NEW YORK North American Stainless Inc. (NAS) is not expected to follow stainless steel base price increases slated for August by Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI), according to market sources.
Pittsburgh-based ATI earlier this month said that a previously announced stainless base price increase was being delayed to Aug. 4 (amm.com, July 7). The increase, originally scheduled to take effect July 7, will raise prices across of a variety of products (amm.com, June 16).
While ATIs July price move was followed by similar announcements from West Chester, Ohio-based AK Steel Corp. (amm.com, June 24) and Calvert, Ala.-based Outokumpu Stainless USA LLC (amm.com, June 26), industry leader NAS gave no indication that it would follow.
Industry sources with knowledge of the situation told AMM that ATIs decision to delay the increase until August hasnt shaken Ghent, Ky.-based NAS opposition to the price increase, with the company having expressed satisfaction with lead times that extend through the rest of the year. It also is unwilling to risk increased import penetration.
"They arent interested in making the move in August," one market source with knowledge of NAS plans said. "Their lead times are where they need to be ... NAS is going to be the low-cost producer in the States. What theyre able to do is keep a lot of the imports out" at current price levels.
"They havent given any indication that theyre interested in following for August. ... I think the market, to date, has been right in line with the price increases that have been accepted. ... Things are good, but are they that good?" a second market source asked.
"Everybody rescinded (the July price increases) to August," a third market source said. "The issue with NAS is that NAS wants to be the market leader and they dont want to be second to the table. They wait for things to collapse, and then they make their announcement."
Meanwhile, North American service center shipments of stainless steel continued to rebound in June, according to the latest Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI) data.
Stainless steel shipments by U.S. distributors totaled 160,500 tons in June, down 4.4 percent from 167,900 tons in May but up 14.6 percent from June 2013.
U.S. inventories totaled 487,700 tons (3 months supply) in June, up 2.8 percent from 474,300 tons (2.8 months supply) at the end of May and 15.4 percent above the 422,300 tons (3 months supply) seen in June 2013.
The Canadian stainless market was mixed in June, with shipments of 13,400 tons falling 10.7 percent from 15,000 tons in May but rising 0.8 percent from 13,300 tons in June of last year.
Canadian inventories of 43,500 tons (3.3 months supply) in June were down 5.4 percent from 46,000 tons (3.1 months supply) in May but rose 6.1 percent from 41,000 tons (3 months supply) in June 2013.
Stainless end market demand has shown strength all year, with extended lead times at the major domestic mills and multiple base price increases instituted over the past several months (amm.com, June 30).