US HRC: Prices jump, mills increase offers

Issued at 2022-03-16

US hot-rolled coil (HRC) prices made another record jump this week as steel mills upped offers on higher raw material costs and held off opening up their May bookings.

The Argus weekly domestic US HRC Midwest assessment jumped by $145/short ton (st), the largest increase in at least three and a half years, to $1,300/st, while the southern HRC assessment rose sharply by $150/st to $1,300/st.

HRC lead times in the Midwest moved up to 5-6 weeks from 4-5 weeks.

Sales of $1,250/st were reported for HRC, with offers as high as $1,500/st. Most steelmakers set base offers at $1,300/st.

Prices continued to rise after #1 busheling scrap prices in the US increased between $175-190/gross ton last week in dynamic trading.

Concern is growing at service centers over potential raw material shortfalls and threats of having tons restricted in the coming months as steel mills, particularly scrap-based electric arc furnace (EAF) steelmakers, struggle to find adequate supplies of basic pig iron (BPI) and prime scrap for their operations.

BPI supply is a key concern in the US, where more than 60pc of supply was sourced from Russia and Ukraine in 2021.

The latest Argus BPI cfr New Orleans assessment moved up by $195/metric tonne on 10 March to $895/t. Some thing BPI prices could be on their way to breaking $1,000/t.

Brazil, the other major exporter of pig iron to the US, is not expected to be able to bridge the supply gap into the US.

HRC import prices into Houston jumped by $100/st to $1,200/st ddp, on new offers reported.

The spread between #1 busheling scrap delivered US Midwest mills and HRC selling prices fell by 2.5pc to $691/st as the increase in HRC prices was unable to overcome higher busheling prices from last week. A year ago the spread was $778/st.

The spread between BPI cfr New Orleans and Midwest and southern HRC prices is $488/st, down by 6.2pc from $520/st in the prior week.

The Argus weekly domestic US cold-rolled coil (CRC) assessment rose by $102.50/st to $1,662.50/st, while the hot-dipped galvanized (HDG) assessment jumped by $134/st to $1,700/st.

Mills were said to be setting base prices for both products around $1,700/st, with one mill reportedly at $1,800/st.

Lead times for CRC rose to 8 weeks from 7-8 weeks while HDG lead times grew to 8-9 weeks from 8 weeks.

The CME HRC Midwest futures market jumped by more than $250/st across the board in the last week. May futures pricing rose by $168/st to $1,607/st, while June pricing jumped by $205/st to $1,625/st. July future pricing skyrocketed by $246/st to $1,656/st, while August futures also rose sharply by $255/st to $1,625/st. September futures pricing settled at $1,609/st.


The Argus weekly domestic US ex-works plate assessment rose by $40/st to $1,855/st as plate makers Cleveland-Cliffs and Nucor increased their base prices by $40/st in the last week. The plate delivered assessment also increased by $40/st to $1,900/st. Lead times jumped to 4-6 weeks from 3-4 weeks.