NEW YORK Rebar shipment levels were lukewarm in July, and prices are mostly holding flat ahead of expected price announcements from the mills.
Grade 60, No. 5 rebar prices have hovered around $645 per ton ($32.25 per hundredweight) in most regions since mid-June. The mills announced they would not change prices in July, despite a $16-per-ton increase in the Chicago consumer buying price for shredded auto scrap, the raw material input for rebar, and most rebar buyers have seen little price fluctuation.
Some speculated that Nucor Corp., the usual price leader, will announce a price increase in coming days, but others said they werent sure.
"It could go either way," a rebar buyer in the Northeast said. "My guess is theyre going to try to get something out of this (scrap increase). They sat on their laurels on the last $16. My bet is theyre going to move a little."
Many buyers said last month that they expected an increase at the end of July (amm.com, July 19), but Nucor has not yet announced a price change, and one mill source said he wasnt expecting a price announcement as the mills move further away from tying their prices to scrap (amm.com, June 6).
Activity increased at the end of the month after a short dip in early July around Independence Day weekend, but overall rebar shipments were down slightly compared with June, several sources said.
"Were not producing quite as much rebar as we had been," the mill source said.
Indicators for construction were positive in June and July, with the architectural billings index in June indicating continued growth in demand for building design services (amm.com, July 26). Construction employment rose 3 percent in July to 5.79 million compared with the same month last year, according to the Associated General Contractors of America, but was down slightly from June.