US HRC: Prices fall, market sees floor

  • Wednesday, November 16, 2022

  • Keywords:US HRC Prices
[Fellow]HRC lead times in the Midwest increased to 4 weeks from 3-4 weeks.
US hot rolled coil (HRC) prices continued to fall this week, but multiple sources estimated that the market was soon to find a bottom as steelmakers approach or even meet breakeven points.
The Argus weekly domestic US HRC Midwest assessment dropped by $33.50/short ton (st) to $656.50/st, while the southern assessment dropped by $34.25/st to $653.75/st.
HRC lead times in the Midwest increased to 4 weeks from 3-4 weeks.
Offers were reported between $620-700/st, with most between $640-680/st. Little activity was reported in the spot market, but sources reported hearing of big buys of 10,000t or more at $600/st or below. No large transactions were able to be confirmed.
Multiple steelmakers reported approaching their breakeven points, with one claiming $610/st was its breakeven price-point, and it would not offer below $640/st. Another said many US steelmakers are selling at a loss.
Current HRC price levels were still above historical high points in pre-Covid-19 markets.
High-priced raw materials have been pointed to as driving higher conversion costs, with expensive pig iron inventories a main culprit but also inventories of higher priced scrap to blame. Although scrap prices have declined for seven consecutive months, most notably the #1 busheling Midwest price fell by 53pc since the beginning of June, mills were still working through inventories procured at higher levels from earlier trades.
Both steelmakers and some service centers believe the market is finally approaching a real bottom despite months of calling similar instances and blowing through previous price levels.
Downstream demand is reported to be decent, with many reporting that shipments have been relatively flat overall for months.
With the US Thanksgiving holiday taking place next week, many expect demand to fall off precipitously and then lag for the rest of the year.
One factor that has been removed from the market is a possible strike at US Steel from its United Steelworkers (USW)-represented workforce, which struck a tentative agreement with the steelmaker last week.
A possible rail strike that would ripple across the US economy is looming in December, with at least some of the involved unions voting down their tentative agreement. A strike could grind much of the US economy to a halt, including shipments of scrap into steel mills and finished steel out of them.
The Argus HRC import assessment into Houston plunged by $90/st to $610/st ddp on limited import offers.
The spread between #1 busheling scrap delivered US Midwest mills and HRC fell by 1.8pc to $369/st.
A year ago the spread was $1,320/st as HRC prices were beginning to decline from record-high levels.
The Argus weekly domestic US cold-rolled coil (CRC) assessment was flat at $870/st while the hot dipped galvanized (HDG) coil assessment was flat at $855/st, as market inputs diverged from the prevailing trend.
Lead times for CRC were at 7 weeks while HDG was at 6-7 weeks.
The CME HRC Midwest futures market was up across the board in the last week, with the futures prices in contango through at least June. January prices jumped by $30/st to $690/st, while February prices increased by $28/st to $708/st. March prices rose by $22/st to $717/st, while April prices increased by $23/st to $730/st. May prices rose by $20/st to $731/st, and June prices are at $740/st.
The Argus weekly domestic US ex-works plate assessment fell by $15/st to $1,605/st on lower priced offers despite platemaker Nucor attempting to keep the price flat at $1,620/st earlier in the month.
Lead times extended to 6-7 weeks.
The plate delivered assessment increased by $14.25/st to $1,687.50/st.argusmedia


  • [Editor:kangmingfei]

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