US hot-rolled coil index slips from all-time high

Hot-rolled coil prices in the United States slipped from an all-time high while market participants debated whether the rally had run its course.

Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index, fob mill US was calculated at $58.96 per hundredweight ($1,179.20 per short ton) on Tuesday February 9, down by 0.47% from a record $59.24 per cwt on Monday February 8. Still, the current price is up by 1.99% from $57.81 per cwt a week earlier on February 2 and nearly double $29.64 per cwt on February 7, 2020.

Inputs were received across all three sub-indices in a range from $51-60 per cwt, representing confirmed deals, mill offers and assessments. The index’s outlier filter automatically removed an input on the low end of this range.

Heard in the market
Hot-rolled coil prices edged lower after hitting the highest level recorded by Fastmarkets since at least 1960. Following Covid-19 pandemic-related shutdowns last year, steel demand has rebounded faster than mill output, leading to tight supply and higher prices, sources said.

Buyers have been limiting their purchases to the bare minimum on concerns that prices will soon retreat, leaving them with high-cost steel.

Market participants do not expect imported material to provide much relief from the supply shortfall, given long shipping times and limited availability.

Customers were not interested in foreign offers of HRC at $49 per cwt for delivery into Houston, because those offers would not arrive until May-June, when prices might be much lower, a distributor said.

Quote of the day
“Imports are fun to talk about, but the lead time is so far out that buyers are concerned where domestic prices will be by the time they arrive,” a steel buyer said.

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