NEW YORK U.S. wire rod
mills are digging in their heels on the most recent price
increases, but as domestic prices gain traction, more buyers
report that theyre looking to overseas suppliers to meet
In March, domestic steel mills
announced wire rod price hikes for April 1 shipments, with
Nucor Corp. and ArcelorMittal USA LLC leading the way at up $40
per ton ($2 per hundredweight) and other mills following at up
$35 per ton ($1.75 per cwt).
A portion of the increases
appear to have stuck, with sources this past week reporting
mesh-quality low-carbon wire rod prices at $690 per ton ($34.50
per cwt) f.o.b. mill, industrial-quality low-carbon rod at $710
per ton ($35.50 per cwt), high-carbon wire rod at $735 per ton
($36.75 per cwt) and cold-heading quality material at $790 per
ton ($39.50 per cwt). That marks an increase of $30 per ton
($1.50 per cwt) on all products, although some reported a
little negotiating room.
On the spot market, "generally,
we got about $30 out of it," a mill source said of the price
"(Up) $2 (per cwt) has stuck
from certain mills," said one rod buyer in the Midwest. "Others
are at (up) $1.50. But Im not in a hurry to buy, because
I think those prices are going right back down again in
With published domestic prices
on the rise, some wire fabricators said they have reduced their
buying except to fill holes in their inventories, while others
say they are still pushing for deals.
"The thing with some buyers is
that they shrug their shoulders when the price goes up. I sure
as hell dont shrug my shoulders. Once (the mills) know
that youre not going to budge, they know (theyre)
going to have to go down to make a sale," said a Southern rod
Others said they were turning to
imports, saying margins were too slim to justify purchasing
costlier domestic material.
"Domestics have said they were
going to up $1.75 (per cwt). They can do what they want.
Were not going to buy from them. We dont need to.
... They can do that as much as they want and if people
dont buy, theyll have to reassess where
theyre at," said a Midwest wire fabricator. "Were
talking to traders about purchasing for July or August
At the same time, rod buyers are
watching for early signs that ferrous scrap prices might fall
in April, keeping some would-be buyers on the sidelines.
"It seems like everyones
waiting to place their orders, and theres a feeling that
scrap is going down," said a second mill source.