LOS ANGELES Discounting
has continued in the steel beam market, although the gap
between actual and published prices has narrowed as $20-per-ton
price cuts announced earlier in May havent been
accompanied by corresponding lower prices on discounted large
While price-cutting on beams
that emerged earlier this year has continued, market sources
said the discount hasnt moved down along with the
published price, leaving estimated delivered prices on larger
orders at levels similar to a month ago in the neighborhood of
$720 to $725 per ton ($36 to $36.25 per hundredweight) f.o.b.
"The decline didnt move
our actual prices down; the mills just closed the gap" between
the published price and market price, said a Gulf Coast
This past week, Nucor-Yamato
Steel Co., Blytheville, Ark., reduced its raw material
surcharge by $22 per ton but increased its base price by the
same amount, leaving its published transaction price unchanged.
This maintained Nucors previous $20-per-ton reduction in
its published price, when it followed a similar cut by Tampa,
Fla.-based Gerdau Long Steel North America that was joined by
the rest of the domestic industry (
amm.com, May 3).
The previous reductions brought
the published price on core sizes of wide-flange beams down to
$765 per ton ($38.25 per cwt) f.o.b. mill.
While market sources said
producers in some cases have attempted to eliminate or greatly
reduce discounts, a continuing decline in distributor resale
prices has kept the pressure on mills to continue the deals,
although many day-to-day purchases are being done at book
Meanwhile, Mays import
license applications for beams maintained 2013s strong
pace. Applications for both wide-flange and standard beam
imports totaled about 23,343 tonnes though May 21 compared with
26,973 tonnes for all of April, according to data from the
Commerce Departments Import Administration.
The United Arab Emirates had
filed license applications for 5,513 tonnes of wide-flange
beams as of May 21 after being absent for the first four months
of the year. Details about the material couldnt be
Applications for wide-flange
imports from South Koreathe largest country of origin in
the first four months of the yeartotaled 4,344 tonnes
through May 21 compared with 11,105 tonnes in April and a peak
of 20,068 tonnes in January.
There have been few signs of a
broad recovery in nonresidential building that some analysts
had previously predicted for the second half of 2013, judging
by the Architecture Billings Index (ABI), a leading indicator
of construction activity.
The ABI reversed course in April
after moving up for most of the past year, falling to
48.6its lowest mark since July 2012from 51.9 in
March, according to the American Institute of Architects. A
score above 50 reflects an increase in billings.
Delays in project approvals, in
addition to difficulty in obtaining financing, were blamed for
much of the downturn, although project inquiries "continue to
be strong," the AIA said.