NEW YORK Sentiment
remains subdued in the pipe and tube market, with tepid demand
and more-than-adequate stock levels leading to pressure on
"(Market conditions) are weak.
Business is weak and margins are being pressed because people
have inventory. We all thought that we would have good business
and we dont," a distributor in the South said.
"The markets been kind of
slow. Its been flat and nondescript, and people look for
clear direction. With clear direction, people can make
decisions," a mill source agreed.
The unusually slow start to the
year has made forecasting the rest of the year challenging.
"We didnt see the normal
cycle at the beginning of the year as we did last year, so who
knows whats going to happen," the mill source said.
However, he remains hopeful of
improvement in the second half of the year, a sentiment
expressed by most large pipe and tube makers after lackluster
One positive note has been the
continued uptick of the Architectural Billings Index (ABI), an
advance indicator of construction activity, the distributor in
the South said.
shipments of carbon tube and pipe in March underlined the poor
market sentiment, falling 11.2 percent year on year to 224,000
tonnes from 252,700 tonnes in the same month last year,
according to the latest figures from the Metals Service Center
Institute (MSCI). The tally was also down 2.1 percent from
Februarys 219,800 tons.
First-quarter shipments of
685,600 tonnes fell 6.3 percent from 731,400 tonnes in the
first three months of 2012.
inventories for March were equivalent to 3 months supply,
down from 3.1 months in February.
Shipments from Canadian
distributors totaled 52,100 tonnes in March, up 23 percent year
on year and 2.6 percent higher than February levels. Monthly
inventories were at 2.6 months supply vs. 2.1
months supply a year earlier and 2.7 months supply
in February, MSCI said.
Canadian centers shipments
for the first quarter fell 17.1 percent year on year to 156,700