Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index, fob mill US was calculated at $51.22 per hundredweight ($1,024.40 per short ton) on Tuesday, down by 0.1% from $51.29 per cwt the previous day but still up by 3% from $49.74 per cwt on December 22.
Prices were received in a range of $50-55 per cwt across all three sub-indices, with mill data on the low end, distributor assessments on the high end and in the middle of the range, and consumer data in the middle.
Heard in the market
February and March tons are said to be largely sold out, although some sources still reported availability when needed. Buying is sparse, with no one wanting to be left holding high-priced inventory. Some sources said spot market activity is so thin that it's becoming impossible to establish a price, and as a result current contract mechanisms are under review because steel purchasers can expect to pay very high prices in early 2021.
Imports, while now cheaper, are not a factor, since quotes are already out into the end of the second quarter, sources said. Canadian and Mexican mills that are having production issues will put a further crimp on availability, they said.
Quotes of the day
"Business is good; unfortunately we cannot take advantage of the pricing by selling more tons because there are no additional tons to sell," one mill source said.
"Very little business is being done since there is not much in the way of spot tons to sell. I would guess they could ask for $55 [per cwt for hot rolled] today, and if someone needs it they will pay," a midwestern distributor source said.
Hot-rolled coil prices in the United States dipped marginally on Tuesday December 29, moving just 7 cents per lb below the more than 12-year high reached a day earlier.