NEW YORK Primary stainless steel prices recorded mixed trends for February as market activity slowly increased from Januarys levels.
Prices for cold-rolled sheet are around $1.35 per pound, down from $1.40 a month ago, while 316 cold-rolled sheet is around $1.87 per pound, down from $1.90 previously.
"The mills have announced pricing increases, but theyre struggling to make them hold," one southern stainless steel distributor said. "Lead times are not far out. I think theyre about four to five weeks, which is pretty soft for domestic."
However, the softening price trend was by no means universal, with 304 coiled plate prices moving up in February to around $1.27 per pound from $1.25 per pound last month.
Market sources contacted by AMM said activity has recently started to pick up after a quiet start to 2013.
"It seems like the industry got off to a slow start in January, but now it has some legs. Theres a lot more quoting going on than two to three weeks ago," a second southern distributor said. "I think a lot of the buyers saw the surcharges going up, so they decided to get involved."
"February has rebounded a little bit, but not to pre-November levels," a third market source agreed.
The demand uptick hasnt been across all segments, however.
"We have some customers that have been muddling along in the same mode for the last six months," the first distributor said.