NEW YORK There
was optimism for hollow structural sections (HSS) demand as
several domestic mills announced $20-per-ton increases over the
past few days, but market participants questioned whether coil
prices will hold up to support the increase.
"I perceive a
strengthening in the market. Volumes are holding and margins
are holding, which is kind of a good way to start off the
year," one Midwest mill source said.
Despite signs of
stiffer demand, a Midwest distributor questioned whether the
increases would be effective due to a potential softening in
"Theres just too
much foreign coil coming in thats going to mitigate the
(flat-rolled) increases," he said.
Hot-rolled coil prices
have softened slightly to $33.75 per hundredweight ($675 per
ton) from $34 per cwt ($680 per ton) previously (
amm.com, Jan. 17).
Atlas Tube Inc., a
subsidiary of Chicago-based JMC Steel Group Inc., kicked off
the increase and was followed by Chicago-based Maruichi Leavitt
Pipe & Tube LLC (
amm.com, Jan. 21) and Birmingham, Ala.-based American
Tube Manufacturing Inc. (
amm.com, Jan. 21), with sources saying at least two
other domestic HSS mills had also raised prices, although those
increases could not be confirmed.
shipments of carbon pipe and tube totaled 186,500 tons in
December, up 5.4 percent from 177,000 tons in the same month
last year, while the monthly tally fell 9.6 percent vs.
November, according to the latest figures from the Metals
Service Center Institute (MSCI).
Inventories fell to
3.8 months supply from 4.1 months a year earlier but the
level was up from 3.4 months in November.
In Canada, December
shipments stood at 37,800 tons, up 1.1 percent from 37,400 tons
in the same month last year, but down 25.9 percent from 51,000
tons in November.
For the year, U.S.
shipments fell 1.3 percent to 273 million tons compared with
the year prior, while Canadian deliveries tumbled 8 percent to