NEW YORK U.S. structural tubing mills have taken a variety of approaches to a recent price increase, with market participants trying to figure out what the implications might be.
At least four millsAmerican Tube Manufacturing Inc., Birmingham, Ala.; Atlas Tube Inc., Chicago; Hanna Steel Corp., Hoover, Ala.; and Maruichi Leavitt Pipe & Tube LLC, Chicagoincreased prices by $40 per ton effective April 11. The move followed a $30-per-ton increase by Southland Tube Inc. on April 9 (amm.com, April 10). Independence Tube Corp. reportedly also followed the increase, but the Chicago-based company couldnt be reached for confirmation.
Meanwhile, Bull Moose Tube Co., Chesterfield, Mo., said in an April 11 letter to customers that it was raising prices on hollow structural sections (HSS) and mechanical tubing by $40 per ton effective May 9. The company didnt respond a request for comment.
The extended time line of the Bull Moose increase could put pressure on the more immediate moves, one mill source said. "Theyre large enough to play the spoiler," he said, but added that any tubing mills that are large customers of U.S. Steel Corp. could well stick firmly to their increases due to a supply crimp resulting from recent disruptions.
The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker recently declared force majeure on shipments to its automotive customers (amm.com, April 11).
Rick Long, vice president of American Tube, one of the mills that raised prices April 11, told AMM that his company was sticking to its increase as flat-rolled prices had risen sharply over the past couple of weeks. "Were paying $4 to $5 per hundredweight more for flat-rolled the past two weeks. Why would anybody wait? The flat-rolled guys arent waiting," he said.
AMM puts the domestic HSS price at $930 per ton ($46.50 per cwt), down from $960 per ton ($48 per cwt) in March.