Stainless steel flat product demand shows no sign of abating, despite substantial surcharge increases to be implemented in October. Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI) of Pittsburgh was the first of North America’s three main stainless steel producers to issue its October surcharge list. ATI has set its Type 304 stainless surcharge at $1.2571 a pound, up 14.8 percent in September; Type 316 at $2.1077 a pound, up 14.1 percent; and Type 321 at $1.4219 a pound, up 14.9 percent. The increases reflect the high price of nickel throughout August, the month against which the October surcharges are calculated. Currently, the average monthly price for nickel is at $13.94 a pound, up from $12.44 a pound during August. Demand is strong across all markets but especially in the energy market, sources said. “Demand’s decent and better than last year,” a Midwest buyer said. “Anything stainless for energy – pipe, tubing, tanks for storage, production, drilling or distillation – that whole ethanol and energy thing is hotter than anything.” The events have created a “perfect storm,” to the benefit of producing mills, he added. “I don’t know anyone who thought that at the beginning of the year prices would get where they are. The tight supply and strong demand have caused the increases.” North American mill lead times stretch into November, depending on the product, and those in Europe are out until December, sources said.

American Metal Market September 6, 2006