Electric-resistance-welded (ERW) steel tube products lost $20 per short ton ($1 per hundredweight) over the past month, mainly because of weakness in hot-rolled coil prices, according to market participants. Seamless prices have begun to slip after scrap prices pointed downward.
Downstream demand still seems healthy, but tube mills have bristled over tepid booking activity in December and January, and had no choice but to reduce prices, one trader source, an ERW mill source and a distributor source all told Fastmarkets.
"With the fall in scrap prices - and flat roll has really fallen over the past month - they're really dropping their tags," the trader said.
"But the end-user demand is pretty good," the trader continued. In aggregate, "my customers see a 3-5% increase in business for 2019."