NEW YORK Tube and pipe
prices have either stayed flat or declined on what sources call
surprisingly slack demand early in the year.
"Our phone has not had one call
this morning," a source at a West Coast distributor said.
"Its just really slow."
Even sources who have reported
seeing a slight uptick in demand said that it was less than
they had hoped.
"Its slightly better than
at the end of last yearwhich it had to be, because the
end of last year was horrific," a source at a Mid-Atlantic
As a result, prices dropped
early this month as mills looked to entice buyers. However,
recently announced domestic price hikes and talk of increases
from Asian producers have since stabilized tags, sources
price for hollow structural sections (HSS) has fallen to $930
per ton ($46.50 per hundredweight), down 1.1 percent from $940
per ton ($47 per cwt) last month and off 7 percent from $1,000
per ton ($50 per cwt) in January last year. Prices for most
other tube and pipe products either stayed flat or logged
decreases this month.
Any near-term increase in tags
will depend on whether the flat-rolled hikes hold, sources
said. "If business improves from todays level, the
increases will stick," the Mid-Atlantic source said.
However, all respondents to a
recent AMM survey expected tube and pipe prices to be
flat in coming weeks and months, citing short lead times and a
lack of justification for the flat-rolled increase, since scrap
prices are flat and demand lackluster.
"The price increases wont
amount to anything, nor will they stick," a Midwest distributor
source said. "Were going to need another scrap increase
before flat-rolled prices go up."
On a positive note for energy
tubulars, the U.S. and Canadian drill rig count rose by 24 from
a week earlier, according to the latest report from
Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. (
amm.com, Jan. 28), albeit down 316 rigs from a
Sources were still wondering
about the status of a possible trade case against foreign
energy tubular producers, most notably South Korea, after
rumors spread that a filing was imminent (
amm.com, Jan. 16). "Were all waiting for the
damn dumping suit," one trader said.