Pipe, mechanical tube prices continue to soften

Prices for standard pipe and mechanical tube in the United States continued to fall in November, but market participants are hoping that a recent uptick in hot-rolled coil prices will signal an end to the downturn

Cleveland-Cliffs announced it was increasing spot market base prices for all carbon hot-rolled, cold-rolled and coated steel products by a minimum of $60 per short ton ($3 per hundredweight) on Monday November 28.

“Most market participants feel pretty happy about the announced increase and are glad to see prices hopefully start moving the other way,” a producer source said.

Fastmarkets assessed the price for steel ERW standard pipe A53 Grade B, fob mill US at $1,700-1,800 per short ton ($85-90 per hundredweight) on Tuesday November 29, down by 5.41% from $1,800-1,900 per ton in October.

This was the sixth consecutive monthly decrease after the assessment hit $2,400-2,450 per ton in March-May in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Overall, demand is still pretty good,” the producer source said of the pipe market. “We’re seeing good activity in the construction markets and although distributors haven’t been loading up, they haven’t stopped buying. The latest [HRC] increases could get a few people off the sidelines.”

Fastmarkets’ assessment for steel ERW standard pipe A53 Grade A, fob mill US also fell by $100 per ton (5.71%) month on month, to $1,600-1,700 per ton on Tuesday from $1,700-1,800 per ton In October.

Fastmarkets’ daily steel hot-rolled coil index, fob mill US was calculated at $32.95 per cwt ($659 per ton) on Tuesday November 29, up by 2.08% from $32.28 per cwt on Monday November 28 and by 1.89% from $32.34 per cwt one week earlier.

Since the Cleveland-Cliffs announcement, the HRC index has rebounded from a recent low of $31.91 per cwt posted on November 23.

While sources continue to note relatively decent pipe demand for this time of year, most distributors are still deleveraging and ridding themselves of old inventory before purchasing lower-priced pipe.

“I don’t have many offers,” a trader source said. “Most suppliers are waiting for the market to settle.”

In the import market, producers are dropping offers in hopes of generating some buying activity early in 2023.

“Mexican producers are being very aggressive,” the trader source said.

Fastmarkets assessed the price for steel ERW standard pipe A53 Grade B import, cif Houston at $1,600-1,700 per short ton ($80-85 per hundredweight) on Tuesday, down by 5.71% from $1,700-1,800 per ton in October.

Fastmarkets assessed the price for steel ERW standard pipe A53 Grade A import, cif Houston at $1,450-1,550 per short ton ($72.50-77.50 per hundredweight) on Tuesday, down by 1.64% from $1,475-1,575 per ton in October.

In the welded mechanical tubing market, prices fell further in November due to the drop in the HRC market.

Fastmarkets’ assessment for steel welded mechanical tubing ASTM A513, fob mill US was $1,380-1,430 per ton on Tuesday, down by 9.35% from $1,500-1,600 per ton in October.

The assessment is at the lowest levels since it was $1,380-1,420 per ton in January 2021, but are still up from a pandemic-low of $720-750 per ton in August 2020.

Meanwhile, Fastmarkets assessed the price for steel hollow sections ASTM 500 Grade B import, ddp US port of entry at $1,100-1,200 per ton on Tuesday, down by 2.13% from $1,150-1,200 per ton in October.

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