The Raw Steels Monthly Metals Index (MMI) came in at 76 this month, a 5% drop, after several months of sideways movement and a May reading of 80.
U.S. steel prices formed a clear downward price trend. A mix of factors led to the weakness: sluggish demand, companies working off inventory and macroeconomic uncertainty.
Even plate prices dropped this month after stubbornly sticking at around $1,000/st for a lengthy stretch after rising longer term. This month the price dropped by nearly 7%, from $962/st at the start of the month to $902/st in early June.
Similarly, the Chinese economy has shown weakness lately in steel-intensive sectors. However, government stimulus measures still generally kept HRC prices supported, with some weakness in the other form of flat-rolled products.
Recently, the China Caixin Manufacturing PMI held flat for the May reading, but the industrial and manufacturing production readings both declined by several points.
Meanwhile, U.S. steel prices dropped more steeply than Chinese prices, which edged down slightly this month. Looking at a price comparison of U.S. and Chinese HRC prices, the price gap continues to close.
The chart above shows the spread between U.S. and Chinese prices dropped to just over $100/st. In December, the price gap held at over $300/st, so U.S. products look more affordable based on a greater price drop, while Chinese prices stayed relatively flat.
What This Means for Industrial Buyers
Plate prices finally dropped this month, joining HRC, CRC and HDG in a downward price trend.
Given the shifting price dynamic, industrial buying organizations seeking more pricing guidance should try a free two-month trial of our Monthly Metal Buying Outlook report.
Buying organizations will want to read more about our longer-term steel price trends in our free Annual Outlook.
Actual Raw Steel Prices and Trends
This month U.S. prices registered the largest price drops in the index with the U.S. Midwest HRC futures spot price down 11.3% to $580/st and the 3-month price down 10.4% to $586/st. U.S. shredded scrap prices dropped 8.1% to $295/st.
Korean standard scrap steel prices fell by 6.8% to $127/st. Korean pig iron prices fell by 1.2% to $333/st.
Chinese steel slab prices were down by 5.9% to $489/st and steel billet dropped by 3.2% to $482/st.
Chinese iron ore PB fines for both high- and low-priced 58% Indian iron ore dropped by 2.4%, both at $59 per dry short ton.
Chinese coking coal prices increased this month by 1.6% to $278/st, the only price in the index to increase this month.