US HRC: Prices edge up as mills mull hikes

US HRC: Prices edge up as mills mull hikes

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Domestic US hot-rolled coil (HRC) spot prices rose for the third week in a row as mills continued booking tons at elevated price levels and mulled another increase.

The Argus weekly domestic US HRC index rose by $5.75/short ton (st) to $497.50/st ex-works Midwest on four indications from sell- and buy-side sources.

Lead times rose to 4-5 weeks from 3-4 weeks, with minimills still having availability in June and integrated said to be booked into July.

Market participants said steel mills are readying for a second price increase, possibly before the Memorial Day weekend, in order to firm up the first price increase. Mills have been receiving their $500/st minimum spot price for orders of a couple hundred tons, with many buyers avoiding the spot market.

With US-based automakers Fiat-Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors resuming North American production this week, and almost all other automakers doing the same, many expect supply shortfalls as most of the more than 19.5mn st/yr of flat-rolled capacity that was idled due to drops in auto and energy demand remain offline.

One source said integrated mills – which make up the majority of the idled production – require a forecast of sustained demand for at least the next six months to resume production.

Electric arc furnace (EAF) mills have begun to fill squeezed by higher scrap prices as a result of less prime scrap generation from the auto and other manufacturing sectors. The spread between #1 busheling scrap delivered US Midwest mills and HRC selling prices grew in the last week by 2.7pc to $220.71/st, much narrower than the spread of $332.29/st a year ago.

HRC import prices into Houston were flat at $507.50/st ddp.

Futures prices in the CME HRC futures market most strengthened over the last week. June futures prices fell by $5/st to $517/st, while July prices increased by $5/st to $527/st. August prices rose by $10/st to $530/st, and September futures prices increased by $13/st to $533/st. October HRC futures prices jumped by $15/st to $535/st, while November and December prices both rose by $10/st each to $535 and $536/st, respectively.

Summary of market activity heard by Argus:

  • HRC, US: Tradeable value at $500/st, ex-works Midwest, according to seller
  • HRC, US: Tradeable value at $500/st, ex-works Midwest, according to seller
  • HRC, US: Tradeable value at $490/st, ex-works Midwest, according to buyer
  • HRC, US: Tradeable value at $500/st, ex-works Midwest, according to buyer

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