The difference in price between hot rolled coil in the US Midwest and domestic in China reached the highest level since S&P Global Platts began tracking these prices in 2008. Due to a shortage of available material in the US, the rolled metal price (HRC) jumped $ 32.50 to reach $ 1,299 on March 1, nearly 200% more than last August.
In Shanghai, the spot price of 5.5mm HRC Q235 that day was RMB 4,950 per tonne ($ 761 per tonne). The planned production cut in the northeastern city of Tangshan is likely to further support prices, while overall sentiment remains bullish.
In the US, potential buyers are now ordering for June, as they previously would not be able to buy metal, so US prices will continue to rise. Given the high prices, the US market is attractive to sellers from Japan and South Korea. US steel import license data show that South Korea was expected to export 196,000 tonnes of steel to the US in February, up 64% from January. Japan’s exports rose 85% from the previous month to 82,793 tons. Total US imports of HRC rose 15% from the previous month to 138,460 tons in February, according to the US Department of Commerce. Japan and South Korea are increasing their exports to the US and Europe, but they are not very active in the Asian import markets. Chinese mills and traders are in no hurry to export, given the high prices on the domestic market.