ArcelorMittal and Nucor increased steel plate prices by $40/st for the second time in the past four weeks on Friday. SSAB is also expected to increase prices early next week.
ArcelorMittal and SSAB increased prices by $40/st previously on May 19. Nucor followed suit soon with a price increase target of $50/st on all orders for carbon, alloy and heat-treated plate. The $80/st cumulative increase could be challenged by buyers given the weak steel demand.
Lead times for spot orders of flat rolled and plate steel extended during the month of May following steady declines in April as demand suffered from the shutdowns to stem the spread of COVID-19. As industries return to stronger production in June, mills see the opportunity for the price increases. However, buyers do not believe those lead times have greatly increased as heavy machinery sales are lagging.
Caterpillar reported a decline of machines sold in retail by 23pc in May, a fall of 22pc in April, and a drop of 17pc in March. The figures were reported in Caterpillar’s 2020 year-to-date report and calculated for the three-month rolling period ended month indicated compared with the same period of the prior year. Similarly, in North America, machinery retail sales declined by 36pc in May, by 27pc in April, by 20pc in March, by 12pc in February, and by 11pc in January compared to the same time periods in 2019.
Other large heavy equipment manufacturers such as Komatsu of Japan, Hitachi of Japan, and Volvo of Sweden, are also reporting lower sales through the first five months in 2020.