A Little Pressure Comes Off Metals Prices

After a nearly yearlong run-up in the prices of many key metals used in foodservice equipment and supplies, prices have plateaued and even fallen since the beginning of June.

According to O’Neal Steel, writing in the July issue of Prime Advantage’s PrimeTimes e-newsletter, nickel surcharges for stainless grades such as 304 and 430 have fallen for two months in a row. And O’Neal expects the softening to continue, at least for the short-term, based on nickel price trends.

Stainless prices had shot up dramatically since bottoming out in June 2009. According to MEPS Int’l., North American stainless prices peaked in June this year at $4,379 a ton. That’s 80.4% higher than in July ’09, according to the group’s Stainless Steel Index. But average prices fell in July to $3,959 a ton. Of course, that’s still 63% higher than a year ago.

Other steels and nonferrous metals are experiencing similar trends. Carbon steel prices peaked in June as well and have been declining since, O’Neal reported. An attempt by one mill to raise pricing on steel tubing and pipe in May collapsed, O’Neal said.

Aluminum, copper and zinc prices have also seen some softening, though copper has been subject to bouts of speculation-driven run-ups several times in the past year.

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