LOS ANGELES U.S. imports
of wide-flange beams from South Korea, widely expected to taper
off in February, are instead surging past January levels.
Import permit applications for
Korean wide-flange beams due to arrive this month totaled
20,068 tonnes as of Feb. 26, up 63.3 percent from 12,291 tonnes
for all of January, according to data from the U.S. Commerce
Departments Import Administration division.
South Korea, which accounted for
92.6 percent of the total 21,665 tonnes of wide-flange beam
permit applications submitted thus far in February, also took
the top spot in January at 12,291 tonnes, accounting for 62
percent of the total 19,821 tonnes last month and far
surpassing runner-up Spain at 3,576 tonnes.
The second-largest import
applicant in February, Luxembourg, lagged far behind Korea,
with wide-flange beam import applications of 1,144 tonnes
through Feb. 26.
For the first two months of the
year, Korea accounted for 78 percent of the year-to-date total
of 41,486 tonnes of wide-flange beam permit applications.
But many observers had expected
Korean applications to decline in February, in line with an
earlier pattern of arrivals front-loaded into the first month
of a quarter.
While the import data might not
yet be cause for panic in the domestic industry, it
nevertheless is a "surprise to see back-to-back months so high"
from Korea, one market source said.
The West Coast is generally
considered the primary market for Korean beams, but market
sources said the tonnages involved in this years initial
data might be too great to be absorbed by that region
Korean wide-flange beams now
arriving at West Coast docks were probably sold to many
distributors last year at $760 to $780 per ton ($38 to $39 per
hundredweight) ex-dock, market sources said, although a limited
number of large service centers might have paid a lower price.
This compares with a current published domestic f.o.b. mill
price of $39 per cwt for core beam sizes, not including freight
of $4 per cwt or more to the West Coast. Prices for imported
beams were recently quoted in the Gulf Coast market for
second-quarter arrival at about $36 per cwt, market sources