US HRC, CRC prices climb as Trump eyes 25% import tariff

Pittsburgh (Platts)--2 Mar 2018 710 pm EST/010 GMT

US hot-rolled coil pricing reached $800/st Friday as lower-priced offers were said to dissipate on the news the US would implement a 25% tariff on steel imports.

The daily Platts TSI US HRC assessment was calculated at $800/st Friday, up $7.25/st from Thursday, reflecting a seven-year high. HRC prices were last above $800/st in May 2011.

A US mill reported selling 2,000 st of HRC at $780/st earlier in the week. However by Friday, market participants were unable to find HRC under $800/st with one mill offering at $810/st. For HRC, "$800 is the number and mills won't take anything less," one mill source said.

An integrated mill offered a service center HRC at $800/st for a multi-thousand ton inquiry to begin the week, but by Friday the mill had decided to wait until the market settles next week before revisiting the quote. The mill indicated to the service center source a possible increase in prices by the start of next week.

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While US HRC prices continued to trend higher, cold-rolled coil prices jumped as mills continued to implement higher prices throughout the week. A mill sold 300 st of CRC at $950/st after raising its offers for the material from $920/st last week.

"Selling right now is easy, if you have the availability," the mill source added.

The week-on-week increase follows other buyers' comments about offerings rising above $900/st.

Earlier in the week, a service center was forced to buy CRC at $960/st after canceling a foreign order that was set to arrive at the beginning of May. Both the service center source and mill source indicated offers for CRC are as high as $1,000/st from certain mills.

The daily Platts TSI US CRC assessment increased $40/st to $934.75/st Friday.

President Donald Trump confirmed Thursday the US will implement a 25% tariff on steel imports, with a formal announcement to come next week. There was no comment on semi-finished steels or other raw materials, and no indication whether NAFTA partners will be exempt from the blanket tariffs.

A US-based trader said they were pulling all of their outstanding quotes following Thursday's word from the White House. He said he was expecting to see some exemptions made for slabs, but there has been no official word from the Trump administration on exclusions.

"If there is any kind of tariff on slabs, it's going to be a huge issue," the mill source said. "We have a shortage of slabs in the US that has to be offset by imports."

When pressed for more information in a press briefing Thursday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the "intent" is to implement a 25% tariff on steel imports, but details were being finalized.

The combined Platts TSI price index uses a volume-weighted average calculation -- according to TSI's standard -- to determine value on an ex-works Indiana basis.

--Justine Coyne,
--Michael Fitzgerald,
--Edited by Kevin Saville,

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