US HRC prices near $750/st as mills hold to higher offers

Pittsburgh (Platts)--14 Feb 2018 523 pm EST/2223 GMT

US hot-rolled coil pricing continued to approach $750/st Wednesday as most mills were heard to be holding the line on higher asking prices, according to market feedback.

The daily Platts TSI US HRC assessment was calculated at $749.50/st, up 75 cents from Tuesday. The last time HRC prices hit $750/st was in June 2011. "Mills seem even more firm this week; nothing under $750/st," a service center source said.

A buy-side source said he was currently paying $750/st for HRC and was expecting mills to try to push pricing higher.

"I give it another week before the next move," he said.

With at least one mill quoting new orders as high as $760/st, the first service center source said it may open the door for other mills to move offers up. A mill source said he was currently quoting $750/st for new HRC spot orders but was getting some push back from customers.

A second service center source said he was still seeing HRC around $740/st this week, but he did receive one new quote at $750/st Tuesday. Mills have not indicated that they will be announcing another increase, he said, but added that he would not be surprised if the mills were to make a move to raise prices again. US mills have announced five price increases on sheet products since October.

"It appears from a very early read that imports may be down for February, below December and January levels," he said. "If so, I think that provides some cover for another potential increase."

February import licenses for hot-rolled coil and cold-rolled coil were at 58,703 mt and 48,054 mt, respectively, as of February 13, according to data from the Department of Commerce. This compares with final January import licenses of 180,707 mt for HRC and 139,296 mt for CRC. Hot-dipped galvanized sheet import licenses for February were at 78,899 mt as of Tuesday, compared with January's final license count of 209,185 mt.

However, several buyers noted that while spot prices have been on the rise they have been more heavily reliant on contract buying. CRC and galv substrate pricing also has not increased at the same velocity as HRC, leaving those products as the weaker links in the price rally.

A service center source said he was seeing all CRC offers now above $860/st, but the range of asking prices remains wide. Sources put current pricing CRC between $860-$880/st, however, mills have reported recent transactions above $900/st.

The daily Platts TSI US CRC assessment was calculated at $872.75/st Wednesday, down $8 from Tuesday.

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,

--Edited by Derek Sands,

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