US steel sheet buyers wait on tariff clarity amid sparse openings

Scottsdale, Arizona (Platts)--7 Mar 2018 638 pm EST/2338 GMT

Spot availability remained limited in the US steel sheet market on Wednesday as mills and service centers await clarity surrounding President Trump's tariff decision.

The daily Platts TSI HRC assessment remained unchanged at $810.50/st, while CRC prices slipped to $945/st from $952.50/st.

Any new spot offers from most mills sound to be on hold until President Trump's tariff decision. One mill opened its April HRC order book this week at $850/st with multiple buyers heard to be paying the higher numbers for the shortened lead times compared to the rest of the market.

"From my conversations, they might be the only [mill] with April availability," one buy-side source said. Anyone else with April availability is a "long shot," according to a service center source.

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A second service center source purchased an unspecified amount of HRC from the mill for April at around the $850/st level. He added that he is no longer seeing any CRC or hot-dipped galvanized offers below $1,000/st.

It is an issue "getting any quotes from the mills," one fabricator added.

Average lead times have continued to extend at US mills, according to an S&P Global Platts analysis.

Current HRC lead times are at an average of 7.4 weeks, up from 6.9 weeks on February 28. CRC and HDG lead times were at 8.6 weeks and 8.4 weeks, respectively. This compares with an average CRC lead time of 8.2 weeks and average HDG lead time of 7.8 weeks previously.

Two different Canadian mills are withholding any new offers into the US market, according to buyers with a third still willing to quote hot-dipped galvanized material. The limited offers come as questions around Canada's inclusion in President Trump's 25% steel tariff linger.

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.

--Michael Fitzgerald,
--Edited by Lisa Miller,

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