US hot-rolled coil index steady near $650/t; supply outlook murky

Hot-rolled coil prices in the United States held mostly steady day on day, with some sources indicating that prices are on an uptrend while others were split on mill availability and lead times.

Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index, fob mill US was calculated at $32.48 per hundredweight ($649.60 per short ton) on Wednesday October 14, nearly flat from $32.50 per cwt on Tuesday October 13 but up by 3% from $31.52 per cwt a week earlier on October 7.

Heard in the market
Inputs were received in a range from approximately $29.50-34 per cwt - a spread of $4.50 per cwt. An input at the lower end of the range was discarded because it was significantly lower than other data received.

Reports from sources about supply and lead times were mixed; some said that mills were sold out through December, while others said some mills have a bit more availability for smaller-volume, higher-price spot deals.

Market participants also anticipate price increases on flat-rolled material for January 2021 orders.

Still, most sources agreed that supply will continue to be tight for the remainder of this year, noting that a major concern for buyers is the ability to receive on-time deliveries from domestic mills.

Quotes of the day
“Momentum is still going up, but the problem is the spot market is slow,” a steel trader said. “I don’t see any additional supply coming into the market before the end of the year, which tells me that the price is going to continue to go up a little bit more or stick to where it is right now.”

“I think based on what we’re hearing from people, we’re going to be tight through the end of the year. And then we’ll see what happens after that. This [price] has gone up so fast. And unfortunately, when things go up this fast, the correction is often not kind,” a steel producer said. “Customers will take as much as we can give them right now, so we are just trying to manage that right now.”

Index calculation
Inputs were received across all three sub-indices: producer, distributor and consumer. Transactional data was received at around $32.50-33.50 per cwt, with the lower end representing larger-tonnage buys and smaller-tonnage purchases on the higher end.

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