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W. Coast steel tubers reluctant to join hike

Keywords: Tags  steel tube, West Coast tube producers, price increase, coil prices, American Tubular Products, Schaeffer Industries, Evraz Inc. North America, Frank Haflich

NEW YORK — Key West Coast tubing producers continue to hold back from joining a price hike, but some buyers think rising coil prices could trigger an increase despite a weak market.

Tubing mills east of the Rockies have already announced hikes of $30 per ton, scaled back from an initial $50 per ton, but California tubers balked at joining their counterparts in the East and Midwest as a lagging construction-dependant market has failed so far to show convincing signs of improvement.

Prices on core sizes of A500 grade B hollow structural sections delivered in the Los Angeles market are nominally in a range of $940 to $960 per ton ($47 to $48 per hundredweight).

Tags have been softening in the past month, however, with discounts of $1 per cwt increasingly being reported by various market sources, even on truckload buys of around 20 tons, as demand continued to slacken.

Nevertheless, if recent moves by western flat-rolled producers to raise the price of tubing mills’ coil feedstock are successful, tubers might decide they have no other choice than to attempt an increase of their own.

"A portion of any coil hike has to be translated into a tubing increase, but up to this point I’ve yet to see it reflected in tubing prices," one market source said about the pressure of rising coil costs. "And with the slow summer season starting for tubing, it doesn’t look promising."

Despite these doubts, some people believe that, depending on how much of a price hike coil producers are able to push through, California tubers could begin announcing hikes by the upcoming July 4 holiday.

Two western tubing mills that often move prior to California producers have already said they’re implementing hikes. American Tubular Products LLC, the Lindon, Utah, division of Schaeffer Industries Inc., announced a $30-per-ton hike effective with June 14 orders, and market sources said that the Portland, Ore., structural tubing facility of Evraz Inc. North America also had indicated an increase to customers, although the specific amount couldn’t be learned. An Evraz spokeswoman declined to comment on pricing.

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