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Prices for hot-rolled coils (HRC) in the USA jumped this week as rolling mills sought higher prices in January in the face of increasingly limited supply.

Hot Rolling Steel Mill
Price jump due to higher offers for rolling mills

The weekly Argus index for US HRC rose this week by $65/short ton (st) to $820/st ex-factory Midwest, the biggest increase Argus has ever seen. Lead times were unchanged at 8-9 weeks. The spot price is the highest since November 2018 and has risen 82 points since a mid-August low of $450/st.

Many mills essentially booked for January 2021

A major service center purchased 10,000 HRC from a non-Midwest electric arc furnace (EAF) at a minimum price of $840/st for January delivery. The purchaser said the options were small as many plants were essentially booked for January and were holding back on opening their February books to secure higher prices.

Steel producers pushing prices

Integrated steel producers ArcelorMittal and US Steel pushed prices up to $850/st for January, according to market participants. Given the low to non-existent spot availability, steel buyers wondered if the higher offers meant anything when there was no supply.

Shortage of steel: Producers may be affected in December 2020

Some producers may be affected in December due to the shortage of steel, one market participant said. Many are still waiting for months of back orders, which steel producers have delayed due to the buying frenzy of the past three months.

The valuation of domestic US cold-rolled coils (CRC) rose by $60/st to $970/st ex works. Lead times for CRC and HDG were extended from 12 weeks to 10-12 weeks.

Import prices for HRC to Houston increased by $60/st to $800/st ddp as foreign prices continued to rise.


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