Copying and distributing are prohibited without permission of the publisher
Email a friend
  • To include more than one recipient, please separate each email address with a semi-colon ';', to a maximum of 5

Copper orders soften: service centers

Keywords: Tags  copper, copper service centers, ammunition, electrical distribution, automotive, lead times, Suzy Waite

NEW YORK — Lead times for certain copper flat-rolled products could tighten in the coming weeks as service centers have told AMM that orders have dampened after an uptick earlier this year.

The wait for medium-gauge copper products is between four and six weeks, but this will likely come in, service center sources said.

"We all saw January’s activity pick up, and we were hoping that would carry on. But we’re seeing a bit of a retreat from that pace," one service center source told AMM. "I’d say we’re not at January’s pace now. It’s slowed up a bit."

He attributed the slowdown to a falloff in demand from the appliances, connectors and transformers markets.

"I think lead times are going to get a little shorter (from six weeks)," a second service center source agreed. "Not by much, though."

A third service center source confirmed the four- to six-week range.

Lead times for light-gauge copper products remain three months out in some cases, though.

"It’s a bit of a mixed bag. For light-gauge flat-rolled, orders are placed for June. That’s way out," the first service center source said.

A fourth service center source confirmed this trend, adding that he expects lead times for light-gauge material to stay out on the back of continued strong demand from automotive, ammunition and electrical distribution end markets.

"One of the major mills has moved their lead times out by two weeks, and we expect other domestic mills to do the same," the fourth service center source said, pegging lead times for these products at nine weeks at least.

Booming gun and ammunition sales have given brass mills a welcome boost since the start of the year (, Feb. 6), and this trend has continued into March, the fourth service center source said.

"I’ve heard from both of the big mills that ammunition has really taken off, and our customers in ammunition have gone crazy," the fourth service center source said. Electrical distribution and automotive markets are also solid, two other important end-markets for light gauge material, the source added.

"Electrical distribution is still busy, and we expect that will be the case going into summer because of the devastation of the storms and weather. There’s still a lot of rebuilding effort throughout the whole eastern seaboard. And then automotive has stayed strong," the fourth service center source said.

Most copper mills are hesitant to add staff to meet this increased demand, which will keep lead times out, the source added.

"Mills are often reluctant to add a bunch of personnel, because then we enter into the summer months when there are shutdowns—auto manufacturers’ maintenance always happens in the first two weeks of July. By the time the mills get everyone trained and up and running, they’ll have to fire them. So they’ll work though it the best way they can, which is (pushing out) lead times," the fourth service center source said.

Have your say
  • All comments are subject to editorial review.
    All fields are compulsory.

Latest Pricing Trends