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Steel plate market in US stable as mills look to fill December

Houston — The US plate market remained stable Friday as most mills attempt to fill December order books with some buyers still delaying orders.

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The daily Platts TSI plate index dropped by 25 cents to $980.25/st on a delivered Midwest basis. Prices have traded in a $2.50/st band since the beginning of October, according to S&P Global Platts data.

Things were "stable on the plate side," according to one trader with South Korean offers limited and overall import prices between $860-$900/st on a delivered duty paid basis. Even customers that are negative on a perennial basis were not expecting much fluctuation in domestic prices, the trader added.

Domestic prices have remained between $960-$1,000/st on a delivered basis for months, said the trader.

A service center continued to hold out on placing orders with December lead times for the second consecutive week as a source said he is waiting to "make sure we are ordering the correct items and tonnages." He said there were still no discussions of any year-end deals and he did not expect to hear about any from other buyers or mills.

Any talk of a possible price increase for December orders has seemingly been delayed until order books turn to January, he added with one mill showing some extra availability in November and December.

A mill source agreed that the discussions around a price increase were now focused on once December order books were closed. He noted they were in December with their order books.

Service centers were starting to "back off slightly as they lower inventories and fight over orders to do so,? the mill source added. This battle for orders was only hurting the service centers" resale prices while their replacement prices form the mills were not budging.

"I believe the mills are hoping that service centers keep selling off, don't replace much if anything in November and December, and then when they come in for January the mills can raise the price," said a second service center source.

--Michael Fitzgerald, michael.fitzgerald@spglobal.com

--Edited by Richard Rubin, richard.rubin@spglobal.com