NEW YORK Coiled stainless
steel plate and cold-rolled stainless steel sheet prices have
declined as market participants continue to lament lackluster
Average prices for Type 304
coiled plate are now $1.27 per pound f.o.b. mill, down from
$1.30 a month ago, while Type 316 coiled plate is trading at
around $1.80 per pound, down from $1.83 previously.
Meanwhile, prices for Type 304
cold-rolled sheet have slipped to around $1.30 per pound, down
from $1.36 last month, while Type 316L is trading around $1.82
per pound, down from $1.88 at the same time in March.
Market participants told
AMM that pricing had been largely influenced by the
introduction of lower surcharges (
amm.com, March 21), coupled with softer demand.
"Things are slow; its not
robust demand by any means. Wed be happy to take 2012
(volumes) right now," one East Coast stainless steel
A second East Coast distributor
agreed. "Its quite stagnant. Theres overcapacity in
the market, so many suppliers and very soft demand."
However, some distributors
contacted by AMM claimed that demand had improved
somewhat in recent weeks, even if that strengthening was not
yet reflected in market prices.
"Through the first quarter it
was fairly dismal, but in the last week of March and so far
this (past) week, it seems to be more active. Theres more
quoting and more orders," a Southern distributor said April 4.
"It may just be a blip and go quiet again, but Im
encouraged by the increased activity so far."
Sources also said that lead
times from mill producers appeared to be lengthening to as much
as eight weeks, up noticeably from lead times of four to five
weeks experienced earlier in the year.
"Theres still a lot of
inventory in the mill depots; were seeing a hefty amount
of stock at those locations," a West Coast stainless steel
distributor said. "So if a customer can wait, well go to
the mill, but if they need something in a few days,
theres plenty of inventory.
"You can run your inventory
pretty lean right now because the depots and master
distributors have plenty," he added.