Fate of US mills’ five hot-rolled coil price increases said in question

An effort by domestic steelmakers to increase flat-rolled steel prices since late October 2019 has revived the hot-rolled index from multi-year lows, but it is unlikely to help mills to regain the high margins they achieved in 2018, market participants and industry experts told Fastmarkets.

Flat-rolled steel mills in the United States have announced five price increases on sheet products in the last three months alone: ArcelorMittal and NLMK USA announced the first $2-per-hundredweight increase on October 24, when HRC prices in the spot market were reported below $23 per cwt. At the time, market participants said mills were trying at least to place a short-term floor under steel prices, which had been falling sharply since late September. Mills’ second attempt - also for $2 per cwt - was led by Nucor and ArcelorMittal on November 7. While prices had been moving higher, the second price increase reinforced the notion that both sheet and scrap prices were near a bottom, according to analysts’ research notes from that period. U.S. Steel led the third price rise for at least $1.50 per cwt on November 22; that increase was supported by extending lead times for hot band, expectations...


Muyao Shen

January 14, 2020

23:20 GMT

New York