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Demand drives stainless steel prices up

Keywords: Tags  stainless steel prices, stainless steel surcharges, raw materials, bar, cold-rolled sheet, stainless coiled plate, Rey Mashayekhi

NEW YORK — Stainless steel prices rose in April amid a rise in major North American mills’ base prices and raw material surcharges, with market players emphasizing that strong demand has allowed the mill increases to stick.

Stainless distributors cited a 5- to 6-percent rise in April surcharges for the 300 grades that, when coupled with the mills’ hikes (, March 17), led to the steepest stainless price increase in months. The market has benefitted from higher end-market demand so far this year, sources said, with multiple distributor sources noting that mill lead times "are out to July or August."

"Stainless activity has been good. ... We’re quoting, we’re selling," one Midwest distributor source said, citing demand from food processing and agricultural end markets.

"The market’s strengthening quite a bit. ... Lead times at the mills, they’re all out. We’re here 20 weeks on lead time. They’re probably controlling that somewhat to ensure their price increase sticks, but that’s for sure going to strengthen their position as far as getting the price increase out there," one West Coast distributor source said.

"I’m seeing higher prices and longer lead times on all products across the board," a second West Coast distributor said. "Inventory is moving pretty fast. Our tons shipped have jumped up a bit in the first quarter (from) the 2013 average, so that’s a good sign that demand is going up."

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