NEW YORK The domestic
merchant bar market was described as steady this past week,
although some market participants said that, given the season,
things should be busier.
"Its been medium-steady
but not overwhelming. This time of year we should be very, very
busy," a source at a Mid-Atlantic distributor said.
He attributed the
slower-than-expected demand largely to an inability by
customers to get bank financing for construction projects,
which has meant that "nothings turning into orders."
A mill source agreed that the
market was flat but said the assessment that things were weaker
than forecast was not correct. "Things are behaving like they
ought to at this time of year. Weve been fairly steady on
the merchant bar side," he said.
Nonetheless, the mill source
said he thinks prices could remain soft through August due to
an expected decline in scrap prices (
amm.com, May 24). "Normally, our low point for
scrap is August and then it starts rising," he said.
This past week, prices for 2 x 2
x ¼-inch angles have held steady at $753 per ton ($37.65
per cwt), 3 x 3 x ¼-inch angles are unchanged at $762
per ton ($38.10 per cwt), 8- x 11.5-inch channels are at $747
per ton ($37.35 per cwt) and ½- x 4-inch flats are at
$757 per ton ($37.85 per cwt).
The flat pricing comes as Nucor
Corp. recently lowered its raw material surcharge on rebar,
merchant bar and structural products by $22 per ton ($1.10 per
cwt) but raised its base prices on those products by the same
amount, leaving transaction prices unchanged (
amm.com, May 21). Earlier in the month, the
Charlotte, N.C.-based steelmaker had lowered its base prices by
$20 per ton ($1 per cwt) "due to market conditions" (
amm.com, May 3). Both moves were followed by other
major domestic mills.
While most sources surveyed by
AMM reported paying list prices for spot buys this
past week, discounts were said to be emerging for large-volume
"Oh absolutely they (the mills)
come to me first with (the list price). The tonnage gets the
deals," said a source at a second Mid-Atlantic distributor who
buys small quantities.
The first Mid-Atlantic source
said he had heard of big service centers getting discounts as
deep as 12 percent off the list price for buys as small as 100
to 200 tons, although a source at a Midwest distributor said he
had only seen the discounts available for big orders.
"Anythings possible, but
thats not the norm. They (the mills) are looking for
commitments for quarters or months (in order to give discounts
of that magnitude)," he said.