Two major stainless steel flat-rolled mills are planning what amounts to a 3% increase in August 2009 transaction prices for cold-rolled sheet. Price increases have been announced by the Allegheny Ludlum unit of Allegheny Technologies and North American Stainless. The other major US producer, AK Steel, is seeking to increase stainless surcharges in September. Allegheny Ludlum says its increase is actually 6% when buyers factor in the price hikes and functional discount cuts also announced for hot-rolled sheet and strip, tubular quality sheet and strip, continuous mill plate products and its proprietary emissions control alloys. The price increase comes at a time when stainless steel use has dropped by 36% through April this year, based on calculations from data supplied by the Specialty Steel Industry of North America. That may explain why producers have reported erratic output so far this year. According to statistics gathered by the American Iron and Steel Institute, stainless production has ranged from a high of 166,777tns in February to a low of 92,948tns in April but has rebounded to 126,435tns in June.