Prices for structural steel tubing are holding steady on the
West Coast, with mills and buyers awaiting signs that
conditions are ripe to post an increase.
Mill selling prices
remain fairly solid nearly two months after the latest increase
even though they arent "setting any records" in overall
sales volumes, market sources told AMM.
"By and large, the
numbers are stable," one source said about hollow structural
section (HSS) prices, noting that this is occurring with little
indication of strengthening demand.
Prices for truckload
shipments (about 20 tons) of core sizes of A500 Grade B HSS in
the Los Angeles market are estimated at $970 to $990 per ton
($48.50 to $49.50 per hundredweight).
Current price levels
are a result of $40-per-ton increases slated by California
tubing producers for November (
amm.com, Dec. 4), although the full increase
isnt necessarily included in what buyers are paying
today. This leaves local tubers at least two rounds of
increases behind mills east of the Rockies, including the
latest $20-per-ton announcement (
amm.com, Jan. 21).
producers in the Midwest and South, which have in the past been
quick to announce price increases only to rescind them shortly
thereafter, West Coast tubing mills are typically more
conservative, electing to post increases only when they are
reasonably sure theyll stick.
Not have they
apparently stuck, but they have held firm for longer than any
time "in the last couple of years," one mill executive
Certain mills are
requesting larger minimum orders of at least a truckload on
some larger, less common sizesviewed as a "positive" sign
in terms of keeping prices firm, one buyer noted.
Whether this will
encourage tubers on the West Coast to follow the latest
$20-per-ton increase by their counterparts in the East is
unclear. Imports, specifically South Korean tubing, continue to
be priced sharply below domestic product, estimated at $38 to
$39 per cwt ex-dock for the most common sizes for arrival in
early to mid-May.
that hot-rolled coils, the major feedstock for tubing mills,
might have reached a plateau partly due to the severe freeze in
other parts of the countrybringing business to a
temporary standstillhas some players cautious.
"Im hoping the
extra attention Im getting from certain coil suppliers is
due to the cold weather and not a sign that their prices are
about to soften," a West Coast tubing executive said.