Cold-rolled steel coil domestic, import supply sparse in US

Pittsburgh (Platts)--18 May 2016 603 pm EDT/2203 GMT

Cold-rolled coil availability in the US was limited on Wednesday, as domestic spot options were scarce and import offers were scattered.

A trader said he was not seeing Vietnamese offers around the East Coast. One customer may have had an offer from a Vietnamese producer but was "not even sure it's real," he added.

The issue of availability continued to trump pricing the trader said as even some of his smaller monthly quantities of hot-rolled coil he purchases out of Europe were no longer allocated for export. In addition, Turkish CRC export allotments have also recently been reduced.

Domestically, the trader said he believed you would not be able to buy CRC under $860-$880/st for a spot order.

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A second trader said he wasn't even seeing the Turkish mills in the market for CRC into the US. He said there may be some mill-direct business available for buyers but "it's radio silence right now" on the trading side.

On the domestic front, "everyone is kind of playing games right now," he added. "I'm a little concerned about where the prices are going. I saw this as a high [$500s HRC] market at the peak."

However, he admitted "it's harder to get the steel than to get a good price" and "in theory" the lead times for HRC are pushing through July.

A mill source said he had heard a competing mill had "softened their July stance" and were backing off HRC price expectations of $680/st and starting to quote $650/st. However, buy-side sources this week have indicated the mill was closer to $640/st for July HRC quotes. It remained unclear if there had been any transactions at the higher price levels.

One service center source said he was seeing spot pricing between $610-$620/st for HRC recently and did not believe the spot market was above that.

Platts maintained its daily HRC and CRC assessments at $600-$620/st and $800-$820/st, respectively. Both prices are normalized to a Midwest (Indiana) ex-works basis.

--Michael Fitzgerald,
--Edited by Richard Rubin,

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