US hot-rolled coil index stumbles, but dynamics the same

Hot-rolled coil prices in the United States dipped despite buyers still struggling to find spot tons at competitive prices.

Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index, fob mill US was calculated at $56.08 per hundredweight ($1,121.60 per short ton) on Wednesday January 20, down by 1.37% from $56.86 per cwt the previous day but 3.12% higher than $54.38 per cwt a week ago.

Inputs were collected in a range from $55.00-59.50 per cwt, with the low end representing fresh assessments from producers, distributors and consumers, and the high end representing a recent offer.

Heard in the market
Market participants continued to worry about distributors’ credit buying power and their ability to restock with HRC prices at record highs. Most reported concerns about this trend occurring but had not heard of any reports of distributors being unable to access enough credit to restock.

Indeed, most buyers have not been replenishing inventories at the same pace as before the price rally, according to sources. Some mills are still not returning calls to buyers, with spot tons still tight and contract buyers still limited to minimums, they said. Low inventories could keep prices elevated for longer, some sources speculated.

Quote of the day
“It’s not a question of pushing [prices up] until we’re content, it’s just the market,” a producer said. “The market price is a function of supply and demand.”

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