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Chinese wire rod import prices strengthen

Keywords: Tags  Chinese steel wire rod, wire rod, traders, imports, domestic wire rod mills, Samuel Frizell

NEW YORK — Steel wire rod import prices from China have climbed in recent weeks, closing the spread between imported and domestic product after import prices hit a deep bottom in the past few months.

“Import prices have gone up from China,” one wire rod trader said. “In northern China they might have gone up 15 dollars per ton. Other mills are pushing up from $25 per ton up.”

Prices for low-carbon imported Chinese wire rod have settled between $570 and $590 c.i.f. port of Houston, sources said, up from around $550 per ton in much of June. Sources said the price increase was due to rising costs of iron ore at the Chinese mills.

“Chinese prices are going up. They’re following raw material inputs,” a second wire rod trader said. “We’re seeing raw material prices starting to pick up—that’s either due to low inventories or lack of supply.”

A third wire rod trader confirmed that the few mills that use scrap instead of iron ore as an input are offering rod at lower prices. 

U.S. rod buyers were turning to Chinese imported rod in droves earlier this year (, May 17as oversupply in China pulled rod prices there down.

Rod buyers saw large spreads in import prices and domestic mills feared a “flood” of imports. Most rod buyers have not yet paid the higher prices that traders are asking for the Chinese material, and several said that they are still relying on inventories as much as possible. 

“The Chinese are still making life difficult for the rod mills,” a rod buyer in the South said. “Domestic (mills) know they’re not going to get the material we can source from elsewhere. I think they’re resigned to volumes we make available to them primarily due to our buy America requirements.”

Higher-carbon material has been more reliable recently, sources said, and buyers are eager to use Chinese material to lower their input costs. 

The rod buyer in the South said he has seen more high-carbon material available, and added that he saw the spread between domestic high-carbon and Chinese high-carbon wire rod is still about $140 per ton. 

But with prices strengthening, Chinese material is less lucrative leaving traders more reluctant to bring on large quantities of Chinese material, two traders told AMM.

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