US steelmakers slashed prices in February to cope with a flood of steel imports bolstered by the strong dollar, a move that will pressure their profit margins and reduce costs for buyers of steel, including automakers.
Imports rose 33% in January compared with the year before, according to figures released Wednesday by the American Iron and Steel Institute, reaching 3.85 million tons, compared with 2.9 million tons a year earlier. The jump in imports comes as oil and gas drillers cancel orders for steel pipe, underscoring the resilience of overall US demand compared with other markets.
Chinese steel prices were mixed for the day. The price of iron ore 58% fines from India hit a high price of CNY 450.00 ($71.90) and a low price of CNY 445.00 ($71.10) per dry metric ton. Chinese slab finished the day down 0.4% to CNY 2,460 ($393.07) per metric ton. Chinese HRC stayed flat at around CNY 2,530 ($404.26) per metric ton.
The cash price of steel billet remained essentially flat on the LME at $305.00 per metric ton. The 3-month price of steel billet flattened at $305.00 per metric ton after two days of downward movement on the LME.
US HRC futures contract spot saw its price drop 4.4% to a 30-day low of $503.00 per short ton yesterday. The US HRC futures contract 3-month price rose 1.0% on Monday, just off the 30-day low of $515.00 per short ton it hit on Thursday, February 26.