Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index, fob mill US was calculated at $55.07 per hundredweight ($1,101.40 per short ton) on Monday January 25, up by just 3 cents from $55.04 per cwt on Friday but down by 3.3% from $56.92 per cwt one week earlier.

Inputs were collected in a range of $54-58 per cwt across all three sub-indices, with producer assessments at the low end but other mill offers reported by distributors at the high end. A transactional input was carried over to the producer sub-index at the assessor’s discretion.

Market participants on Monday put current market pricing for spot tons at around $55 per cwt, which is where transactions were reported, although mills are still quoting (and getting) much higher prices based on tight availability. Lead times are said to be into late March, or even early April, putting them at eight to 12 weeks.

Participants are wondering when the HRC price rally will run out of steam. Scrap prices are expected to take a pause in February, but on the flipside steel supply remains severely constrained, they said. Some don’t expect a respite until the second half of the year, based on current low service center inventories.

Quotes of the day
“I’m told the mills are more disciplined now than they’ve ever been,” one southern distributor source said.

“We haven’t had to go out for spot tons, but if you’re buying from a service center you’ll be paying through the nose,” one consumer source said.

Patrick Fitzgerald and Dom Yanchunas, both in New York, contributed to this report.