The Argus China HRC price assessment is the official settlement price for the London Metal Exchange (LME) Steel Hot-Rolled Coil FOB China Futures contract.

The contract launched in March 2019 and has been the LME’s most successful ferrous product launch ever:

  • 670,000 tonnes of HRC have been traded - a total value of $313m
  • Fastest paper market penetration as a proportion of the underlying physical market
  • Provided guaranteed prices to mills, traders and consumers throughout a turbulent year


The contract provides market participants with a way to price and manage their exposure, and it is settled against the monthly average of the daily price assessments published by Argus in the Argus Ferrous Markets service.

China produces more than half of the world’s steel and exports more steel each year than most countries produce, making Chinese steel prices the key indicator for regional markets and beyond. The fob China steel price is today’s true global steel benchmark, with hot-rolled coil (HRC) the primary input for many of the world’s manufactured goods. In addition to the Chinese export price fob Tianjin, Argus also prices the domestic Chinese market with its HRC domestic Shanghai assessment that is inclusive of value-added tax.

HRC is the predominant finished steel product in the global steel industry and the foundation for many steel-based industrial goods. China is the world's largest producer, consumer and exporter of steel. It has the most transparent and liquid traded spot finished steel market, exerting a strong influence over global pricing. Fob China HRC has a 90pc-plus correlation with the share prices of the world's largest steel producers, as well as with other key benchmarks in the ferrous supply chain.

Significant liquidity in the HRC market, along with HRC’s importance as a raw material for manufacturers, make this a critical material that requires accurate and timely spot pricing and analysis.

The Argus China HRC price assessment is published daily to capture the maximum liquidity and provide a timely reaction to spot market fluctuations. The Argus China HRC price can be accessed through the Argus Metals online platform and can be analysed along with raw material costs for electric arc furnace or blast furnace-based steel production in the Argus Ferrous Markets and Argus Scrap Markets daily services.

Price assessment details

What are the advantages of the Argus China HRC price assessment?

The Argus HRC assessment is simple to embed into physical supply contracts, whether floating, spot, or long term, as it is a well-regarded number in the physical market. It is widely known among Chinese and international trading firms, as well as in steel import markets, such as Vietnam.

The Argus HRC assessment is an accurate reflection of the underlying physical spot market for Chinese HRC exports. For more information, please see our methodology document online. It is produced daily, with publication online at Argus Direct, at end of Asia business day in the Argus Ferrous Bulletin and reproduced at the start of every Asian business day in Argus Ferrous Markets.

Argus’ methodology is proven, robust and created to suit the needs of the modern metals industry. With a large, dedicated global team of experts, we are committed to ensuring the highest quality in price assessments while delivering actionable market news and commentary. Argus Ferrous Markets provides accurate and unbiased pricing, including more than 150 price assessments from global ferrous markets.

How is this assessment used?

The Argus fob China HRC price is the settlement basis for the futures contract on the London Metal Exchange. This contract facilitates price risk management in an increasingly volatile market and offers a likelihood of highly liquid trading given the influential position of Chinese steel. Close correlations between China export prices and regional import and export prices extend the use of the price far beyond the Chinese market.

Many market participants refer to the Argus fob China HRC price in their contractual negotiations and for index-linked pricing arrangements. Companies active in the physical spot market for HRC include steel mills, service centres, trading firms and a variety of consumers across the construction, pipe making and white and yellow goods sectors.