NEW YORK A hike in
commodity-grade stainless steel transaction prices that went
into effect with shipments at the beginning of the year has
managed to hold so far, market sources told AMM.
"There was some talk that it
(the reduction in discounts) would go from 4 percent(age
points) to 2 percent, but I needed some material and it was 4
percent," a Midwest distributor said.
"So far, everything Ive
seen indicates that the increases are sticking," a second
Midwest distributor source said.
Prices for 304 cold-rolled sheet
are now around $1.40 per pound, up from $1.29 a month ago,
while 316 cold-rolled sheet is around $1.90 per pound, up from
$1.76 in the same comparison.
Adding to the price increases
were higher surcharges for January on the back of rising nickel
prices in December.
Whether the price hikes
ultimately stick depends on business levels over the next few
months, sources said.
"Its a little bit early.
Its really up to the mills as to what they see their
order books at," said a third Midwest source, who added that he
saw lead times for some domestic mills at about five weeks.
"Thats pretty short."
The price increases were
announced in November, with all domestic mills following a move
by Ghent, Ky.-based North American Stainless Inc. to raise
transaction prices on 200-, 300- and some 400-series
cold-rolled flat products by decreasing discounts by 4
percentage points (
amm.com, Nov. 15).
Potentially buoying increases on
400-series grades is a recent fire at Luxemburg-based producer
Aperam SAs stainless mill in Gueugnon, France.
"Really, its affecting us
minimally in our business, but its going to affect us in
terms of customers who are looking for material," the third
Midwest source said, adding that the mill was a supplier of
specialty ferritic grades to some large appliance manufacturers
in the United States. "That was their major ferritic mill in
Europe. Its where all the bright annealed that they
produce comes out of."
Damage from the fire is expected
to affect production at least until the second quarter,
according to AMM sister publication Steel
Activity at the plants
other lines, which depend on the output from the damaged
annealing and pickling line, can be maintained until the end of
January with existing inventories.