US vs. International Steel Price Gap Widens

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Prices for steel continue to remain stubbornly high in the US. Strong market conditions have prompted the 2 largest US-based steel producers, U.S. Steel and Nucor, to elevate their third-quarter outlooks. The solid prices also undercut arguments that domestic steelmakers are harmed by foreign steel, a requirement for filing trade complaints like the one the US steelmakers recently won lost involving grain-oriented electrical steel imports from Germany, Japan and Poland.

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US prices for hot rolled coil, a commodity sheet product, are $176 per ton higher than they are in Northern Europe, Russia and China, Jefferies analyst Luke Folta said in a report to investors Monday. He believes strong demand from the automotive industry and other major customers, as well as problems at ports that are preventing imports from making their way to customers, explain why US prices have remained so resilient.

The cash price of steel billet rose 1.1 percent on Tuesday, September 23, making it the day’s biggest mover. After three days of flat prices on the LME, it closed at $455.00 per metric ton. For the fifth day in a row, the steel billet 3-month price remained essentially flat on the LME at $455.00 per metric ton.

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Chinese steel prices were flat for the day. The price of iron ore 58% fines from India hit a high price of CNY 840.00 ($136.81) and a low price of CNY 830.00 ($135.18) per dry metric ton. Chinese HRC saw little change in its price yesterday at CNY 3,030 ($493.49) per metric ton. The price of Chinese coking coal continues hovering around CNY 1,390 ($226.39) per metric ton for the fifth day in a row.

The US HRC futures contract 3-month price saw little movement on Tuesday at $642.00 per short ton. The spot price of the US HRC futures contract remained essentially flat at $655.00 per short ton.

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