NEW YORK Steel wire rod prices have retreated in April
on the back of lower scrap prices, with many market sources
having reported signs of weakness in the wire market at the
beginning of the year.
Though some wire producers reported improved business in the
first four months of 2013, most said sales were flat over the
same period a year ago, and mill sources said they havent
seen the effects of a gradually improving economy on their
order books this year.
People havent seen the pickup there would normally
be this time of the year. The weathers holding everything
back. Were waiting for spring, one rod mill source
. Were down everywhere about $1
Market sources confirmed that mills had dropped their prices
for most transactions around $20 per ton ($1 per cwt) in the
second half of April as scrap prices saw an unusual price
softening early in the month (
amm.com, April 10
Sources reported that most mesh-quality low-carbon wire rod
sales were conducted at $670 per ton ($33.50 per cwt) f.o.b.
mill this past week, industrial-quality low-carbon rod at $680
per ton ($34 per cwt), high-carbon wire rod at $715 per ton
($35.75 per cwt) and cold-heading-quality material at $770 per
ton ($38.50 per cwt).
Demand has been disappointing this year, sources said, with
wire producers reporting business as either flat or down
compared with 2012.
We certainly havent been blowing the doors
off, a second rod mill source said. Most of our
customers have been saying its been a little slow right
now and hoping it picks up later in the year.
Theyre talking about a housing boom, but I
dont know where it is, said a wire producer in the
Midwest who sells construction products. I think (sales
are) down a little bit over last year. We just cant quite
seem to get over that hump.
Wire producers have dropped prices as well, and sources said
the margin spread was thin, even as demand remains mediocre.
Theres been little restraint on the part of the
wire guys, who could have held on and managed their spread, but
they let it get away, a wire producer said.
Everyone kind of ran out of work and started cutting
The mood among rod vendors and buyers at this past weeks
Interwire conference in Atlanta was dampened by continued
sluggishness and tepid demand, as unseasonably low scrap tags
have dragged down rod prices (amm.com, April 25).
Some sources, however, said that business was booming.
A wire mesh producer in Texas said he was raising his prices to
slow down sales as he waits for a shipment of Chinese rod, and
a third rod mill source reported strong sales for agricultural
end products, including fencing and feed troughs. One
multiregional service center source said his company was having
a strong year so far.
March was our biggest month ever in shipments, the
service center source said. (So) from a personal, company
standpoint, when you come off the biggest month ever,
Aprils been a touch on the weak side. ... I dont
know if thats a touch of hangover. Im going to let
May be the bellwether.