Increasing inventories of welded pipe have and will continue to create a bearish market. The effects of section 232 tariffs have been absorbed by the market and prices have largely returned to pre-tariff levels.
Key factors that could affect supply or price:
Chinese mills held exports and sold steel supplies locally as domestic demand resurged. For the first time in nearly seven months, the price of HRC surpassed $599/ton locally in China. This will reduce the amount of HRC on the global market in the near-term and keep prices mildly inflated.
Oil prices were approaching $63.40/barrel in mid-April (up 13.3% over the past 90 days). The US dollar remains slightly weaker (still down 5% from a Jan 2017 peak). US crude oil exports could increase, which would keep US domestic demand elevated. Spring driving season and favorable national transportation activity should keep oil prices elevated, and US upstream production should increase with it, especially out of the Permian.
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