NEW YORK Structural tubing sources are split on whether further price increases are imminent in light of a pre-Christmas flat-rolled boost by domestic mills.
"Yes, I do believe there will be one, once flat-rolled prices start picking up," one mill source said of impending price increases.
Hollow structural sections (HSS) mills consistently raised prices in step with flat-rolled increases in the latter part of last year, pushing AMMs HSS price to $1,000 per ton ($50 per cwt) by the end of December, up 7.5 percent from $930 per ton ($46.50 per cwt) in late September.
However, a second mill source disagreed. "I dont think so, not from what Ive seen. I hadnt seen (flat-rolled sheet) really jump any," he said, but added that "Im all for (an increase) if it comes."
The changes reportedly taking place in the HSS rebate structure this year (amm.com, Dec. 11) also are clouding the outlook, he said. "Weve been trying to get our hands around how these changes in the rebates are going to affect prices."
A Midwest distributor source argued that further flat-rolled increases might be necessary for HSS to rise again. "I think we need another flat-rolled increase before the tubers come out with one," he said.
Meanwhile, the spread between domestic HSS prices and material imported from most countries remains wide, with December shipments of 3,873.5 tonnes of welded tube, pipe and hollow profiles from South Korea valued at an average of $739.93 per ton ($37 per cwt), 9,240.3 tonnes from Turkey averaging $725.32 per ton ($32.27 per cwt) and 10,308.1 tonnes from Mexico averaging $835.56 per ton ($41.78 per cwt), according to license data from the U.S. Commerce Departments Enforcement and Compliance division.