LOS ANGELES West Coast
prices for structural steel tubing are holding steady, although
the years first green shoots of optimism have
While prices havent risen
for the past two months, neither have they declined, which in
the past few years has been the usual outlook once tags flatten
out. Few market sources expect the recent $50-per-ton price
hike by Chesterfield, Mo.-based Bull Moose Tube Co. (
amm.com, Jan. 29), which operates a warehouse in
Arizona, to have an immediate impact on the West Coast
Core sizes of A500 Grade B
hollow structural sections delivered in the Los Angeles market
are said to be holding at $960 to $980 per ton ($48 to $49 per
hundredweight), but are at least $1 per cwt less for larger
purchases involving multiple truckloads of about 20 tons
Moreover, some market sources
now believe that an apparent pickup in construction activity
could spur demand by the second quarter.
"Were optimistic," one
distributor, who has tentatively started to build inventory,
said. "Were starting to gain a little traction."
However, it would be easy to
overstate this optimism, since most market sources said that
there has been little in terms of business to get excited about
so far this year. Inventories held by service centers, the
regions largest group of tubing buyers, are "unbelievably
low," one observer said.
Mills, on the other hand, are
said to be holding substantial levels of floor stock, as
distributors in particular use them to shoulder their inventory
"Youre not going to get
the order unless you have the full range of sizes on the
floor," one mill executive said of service center business.
importsparticularly from the West Coasts main
offshore source, South Korearemain substantially below
domestic tubing levels and declined slightly from December.
Import prices are now reported as low as $38.50 per cwt on the
most common sizes for expected arrival in late March or April.
But some buyers said they havent been able to buy a full
range of material outside these basic sizes, which could
indicate that the level of demand isnt supporting export
rollings by South Korean mills in these less-common sizes.