LOS ANGELES Structural steel buyers are expecting
published mill prices for wide-flange beams to remain flat
after a benchmark scrap price was unchanged, although
theyre keeping an eye out for signs that some deals might
emerge in the coming weeks.
This week, AMM held its consumer buying price for shredded
automotive scrap in the Chicago market level with last month at
$386 per ton.
That ought to mean flat pricing, a Midwest buyer
said of the steady Chicago scrap price, noting what he said was
little pressure from imports. We certainly dont
expect an increase, and why would they (mills) lower it?
Until now, buyers said, domestic mills have exercised a
remarkable amount of discipline in maintaining prices at their
published level of $780 per ton ($39 per cwt) f.o.b. mill for
core beam sizes.
Still, with demand remaining below historical levels and most
beam lines still operating significantly below capacity, other
market sources said they wouldnt be shocked to see at
least one producer move lower in order to boost its market
A minority of service center buyers said theyve been told
by their mill representatives not to book an order with their
competitors without calling first, which to some indicated
there might be some wiggle room in prices. But most
would rather not see that develop.
I dont want any deals, insisted a West Coast
distributor, who maintained that a decrease could mark the
beginning of a slippery slope that leads to even greater
price-cutting as the year goes ona trend that invariably
spreads to warehouses resale price.
However, he acknowledged that hed be obliged to jump at
any discount because his competitors would likely do so as
If they do cut the price, I hope theyll do it the
smart way: very quietly, said another service center
buyer about the mills.
Meanwhile, arrivals of both wide-flange and standard beam
imports fell by 50 percent month over month in December to
9,050 tonnes, down from about 18,090 tonnes in November,
according to import license application data from the Commerce
Departments Import Administration.
Leading the falloff was Luxembourg, whose license applications
for December were down 64 percent to about 2,841 tonnes.
Applications for Japanese imports plummeted 92.9 percent to 242
tonnes in December.
Only imports from Mexico are scheduled to rise in December;
that countrys license applications went up to 2,818
tonnes in December from just 957 tonnes the month before.
Some observers attributed the falloff in license applications
at least in part to a large service center chains
reluctance to bring in additional material before year-end in
order to report the maximum number of annualized inventory