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Steel beam price seen trending sideways

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

LOS ANGELES — Structural steel buyers are looking for the published price of wide-flange beams to stay in place following a decline in a scrap benchmark.

This past week, AMM dropped its consumer buying price for shredded automotive scrap in the Chicago market by $10 per ton to $366 per ton (, Aug. 5). Most buyers now expect the published wide-flange beam f.o.b. mill price to remain at the current $765 per ton ($38.25 per hundredweight) for core beam sizes, unless a battle for market share flares up among producers.

Discounts to published prices are still widely available to buyers with an adequate requirement, market sources said, although stocks being held on the mills’ floors are being worked down. However, few sources reported a sustained improvement in demand.

"This isn’t going to change anything. ... No mill’s going to mess with the price because of a 50-cent (per cwt) change in scrap," one Midwest distributor said of the lower scrap prices.

"I thought scrap would go up, but since it didn’t I expect the mills will just pocket the reduction in their raw material cost," another distributor said.

Meanwhile, beam imports look poised to fall back for July after holding their ground on a month-to-month basis for most of this year, according to data from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Import Administration division. Import permit applications for all beams through July 30 declined 38.9 percent to about 19,685 tonnes from 32,237 tonnes the previous month.

This decline was led by standard beams, which were down 57.5 percent in July to some 5,889 tonnes. Luxembourg led the drop, falling 45.6 percent to 4,300 tonnes. Wide-flange beams declined almost 25 percent to 13,796 tonnes, also led by Luxembourg (down 29.5 percent to 3,936 tonnes), followed by South Korea (down 11.6 percent to 3,794 tonnes).

However, South Korea appears ready to stage a comeback this month, judging by data compiled by ITA through Aug. 6, with import permit applications amounting to 4,175 tonnes, surpassing all of July.

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