North American steel prices decline as buyers withdraw

4th March 2024

Steel mills’ delivery lead times are shortening in the United States as buyers withdraw from the market due to their growing awareness of a coil price decline.  

Inventories have been replenished by many stockists and the reduced order placements resulting from buyers’ new “wait and see” stance are exacerbating the reduction in prices.

The price of hot rolled coil was particularly affected by the decline during MEPS’s February research period, falling by around 14% month-on-month. The downward trend has continued into the first trading days of March and prices are expected to decrease further.

  • MEPS’s International Steel Review provides monthly steel market commentaries, benchmark prices and price forecasts from North America and other key steelmaking countries across the globe. 

Steel producers in North America were typically offering deliveries in between three and five weeks in February. 

Service centres reported a strong January, particularly for contractual supply, and demand from the automotive and white goods sectors remains stable.  

US lawmakers are now focussing on US Steel’s takeover by Nippon Steel. Some claim that the sale to a Japanese business is a national security issue. The rejection of Cleveland-Cliffs' approach for US Steel is also coming under scrutiny. US competition law and the inclusion of share options as part of its offer had added complication to its bid, however.  

As previously reported by MEPS, the rate of coil price decline was slower in Canada than in the US during February. MEPS respondents in Canada’s domestic market reported strong demand.  

The two recent incidents at Algoma Steel – an infrastructure collapse at its coke plant and an explosion in the blast furnace complex – injured 12 workers.  

Nonetheless, from a business perspective, it is not expected to negatively affect deliveries. Delivery lead times for hot rolled coil in Canada are typically between four and six weeks. 

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