NEW YORK Wire rod prices have risen in recent weeks but
a slowdown in demand and pressure from imports have prevented
price hikes from being fully realized, sources said.
A round of $50- to $55-a-ton price hikes initiated last month
helped push some transaction prices higher but buyers reported
that quiet end markets, a lack of real demand and fiscal
uncertainty prevented mills from achieving the full amount (
amm.com, Nov. 14
Mesh-quality low-carbon wire rod prices transacted at $33.50
per hundredweight ($670 per ton), up from November prices of
$32.25 per cwt ($645 per ton), while industrial-quality
low-carbon rod transacted at $34 per cwt ($690 per ton), up
from $32.60 per cwt ($652 per ton). High-carbon wire rod prices
have inched up to $35.25 per cwt ($705 per ton) from $34.90 per
cwt ($698 per ton), while cold-heading quality rod is up to $38
per cwt ($760 per ton) from $36 per cwt ($720 per ton).
As domestic steelmakers try to hold on to that $50-a-ton
increase, buyers have cited partial success.
I dont think anyone can say that the full increase
was a hard and fast $50. Theyre getting it in some
places, but I think people are negotiating hard in particular
instances, said a buyer. Business has been pretty
Mill sources also agreed that business has been slow, citing
weaker demand and buyers only asking for what they need.
No one is rushing out to buy inventory. Business has been
fairly brisk, one mill source said. The only
difference is that people are waiting till the last minute to
make inventory buys. Other than that, no one wants to go out
and load up. Weve certainly seen demand being
Others say imports could be a factor in domestic prices failing
to stick. Since the fall, a number of traders and buyers said
they anticipated large shipments of Chinese rod to hit U.S.
shores, putting downward pressure on steelmakers.
While only 58,218 tonnes of wire rod were set to hit U.S. ports
in November, according to license data from Commerce
Departments Import Administrationdown from the
68,710 tonnes tallied in Octoberthose numbers are
expected to increase, with bookings now being made through
early May, traders said.
Im trying to figure out if I want to make import
buys (right now), a second buyer said. Business
isnt that great with the mills and some of them are on
The buyer added that when mills ramp back up in the new year,
prices will likely increase, allowing for more foreign material
to be sold in the market.
But as market participants look ahead to potential issues in
the new yearincluding a potential failure to resolve the
fiscal cliffthe primary course of action seems to be wait
Forecasts say itll get better, but that hasnt
materialized, the first buyer added. Were
seeing slight positive signs out there ...but were not
going to start building inventory on wire rod just to take
advantage of something that we dont know will be