Demand doubts persist as mills aim for yearend price hikes

Dec 03, 2010 | 06:15 AM |

Pipe and tube makers rushed to increase prices last week for a host of products, and some market players suggested more price hike announcements might be on tap for next week.

On the oil country tubular goods (OCTG) front, the action kicked off with U.S. Steel Corp.

The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker announced on the last day of November that it planned to boost prices on carbon tubing and casing by $75 per ton ($3.75 per hundred weight) and tags on alloy tubing and casing by $100 per ton ($5.00 per cwt).

On the same day, the steelmaker said it also planned to raise prices on electric resistance welded (ERW) standard and line pipe by $75 per ton ($3.75 per ton). That move was followed the next day by a similar increase from TMK Ipsco, Downers Grove, Ill.

Market sources said they expected other mills to fall in line if they hadn't already.

But that's about where the agreement ends.

"We don't have a clue what the hell the reason is," one OCTG distributor complained.

Neither U.S. Steel nor TMK Ipsco listed a reason for the increases in their letters to customers.

The distributor wasn't alone in that sentiment.

"The increase is supposed to generate activity," a second distributor said. "Sometimes they call it a stimulus. They try to prime the pump a little bit."

But the timing of the increases struck some market players as odd.

OCTG prices are said to have steadily decreased under pressure not only from allegedly low-priced offers from South Korea but also from domestic mills who are said to have been undercutting each other in attempt to book year-end business.....





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