LOS ANGELES Spot prices on commodity titanium mill products remain stalled at the same level they have been for most of the year, market sources said this past week.
"Generally speaking, pricing has been dead flat," said a distributor source who, like others, attributed any limited increase to a recent boost in a key raw material surcharge by a unit of Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI), the first such rise in two years.
Monroe, N.C.-based ATI Allvac raised its second-quarter surcharge on standard aerospace titanium 6-aluminum/4-vanadium bar and flat products by 3.1 percent to $4.27 per pound from $4.14 previously (amm.com, April 1).
Spot prices for 1-inch-diameter standard 6/4 titanium bars are flat in an estimated range of $20 to $21 per pound. Buyers continue to compare titanium with superalloys such as 718, where rising nickel prices have helped spur an estimated 15-percent increase in bar prices in the past few months and lead times have gone out by six to 10 weeks to more than 20 weeks.
However, lead times for some titanium bar and plate products also are extended to a reported two to four weeks, depending on the producer. There is little evidence so far that this reflects a sustained pickup in demand vs. other factors, such as short-term production adjustments at certain mills and shipments under previously contracted long-term supply agreements with original equipment manufacturers, buyers said.
Industrial activity is "quiet" outside of aerospace, according to market participants, who noted a dearth of major global infrastructure projects. Power generation, generally considered the industrial markets largest segment, is slow, dampening requirements for tubing and plate heat exchangers.
"This is the slowest Ive seen it in years," a fabricator source said, citing seasonal repair and maintenance work as an exception.
However, markets related to energy, including oil and gas and chemical processing, are described as more active.
While scrap prices are up this year from the fourth quarteras much as 20 to 30 percent for some solid grades, according to market sourcesrecent indications are that it has reached at least a temporary plateau, these observers said.