Retrieved from American Global News Digest

Prices for cold-rolled and galvanized sheet in the United States rose for the first time in two months in the immediate aftermath of price-increase announcements from domestic steel mills.

Fastmarkets’ price assessment for steel cold-rolled coil, fob mill the US climbed to $34 per hundredweight ($680 per short ton) on Thursday, May 7 from $32.50 per cwt on Thursday, April 30.

Fastmarkets’ price assessment for steel hot-dipped galvanized (base) steel coil, fob mill the US jumped to $34 per cwt ($680 per ton) on Thursday from $32 per cwt a week earlier. 

Lead times have begun tiptoeing out to four to six weeks for cold roll and five to seven weeks for galvanized, according to market participants and mill shipment-time grids. 

Demand conditions seem to have improved now that multiple states are moving forward with a gradual easing of the COVID-19-related stay-at-home orders that have been in place since March. North American automakers are returning to production this month after pandemic-related shutdowns. 

Market participants confirmed that purchase-order volume perked up in anticipation of – and as a result of – the increases. A mill source said producers were “trying to draw a line in the sand,” not only to support the flagging hot-roll price but also cold roll and galvanized, which had weakened considerably in recent weeks. But some buyers were skeptical that stronger prices could persist until it’s clear that automotive volumes will recover. 

Sheet mills announced price hikes of $50-60 per ton on April 30 and May 1. The increases were unleashed at a time when Fastmarkets’ daily hot-rolled coil index, US domestic Midwest, fob mill had deteriorated to a four-year low. 

The cold roll assessment’s weekly rise of $1.50 per cwt and the $2-per-cwt bounce in the galvanized price do not match the extent of the mills’ increase announcements. An East Coast distributor said the mills may not have really been expecting a $50- or $60-per-ton differential immediately. Volumes aimed at carmakers and agriculture equipment manufacturers have been weak, while the hot-roll market also has been stung by the slump in oil-and-gas drilling. 

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