LOS ANGELES An increase
in West Coast flat-rolled steel prices appears more and more
likely, although plenty of skeptics remain unconvinced of the
Fontana, Calif.-based California
Steel Industries Inc. (CSI) told customers this past week that
it was boosting prices by $30 per ton on hot-rolled and
hot-rolled pickled and oiled sheet and $50 per ton on
cold-rolled and galvanized sheet, effective Feb. 28, according
to market sources.
While Pittsburg, Calif.-based
USS-Posco Industries Inc. hadnt announced its own
increase by March 1, most buyers expect CSIs chief rival
to follow the increases.
Hot-rolled coil prices delivered
into the West Coast market were reported recently in a range of
$650 to $680 per ton ($32.50 to $34 per cwt) for larger service
While pricing bears noted that
West Coast hikes of $30 per ton on hot-rolled and $45 per ton
on cold-rolled and galvanized that were announced for late
February didnt catch on, other sources believe there
could be room for at least a partial rise.
"I think its going to fly,
at least in part, if for no other reason than theres
nothing to stop it," said one buyer, pointing out that imports
now being quoted for arrival in May and June reflect "numbers
that arent that attractive."
Others described CSIs
decision to boost hot-rolled by $30 per ton as more "realistic"
than the across-the-board increases of $50 per ton announced by
mills east of the Rockies.
buyingwhich supports a majority of flat-rolled sales in
the Westmight finally reflect residential building
activity that was absent in recent years, some market sources
Quotes on Chinese cold-rolled
sheet continue to move up, and in some cases are more than $720
per ton ($36 per cwt) for May delivery. This would further
narrow what last year was considered a near-insurmountable
price disadvantage of $120 per ton or more for domestic coil to
near parity, although the Chinese could subsequently drop
prices if they get little response to their initial offers.
Still, lead times for hot-rolled
remain at four weeks or less, which isnt usually
considered bullish for prices.
"Theres no shortage of
people willing to sell hot-rolled into this market," a buyer