U.S. hot-rolled coil (HRC) prices were rising steadily in November and seem poised to continue rising as lead times stretch out four to six weeks. American Metal Market's (AMM) hot-rolled coil index in late November pegged prices averaging $625.20 per ton, up 6.6% from mid-October. Market observers say hot-band could soon climb above $700 a ton if the Trump administration moves ahead with Section 232 tariffs. Despite the recent increases in hot-rolled coil, prices for domestic HRC are not significantly higher than foreign product. Analysts attribute the parity largely to weak domestic scrap prices.
U.S. steel imports inched up in October for a second month in a row with foreign pipe and tube posting hefty year-on-year gains. U.S. imports went up 1.1% from September and up 15% from October 2016, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Enforcement and Compliance Division. Hot-rolled coil imports rose 3.7% from September but were down (19%) from the same month last year. Canada remains the dominant foreign supplier of hot band to the U.S. market, accounting for nearly half of all imported hot-rolled coil for the month.
Welded Fittings & Flanges
After the spike in pricing 3Q17, prices have stabilized in the fourth quarter. The third-quarter spike, as much as 25%, was attributed mostly to a reaction from the dumping suit filed by Weldbend and Boltex. In a joint statement asking the U.S. to become more aggressive in investigating dumping of steel flanges, these companies said they "will be bringing evidence" of improper circumvention or transshipment schemes involving imported flanges from India, Italy and Spain. In a final determination in June, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued duties ranging from 5.66% to 204.53% on carbon steel flanges from India and Italy with duties on Spanish goods issued earlier.
Availability remains steady with some lead times increasing on larger-diameter flanges. Those polled expect prices to remain stable until we see an upturn in demand. Forecasts remain mixed regarding 2018. Most of the hesitation remains focused on the lack of clarity out of Washington, D.C.
Forged Steel Fittings
Since Bonney Forge filed its petitions on Oct. 4 for antidumping and countervailing duties on forged steel fittings from the People’s Republic of China, Italy and Taiwan, price increases as well as supply and demand issues have ensued. Although the petition is in the early stages, import suppliers are looking for alternative sources of supply as a result of significant price increases on import product. Following the petition, in fact, one major importer of forged steel fittings announced a 10% percent price increase effective Dec. 1.
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