TOKYO, June 18 (Reuters) - Tokyo Steel Manufacturing Co Ltd , Japan’s top electric-arc furnace steelmaker, on Monday said it would hold product prices steady in July to ensure earlier hikes were absorbed by the market.
That will mark the fifth straight month that the company has kept prices unchanged.
Tokyo Steel’s pricing strategy is closely watched by Asian rivals such as South Korea’s Posco and Hyundai Steel Co, as well as China’s Baoshan Iron & Steel Co Ltd (Baosteel).
Prices for steel bars, including rebar, will remain at 69,000 yen ($625) a tonne, while prices for the company’s main product, H-shaped beams, will stay at 89,000 yen.
“Local steel demand remains solid in all segments including construction, automobiles and machinery,” Tokyo Steel Managing Director Kiyoshi Imamura told reporters at a briefing.
“But progress in work (at end users of steel) has been slow due to a shortage of steel fabricator capacity and labour, weighing on the local steel market,” he said, adding that the firm’s price hikes late last year and earlier in 2018 had not yet been fully absorbed by the market.
But Imamura expects an improvement in the market going forward amid low inventory levels and strong demand.
Asked about the escalating U.S.-China trade spat, Imamura said he expected limited impact on the global steel market at least for now, given healthy demand in China, the world’s biggest consumer of the material.
U.S. President Donald Trump said he was pushing ahead with hefty tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports on Friday, and the smouldering trade war between the world’s two largest economies showed signs of igniting as Beijing immediately vowed to respond in kind.
$1 = 110.4400 yen Reporting by Yuka Obayashi Editing by Joseph Radford