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Despite recent uptick, HRC prices still down $100/st since mid-March

Houston — US Steel said Thursday morning it is raising its US flat-rolled steel spot pricing by $40/st effective immediately, without mentioning any target base prices, according to a letter sent to its customers and seen by S&P Global Platts.

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After US Steel's announcement, ArcelorMittal USA informed its customers with a letter that new spot orders will have base prices at $540/st for HRC and $740/st for cold-rolled and coated products.

Cleveland-Cliffs and Nucor also informed their customers Thursday afternoon about a $40/st increase in their spot flat-rolled pricing.

The first price hikes on May 1 pulled HRC prices higher from the four-year lows. The S&P Global Platts TSI US hot-rolled coil index was at $489.75/st EXW Indiana Thursday, despite being down $8.25 on the day, up roughly $30 since May 1.

The uptrend of the last three weeks started showing weaknesses recently as some mini-mills were not able to push their lead times out, while some integrated mills stretched theirs into July after the significant supply cuts that they made during the last two months.

Buyers, meanwhile, maintained a cautious approach in the spot market, and focused on their index-linked contractual supplies.

Despite growing optimism over the reopening of some automotive and manufacturing plants, uncertainties about the demand outlook still remain.

Multiple buy-side sources cited that the main goal of the second round of price hikes is to establish a floor at $500/st, rather than pushing it to higher levels.

A Midwest service center source said that the integrated mills will most likely move forward with the price increase as they already have limited spot availability, but had doubts that mini-mills will be able to reflect it to their spot prices with the opening in their June order books.

Despite the uptick so far this month, HRC prices are still down roughly $100/st since mid-March.