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Merchant bar demand, prices steady

Keywords: Tags  steel, steel long products, merchant bar products, pricing, angles, channels, flats, Thorsten Schier

NEW YORK — Market conditions in merchant bar were described as steady this past week, with little to suggest a change in prices in the near term.

“I haven’t heard anything (on a possible price rise) and they (mills) are not expressing that sentiment,” one Midwest service center source said, adding that this reflected market conditions.

“As far as I see, there haven’t been any net changes. It’s just been flat.”

As a result, 2 x 2 x ¼-inch angles remain at $753 per ton ($37.65 per hundredweight), 3 x 3 x ¼-inch angles at $762 per ton ($38.10 per cwt), 8- x 11.5-inch channels at $747 per ton ($37.35 per cwt) and ½- x 4-inch flats at $757 per ton ($37.85 per cwt), though one mill source claimed there was some discounting off published numbers.

“There’s more than just a normal amount of funny business right now,” he said, adding that discounts of about $10 to $15 per ton were available even for smaller purchases.

“I’ve heard about (some mills) giving discounts to everybody,” he said.

The Midwest source, however, disagreed that discounting was widespread.

“I don’t think they’re discounting for people buying truckloads,” he said, adding that lower prices were only available for large, longer-term orders.

One western distributor claimed mills were slowing down their production in order to have less floor stock.

“Domestic mills are putting less material on the floor. They prefer to have the cash flow and put the money in their pocket,” he said, estimating operating rates for those mills at about 65 to 70 percent.

In the meantime, imported 2x2x1/4-inch angles are coming in mainly from Mexico, with prices reported at $660 to $700 per ton ($33 to $35 per cwt) this past week, down from $675 to $700 per ton ($33.75 to $35 per cwt) previously.

“Mexico continues to dominate the market with tons,” one trader said, adding that even the lower price levels were failing to spur demand.

“What this is showing is no matter the price, there’s just not a lot of demand out there.”

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