Prices for imported hot-rolled and cold-rolled sheet to the US ticked lower Friday, as domestic sheet prices held firm.
Based on offers and transactions heard in the market, Platts lowered its CIF Houston CRC and HRC prices to $630-650/st and $590-600/st, respectively, from $650-670/st and $595-620/st. The Platts domestic HRC price assessment remained Friday at $670-680/st and CRC was at $800-810/st — both normalized to a Midwest (Indiana) mill ex-works basis.
Import CRC prices have trailed lower as competition between Chinese producers has led to lower offers. Two traders and one service center source said they had seen Chinese material for August production being transacted at $637-648/st CIF Houston.
Another buyer said he was seeing a wider range of prices, ranging from $625-650/st, with the lower end being Chinese material. Some said Chinese CRC offers have ranged as low as $610-628/st CIF Houston.
The two traders were in agreement that Chinese import CRC prices were “bumping along the bottom,” as early offers for September production were sideways to up only slightly.
One of the traders said the higher offers were likely up “just on paper,” as Chinese producers were looking to keep transaction prices level. He added there might be some waning interest in the US market from Chinese producers, compared to the previous quarter, as concerns grow over possible trade case action. However, he noted a filing likely would not happen until next year.
One top-tier producer said CRC imports were not garnering much interest from buyers due to “long lead times and suspect quality.” However, he said that “is not stopping customers from throwing the low prices in our face.”
In addition, HRC import prices ticked lower as Russian material continues to be abundant. One buyer said he was seeing HRC import prices below $600/st CIF Houston, with some saying as low as $580/st.
Another top-tier producer said he has seen most import HRC offers closer to $600/st. He said, though, he does not believe “a whole lot of people [are] taking advantage of these offers.”
Source – Platts