Blip or paradigm shift?
Prices for hot-rolled coil in the United States last month fell below those in China for the first time since at least 2013. The reversal of normal trends - Chinese prices are typically well below US levels - resulted from US domestic tags plummeting in July
while Chinese prices recorded a third consecutive month of gains. The move has made it possible for US mills to export HRC beyond traditional export markets in Canada and Mexico
, some sources said. Fastmarkets’ steel hot-rolled coil index, fob mill US
averaged $460.60 per short ton ($23.03 per hundredweight) in July, down by 7.8% from an average $499.40 per ton in June
and its lowest since averaging $415.20 per ton in March 2016. In contrast, the price assessment for steel hot-rolled coil domestic, exw Northern China averaged $486.94 per tone in July, up by 4.7% from $465.27 per ton in June and representing a 5.7% premium to US prices. HRC prices in Europe remain below those in the United States but - unlike domestic tags - have been trending upward. Fastmarkets’ steel hot-rolled coil index, exw Northern Europe averaged $433.99 per ton last month, up by 7.6% from $403.28 per ton in June - perhaps as a result of tighter import safeguards in the European Union
and successful price increases.