US hot-rolled coil index drops nearly $20/t

Hot-rolled coil prices in the United States have fallen by nearly $20 per short ton ($1 per hundredweight) one day after reaching an all-time high, while buyers weighed the risks of purchasing material at these levels.

Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index, fob mill US was calculated at $58.67 per cwt ($1,173.40 per ton) on Friday February 12, down by 1.61% from $59.63 per cwt on Thursday February 11 and a decline of 0.95% from $59.23 per cwt a week earlier. Still, the index stands at more than double the year-ago price of $28.79 per cwt on February 12, 2020.

Inputs were received across all three sub-indices in a range from $57-61 per cwt, representing confirmed deals, mill offers and assessments. Large-volume deals below the Thursday price drove down the index. Transactional inputs were carried over within the producer and consumer sub-indices to minimize day-to-day volatility.

Heard in the market

There is very little supply available in the US, especially in the Midwest, sources said. Even when material is available, distributors and consumers have been leery of purchasing anything but the minimum needed to meet their immediate needs, according to respondents.

Buyers have resisted purchasing foreign material so far because the shipments will not arrive until June or July, at which time the buyers are concerned that the price rally will be over and they will be left with high-cost steel. The longer that prices remain at historically high levels, the greater the appeal of imports, sources said.

Quote of the day
“US buyers are frustrated with the greedy attitude of the US mills, which is typical whenever we have a tight market,” a trader said. “But with world prices being under pressure, imports become more and more attractive. I am getting an increased number of calls from customers I have not heard from in more than a year who want to resume connections with the offshore mills they used to buy from.”

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

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