NEW YORK Concrete
reinforcing bar spot prices have slipped back to first-quarter
levels after a brief late-March pickup.
A number of sources said they
had expected business to improve as winter weather dispersed,
but a significant uptick in rebar demand over 2012 has simply
not materialized yet for many along the supply chain.
Year-to-date business for most sources has been flat this year
compared with 2012, when the market saw a milder winter.
"Its been very slow for
the first four months of the year," a mill source said. "The
slow-to-slight expansion of growth we thought wed see
this year has not happened. ... We should be in the busy season
and prices are slipping backwards."
Earlier this month, Nucor Corp.
and Gerdau Long Steel North America separately lowered their
rebar net prices by $15 per ton (75 cents per hundredweight)
for mid-April shipments following a $22-per-ton drop in
AMMs consumer buying price for shredded
automotive scrap in April. Gerdau had earlier announced it
would raise rebar transactional prices by $10 per ton (50 cents
per cwt) on April 15 in a move that sources perceived as an
attempt to firm up the market, but it rescinded that increase
following news of Nucors decision to drop net prices (
amm.com, April 11).
"Gerdau tried to put out the
increase, Nucor waited a few days and said, Thats
not what were doing, so they rescinded," a rebar
fabricator source in Ohio said.
Market sources confirmed that as
a result of spotty demand and the announced price cuts, spot
prices have slipped to around $670 per ton ($33.50 per cwt)
f.o.b. mill in the past week from around $690 per ton ($34.50
per cwt) at the end of March.
The weaker pricing comes as
several sources reported having poor starts this year due to a
long winter season, which tightened up purchasing as some
construction projects took longer to get off the ground.
"This may be our fourth month in
a row of losing money this year," the Ohio rebar fabricator
source said. "It was a lingering winter compared to the prior
Business in regions that
experienced longer winter seasons and poor March weather
reported a slower start compared with buyers in warmer areas,
like Texas and California, sources said.
"Personally, our business is
behind 2012 levels, for the first quarter anyway," a Northeast
rebar fabricator source said.
Seasonal demand was particularly
depressed in the northern Midwest, where snow and heavy rain
continued into April. As a result, rebar fabricators were
starved for orders and faced long project-start delays, they
"We had the slowest March
weve ever had," a rebar fabricator source in Minnesota
said. "We have a winter up here (thats) colder than other
areas of the country so our peaks and values are lower than in
a warmer climate, (but it was) a more severe winter this
Meanwhile, order books remain
firm in parts of the South and along the West Coast, sources
"Overall Im busier but I
havent (seen it everywhere)," said a rebar distributor
source serving some accounts in Texas. "Its all by
regions. I would say this April is better than last years
April, and Aprils better than it was in March. Im
still knocking em down somehow."