International Steel Prices

US HRC prices keep sliding, moving further below imports

Written by David Schollaert

US hot-rolled (HR) coil prices fell again this week – now on a 13-week run – causing tags to drift further below offshore hot band prices on a landed basis.

This week, domestic HR coil tags were $665 per short ton (st) on average, down $5/st vs. last week based on SMU’s latest check of the market on Tuesday, July 2.

Domestic HR coil prices are now 5.6% less expensive than imports. The premium has widened from -4.9% last week. Stateside hot band is down $180/st from a recent high of $845/st in early April. It now stands at a 10-month low.

In dollar-per-ton terms, US HR coil is now, on average, $37/st cheaper than offshore product (Figure 1). That’s down just $4/st on average from last week but $318/st from its recent high in December. The premium has pushed further into negative territory after slipping to parity just three weeks ago.

The charts below compare HR prices in the US, Germany, Italy, and Asia. The left-hand side highlights prices over the last two years, while the right-hand side zooms in to show more recent trends.


This is how SMU calculates the theoretical spread between domestic HR coil prices (FOB domestic mills) and foreign HR coil prices (delivered to US ports): We compare SMU’s US HR coil weekly index to the CRU HR coil weekly indices for Germany, Italy, and East and Southeast Asian ports. This is only a theoretical calculation. Import costs can vary greatly, influencing the true market spread.

We add $90/st to all foreign prices as a rough means of accounting for freight costs, handling, and trader margin. This gives us an approximate CIF US ports price to compare to the SMU domestic HR coil price. Buyers should use our $90/st figure as a benchmark and adjust up or down based on their own shipping and handling costs. If you import steel and want to share your thoughts on these costs, please get in touch with the author at

Asian HRC (East and Southeast Asian ports)

As of Thursday, July 4, the CRU Asian HRC price was $485/st, flat vs. the week prior. Adding a 25% tariff and $90/st in estimated import costs, the delivered price of Asian HRC to the US is approximately $697/st. The latest SMU hot rolled average for domestic material is $665/st.

The result: US-produced HRC is theoretically $32/st cheaper than steel imported from Asia. The spread is down $5/st vs. last week, a swing of $313/st from its seven-month high of $281/st in late December.

Italian HRC

Italian HR coil prices were up $1/st to roughly $617/st this week. After adding import costs, the delivered price of Italian HR coil is in theory $707/st.

That means domestic HR coil is theoretically $42/st cheaper HR coil imported from Italy. The spread is down $6/st from last week. The domestic hot band price premium over offshore product from Italy has swung by $339/st from a recent high of $297/st just five months ago.

German HRC

CRU’s German HR coil price inched down $4/st from the week before to $612/st. After adding import costs, the delivered price of German HR coil is in theory $702/st.

The result: Domestic HR coil is theoretically $37/st cheaper than HR coil imported from Germany. The spread is down just $1/st week over week (w/w) but $302/st removed from 2023’s widest spread of $265/st.

Notes: Freight is important in deciding whether to import foreign steel or buy from a domestic mill. Domestic prices are referenced as FOB the producing mill, while foreign prices are CIF the port (Houston, NOLA, Savannah, Los Angeles, Camden, etc.). Inland freight, from either a domestic mill or from the port, can dramatically impact the competitiveness of both domestic and foreign steel. It’s also important to factor in lead times. In most markets, domestic steel will deliver more quickly than foreign steel.

Effective Jan. 1, 2022, Section 232 tariffs no longer apply to most imports from the European Union. It has been replaced by a tariff rate quota (TRQ). Therefore, the German and Italian price comparisons in this analysis no longer include a 25% tariff. SMU still includes the 25% Section 232 tariff on prices from other countries. We do not include any antidumping (AD) or countervailing duties (CVD) in this analysis.

David Schollaert

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