Structural steel prices appear to be withstanding the challenge
of lower scrap prices, but its still far from clear
whether the five-and-a-half-year slump in the beam market is
Despite a recent
$30-per-ton drop in AMMs consumer buying price
for shredded automotive scrap in the Chicago market (
amm.com, Feb. 7), most market sources said
theyve seen no decline in beam prices. But while
published f.o.b. mill prices remain firm, discounts on
delivered beams continue to vary widely, depending on the
The published f.o.b.
mill price on core sizes of wide-flange beams is 800 per ton
($40 per hundredweight). However, delivered prices to
customers warehouses represent discounts ranging from $10
to $20 per ton in some parts of the East and Midwest to $40 per
ton or more in import-sensitive regions such as the Gulf Coast
and West Coast, once the mills willingness to absorb
freight costs is taken into account, the sources told
Meanwhile, as producer
lead times move out for some buyers, they arent sure how
much of this increase is due to growing mill backlogs vs.
complete disconnect between our business and what the mills are
telling us," one southern distributor said, noting that
producers maintain theyre busy while recent demand in the
resale market remained slow.
"Generally, lead times
have moved out a few weeks, but you can still find a specific
size on the mill floor," one service center executive in the
A fabricator source
noted that some of his mill rollings have been pushed out by
about two weeks, stretching his total deliveries by nearly a
month from earlier expectations.
"The biggest issue I
have today with the mills is delivery," one Midwest distributor
said, citing both the weather and what he sees as a continuing
shortage of rail cars.
While theres an
overall sense among some service centers that nonresidential
constructionthe primary market for beamsis
improving, most market sources agree that since demand first
slumped in mid-2008 theyve been burned too many times
with a false sense of hope early in the year.
optimism this year on the fabricators part, but
theyre not euphoric," a distribution executive said of