US Steel Prices Rise but Cautious Outlook for 2020 Prevails
North American flat product selling figures were on a downward trend, for the majority of 2019. The success of mill price hike attempts, in the first and third quarters, was limited – but recent list price initiatives are prompting a recovery of steel selling values. Rising scrap costs, a modest improvement in purchasing activity and slightly extended delivery lead times contributed to the recent uptick in US basis values. Finished steel imports are still, mainly, uncompetitive, due to Section 232 trade measures.
Most US buyers remark that they are placing orders, for delivery in the first quarter of 2020, in an attempt ‘to beat the price increase’. Nonetheless, demand forecasts are modest, across a range of steel-using sectors, for next year.
It is widely acknowledged that US capability utilisation is at the relatively high level, of around 80 percent, and this trend is expected to continue, next year. This is a result of the ramp-up of production at existing facilities along with the introduction of new manufacturing units. Subsequently, MEPS predicts that annual average steel prices, in the US, will decline, in 2020, compared with those witnessed in the previous year.
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