The Advance/Decliner Index is our effort to quantify the anecdotal price information we find in our every day reading about global steel price trends. We also are looking at relative prices in the U.S. vs. abroad in our attempt to gauge international price pressure/opportunities heading our way.

Advance/Decliner Index remains strong. Our Advance/Decliner Index posted its second consecutive weekly reading at 100% -- meaning all increases, zero decreases. Globally, there were 63 reports of price increases with zero sightings of price cuts - with strength showing up throughout the globe and throughout the product spectrum.

Japan surging; sheet prices leading. As the Japanese economy has begun to pick up meaningfully, the Japanese steel market was the healthiest during the week, posting eleven price increases, followed by China with nine and India with seven. Turkey reported four price increases and Argentina, Brazil, Korea, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, and the UK had three price increases apiece.

Hot-rolled coil continued to strengthen with 10 reported increases, followed by beams with nine and cold rolled coil with eight. Plate and rebar reported six increases each, while merchant bar and hot-dipped galvanized each had five increases apiece, and wire rod and pipe each had four increases.

Domestic prices decline relative to foreign. Overall, foreign price increases outpaced domestic increases, driving down domestic premiums relative to foreign, and in the case of rebar from Europe and Japan, domestic prices are actually trading at a discount - virtually unprecedented historically until the very recent past.

U.S. hot-rolled coil prices advanced 14% in the month, moving higher relative to Japan and Europe where prices rose 8.4% and 7.6% respectively, but lower relative to China where prices rose 8%.

U.S. rebar prices remained flat from the prior month at $540/ton, causing the relative price of rebar in the U.S. to fall versus Europe, Japan, and China where prices rose 14.6%, 9.6% and 3.6% respectively.

U.S. plate prices climbed by 6% in the month, but declined relative to both European prices -- up 13.6%, as well as Chinese prices, which rose 8%. U.S. beam prices have remained flat at $710/ton for the second consecutive month while prices in China advanced 5.5% and in Japan by 4%.

Outlook. Surging raw materials prices and booming demand from emerging markets are pushing global steel prices to the highest level since before the crisis.

Sheet continues to be the strongest product line due to a sharp pickup in global demand for consumer products, low inventories and the long lead times of blast furnace start-ups creating a mini-shortage.

Pipe is finally seeing the benefit of both improving demand as well as rising raw material costs -- coming at a time when there's been a global retreat of high-cost and dumped Chinese pipe due to enforcement actions in Europe, Canada and the U.S.

We continue to grow more convinced this recovery is real and are cautiously optimistic that U.S. production increases from blast furnace re-starts will be absorbed by the market in the months ahead, helping domestic prices move higher.
Michelle Galanter Applebaum spent more than 20 years as a managing director at Salomon Brothers in New York and was the No. 1-rated steel analyst from 1988-2003, according to Institutional Investor magazine. In 2003, Ms. Applebaum formed Steel Market Intelligence, a 5-person Chicago-based equity research boutique providing advisory services to institutional investors. In addition to publishing 10-15 reports/week, Ms. Applebaum sponsors numerous CEO-level meetings for her investor clients during the year. She is regularly quoted on Bloomberg, Dow Jones, The New York Times and makes frequent appearances on CNBC and other news programs. Ms. Applebaum lives near Chicago with her husband, visiting children and 2 dogs.