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US spread between finished steel and inputs seen widening: Platts survey


Finished steel and raw material prices expected to diverge

Lower production may weigh on raw material prices

  • Author
  • Joe Eckelman
  • Editor
  • Tom Balcerek
  • Commodity
  • Metals
  • Tags
  • United States

US steel market participants reported firm finished steel price sentiment for September and a more bearish outlook on raw materials, according to the monthly survey of the market by S&P Global Platts.

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In the survey of US producers, distributors, traders and end-customers conducted ahead of September, the index for finished steel price development was once again the most bullish, but expressing a still slightly stronger outlook at 58, indicating muted but persistent expectations for continued increases.

Mill respondents were the most bullish about September finished steel prices, posting 66.67. Traders, brokers, and distributors came in at 59.38, while end users' showed stable expectations at 50.

Raw material price sentiment expectations were the most bearish on record, coming in with an index of 35, with traders once again holding the least optimistic price outlook for steel inputs at 21.88.

"Pig iron weakness will pull busheling [scrap] prices down," said one trader.

"Shred and cut grades continue to overhang the market [as] mill outages and downtime continue," said another, pointing to lower expected steel production due to upcoming mill outages.

The finished steel production change response total hit its lowest level since the start of the survey in late 2020, down to 45. End users expected unchanged production while mills, traders, brokers and distributors all responded in the low 40s.

"Lots of outages coming up in the fall may keep raw material pricing tempered until [year-end]," said a third respondent.

"October outages will likely contribute to some softness in shred/cuts in September," said the first trader.

Finished steel inventories are again expected to remain mostly unchanged, with sentiment pointing up slightly at 54.17, identical to the August response level.