NEW YORK Despite
competitive pricing, steel wire rod imports continue to slide
as buyers concerned about the economy in the new year hesitate
to take the plunge.
"Its a brave new world for
all of us right now. As China slows down, theyll want to
put stuff over here. But looking at this past 2012 ... Im
not sure theres an upside," said one buyer. "Im
hoping things will become more clear at the first of the
Wire rod sources said earlier in
the fall that competitively priced imports from Turkey and
China were being well received in the marketplace, but sources
arent so sure anymore, citing slack economic conditions
and potential tax hikes.
"Things are just
fine. Last week was kind of dead and this week
isnt a whole lot better, either," one trader said.
"Business is so-so. But we have all this economic stuff going
on(like) the fiscal cliffand Im hoping that
once we get through it, the first and second quarter will be
Wire rod scheduled for February
shipment transacted at $590 to $620 per ton in the past week,
up slightly from November prices of $585 to $600. Multiple
sources said that at least 20,000 tons of rod are expected to
arrive in March.
Domestic mills, however, are
said to be pushing aggressively for a full $50-per-ton increase
announced for Dec. 1 shipments (
amm.com, Nov. 15), although some market sources
told AMM they doubted the hike would fully stick due
to lower-priced imports coming into the market. Moving forward,
other sources said they expect another increase despite early
indications that scrap prices will move sideways (
amm.com, Nov. 28).
"Business has been OK right now.
Were hoping to see a pickup in a few weeks (for imported
material)," a second trader said, adding that the first two
quarters of the year are usually the strongest for rod
Some 57,838 tonnes of wire rod
were set to arrive at U.S. ports in November, according to
license data from the Commerce Departments Import
Administration, including 3,342 tonnes from Turkey. No Chinese
material was scheduled to arrive last month, and traders said
they anticipate Chinese shipments will begin arriving this
Others said conditions ahead
look darker, as lower demand from end-users has tempered buying
in the interim.
"If this fiscal thing really
hits, there will be problems," a second buyer said. "Weve
been slow for the last few weeks. Right now, my
customersthe ones who are usually busy this time of
yeararent. That makes us not busy, either.
Were all waiting to see what happens."