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Nippon Steel Plans 10% to 20% Price Hike: Nikkei

Nippon Steel, the world's second-biggest steelmaker, plans to raise prices for sheet steel and steel plate by 10 to 20 percent to pass on the high cost of raw materials, the Nikkei daily
reported on Monday.

Nippon Steel plans to charge 20,000 yen (US$190) more per ton for thick plate used for ships and power generation equipment, from April, and 10,000 to 20,000 yen more for sheet steel used in cars and appliances, the business daily said.

An industry source told Reuters last week that Japanese steelmakers are planning price increases of about 15,000 yen per ton to cover the rising cost of iron ore, coal and other costs such as freight and alloys.

Rising costs forced Japan's JFE Holdings the world's third-biggest steelmaker, to cut its full-year profit forecast by 7 percent this month. Nippon Steel, which shipped 32 million tons of steel last business year, booked a surprise 11 percent fall in quarterly profit.

Price discussions between big steelmills and mining companies like BHP Billiton and Vale have been prolonged. A Tokyo-based shipper said Japanese mills expect negotiations to continue until March, when they normally have to set prices with their customers like Toyota Motor and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

The delay will likely force Japanese steel mills to reveal very conservative earnings forecasts for the year to March 2009 in May.