Current situation:

  • Nickel prices have fallen over the past 30 days to @$7.26 per lb. ($7.24 in the last update). Warehouse levels were sharply higher this month at 262,950 tons (260,724 tons in the last update).
  • Producer prices for stainless pipe were up month-over-month through March, rising by 6.2% M/M (up 3.8% last month); they were also up 12.7% Y/Y (up 5.1% last month).


Key factors that could affect supply or price:

  • 304/316 welded pipe prices are up MORE than 20% this year. That is a combination of base price increases as well as surcharge increases. Chrome locked in for May/June/July pipe surcharge at $1.56/lb. (Feb/March/April was locked in at $1.17/lb.)
  • Nickel is hovering around $7.50/lb., which is down from its peak but still very healthy. Lead times are extended and hot rolled coil has gone from 3 to 4 weeks to more than 12 weeks.
  • Inventory was at a significantly reduced level coming out of the pandemic and oil crash of 2020.
  • ATI (Allegheny Technologies Incorporated) - announced it was exiting the 304/316L coil market mid-2021 and they were 1 of 3 U.S. producers.
    • ATI union workers just went on strike, which will further impact the supply chain. Allocation is a real situation for cold and hot rolled coil domestically.
  • Freight/trucks are becoming more difficult to obtain as needed.

There has been a significant increase in domestic stainless steel material pricing in all categories, due to current market conditions that have seen increases in most raw components, such as nickel and chromium. Lead times for pipe have been extended in a market that has seen a rapid decrease in available material.

  • Positive trade case outcomes also will be affecting pricing for imported stainless steel flanges from India, where preliminary findings could add 145% duties to all suppliers from that country due to unfair trade practices.
  • While this market remains volatile, it is best for distributors to keep a regular pulse on available pricing levels so they will not be caught short for long-term contracts.
  • We have not seen import stainless fittings increases, which would only lend support for further investigation into this pricing disconnect with the market.