NEW YORK A slow midwinter
construction market and the expectation of fairly flat scrap
prices in February have frozen steel long product tags, sources
said, noting that buyers continue to hold out on higher-volume
deals to see if business begins to thaw as spring
Wire rod prices have held steady
in recent weeks, buyers and sellers said, with mesh-quality
low-carbon wire rod prices at $33.50 per hundredweight ($670
per ton) f.o.b. mill, industrial-quality low-carbon rod at $34
per cwt ($680 per ton), high-carbon wire rod at $35.25 per cwt
($705 per ton) and cold-heading quality prices at $38 per cwt
($760 per ton).
Reinforcing bar prices also
remained unchanged in the final weeks of January, with most
sources still reporting tags at around $34 per cwt ($680 per
ton) f.o.b. mill.
"Volumes are definitely not
flying off the shelves but pricing has been pretty stable," one
rebar producer said.
The sideways pricing comes at a
time of steadybut not dynamicsteel demand.
"Were buying for what we
need for the near future, but were not gobbling," a
Midwest rebar buyer said, noting that a January slowdown in
construction appeared largely seasonal.
"Aside from the economy,
its just that time of year," the Midwest rebar buyer
"I think inventories are OK
right now," a Midwest wire rod buyer agreed. "Everyones
kind of waiting for another shoe to drop."
A number of industry sources
said they were waiting for February scrap prices to
settlelikely as early as next weekto give them an
indication of where steel prices are headed. U.S. scrap market
participants speculated earlier this week that ferrous scrap
prices would be sideways to marginally down in February (
amm.com, Jan. 28).
"The scrap market is figuring
itself out. ... Itll be settled in the next five business
days," the rebar producer said.
Industry sources also said they
were waiting for two mid-February conferences, the World of
Concrete event in Las Vegas and the American Wire Producers
Association (AWPA) annual conference in Orlando, Fla., where
they expect to settle bigger deals that could determine volumes
and pricing for the months ahead.
"The telling tale will probably
evolve around the middle of February when everyone is at the
AWPA," the Midwest wire rod buyer said.