Flat-rolled steel prices appear to have peaked for 2006 at least in the US. Early word has spot hot-rolled sheet prices at about $600/ton in September. This is 5% down from the average $630 in July and August—and puts proposed October price hikes from some mills in doubt. “Most people didn’t think steel prices at $630/ton would even get that high,” says Mike Mytton of Global Steel Consultants in London, who isn’t surprised by the falloff.
The reasons given include, high inventory levels at Service Centres and end users (particularly Auto Industry), combined with increased exports particularly from Asia.
In the EU steelmakers have announced price increases for the last quarter, a trend that has been evident throughout 2006. Whether supply and demand are sufficiently "in synch" to ensure the increases stick remains to be seen.