LOS ANGELES The last
vestiges of a West Coast hike of $30 per ton on structural
steel tubing appear to be fading away as prices return to
Increasing tonnages of core
sizes of A500 Grade B hollow structural sections in truckload
quantities of about 20 tons are being delivered in the Los
Angeles market at the former range of $940 to $960 per ton ($47
to $48 per hundredweight), pretty much "washing away" the
impact of increases that were to have begun in March and meant
to push prices up by at least $30 per ton ($1.50 per cwt),
according to market sources. Moreover, the price on larger
projects and requirements could fall below $47 per cwt, these
Observers believe the increases
havent held mainly due to the failure of tubers east of
the Rockies to maintain their own previously implemented
$30-per-ton hikes, which were undercut in part by continual
erosion in their coil feedstock costs. They also cite price
pressure from imports arriving on the West Coast earlier this
year that still weigh upon the local market.
South Korean tubing continues to
be offered far below domestic tags, reported at $770 to $790
per ton ($38.50 to $39.50 per cwt) for shipment in late summer.
But some sources doubt much foreign tonnage is being booked
today even at those highly discounted levels as theres
little assurance that average market prices in the region
wont be lower by the time this material arrives in
September and October, making it less attractive.
Nevertheless, these sources
speculate that some of this low-priced offshore material that
has already arrived and shipped to distributor warehouses could
figure in reports of some service centers undercutting
producers by selling below mill price.
Project activity is currently
"spotty," some observers said, noting that with the peak season
for tubing approaching theyre looking with heightened
urgency for signs of at least a modest improvement. At least a
few market participants are encouraged by what they see as
current demand being sustained, even if its holding at a
relatively low level.