US HRC price hits more than 20-month high of $35.19/cwt

Hot-rolled coil spot prices in the United States have surpassed $35 per hundredweight for the first time since March 2019.

Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index, fob mill US was calculated at $35.19 per hundredweight ($703.80 per short ton) on Monday November 9, up by 2.2% from $34.43 per cwt on November 6 and by 2.9% from $34.21 per cwt on November 2. This marks the highest level since the index was calculated at $35.38 per cwt on February 26, 2019.

Additionally, hot band prices have increased by 60.8% from the 2020 low of $21.89 per cwt on April 30.

Heard in the market
Very limited availability continues to be the main storyline in the current spot market, with sources noting that spot supplies are becoming tighter by the day while mills deliver orders behind schedule. Lead times range from scant availability in December to January of next year, with two mills already closing their order books for January 2021.

Mills are said to be firmly in the driver’s seat with regard to spot pricing, with a small increase in raw material costs following this month’s ferrous scrap trade and strong end-market demand working in tandem to compel hot-rolled steel producers to slowly adjust pricing upward.

In terms of demand, activity within the automotive sector should remain elevated through year end, with a major automotive producer reportedly opting to keep at least one facility online throughout December. Automotive plants typically go offline for a short period during the holiday season.

Quotes of the day
“[It’s a] tough environment; Demand [is] coming back faster than domestic mills have been able to bring supply back [online]… Mills hold all the power at the moment,” a southern service center source said.

“I have seen coil availability become very spotty on my end... Even at the service center level, material is becoming tighter daily with mills delivering late on promised orders,” a second southern service center source said. “Hearing ‘allocation’ for the first time this year other than for toilet paper and bottled water is very interesting.”

Index calculation
Fresh inputs were received in a narrow range of $34.75-36 per cwt across all three sub-indices.

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