Carbon steel prices in North America declined by a small amount on average in January, according to the British metals tracking firm MEPS. “Oversupply continues to be a problem in the flat products segment. Lower scrap costs kept long products prices in check,” said a MEPS analyst.

The “all products” composite price is forecast to be slightly lower into the spring. During the second half of the year, the composite price is forecast to increase as supply and demand for flat products move into equilibrium and the mills react more quickly to the import threat to avoid massive oversupply. More positive signs are expected from the construction sector in the second half, which should improve demand and prices in the long products category.

Stainless steel prices were pegged to rise to new record highs in March due to inflated nickel prices in December and January, said MEPS. March is expected to be the peak of the current cycle. Prices are then predicted to fall into the fourth quarter of this year. In the longer term, MEPS forecast a decline in stainless prices as nickel prices reduce and demand slows.