SBQ buyers report soft demand, price erosion

Mar 15, 2013 | 01:27 PM | Corinna Petry

Tags  Special bar quality products, SBQ pricing, SBQ demand, production curtailments, processors, distributors, corinna petry

CHICAGO — First-quarter demand for special bar quality (SBQ) products has not proven as stable as many buyers and sellers had hoped, with a number of sources reporting reduced turns and hours of production at some mills due to less-than-robust order books.

"Our order book is slow. February was way off and March, too, from last year to somewhere between 2009 and 2010 levels," said an upper Great Lakes buyer. "That is in spite of automotive demand, improved housing starts and a rising stock market."

A source at a national bar distributor confirmed the apparent slowdown. "(Some mills) cut production a turn or two, and some hours, to create more backlog," he said. "They’re cutting overhead because business is not good. If they had an order book, they would not cut turns and hours."....

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