US HRC distributors continue seeing strong activity

US hot-rolled coil prices maintain levels on July 30 as service-center sources continued sharing steady activity levels despite elevated prices.

The daily Platts TSI US HRC index rose by $1.50 to $1,858.50/st on an ex-works Indiana basis.

“Activity is still strong,” a service center source said. “We are not struggling in moving material to end-users with a good margin but delays in shipments from our suppliers keep hurting us.”

The service-center source noted longer than a month in shipment delays from two of his suppliers and cited logistics issues, which made it more difficult to move products from farther mills.

A trader cited transactions from a Midwest mill at $1,850/st for September production. Those were displaced automotive volumes due to a slowdown at some assembly lines, caused by ongoing semiconductor issues.

“I do not see those displaced auto tons a game changer, at least not yet,” another service center source said. With disciplined approach on the supply side, he did not expect any drastic changes in pricing on the back of ongoing steady demand from end-users and upcoming planned outages. With strong demand outlooks through 2022 from his end-user, he was thinking of increasing his contractual supplies in 2022 from domestic mills.

“Spot availability is tight,” a Midwest service center source said. “Customer activity over the last couple weeks has been a little soft. I think it can be attributed to a typical summer lull as well as some of my customers reporting trouble passing on increases.”

The third service-center source put the market was at $1,880-$1,900/st and did not anticipate a major change in prices in August.

— Ali Oktay