NEW YORK An
early summer slowdown has hit the tool steel market, with
participants reporting a noticeable drop in recent
"Usage is going way
down real quick. Julys going to be horrible. Its
softened up quite bit," one West Coast distributor said,
attributing the softness to a decline in drilling activity.
The U.S. rig count
fell by 12 week on week, according to the latest Baker Hughes
A second West Coast
distributor, who said that this year has been slower than
2012particularly since Easterattributed the tepid
market conditions to high gas prices and proposed tax code
changes in President Obamas budget plan, which some
industry groups have said could hurt manufacturing (
amm.com, April 11).
"It (tool steel) is a
consumer-driven business," he said. However, he added that he
believes tool steel distributors serving the aerospace market
are busier than ones serving other markets.
As a result of the
slow market conditions, prices were largely reported as flat or
down, with D2 20-inch rounds falling to $2.40 per pound from
$2.50 per pound the previous month.
Most other grades held steady, with A2 flat ½-by
1-inch cold work die steel still at $4.55 per pound and H13
2-inch rounds unchanged at $3.45 per pound.