US hot-rolled coil index hits year-to-date high near $31/cwt

Hot-rolled coil prices in the United States have hit a year-to-date high, thanks mostly to tight supply, Fastmarkets understands.

Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index, fob mill US was calculated at $30.99 per hundredweight ($619.80 per short ton) on Friday October 2, up by 1.3% from $30.59 per cwt on Thursday October 1 and 3.3% higher than $30 per cwt a week ago on September 25.

US hot band prices now stand at their highest in more than 16 months, since the index was calculated at $30.99 per cwt on May 22, 2019.

Heard in the market 
Inputs were received in a range from $28.50-32.50 per cwt and across all three sub-indices for producers, distributors and consumers. No data was received via data submitter agreement.

Some mills do not have any spot tons available, while others only have limited supply available to ship in December, sources said.

With supply so tight, mills reportedly are in lockstep, offering spot tons at $32.50 per cwt, although no sources confirmed any actual purchases at that level. Some offers at pre-mill-increase levels allegedly were still out in the market as late as October 1, but have since been withdrawn, according to some sources.

All sources agreed that the market price was moving up. Still, some said they expected that prices could peak in November and erode moving into the first quarter of next year. They pointed to domestic unemployment levels and incoming mill capacity as signs of looming weakness.

And annual contract season activity has started to pick up now, some sources noted. The mills have been more open to negotiating thanks to the current spot price rebound, they said.

Quote of the day
“Things are tight, people are scrambling,” a West Coast distributor said. “The ‘oh crap’ factor has hit the market. It’s a good time to sell as a distributor, but I’m a little nervous about buying back into it. I’m scared to pick up the phone; it’s hard to ask a mill what their price is right now after a [price hike] announcement.”

Dom Yanchunas in New York contributed to this report.

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