Following a softening of hot-rolled coil prices this week, market sources said on Friday buyers were starting to fish for larger discounts.
A service center source said he was starting to hear buyers talk about HRC prices across a wide range, but was skeptical on the prices being more than just market chatter at this point. He mentioned proposing a large-volume spot buy to a mini-mill for well below the $590/st levels being discussed and said the mill had no interest. Despite the softness, he believed mills were still being disciplined, and once they could make some bookings and push lead times out, pricing would firm up again.
One trader said the mills were looking for HRC customers, with buyers talking about $570-$580/st available for “some volume,” but no buyers were “ready to jump off.”
A second service center source said there were still holes in Midwest mini-mill HRC order books and had seen $575/st available for “small tons.” S&P Global Platts was unable to identify the order size associated with this price and could not determine if it was a repeatable market transaction and did not consider it in the daily HRC assessment.
A third service center source said “big tons from a couple of guys can be had at $580/st” for HRC. However, “demand is lackluster so mill lead times have shortened.” He said he did not anticipate prices will fall much further. Despite the possible discounts for volume-based buys, he said he had not heard of any buyers actively shopping around larger buys.
Platts maintained its daily HRC and cold-rolled coil assessments at $590-$620/st and $800-$820/st, respectively. Both prices are normalized to a Midwest (Indiana) ex-works basis.