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Beam prices holding steady through year-end

Keywords: Tags  steel, beams, beam prices, wide-flange beams, standard beams, U.S. Commerce Department

LOS ANGELES — Steel beam prices have remained steady, with a growing number of market sources now expecting no change for the rest of the year.

"My feeling is that this will continue through the rest of the year unless there’s a drastic change in raw material prices," one Gulf Coast distributor source said about the flat pricing.

During the past two months, AMM’s consumer buying price for shredded automotive scrap in the Chicago market has declined by less than $20 per ton.

"I see nothing in the pipeline" that indicates a price change, a Midwest service center buyer agreed, also noting that demand remains "flat."

Industry sources expect overall U.S. beam consumption to rise marginally this year to a little more than 4 million tons.

Published f.o.b. mill prices on core sizes of wide-flange beams have remained at $765 per ton ($38.25 per hundredweight) since May. However, discounts on substantial requirements are reported at $40 to $60 per ton, depending on the size of the buyer and its exposure to import competition.

Steady pricing keeps the market stable since price hike announcements usually result in buyers rushing to beat the increase, after which demand falls into a lull, one market source said. "I’m OK with no change in prices," he added.

Wide-flange import permit applications totaled 12,171 tonnes compared with 9,485 tonnes in August and the year’s peak of 22,056 tonnes in February, according to data updated through Sept. 25 by U.S. Commerce Department’s Import Administration.

Applications for South Korean wide-flange were 5,759 tonnes compared with 4,963 tonnes in August, while Luxembourg’s total rose to 3,943 tonnes from 1,856 tonnes in the same comparison.

Standard beam import permit applications through Sept. 25 totaled 3,831 tonnes compared with 5,634 tonnes in August. Canada logged the biggest decline, with import permit applications of 53 tonnes vs. 2,050 tonnes a month earlier. Meanwhile, Luxembourg’s applications rose to 1,376 tonnes from 1,028 tonnes in August. The largest increase came in Russian standard beams, for which applications rose to 1,160 tonnes, the first time that significant applications were received from that country since April.

Standard beam imports have been declining since June, when they hit 13,851 tonnes. This year’s peak was in March, when they reached 17,119 tonnes as Luxembourg and Russia each accounted for more than 7,000 tonnes.

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