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Steel pipe, tube market driving for more gains

Keywords: Tags  steel pipe and tube, prices, price increases, hot-rolled band, substrate, ExlTube Co., standard pipe, HSS hollow structural sections

NEW YORK — Structural tubing and standard pipe prices east of the Rockies look poised to move higher following recent hikes, buoyed by flat-rolled sheet gains.

"The domestics had no choice (but to raise prices) because of the hot-rolled situation," one distributor in the South said of the supply chain challenges and planned outages that have driven hot-rolled coil prices higher.

The latest increase came from ExlTube Co., which on April 29 raised prices for A53 grade B standard pipe products by $50 per net ton effective with new orders after 5 p.m. Central Standard Time the same day.

"All orders currently on the books will be price protected for shipments on or before our most recent confirmation dates," the North Kansas City, Mo.-based company told customers.

The rise in coil prices had led most domestic mills to increase hollow structural sections (HSS) prices by $40 per ton in mid-April (, April 11). That followed a similar increase on standard pipe prices earlier in the month (, April 2).

As a result of the increases, AMM’s price for HSS has moved up to $970 per ton from $930 per ton, while Grade B standard pipe is now at $1,020 per ton compared with $980 per ton previously.

"There are fairly strong rumors that (Atlas Tube Inc.) is going to announce another increase fairly shortly," one mill source told AMM, noting that his company had been "very busy" recently, which was supporting recent price increases.

Barry Zekelman, chairman and chief executive officer of Chicago-based JMC Steel Group Inc., the parent of Atlas Tube, also said recently that further pipe and tube price increases are in the cards due to rising substrate costs (, April 21).

A major standard pipe manufacturer has also started telling customers that it is planning another increase, sources said.

The supply-side disruptions in flat-rolled sheet are enough to support the increases, sources said, with some noting that demand has also improved after the severe winter.

"(The higher price) is sticking, and currently—even with lukewarm demand—there is no reason why they shouldn’t stick in light of supply-side shortfalls," one Mid-Atlantic distributor said.

As usual however, imports could be a moderating influence on prices, sources said.

"If they do (keep raising prices) and they allow the differential between import and domestic to be too much, you get people rolling into import," the southern distributor said.

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