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W. Coast tubing mills join move to hike prices

Keywords: Tags  steel, structural steel tubing, Searing Industries, California mills, South Korea tubing, steel imports, Frank Haflich

LOS ANGELES — West Coast producers of structural steel tubing have begun a move to boost prices after remaining on the sidelines since last year.

Searing Industries Inc., Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., notified customers Friday that, effective with orders after March 8, it would raise prices for structural pipe and tube by $30 per ton, with the same increase on ornamental and mechanical tubing. Orders already confirmed would be price protected for shipment through March 29, while unconfirmed quotes and contracts would be subject to the new price.

Market sources said that at least one other local mill has followed Searing’s move, with others also expected to join the increase.

Before the hike, delivered prices in Los Angeles for truckload quantities of about 20 tons of core sizes of A500 Grade B hollow structural sections were estimated at a nominal $960 to $980 per ton ($48 to $49 per hundredweight). But an increasing amount of tubing is selling at a lower range of $47 to $48 per cwt, along with a limited amount of rail car quantities of 90 tons from the Midwest priced even lower.

These price moves on the West Coast follow $50-per-ton increases announced early last week by Midwest mills, although some were subsequently scaled back to $30 per ton (, March 11). While buyers in the Pacific Northwest said the Evraz Structural Tubing unit of Evraz North America Inc. in Portland, Ore. last week quickly followed the initial $50-per-ton Midwest increase, mills in California—considered crucial to any pricing move in the region taking hold—hadn’t moved until last Friday.

Indeed, California mills, typically more cautious than their counterparts east of the Rockies, had remained on the sidelines since last year, trying to preserve what remained of a $40-per-ton November hike that had been gradually eroding due to stiff competition.

"Earlier this week I was skeptical about a tubing price hike succeeding, but now I think it’s got a good chance," one market source said, citing both Midwest tubers’ willingness to take $20 per ton off their initial $50-per-ton announcement and an improving chance that the price of tubers’ coil feedstock might go up.

Moreover, quotes from the region’s most aggressive import source, South Korea, have also been rising. Offers are now pegged at $41 to $42 per cwt for July arrival, up from a low of about $38.50 per cwt earlier this year.

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