In the flat products category, the North American average value fell in March. The market continues to be soft. Demand is mediocre for most strip mill products but prices are holding up for cold rolled and coated products. The mills have been able to counter the recent falls in scrap prices by rises in basis values in the US.
We forecast a reasonably stable situation in April. It is likely that small price improvements can be made to selling figures in the following months as scrap costs move upwards. There appears to be little chance of any significant upturn in demand but improving weather conditions should give an impetus to the construction segment to avoid a serious price collapse.
A price slippage is, however, a real prospect in mid year because consumption from the auto sector will be lower. Moreover, inventories throughout the supply chain are well above normal.
The North American long products average value declined in March. Canadian demand is described as erratic. No improvement has yet been noted in the US. Nevertheless, the steady downward pattern from the end of last year appears to have been halted.
We maintain our forecast of a steady improvement in selling values for most long products through the latter part of Spring and into the early Summer. After price stabilisation we anticipate a fall in reported figures as Winter approaches. The better weather conditions and a possible jump in scrap costs underpin our thinking.
Source: MEPS - STEEL PRICES ON-LINE (regional steel price tables & forecasts)