LOS ANGELES The failure of a
benchmark scrap price to budge from last months level has
left most buyers of wide-flange steel beams expecting flat
pricing going forwardand most of them are OK with that
With products ranging from
flat-rolled steel to structural tubing to cold-finished bar now
looking vulnerable to price erosion despite mills price
increase announcements, flat but stable pricing is a preferred
alternative, say some market sources.
"If we cant get the price
up, then Ill be happy with flat," said a Midwest service
This past week, AMM
held its consumer buying price for the Chicago marketa
key component of some mills raw materials
surchargesat $430 per ton for the second consecutive
month. Last month, an unchanged scrap price led producers to
hold the published f.o.b. mill price for core beam sizes at
$840 per ton ($42 per hundredweight), although discounts to
some buyers were reported as high as $60 per ton ($3 per cwt)
on a delivered basis.
While a number of market sources
have seen their beam business move up 3 percent to 4 percent
over this time last year, geography has a heavy influence on
pricing trends with Gulf states in particular reporting healthy
energy-related demand, while some service centers on the West
Coast are seeing little, if any, improvement over 2011. Certain
niche markets, such as mining in the intermountain West region,
"Im not expecting the
price of beams to go anywhere anytime soon," said a Southeast
service center buyer, who also has seen a pickup this year that
he isnt sure will last through the second quarter. "I
dont think demand will collapse, but Im not
necessarily looking for a continual uptick."
"Im not sure whats
driving this, but beam orders are my strongest this month,"
said the long products buyer for a Midwestern distributor.