US hot-rolled coil (HRC) prices rose for a fourth consecutive week as mills received higher prices from buyers and supply remained tight.
Steel producers and buyers reported selling and buying at $900/st, with offers broadly at that price point. Some buyers have speculated that larger tonnage purchases could fetch prices below $900/st, but no one has the appetite to make a large volume buy after making such purchases before the current rally began.
Longer lead times continue to crimp supply. The Argus weekly assessed lead times increased to 8.7 weeks from 8.5 weeks previously with most reported mill lead times pushing into January.
Mills have continued to control supply, with the raw steel production utilization rate ticking down to 73.9pc for the week ended 4 November, the lowest point since January, according to data from the American Iron and Steel Institute.
The timing of a midday publication by integrated steelmaker Cleveland-Cliffs that it was setting its HRC spot prices $100/st higher to $1,000/st took many in the market by surprise. While participants expected prices to continue to increase, the timing was expected to be later this week or next.
Multiple mills reported they would follow in Cliffs' footsteps, but no other steelmakers made published announcements today.
The market continues to spin with rumors that the deal to purchase US Steel will be announced soon, but no indication has been given when that would happen and who would end up buying the company.
Higher domestic pricing is also pushing import prices up, with the Argus HRC import assessment rising by $46/st to $786/st ddp Houston. US buyers remain interested in diversifying their steel sources for the first quarter of next year, with import delivery dates broadly into February and March.
The Argus US plate assessment remained flat at $1,360/st ex-works as offer prices diverged and the market remained quiet.
Many are still digesting Nucor's $140/st drop on 30 October to $1,390/st, which is facing backlash from buyers and competing mills alike. Buyers say while they expected Nucor to lower the price, they did not expect it to be so drastic.
Many believe Nucor expects more business from its lower offer prices, but the opposite may be true, with service centers working to lower inventories as the end of the year approaches and higher priced material sits in warehouses.
Lead times fell to 4.9 weeks from 5.5 weeks as mills are into mid-December.
Delivered plate pricing was also flat at $1,393/st. argusmedia.com
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