United States had become a magnet for global steel exporters, said MEPS International.
According to MEPS, steel price trends have diverged over the past twelve months. Selling values in North America have been strong, whereas those in the EU and Asia have come under negative pressure.
In North America, MEPS has witnessed a number of exceptional factors during the last year, including unplanned outages and weather-related disruptions to raw material and steel deliveries. These have resulted in tightened supply and extended delivery lead times. Consequently, local mills have been able to push through a series of domestic price rises.
European and Asian steelmakers have, predominantly, failed to lift selling figures because of falling input costs, subdued demand and increased competition.
As a result, there has been a substantial differential between North American steel prices and those in the rest of the world. Major exporters have taken note of this and attempted to sell their material into the region.
Data from ISSB indicates that US imports of all steels have risen by around 30 percent in the first six months of 2014, on a year-on-year basis. The increase for flat steel products has been more pronounced at approximately 45 percent over the same period.
Many steel buyers in North America have seen the potential to lower their costs and opted to bring a greater portion of their steel from overseas. However, this situation has not gone unnoticed. The US steel mills and their related associations are calling for measures to protect the local industry.
Although overseas material has been very competitively priced, possible protectionist moves by the US government have created a great deal of caution amongst both traders and potential customers regarding forward ordering of material from third countries.
We believe that prices in EU and Asia will reach the bottom in 2014, after three years of declines. A modest rise in demand should help to boost selling figures next year. Economic conditions should improve marginally. However, iron ore costs will remain subdued but other input expenditure could grow.
In contrast, a slight downward price correction is envisaged in North America following a strong 2014. Nevertheless, our prediction is for the discrepancy between North American and global selling values to remain substantial compared with past trends.