LATIN AMERICA FLAT STEEL WRAP: Prices up in Brazil in August; no further rises in prospect

Further rises in domestic flat steel prices in Brazil were announced by domestic mills in August, with no additional increases likely for September.

The upswing seen in July only affected hot rolled coil (HRC) products, but the adjustments unveiled this month were applied to all flat steel goods – HRC, cold rolled coil (CRC), hot dipped galvanized coil (HDG) and heavy plate.

The first mill to announce a price rise was CSN, which was reported on August 10 to be raising its prices for the local market by 12.75%, with effect from Friday August 25.

It was followed by Usiminas, which said on August 18 that it will increase its flat steel prices by 13.10% on Friday September 1.

Later in the month, both Gerdau and ArcelorMittal were reported to have introduced rises of around 12-13%.

ArcelorMittal’s new prices for flat steel goods – hot rolled, cold rolled and galvanized coil – came into effect on August 20, while Gerdau will adjust its prices for HRC and heavy plate on September 4.

The price adjustments recorded in the Brazilian flat steel market were in line with rising international values and were expected to be passed on to the whole steel chain.

Metal Bulletin’s monthly price assessments for Brazilian flat steel goods will be updated at the beginning of September to reflect the adjustments scheduled for both August and September.

But additional rises in local flat steel prices are not being analysed by Brazilian steel producers at the moment, as these upswings would depend not only on prices in China, but also domestic demand and exchange rates, according to domestic sources.

And flat steel prices in China may have reached a ceiling, according to market rumours.

Import prices for flat steel goods into South America, including Brazil, showed increases of $45-60 per tonne during the month of August, driven by high-priced volumes from China.

Metal Bulletin’s weekly price assessment for HRC imports into the region came to $590-600 on August 25, against $545-560 on August 4, while CRC import prices increased in the same comparison, to $640-650 from $580-590 – all values on a per tonne cfr basis.

Over the same period, Metal Bulletin’s weekly price assessment for HDG imports rose to $725-735 per tonne cfr from $680-700 per tonne cfr.

But market participants have been indicating recently that flat steel prices in China might have reached a peak, with prices stabilising at current high levels for a while.