HRC stable, but mart growing warier of virus

While hot-rolled coil prices in the United States remain mostly steady, market participants are increasingly unsettled over what the spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) may portend for the domestic steel market.

Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index, fob mill US was calculated at $30.21 per hundredweight ($604.20 per ton) on Friday March 6, down 0.4% from $30.33 per cwt one day prior but up 2.9% from $29.37 per cwt one week earlier.

Inputs were received at $28-31 per cwt.

Heard in the market
According to sources, mills are still holding the line at $30 per cwt, citing lead times ranging from four to eight weeks and steady demand from the manufacturing sector.

To that point, the Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Manager’s Index settled at 50.1% in February, indicating sustained growth within the domestic manufacturing sector after January’s index settled in positive territory as well.

But while spot pricing remains mostly stable, market sentiment is growing increasingly volatile. Sources are unsure how much more upward pressure recent mill price increases can exert on buyers as concerns mount over the spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and what its ultimate impact might be across major steel-consuming end markets.

A transactional input was carried over within the producer sub-index at the primary pricing reporter’s discretion.

Quote of the day
“Mills aren’t budging, stating lead times are extended,” an end user said.

“This virus scare is picking up steam,” the same source added. “This may be the most volatile year in a long time for stocks and commodities.”