US hot-rolled coil index holds near $670/ton

Hot-rolled coil prices in the United States have remained steady above $33.50 per hundredweight ($670 per short ton); meanwhile, market activity has slowed, with buyers waiting to purchase more material amid expected additional increases and rising offer prices.

Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index, fob mill US was calculated $33.57 per cwt ($671.40 per ton) on Wednesday October 21, nearly flat from $33.54 per cwt on Tuesday October 20 and up by 3.4% from $32.48 per cwt a week earlier on October 14.

US hot-rolled coil prices remain at their highest since the index was calculated at $33.80 per cwt on April 23, 2019 – approximately 18 months ago. 

Heard in the market
Inputs were received across the producer and distributor sub-indices in a range from $31-35 per cwt – spread of $4 per cwt. The lower end of that range represents participants’ assessments of the current market, while the higher end represents mills’ target prices.

Market participants said mills’ November order books were closed and that domestic mill lead times have stretched into December and January 2021.

Distributor sources, some of which are in the midst of contract negotiations this week, reported seeing sluggishness in the market from their customers.

Some sources think prices might move lower during the year-end holiday period. Others expect hot band prices will increase further, but were uncertain about buying presently given higher prices being quoted with no official price increases from mills.

Quotes of the day
“It was slow in early September and did pick up slightly toward the end, and I think that is why the prices went up,” one distributor said of demand levels. “I’m hearing and seeing the market is slowing.”

“We don’t see or hear any spot business now, and I think most of domestic mill December bookings are closed,” a second distributor said. “A number of customers are now in long-term contract negotiation, and I believe that many contract negotiations will conclude in this week. I assume that some time in the next week or two, we should start to see some spot business.”

Index calculation
The assessor carried over data from the consumer sub-index due to a lack of fresh data. 

Fastmarkets’ flagship global steel event, Steel Success Strategies, is running as an online conference on October 26-28, 2020. Register today to hear directly from Fastmarkets’ pricing experts and analysts, as well from some of the most important chief executive officers in global steel.

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