September 18, 2018 / 4:25 AM / 3 months ago

Tokyo Steel to keep product prices unchanged for 8th straight month

TOKYO, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Tokyo Steel Manufacturing Co Ltd , Japan’s top electric-arc furnace steelmaker, on Tuesday said it would hold steel product prices steady in October to make sure hikes implemented early this year were absorbed by the market.

This will mark the eighth straight month Tokyo Steel has kept the prices unchanged. It last raised prices in February.

The company’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 ($617) a tonne, while the company’s main product, H-shaped beams, will stay at 89,000 yen, Tokyo Steel said.

“Overseas steel prices remained firm reflecting vigorous demand, while Japan’s domestic demand continued to be strong in segments such as automobiles, machineries and construction,” Tokyo Steel Managing Director Kiyoshi Imamura told reporters at a briefing.

“But works at end-users of steel have been delayed due to a shortage of fabricator capacity, making wholesalers staying hesitant to raise product prices,” he said.

Imamura said, though, that the company wants to raise prices soon to pass on surging expenses for electrodes and electricity.

Asked about the escalating trade spat between the United States and China, Imamura said there has been limited negative impact on the global steel market, given solid local demand in China, the world’s biggest consumer of the metal.

“We are closely watching China’s output. But we expect no change in healthy demand in China and limited exports from China at least until the end of this year,” he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump escalated his trade war with China on Monday, imposing 10 percent tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese imports, but sparing smart watches from Apple and other consumer products such as bicycle helmets and car seats for babies.

$1 = 111.8600 yen Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Tom Hogue

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