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Energy tubular market stable in August

Keywords: Tags  OCTG, J55, X42, OCTG prices, tubular trade case, tubular imports, line pipe, pipe prices Thorsten Schier

NEW YORK — The energy tubular market was largely stable in August, with steady demand and some limited upside seen on pricing. However, sources were split on the market’s near-term direction amid fluctuating raw material prices.

A majority of sources reported some upside from strengthening coil prices and a recently filed trade case, with imported J55 casing prices rising to $860 per ton from $850 and domestic X42 line pipe increasing to $1,050 per ton from $1,020 per ton.

But others claimed that continuing high imports were crimping prices despite a recently filed trade case.

One source said the overall health of the market is "poor," adding that the case was "having no effect so far" as "pipe keeps pouring in."

One trader was more optimistic, saying the case will eventually force prices up as importers have to look to more expensive mills, particularly in Europe.

"We’re kind of in a holding pattern right now, unsure of which way it’s going to go," he said, noting some reports of competitive import hot-rolled coil offers and shrinking lead times that could pressure domestic substrate.

Mill prices were largely steady, a southern distributor said, adding that after months of aggressive price competition the trade case has changed distributors’ sales practices.

With a three-month delivery window, OCTG import orders from the nine countries involved in the anti-dumping probe are expected to slow as arrival times near Dec. 9, when the Commerce Department’s preliminary decision is due.

"This is the month when those vessels are going to be tapering off," a second trader said.

But some sources remain concerned. "We will see some of these OCTG mills shift production into line pipe, and line pipe didn’t need any help to be depressed," a third trader said.

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