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HSS mills push to hike prices another $30/T

Keywords: Tags  MSCI, Metals Service Center Institute, pipe, tube, HSS, hollow structal sections, Atlas Tube, JMC Steel Group Independence Tube

NEW YORK — At least three domestic hollow structural sections (HSS) mills are attempting to raise prices another $30 per ton, the third hike on the product from mills east of the Rockies over the past two months.

Sources said Atlas Tube Inc., a subsidiary of Chicago-based JMC Steel Group Inc., led the recent hike with a $30-per-ton increase effective July 17. Orders already on Atlas’ books are price protected through Aug. 16, sources said.

A company spokesman declined to comment.

Chicago-based Independence Tube Corp. followed the $30-per-ton move, according to sources, as did Welded Tube of Canada Ltd., Concord, Ontario, with increases effective July 18.

Welded Tube’s increase is applicable to HSS and mechanical tubing, and shipments through Aug. 16 are price protected, according to a letter sent to customers.

Shipments to customers north of the border are increasing by Canadian $50 per ton ($48.20 per ton) due to raw material and currency moves, AMM has been told.

Independence, also said to be price protecting shipments through Aug. 16, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Eastern HSS mills launched two increases last month, at $50 per ton (, June 4) and $40 per ton (, June 27).

Western HSS mills also hiked prices recently (, July 17).

Meanwhile, U.S. distributors’ carbon tube and pipe shipments totaled 222,600 tons in June, down 8.2 percent from the same month last year, according to Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI) data.

Shipments for the first half totaled 1.39 million tons, down 4.3 percent from the same 2012 period.

One mill source admitted that the price increases have been largely supply-side driven, while distributor demand remains "hand to mouth" in light of tepid markets and rising prices. "We’re seeing (that) it’s all supply-side, not demand driven," he said.

U.S. distributors’ inventories at the end of June were equivalent to 3 months’ supply, up from the previous month’s 2.8 months.

The latest HSS increase comes also as flat-rolled mills are said to be sticking to their guns on recently announced hikes.

"The steel mills are driving this. They’re not flinching at this point," the mill source said.

However, a Midwest distributor said there was some concern about flat-rolled pricing strength as AK Steel Corp., West Chester, Ohio, reportedly was starting up its Middletown, Pa., blast furnace July 18 (, July 10) and Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel Corp. and local unions at its Lake Erie Works in Nanticoke, Ontario, have taken steps toward a possible labor deal (, July 10).

"They (HSS mills) are trying to get the price up, so when it falls off it’ll fall from a higher number," he said.

Shipments of carbon tube and pipe by Canadian distributors totaled 326,600 tons for the first half of 2013, down 11.4 percent from the same period last year.

Canadian distributors’ inventories at the end of last month were equivalent to 2.4 months’ supply, up from 2.3 months in May prior, according to MSCI.

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