US hot-rolled bests previous high by 20%

Posted on 13 January 2021

US sheet prices are now sitting at a historic high, soundly topping the levels reached in 2018 as a result of the initial Section 232 tariff announcements. 

Kallanish currently puts hot-rolled coil at $1,100-1,140/short ton, with cold-rolled at $1,300-1,350/st. All prices are ex-works, domestic mill. 

Those figures hold true for both integrated and minimil producers in all regions of the US, according to market sources. 

In 2018, shortly after President Donald Trump announced his expansive Section 232 steel tariffs, hot-rolled prices shot up to a midpoint of $930/st. That represented their highest levels since at least 2015, when prices hit a trough around $370/st. For the bulk of 2016 and 2017, hot-rolled hovered around the $640-660/st mark. 

Now, hot-rolled is more than 20% higher than that then-historic 2018 figure, which many predicted represented an all-time - if slightly artificial - high. 

Moreover, the market is likely not done rising, several sources have said. One buyer pointed to continued strength in the global scrap market, while a source at one top-tier mill says that the US auto sector will probably have another catch-up year as a result of lingering Covid-19 challenges and the global semiconductor shortage. 

It’s also possible for mills to retain or advance their transaction prices with extras to avoid base price erosion, points out a Midwest buyer, with some light-gauge extras topping $110/st currently. 

Source : Kallanish