NEW YORK Stainless steel distributors have largely welcomed the price increases slated for the beginning of 2013 on flat-rolled stainless products, even though most say its too early to tell whether they will stick.
"Its good because surcharges are supposed to go down again in December," one West Coast stainless distributor said. "Id like to see the prices firm up, but right now its hard to predict (whether they will stick)."
"I hope they stick, but it remains to be seen," an East Coast distributor said.
Sources said the increases, which for most products will be achieved by reducing functional discounts by four percentage points (amm.com, Nov. 15), are significant. "In the past the standard has been a two-point reduction," one southern distributor said.
While most sources polled didnt necessarily believe that recent demand levels would support an increase of that magnitude, with the East Coast source calling recent demand "so-so," the latest figures from the Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI) show a significant rise in stainless shipments in October.
Distributors deliveries of stainless products totaled 157,200 tons, a 10.6-percent increase from 142,100 tons in October last year and the second-highest shipping month in 2012, according to MSCI figures. As a result of the higher shipments, inventory levels dropped to 2.7 months supply from 3.0 months at the end of September and 2.8 months a year earlier.
However, year-to-date shipments of nearly 1.51 million tons are 1.1 percent lower than more than 1.52 million tons in the first 10 months of last year, MSCI figures show.