Structural steel tubing prices remain steady on the West Coast,
with buyers and mills scrutinizing the market for threats to
"Prices are holding
but people are growing uneasy," a market source said, while a
service center executive described conditions as "flat, but
were not especially comfortable."
Buyers said this week
that they are being surveyed by what they describe as nervous
mill suppliers for indications that prices are eroding as
overall demand continues to remain flat.
Prices for truckload
shipments (about 20 tons) of core sizes of A500 Grade B hollow
structural sections (HSS) in the Los Angeles market remain in
an estimated range of $970 to $990 per ton ($48.50 to $49.50
per hundredweight). Although pricing in some outlying western
markets have declined by perhaps $1 per cwt in recent weeks,
most market sources said it is too early to predict the start
of a regional trend.
Few people on the West
Coast were surprised by the failure so far of a $20-per-ton
increase announced by producers east of the Rockies effective
with Feb. 17 shipments. California tube makers failed to post a
similar increase, believing that their own market wasnt
ready for a hike and skeptical that the rest of the country
would accept one. The last time California mills raised prices
was a $40-per-ton increase in November (
amm.com, Dec. 4).
But the potential
impact of imports worries some mills as South Korean offers
show little sign of moving above a reported range of $38 to $39
per cwt ex-dock on commodity sizes for expected arrival in May
or June. This has raised concern that a substantial amount of
foreign tubing could arrive in the months ahead, although some
buyers argue that their own cautious outlook leaves them
disinclined to load up on tubing beyond their immediate
requirements despite imports price advantage.
Market sources also
pointed out that the chances for prices firming were not helped
by this weeks preliminary decision by the U.S. Commerce
Departments International Trade Administration not to
assess anti-dumping duties on Korean oil country tubular goods
(OCTG) shipments (
amm.com, Feb. 18).
tubing and OCTG are sold in different customer markets, these
sources nevertheless believed it was likely that any ruling
against OCTG could have convinced Korean HSS mills to temper
their aggressive pricing.