PITTSBURGH Two major mills have raised concrete reinforcing bar prices by $20 per ton ($1 per hundredweight), in effect canceling price cuts they announced just weeks ago.
Jackson, Miss.-based Nucor Steel Jackson Inc., part of Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor Corp., announced its move after the market closed Friday. Tampa, Fla.-based Gerdau Long Steel North America followed Nucors lead and matched the price increase Monday morning. In both cases, all orders on the books due to ship by Aug. 31 will be price-protected.
Nucor and Gerdau had lowered prices by an identical $20 per ton in mid-July (amm.com, July 17).
"Rebar mills have given back $50 a ton over the past few months, and they want the prices back," a source at an Ohio-based distributor said. "Everyone is in a panic, and my phone has been ringing since Saturday because guys didnt see this coming."
Neither mill made mention of scrap prices in its letter, but scrap sources indicate that mills are already paying up $40 to $50 per gross ton for shredded scrap, which is a key ingredient in the long product.
The abrupt reversal caught the industry by surprise. "I knew it was going up and have been laying it down, but I had planned to buy heavy this week," a southeastern distributor source said.
A source at a Northeast distributor said that he hadnt been stockpiling rebar as demand has been weak. "There is so little demand that we have to wonder at what point demand will come into play," he said. "None of my customers are buying more than they need, and we have to react accordingly."
A Gerdau representative said the company would not comment on pricing matters, while a Nucor spokesman could not be reached for comment.