ATLANTA The steel
wire and steel wire rod industry has emerged from its worst
years, but business continues to hum along at a mediocre level,
attendees at the Interwire trade exposition in Atlanta told
AMM, indicating they are lukewarm about the state of
"Business is fair. Not bad, not
good. Its a five. But at least its not a one," a
wire rod buyer in the South said on the sidelines of the
"People are not very bullish.
Theyre buying what they need, but its not
gangbusters," a wire rod trader agreed.
Mills have pushed for higher
wire rod prices this year, but the market doesnt appear
ready to absorb increased input costs, sources said. They note
that announced $35- to $40-per-ton increases effective with
April 1 shipments have only partially stuck (
amm.com, April 12).
"They have really tried to stick
out the increase, but they couldnt," the trader said of
the producer hikes.
Rod mills and rod buyers have
been fighting thin margins and overcapacity, and even though
demand has picked up, profits havent increased to the
"Margins havent improved.
Tonnage has. Our sale dollars are up not because of prices, but
because of added tons," a second wire rod buyer in the South
Demand has picked up recently in
certain products, particularly in construction, said one mill
source, who added that the business environment hasnt
returned to pre-recession levels.
"We think our customers here
just run out their inventoriesdont take this as
(meaning) business is back," the mill source said.
One wire rod buyer on the
exhibition floor urged patience. "Its like a pump. If the
airs coming out slow, you dont want to put a pin in
it and blow it up. Slowly but surely, and well be OK," he
"I dont think we (in the
wire business) are making a lot of money, but were doing
all right," the wire buyer said. "Lets take our time and
go slowly as long as were going in the right