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Stainless steel and alloy pipe, fitting and flange pricing has experienced tremendous upward surges since the first half of 2022, due to raw material cost increases, steel shortages, and transportation issues. Automotive, electric vehicle (EV) batteries, infrastructure steel projects, and household appliances continue to consume large amounts of stainless steel worldwide.
On March 7, 2022, nickel pricing experienced an unprecedented spike, reaching $100,000/MT, which was followed by a 7-day closure of the London Metal Exchange (LME). Nickel has hovered around $33,000/MT, which is a 34% increase over January and February 2022 averages. LME warehouse inventories remain low, keeping June 2022 nickel averages just below $12.00/lb. After spiking in January 2022, molybdenum is averaging just over $21.00/lb, up 69% from June 2021. Ferrochrome reached $3.86/lb in June 2022, up 163% year-over-year.
As has been the trend this year, significant changes in raw material costs are responsible for the increase in base pricing and surcharges on stainless steel products used to produce finished products like pipe, weld fittings and flanges. The Russian-Ukrainian conflict has had a major impact on the price and delivery of seamless stainless pipe, including the impact of sanctions against Russia on the export of nickel and the effect of the war on a major producer located in Ukraine. Other notable causes include labor strikes, steelmaking capacity shortages and government sanctions.
Stainless welded pipe pricing has increased 60% since April 2021. More than one-half of this increase is related to surcharges, which have seen a 46% rise year-over-year. The balance of the increase is in the base price, mainly due to the restricted supply of coil and plate. Early 2022 saw raw material suppliers begin to impose allocations on welded pipe manufacturers. As of June 2022, these raw material supply issues seem to be subsiding, moving deliveries back to a standard 3 to 4 months.
On August 24, 2021, the Department of Commerce announced that they would uphold a 2018 ruling that led to a 140% increase in anti-dumping and countervailing duties for all stainless flanges produced in India. This ruling spurred massive price increases in all domestic and import flange pricing to date. A review of the previous ruling in April 2022 resulted in countervailing duties being moved downward to 9%. Flange price and delivery recalibrations are anticipated through the end of 2022.
As of the date of this writing, commodity pricing for weld fittings, forged fittings, weld pipe, flanges, and seamless pipe have all experienced substantial increases due, in part, to raw material shortages, raw material price increases and increased freight costs. Much of the same seems to be expected for the near future.
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