NEW YORK Domestic mills rebar prices were unchanged this month as demand remained relatively soft and some buyers optimism for the end of the year waned.
Market sources had predicted a significant improvement in business in the second half of 2013, forecasting an increase in nonresidential construction nationwide and expressing hope that rebar prices would rise (amm.com, Feb. 5).
Prices for domestic Grade 60 No. 5 rebar have stagnated at around $645 per ton ($32.25 per hundredweight) for three months, however, and nonresidential construction has not increased significantly, sources said.
"Were pretty much seeing a flatline on pricing," a rebar buyer in the Northeast said. "Shame on all the guru analytical guys saying its going to be third, fourth quarter that we see a pickup."
Rebar prices saw more month-over-month volatility earlier this year, but prices have largely stabilized as shredded automotive scrap tags have fluctuated less and mills have decoupled rebar prices from scrap costs.
Many rebar buyers said summer activity has not made up for the late start in construction caused by heavy rain and cold temperatures in the spring in many regions of the country.
Sources said that the end of the year was unlikely to bring a rush of purchases.
"Fabricators, even the big guys, dont have a great backlog, and theres this time of the year that if you havent seen a job, theres not a lot of hope before the end of the year," a mill source said.
Some sources disagreed, saying demand has been relatively robust, and held out hope that the year will finish strong.
"In the Dakotas, Iowa and Nebraska, you dont have too many months left," a rebar buyer in the Midwest said. "Youve got to start talking about snowyoure only two, three months away from snowfall and youve got to get projects going."
"Right now were doing fine, so hopefully it continues through the fall," a rebar buyer in the Great Plains said.
While data shows spotty increases in construction activity and spending so far this year (amm.com, Aug. 14), sources said most of their orders were for smaller residential projects.