“Interestingly, imports have come back last week, probably [because] customers are looking at something for January,” one Midwest trader source said. “Although [domestic] prices may go down for the next couple of months, once January begins, [customers] think the prices would move up.”
With an average delivery time of three months, imports have been widely unattractive to domestic buyers, since lead times for domestic flat-rolled and plate products have been short in recent weeks, sources said. But looking to the first quarter of 2020, some market participants were again considering foreign material, given concerns that domestic prices could go up in January.
Importing could increase further in the coming months if more buyers expect domestic flat-steel prices to strengthen early on in the new year, according to sources.
And if that happens, domestic mills may face challenges in filling their January order books, the Midwest trader source said.
Still, sources noted that increased interest in...