Structural steel pricing has remained flat for the fifth
consecutive month as buyers saw nothing that would suggest a
change in wide-flange beams.
zero movement" in pricing during the past month, one Midwest
distributor said, noting that published and transaction prices
have held steady.
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 a delivered basis have ranged from $40 to $60 per
ton, depending on local market conditions and the size of the
buyer, according to market sources. While some of these
discounts are viewed as foreign-fighter offers, especially on
the coasts, price cutting has also occurred in local markets
that arent heavily influenced by imports, sources
Some sources think a
reported demand improvement in Europe and the euros
recent relative strength vs. the dollar is discouraging
aggressive U.S. sales efforts by European mills.
Overall, U.S. beam
consumption appears to be running about 8 to 10 percent ahead
of last years 3.9 million tons, although it is unclear if
this pace will continue through year-end, market sources told
"Beam demand actually
isnt that bad," a western center executive said, although
his view wasnt shared by some of his counterparts who are
still waiting for an upturn in nonresidential construction.
Buyers believe any
price increase would likely be based on factors that
arent necessarily tied to beam consumptionscrap
prices and inventories, particularly stocks at the mills. The
scrap market has reportedly been anticipating upward movement,
primarily for seasonal reasons, while there are also
indications that producer floor stocks are declining.
"Im being forced
more and more to wait for scheduled rollings instead of buying
off the mill floor, as Ive been able to do in the past,"
a service center buyer said about his recent orders.
Some buyers said that
while their mill suppliers havent locked-in prices
through the end of the year, producers concede there is little
reason to expect a hike until next year, when scrap prices
might show a sustained increase.