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West Coast structural tubing prices fall

Keywords: Tags  steel, West Coast market, tubular products, hollow structural sections, HSS, steel prices, flat-rolled coil, Frank Haflich

LOS ANGELES — West Coast structural steel tubing prices have fallen about $20 per ton ($1 per hundredweight) in the past month, with most buyers hoping recent price increases by U.S. coil mills will stem the erosion.

Prices for truckload shipments (about 20 tons) of core sizes of A500 Grade B hollow structural sections (HSS) in Los Angeles are estimated at $950 to $970 per ton ($47.50 to $48.50 per cwt), sources said.

“We’ve been fairly busy the past few months, but prices are still softening,” one distributor source said, adding that falling coil prices are the key driver of the tubing drop.

Some steelmakers on the West Coast and east of the Rockies this week raised flat-rolled steel product prices by $40 per ton ($2 per cwt) in moves that were cheered by most market sources (, March 19).

While sources said that it’s too early to tell if these increases will succeed, much less result in higher tubing prices, they nevertheless said it could help curb further declines in coil and downstream products, such as HSS. Some sources even indicated that a price increase could be brewing in the U.S. HSS market (, March 19).

Prices had held steady—at about $20 per ton ($1 per cwt) higher—since California tubers implemented a $40-per-ton increase in November (, Feb. 20). But few, if any, West Coast mills joined an effort by producers east of the Rockies to raise prices by that amount with February shipments, a move now widely viewed as unsuccessful.

Consumption on the West Coast, widely dependant on nonresidential building, also has yet to recover from the post-2008 construction slump.

“People are buying but they’re not buying heavily, just a truckload here and there,” one market source said.

Buyers are also awaiting the latest import prices, which for more than a year have been sharply below domestic tags. Imported South Korean material was put at about $770 per ton ($38.50 per cwt). “I’ll be looking for offers (on Korean tubing) in the next couple of days,” one distributor source told AMM.

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