Why Steel Prices Went Up Last Month – And Why They May Not Hold

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The monthly Raw Steels MMI® hit 81 in July, an increase of 1.3 percent from 80 in June – and it all comes down to scrap prices and oil prices.

steel prices

The Raw Steels price index was the only index within our MMI series that saw a price increase. The increase came as a result of relative scrap price support, higher China slab prices, higher LME billet prices (slightly) and higher HRC futures prices.

Compare with last month’s trends – here’s our free June MMI® Report.

“Though the Raw Steels MMI® performed better than all of the other MMI indexes this month, we remain somewhat skittish in terms of drawing any conclusions about lasting steel price support,” said Lisa Reisman, managing editor of MetalMiner. “Many of the steel market fundamentals remain weak, however, with oil prices and scrap prices having a peculiar relationship; as our friends at Gerdau Market Update have noted, scrap prices tend to rise as oil prices rise.”

And it appears as though oil prices may rise.

Scrap price support may serve as the lynchpin to the current run-up in steel prices, but by the looks of other metals markets, we remain somewhat skeptical.

Key Steel Index Price Drivers

The spot price of the US HRC futures contract rose 9.3 percent over the past month to $632.00 per short ton. After rising 6.7 percent, the 3-month price of steel billet finished the month at $160.00 per metric ton on the LME. At $620.00, the US HRC futures contract 3-month price finished the month up 3.3 percent.

Chinese slab prices increased by 9.2 percent this month.

Korean steel scrap finished the month even. Last month was consistent for US shredded scrap as well. Chinese coking coal fell a slight 2.1 percent over the past month. Chinese billet and Korean pig iron both held pat last month.

Don’t forget to see June 2013 price trends before July’s report comes out next week.

The Raw Steels MMI® collects and weights 13 global steel and raw material price points to provide a unique view into global steel price trends over a 30-day period. For more information on the Raw Steels MMI®, how it’s calculated or how your company can use the index, please drop us a note at: info (at) agmetalminer (dot) com.