US carbon steel plate pricing has tumbled this week after Nucor lowered its monthly published base price and some presumed sources of demand are called into question.

Spot prices for domestically produced plate in the US are in a range of $920-1,000/short ton, down from $1,040-1,100/st, where they had held for the previous five weeks, Kallanish reports.

Officially, Nucor Plate Group issued its monthly price notice announcing its as-rolled carbon and normalised plate prices were lowering for July by $125/short ton (see Kallanish 2 July). Nucor kept prices for quenched-and-tempered plate unchanged, however. A plate analyst raises concerns about what such a large base decrease means in a wider context.

Wow, that is a lot indeed and probably more reflective of the price environment, although there could still be more downside," the analyst observes. "HRC has been under heavy pressure recently, increasing the spread to plate. Demand is still weak."

The same source cites former President Donald Trump's comments regarding plans to end wind power projects set forth by the current administration. At a campaign rally in New Jersey in May, Trump told reporters he would issue an executive order to end such projects "on day one" if he wins back the presidency this November.

"Trump's comments on killing all offshore projects are probably not helpful. I’m just surprised quenched-and-tempered have been kept stable,” the analyst says.

An East Coast distributor explains that no immediate catalyst is apparent to boost plate consumption downstream. 

“Business is the same, and there’s nothing really out there to change it. Demand is fair, not horrible, but not good either. It's not horrible because I don’t think many service centres have a lot of stock, such as keeping unsold inventory close to the vest. It will be a few months before that may change; time will tell,” says the East Coast distributor. 

In the equivalent week of 2023, plate prices were in a range of $1,440-1,450/st. 

All prices are ex-works, domestic mill.