Three months ago we wrote of a bifurcated grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES) market.
The premise of that report involved two trends – the US producers struggling to negotiate price increases for standard grades of GOES while Asian producers, seeing plenty of increased demand by countries such as China and India for higher grades of GOES, would seek higher prices.
At the time of that report (December 2014) we said, “It appears the Asian suppliers feel confident that they can win big price increases in the US market…We tend to disagree – particularly because the larger buying organizations have used their tonnage as a strategic advantage to hold the domestic producers to minimal, if any, price increases.”
Imports Up as Domestic Steel Mills Struggle
Indeed, import prices notched up slightly this past month, led by imports from Japan that made up over 21% of all imports in February, but those price increases were muted against the backdrop of lower domestic prices:
According to a recent TEX Report, China’s push to construct power plants and improve its electrical grid have led to greater demand for high-grade GOES. With only two Chinese domestic mills capable of supplying product (Baosteel and WISCO), the market has experienced a supply shortfall and the Japanese mills have stepped in to fill some of the demand. Nevertheless, this one market – high-grade GOES – appears to have bucked the sinking steel price trend for nearly all other steel products.
As most GOES buyers know, the spot market purchase equation extends beyond the simple price-per-ton calculation. With certain production parameters requiring minimum core loss and others that don’t, transformer manufacturers can adjust the purchase scenario to take advantage of different grades and prices.
In short, the market may remain bifurcated. The dueling forces and price trends for grades of material mean that prices may tend to trade flat at least for the near-term foreseeable future.
In the meantime, MetalMiner will begin reporting import volumes and average price levels for laminations, stacked cores and wound cores used to make transformers as soon as data becomes available. These new HTS codes went into effect in January.
What’s This Month’s GOES Coil Price?
Our US grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES) coil price fell to $2,598 per metric ton, after falling the previous month.
The GOES MMI® collects and weights 1 global grain-oriented electrical steel price point to provide a unique view into price trends over a 30-day period. For more information on the GOES MMI®, how it’s calculated or how your company can use the index, please drop us a note at: info (at) agmetalminer (dot) com.