Pricing for domestic carbon steel pipe products had been drifting down, but producers recently announced a $30/ton price increase, which is believed to try and slow the continued downward momentum. Small diameter seamless (2.0” - 4.0”) is still in short supply with no short term resolution.
Pricing for import carbon steel pipe products has also been moving down, and small diameter seamless is in short supply as well. There is still uncertainty about the outcomes of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Section 232 investigations, which is causing some import mills to stop quoting pricing until there is a firm resolution.
U.S. hot-rolled coil prices dropped below $600 a ton on average for the first time this year losing about (10.0) percent from the yearly peak of $660 in late March. Imports were dropping by $20-40 a ton in American Metal Market's (AMM) latest assessment, attributable to foreign firms keeping their heads down amid the Section 232 investigation into steel imports. But European and Chinese markets were heading back up. Sources say trade actions may have decoupled U.S. prices from those in China.
U.S. service center steel shipments decreased by (4.2) percent from April, 2016, according to the Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI), while steel product inventories dropped (6.0) percent in the same comparison. April shipments tumbled (15.0) percent compared with the previous month. Steel product inventories decreased (6.0) percent from April a year ago.
Finished steel imports were up 11.6 percent through four months of 2017 compared with the same period a year ago, according to preliminary U.S. Census Bureau data presented by the American Iron & Steel Institute (AISI). Finished steel import market share was an estimated 27.0 percent in April and is estimated at 26.0 percent YTD.
Foreign trade in steel has increased by 70 million tonnes and $45 billion in value during the past five years, according to MEPS. The main reason is ease of internet sourcing and communication.
Weld Fittings & Flanges
There has been little change since last month’s report. Market conditions continue to slowly improve. Since 2016, price increases on carbon steel flanges have averaged 10.0 percent and 5.0-15.0 percent for carbon butt weld fittings. Some distributors are reporting tightening supplies and longer lead times on some items.
Forged Steel Fittings
The outlook remains unchanged (flat) since last month’s report. Pricing has been stable for an extended period of time, and there is a sufficient supply of both import and domestic fittings in the market. Import lead times are favorable and consistent, lending to strong supply. here is more stability and activity in the oil field; however, not enough to affect pricing. Other key markets, like the industrial segment, are gaining momentum but have not hit historic levels. And although activity in energy has picked up, the list price remains unaffected since May, 2011. Overall, both manufacturers and distributors continue to compete for a smaller piece of available market share creating very competitive conditions.