US hot-rolled coil index soars past $59/cwt to all-time high

Hot-rolled coil prices in the United States have reached an all-time high, supported by strong demand and extremely tight supply, Fastmarkets has learned.

Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index, fob mill US was calculated at $59.23 per hundredweight ($1,184.60 per short ton) on Thursday February 4, up by 2.69% from $57.68 per cwt the previous day and more than double $29.57 per cwt on February 4, 2020.

Inputs were received across all three sub-indices in a range from $54.00-62.50 per cwt, representing confirmed deals, mill offers and assessments. Inputs were carried over in all three sub-indices at the assessor’s discretion to minimize day-to-day volatility.

Heard in the market
Thursday’s index represents an all-time high for hot-rolled coil prices in the United States, surpassing the previous record of $58 per cwt reached on January 14. With the domestic spot market continuing to face an unprecedented supply squeeze amid strong end-market demand, sources said pricing may remain at historic levels in the near term.

And with prime scrap prices staying sideways in early Midwest trades this month, market participants did not expect downward pricing pressure from falling raw material costs. Still, even if prime scrap were to decline, sources said the current level of demand in the hot band market would easily override weakening input prices.

Sources also noted signs of a recovery in the oil and gas end market, with the US drill rig count at its highest since May 1, 2020.

Market participants also speculated that President Joe Biden’s decision to reimpose Section 232 duties on aluminium imports from the United Arab Emirates suggests that his administration will not change existing trade policies - and potentially prompt an influx of foreign material - in the near term.

Quote of the day
“[Prices for] prime grades of scrap will end up sideways, but either way it will not impact price because demand is so strong,” according to a southern service center source. “Oil and gas is bubbling a bit, which is a change.”

Grace Lavigne Asenov in New York contributed to this report.

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