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Beam prices shaky as scrap benchmark falls

Keywords: Tags  steel beams, beam prices, wide-flange steel beams, shredded scrap, Frank Haflich

LOS ANGELES — Wide-flange steel beam published prices are facing increased pressure as distributor resale tags appear to be coming under renewed assault following a drop in a key scrap barometer.

AMM last week lowered its consumer buying price for shredded automotive scrap in the Chicago market—a major component of some mills’ raw material surcharges—to $390 per ton ($19.50 per hundredweight), a $22 decline from the previous month and a reversal of March’s $35-per-ton gain (, April 4).

Domestic mills recently announced a $25-per-ton increase in their published f.o.b. mill price for April to $805 per ton ($40.25 per cwt) on most core sizes (, March 25).

While a number of buyers said they expect to pay published prices if they order limited tonnages now in order to fill inventory holes, they also indicated they were holding back on substantial requirements until it becomes clear if the mills will repeat the first-quarter discounts seen for larger buys.

"Right now, we can’t sell based on published list (prices)," one service center executive said, referring to resale prices that barely match mill tags.

"We’ve got a major disconnect in the market again," another distributor said, referring to previous years when resale prices didn’t reflect a traditional spread between mill and street prices.

One eastern buyer, who sees beam demand improving, nonetheless believes "beams could come down a bit," and a $15-per-ton cut in the published price would "make sense" under present conditions.

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