US HRC index up after buyers pounce

Hot-rolled coil prices rose on Tuesday January 26 based on recent transactions for the scarce spot tons available in the United States.

Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index, fob mill US was calculated at $56.06 per hundredweight ($1,121.20 per short ton) on Tuesday, up by 1.8% from $55.07 per cwt the previous day but down by 1.4% from $56.86 per cwt a week earlier.

Inputs were collected in a wide range of $54-60 per cwt across all three sub-indices. A transactional input for large tonnage in the middle of that range was largely responsible for moving the index up day on day.

US HRC prices continue to hover near record highs, but sources are also still questioning when the market will reach its peak. Some say that will be soon, with scrap expected to soften in February and an unexpected increase in availability from mills now for late March and early April spot tons, according to some sources.

Others view lean inventories and ongoing tight supply as the only factors that matter, regardless of raw materials, especially in the absence of any meaningful import competition.

Quotes of the day
“No one has their inventory healthy, and we do not see spot freeing up in April,” one consumer source said.

“Seems like the panic may subside, and without panic there is no support for even $55 or $50 HRC,” one southern distributor source said. “Based on costs, we have many dollars per ton to drop, so we are waiting to see what happens for the next month.”

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