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Japan's Nippon Steel keeps Jul H-beam prices flat for 7th straight month

Singapore — Japan's largest integrated steelmaker, Nippon Steel will keep its domestic H-beam prices for July contracts unchanged for a seventh consecutive month, but will be eyeing price increases when market condition warrants it, the company said this week.

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Nippon Steel does not release its list prices. The current market price for senior-sized H-beams in Tokyo is around Yen 88,000-89,000/mt ($812-$821/mt), unchanged since late 2018, distributor sources in Tokyo said.

The company said high delivery costs, electrode and refractory costs and investment for maintenance of aging facilities were factors contributing to lower profit margins. Product prices will need to be raised for the company to secure adequate margins.

A Tokyo-based distributor said inquiries of H-beams have been subdued, but he expected the level of inquiries to start picking up soon, in the wake of autumn demand season. In addition, H-beam producers were also reducing their output, tightening the supply-demand balance even further.

"We expect H-beam stocks will decline...the market condition should become better [after summer]," he said.

H-beam stocks held by the company's domestic distributors totaled 220,200 mt at the end of June, down 2.8% on the month, the first decline in seven months.

Japan produces a total of 310.100 mt of H-beams in May, down 14.9% year on year and 8.6% from April, the latest data by the Japan Iron & Steel Federation showed.

--Yoko Manabe, yoko.manabe@spglobal.com

--Edited by Nurul Darni, nurul.indriani.darni@spglobal.com