• Copper

Lead times for light gauge copper products remain at three months.

For light gauge flat rolled, orders are placed for June. That’s way out, the first service center source said. A fourth service center source confirmed this trend, adding that he expects lead times for light gauge material to stay out on the back of continued strong demand from automotive, ammunition and electrical distribution end marks.

One of the major mills has moved their lead times out by two weeks, and we expect other domestic mills to do the same, the fourth service center source said, pegging lead times for these products at nine weeks at least.

Most copper mills are hesitant to add staff to meet this increased demand, the source added. Mills are often reluctant to add a bunch of personnel, because then we enter into summer months, when there are shutdowns – auto manufacturers’ maintenance always happens in the first two weeks of July. By the time the mills get everyone trained and up and running, they’ll have to fire them. So they’ll work through it the very best way they can, which is pushing out lead times, the fourth service center said.

Excerpts from American Metal Market March 7, 2013