US hot-rolled coil (HRC) prices extended past the $700/short ton (st) mark this week as many look toward even higher spot prices in January.
The Argus weekly domestic US HRC index rose by $15/short ton (st) to $710/st ex-works Midwest this week, while lead times remained at 8-10 weeks. The spot price is the highest since March 2019.
Spot market availability is extremely limited for the rest of the year, and market participants said that some steelmakers may have little to no spot tons available in January. Initial indicators for where spot HRC pricing could go in January range from $720-760/st.
There is still significant uncertainty on the market of how long this rally can sustain itself. Many service centers have complained about delays on receiving HRC that have stretched into weeks or even longer than a month, depending on the supplier. Capacity additions like Big River Steel’s pending expansion startup are not expected to provide the market with much initial relief.
The US November domestic ferrous scrap trade was mostly flat, with some pockets of up prices in the Chicago region. The price of #1 busheling scrap increased by $20/gross ton in the Cleveland and Youngstown region, and up by $10/gt in Pittsburgh.
The spread between #1 busheling scrap delivered US Midwest mills and HRC selling prices was $445.61/st, 41pc higher than the $316.46/st recorded a year ago.
The domestic US cold-rolled coil (CRC) assessment rose by $20/st to $900/st ex-works, and the hot-dipped galvanized (HDG) coil assessment was flat at $900/st. Lead times for CRC slipped slightly to 10 weeks from 11-12 weeks, while HDG lead times were unmoved at 12 weeks.
HRC imports into Houston remained steady at $680/st.
The CME HRC futures market saw large increases in the last week, with December prices jumping by $59/st to $755/st, and January futures rocketing upward by $73/st to $755/st. February prices also rose sharply, up by $55/st to $712/st, while March prices climbed by $51/st to $687/st. April prices rose by $22/st to $649/st.
The Argus weekly domestic US plate assessment gained $10/st, rising to $680/st on the week as lead times increased to 5-7 weeks.