Structural Steel Prices Drop During the First Part of 2005

Structural steel prices have dropped more than $100 per ton since the beginning of 2005, reflecting a 20 percent decrease in the cost of material, according to the American Institute of Steel Construction. The current decrease in price, from a typical price of $618 to $510 per ton of wide flange, is primarily the result of lower scrap costs.

Major U.S. producers of structural steel significantly reduced mill prices of structural steel effective June 8. Inventory of structural material remains high and availability of structural steel is excellent from mills, warehouses and at local fabricators. The current inventory of structural steel exceeds one million tons and delivery to fabricators from warehouses can be accomplished in a matter of days.

At the same time cement supplies are becoming extremely tight with shortages reported in 10 states -- ranging from Florida to Oregon. The Associated General Contractors of America has sounded an alarm regarding the shortage of cement stating "these reports are especially alarming because they come at the beginning of the demand season for cement, meaning more severe problems are almost certain in the near future (AGC News & Views, Volume 2 -- Issue 10, June 9, 2005)."

In addition, reports from across the country indicate long lead times (often exceeding 12 months) for precast concrete products, particularly double tees.

"Unlike the concrete industry, where costs are increasing, cement is in short supply, and lead times are growing, the structural steel industry is experiencing a period of reduced costs and readily available product," explained John Cross, vice president of marketing for the American Institute of Steel Construction. "Projects utilizing structural steel are gaining the benefits of reduced cost and achievable schedules."

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