MRC Global InSight

Stainless Steel & Alloy Pipe, Fittings & Flanges

Stainless steel and alloy pipe, fitting and flange pricing continues its upward trend due to surging raw material costs and steel shortages. Automotive, housing and appliance sales continue to consume the majority of stainless steel in the United States.

Nickel pricing has steadily increased from an average of $6.57/lb. in August 2020 to $8.85/lb. in August 2021, up 35%. London Metal Exchange (LME) warehouse levels have continued to decrease since July. Molybdenum spiked sharply in June 2021 and continued to rise to an average of $21.75/lb. in August, up a staggering 128% from the August 2020 level of $9.54/lb. Beginning with a rise in December 2020, ferrochrome has reached $1.68/lb., up 188% 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. Ongoing freight issues are a strong influence in stainless input and finished steel pricing. Other notable causes include steelmaking capacity and government actions.

Stainless welded pipe pricing has increased 47% since the end of December 2020. More than one-half of this increase is related to surcharges, which have seen a 32% rise year-over-year. The balance of the increase is in the base price, mainly due to restricted supply of coil and plate. Base price increases have been enacted four different times since December 27, 2020.

In December 2020, Allegheny Technologies Incorporated (ATI) stopped production of 304 and 316 stainless sheet and coil. This loss of capacity has now caused deliveries to extend up to 10 weeks, due in part to imposed allocations being appropriated by the remaining raw material suppliers.

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. Based on the agency’s ruling, there will be a retroactive assessment of duties on imports that entered the United States between January 23, 2018 and September 30, 2019. This ruling has spurred an approximately 25% increase in all domestic flange pricing.

As of the date of this writing, commodity pricing for weld fittings, forged fittings and seamless pipe has experienced substantial increases due in part to raw material and ocean freight costs. Container costs from Asia to the United States have increased nearly seven times over the past year due to limited availability of containers in Asia, which continues to impact the rising cost of all pipe, fittings, and flanges.