Supply in the US plate market remains constrained amid order backlogs as OEM and energy market demand remains strong, leading to stronger August production prices, according to market contacts on Wednesday.
The daily commodity grade A36 plate assessment slipped by $1.75/st to $952/st on a delivered Midwest basis but plate prices remain near six-year highs.
“Tons are tight,” according to one service center source. Plate is at $940-$960/st on a delivered basis for larger service centers, he added.
A plate mill is almost done with its August order book, a second producer is claiming to be done with all of its third-quarter availability and a third mill had production issues in April which is causing it to play some catch up for July production the service center source noted. All of the supply constraints are going to make for an interesting third quarter, he said.
August production prices are at $940-$980/st, according to a second service center source. He also cited the production issues and continued strong bookings at the one plate mill as a reason why it may take some time for the mill to finish playing “catchup.”
Both service center sources also pointed to some larger OEMs possibly undershooting forecasts and purchases. A large OEM is looking for July tons because they could not get enough from the mills, according to the first service center source.
A deal last week which normalized to around $920/st on a delivered basis caused a mill and the two service center sources to scratch their heads. The mill source said he is surprised to hear of a price that low as $960/st delivered “seems to be a solid number. Maybe large service centers with monthly pricing could have this number but it will catch up to them and they’ll be at $960/st in June, I would guess,” he added.
The average as-rolled plate lead time extended back near its 2017 high at 10.4 weeks on Wednesday from 10.1 weeks previously, according to S&P Global Platts data.
Plate lead times hit a high of 10.5 weeks two weeks ago.
Yaang Pipe Industry Co., Limited (www.yaang.com)