LOS ANGELES Published
prices for wide-flange beams and other large structural steel
products appear likely to hold for the third month in a row as
two major producers are leaving tags unchanged for
Nucor-Yamato Steel Co.,
Blytheville, Ark., and Nucor Corp.s Berkeley, N.C., beam
mill have both notified customers that they will not change
either their raw material surcharges or published transaction
prices next month.
The decision to hold prices
steady comes after AMM left the consumer buying price
for shredded automotive scrap in the Chicago marketa key
component in Nucors surchargesunchanged at $386 per
amm.com, Jan. 7).
Although buyers said midday
Friday that they had yet to hear from the Columbia City,
Ind.-based structural and rail division of Steel Dynamics Inc.
and Tampa, Fla.-based Gerdau Long Steel North America, they
largely expect the producers to follow Nucor-Yamatos and
Nucor Berkeleys lead.
It will be the third straight
month that the f.o.b. mill price will be listed at $780 per ton
($39 per hundredweight) for most core sizes.
Buyers report that mills are
mostly continuing to honor their published prices in day-to-day
business, in contrast to much of 2012 and the preceding several
years when discounting was commonplace in order to compete with
both imports and each other in a post-2008 environment of
Although buyers said mill sales
representatives in some cases appear eager to make deals,
especially with some producers reportedly holding substantial
floor stock, most mills appears determined to hold the
"Right now, theres more
pressure on the upside of prices than on the downside," said a
beam buyer on the East Coast, citing what he sees as a
likelihood that scrap and iron ore prices could rise over the
next month or two.
However, downward pressures on
distributor resale prices havent disappeared completely,
particularly in some import-sensitive regions, according to
market observers. On the West Coast, for example, one or two
large service centers reportedly have tied up the largest share
of South Korean beam imports in the first quarter at ex-dock
costs estimated in a range of $740 to $750 per ton ($37 to
$37.50 per cwt) compared with estimated delivered costs for
domestic beams at $870 to $890 per ton ($43.50 to $44.50 per
cwt). Competitors grumble that, even though these service
centers also are buying domestic beams, low-priced imports
allow them to bring the blended cost of their inventories down
below their rivals and establish a resale price level
where others struggle to turn a profit.
"This can make it nearly
impossible for us to buy only domestic material and sell it
competitively," a rival service center buyer said.