truck, which is about $200/st lower than current domestic transaction levels. HR coil offers are markedly less competitive at $850-870/st FOB truck.

For longs, import volumes remain limited. Higher costs globally coupled with long lead times are keeping the attractiveness of imports low. Market participants for rebar report that the spread between import and domestic prices is not high enough to compensate for longer lead times for imports.

In South America, the Brazilian government is still analyzing mills’ requests to increase import duties from 12% to 25%. Meanwhile, in February, the government made minor adjustments to import duties, raising the percentages by 1.2-1.6% for a few selected long products.

Brazilian slab export prices declined on falling US HRC prices

Brazilian slab export prices decreased m/m by 4.2% from $710/per metric ton (mt) to $680/mt FOB Brazil. Brazilian sellers attempted to keep prices stable but falling US HR coil prices put downward pressure on slab export prices. Brazilian producers continue to have idle capacity amid low prices due to the pressure from increased import levels into the country.

In terms of trade, there was a 23% month over month (m/m) increase in January to 575,000 mt, which, however, is in line with the volume recorded in January 2023. The main export market was North America with 73% of the volume. We have seen an increase in exports to Europe, accounting for 19% of the volume or 108,000 mt, with the remaining volume exported to South Korea.

This article was first published by CRU. Learn more about CRU’s services at

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