Foodservice Equipment Reports

Steel Prices Also Move Higher

Oil and its refined products are not the only commodities experiencing upward pressure on prices. Prices for stainless and carbon steels are also increasing, in the case of carbon steels, quite dramatically.

The MEPS Int’l. North America All Products Composite Price Index for carbon steels jumped 33.7% from November 2010 to February this year. That’s an increase from an average $732 a ton to $978 a ton during the three-month period.

North American 304 stainless prices are also higher, up 6.1% since November, according to MEPS data. But stainless prices in February were running nearly 16% higher than six months ago and a whopping 32.9% higher than February last year.

The increases are likely to keep coming, according to the February Metals Update from supplier Macsteel. The update appeared in Prime Advantages Prime Times e-newsletter a couple weeks ago. Macsteel said increasing nickel surcharges are likely to push prices in April up about 5% to 6% from March. And the report also noted 4% to 6% announced increases from ATI and Thyssen Krupp, two large stainless suppliers in North America. On the carbon side, low inventories of many products and increased demand from the current upsurge in manufacturing activities are also pushing prices higher in the near term.

Interestingly, prices for nickel, copper and aluminum have fallen over the past three months, though most observers expect this situation to reverse itself as economic activity picks up worldwide.

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