Friday, April 18, 2014

The "There Is No Inflation" Report: Steel, Aluminum, Carbon... Edition

Nick Badalamenti emails:

Below is a fascinating report from one of my vendors for steel. Notice not only the price increases in every category, but the tightening inventory.

 [RW highlights]

Dear Valued Customers,
Ryerson regularly updates customers of metals industry dynamics that may impact their ability to find the best value for processing and distribution, including ways Ryerson can support their business.
As you may know, every metals product category is presently reflecting activity that may impact prices and lead-times spanning suppliers, service centers and customers:
Carbon Coil and Sheet is experiencing delivery lead-times and  price increases of $60/ton (.03 lb.) reflecting in current indices. This was the result of unplanned producer and weather-related transportation issues that limited scrap and raw materials, including iron ore and coal for suppliers.

Carbon Plate continues to see strong demand and extending lead-times are expected to continue through the third quarter of 2014. Pricing set by metals producers continues to increase indices to their highest point in 52 weeks.

Stainless is experiencing longer lead-times and price increases, including an increase April 1 for base and polish. Domestic producers are pushing lead times into August, and inventory is leaner as a result of increasing demand in the appliance, automotive and construction markets. Concerns for global supply of nickel increased commodity pricing and raw material surcharges month-over-month this year for nickel-bearing grades.

Aluminum continues to experience increased demand from aerospace and automotive, limiting heat-treat capacity affecting 6XXX, 2XXX and 7XXX grades. Supplier mills announced price increases (.05/.10 per lb.) Midwest premiums have increased this year .08 cents more than the average for 2013. Offshore depot inventories are leaner and future import pricing is increasing.

Carbon SBQ Bar is also experiencing lead-times twice that of 2013 and controlled order entry as a result of strong energy and automotive demand. Additionally, producers continue to increase prices, most recently $30-35/ton (.015/018 lb.)

To navigate this environment, Ryerson is actively managing its inventory, working closely with trusted suppliers and leveraging its network of more than 90 service centers to help enhance customer efficiency and profitability. The company wants to support you and your business during the current industry environment. Please contact your Ryerson representative for more information.

Your Ryerson Sales Team


  1. It appears they are abbreviating "carbon steel" to just "carbon". I've seen this abbreviation before but it can get misleading with composite materials. Their website shows they carry the usual sorts of carbon steel sheet, coil, rounds, tubes, etc. ( ) Just commenting so nobody confuses this with carbon fiber etc...

  2. These are numerators without denominators. What's $60/ton? Is that a 1% increase? 5%? 0.1%?

  3. That darned drought has really made a mess of the metals market, hasn't it Jerry? Let's pray for rain so that next year the prices won't rise quite so much (we of course don't want them to fall because that would be very, very bad).

  4. Price increase from supply and demand factors is NOT inflation, as is a general increase in prices specifically. If the price increase was due to labor and cost of production factors increasing due, of course, through the increase in the money supply (inflation), then the price increase is the result of the monetary inflation. But an increase in prices is not the definition of inflation. Prices do not expand or contract , they just go up or down in response to inflationary/deflationary or supply/demand factors.