NEW YORK The steel wire
rod market is humming along at a slow but constant pace, with
rod mills holding on to most of their April price increases as
demand in construction picks up for the spring, sources told
"Its still sluggish, but
there seems to be an underlying positive message in all this,"
one mill source said.
Domestic steel mills are holding
on to most of their $35- to $40-per-ton ($1.75- to
$2-per-hundredweight) wire rod price hikes announced for April
1 shipments (
amm.com, March 29), sources said, with prices up
between $25 and $40 per ton from pre-increase levels depending
on tonnage and vendor.
Sources reported most
mesh-quality low-carbon wire rod sales at $690 per ton ($34.50
per cwt) f.o.b. mill this past week, industrial-quality
low-carbon rod at $700 per ton ($35 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), with certain pricing
leaders securing more of the increase and others offering more
"As much as $2 (per cwt) has
stuck (but) it seems to me theyre getting half back when
were negotiating prices to back down," a large rod buyer
in the Midwest said.
Generally "$25 to $30 (per ton )
is sticking up," the mill source said of the announced April 1
price increases, while others reported a full $40-per-ton
increase at some mills.
Some rod buyers, particularly
those serving the construction market, said they were starting
to buy more material from domestic mills, while others said
they couldnt afford the price increase and were
increasingly looking to import material.
Construction demand is beginning
to pick up after a long winter across several key regions
delayed the beginning of the construction season, sources said.
Wire drawers selling into housing and larger construction
projects said they are seeing business slowly improve, although
those serving industrial applications said they are still
"Were getting a pretty
strong order backlog thats been better than we expected,"
according to one wire drawer for construction applications,
noting that he was buying extra material for May to meet
"Weve seen demand only in
construction products pick up," a wire drawer in the South
But for industrial applications,
demand is tepid and buyers are turning to cheaper imports to
battle thinning margins.
"(Sales of) low-carbon
industrial wire have been flat," the buyer in the South
Several buyers reported
delivered mesh-quality import prices as cheap as $580 per ton
($29 per cwt) and said they were relying increasingly on
imports in order to stay profitable.
"The market is soft in terms of
customer demand and its hand-to-mouth (purchasing).
Nobodys bring in inventory unless they need it. Its
very cutthroat," a rod buyer in the Midwest said. "We
didnt buy any domestic steel for April because we
didnt need to and we couldnt afford it."