Steel Prices Continue to Inch Upward

by: Michelle Galanter Applebaum
The Advance/Decliner Index is our effort to quantify the anecdotal price information we find in our every day reading about global steel price trends. We also are looking at relative prices in the U.S. versus abroad in our attempt to gauge international price pressure/opportunities heading our way.
Advance/Decliner Index Rises Slightly
Our Advance/Decliner Index increased for the first time in four weeks, climbing to 81% from 78% last week. Global pricing continued upward at a stable pace while our China index became temporarily irrelevant as there were no reported price changes in China due to the lack of business activity during the New Year holiday this week.
Global Pricing Continues Up; Weakness in Rebar
The US and Europe posted four price increases each, followed by Japan with three, while Russia, the Ukraine, Turkey and Thailand had two apiece, and Singapore and North America each posted one price hike this week. There was one price cut each for Turkey, Singapore, Iraq, Libya and Egypt. Flat-rolled products had 13 price increases, followed by pipe with three, while beam had two, and merchant bar, plate and rebar posted one price hike apiece. After several consecutive weeks of pricing strength, rebar showed a considerable decline this week, posting five decreases - the only product to report any downward trend for the week.
Relative Domestic Prices Continue to Gain Strength in February
Relative domestic prices for most products increased in February, with the notable exception of beams. US rebar prices are up 11% from January and have posted increases relative to China and Europe where prices have slid modestly lower, and versus Japan where prices are up 8% after falling 6% the month before. Domestic plate prices rose another 7% in February, and are up relative to China and Europe where prices are flat. Absolute HRC prices in the US have jumped 12% after rising 8% last month, and are up sharply relative to China where prices have decreased 2% and Europe where prices have increased 1%. Domestic HRC is also up relative to Japan where prices have risen 7%. Domestic beam prices continue flat in February at $675/ton and are down relative to Japan and China where prices have risen 6% and 1%, respectively, and up relative to Europe, where prices have slid 3%.
Domestic sheet prices have continued their upward trajectory with another round of price hikes announced by Nucor and AK Steel this past week; the 40% uptick in sheet prices since early December is the net result of a combination of bare-bones inventories with globally-driven pricing upticks exacerbated by the long-lead time of blast furnace startups creating a mini-shortage. We believe that this is a permanent new normal of oscillating steel prices in cycles far shorter than we’ve seen in the past.
Disclosure: NA