LOS ANGELES West Coast structural steel tubing prices continue to soften amid a continuing shakeout in distribution capacity, with some buyers believing the bottom may be near.
Truckload prices to distributors for core sizes of A500 Grade B hollow structural sections (HSS) in the Los Angeles market are estimated at $46.50 to $47.50 per hundredweight ($930 to $950 per ton) and possibly lower for larger buys, reflecting a reported decline of about $1 per cwt in the past six weeks.
"Demand isnt strong; people are just buying what they can sell and can use tomorrow," a distributor source said.
However, several market sources do not think there is much room for further erosion, especially with indications that prices for coil feedstock could rise and what some buyers see as a greater "reluctance" of tubers to price even more aggressively.
But they also acknowledge that South Korean tubing, which has been quoted at a reported $38 to $39 per cwt, continues to exert pressure on overall pricing.
Few sources said they see signs yet from local tubing mills that producers are looking to follow their counterparts east of the Rockies, which have announced price increases effective with Nov. 4 shipments (amm.com, Oct. 7).
Meanwhile, two companies in the West Coast marketState Pipe & Supply Inc., Rialto, Calif., and Young Steel & Tube, Compton, Calif.have discontinued HSS distribution in a construction environment that still is not showing any signs of a near-term turnaround.
A State Pipe & Supply Inc. executive told AMM the distributor has determined that structural tubing was not complementary to its line of pipe products, which are unaffected by its decision.
A caller to Young Steel & Tube was told the company is no longer stocking structural tubing, while an executive closely identified with its tubing business is no longer employed there. Another Young Steel executive could not be reached for further comment on the companys plans.
The defections from the tubing market continue a trend that emerged this summer with the shutdown of the West Coast structural steel divisions of Roswell, Ga.-based Kloeckner Metals Corp., whose products included HSS (amm.com, July 5).