MEPS predicts that strip mill product selling figures will increase, modestly, in December. Price hikes by the domestic steelmakers are likely to be, only partially, successful because distributors are expected to purchase cautiously as they consider their year-end cash positions and keep inventories to a minimum. The upturn for hot rolled coil is forecast to be greater than that for cold rolled and galvanised material.
Plate transaction values should stabilise, in the immediate future. Mill price hike initiatives should prevent further erosion. However, gains will be difficult to achieve due to subdued demand.
MEPS anticipates that long product selling figures will be steady until the end of the year. Delivery lead times from local steelmakers are relatively short. However, third country imports are uncompetitive. Furthermore, scrap costs have bottomed out and expenditure on graphite electrodes remains elevated.
A degree of restocking in the supply chain and an upturn in scrap costs is predicted to aid North American producers’ ambitions to lift flat and long product prices, in the first quarter of 2018.