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Merchant bar market steady, slowdown seen

Keywords: Tags  merchant bar, angles, channels, flats, bar imports, domestic bar, merchange bar prices, steel bar Thorsten Schier

NEW YORK — The merchant bar market showed little change this past week, with reports mixed as most sources described business conditions as steady while some reported a recent slowdown.

"After Labor Day we might see some action," one East Coast distributor said, describing demand as "lackluster."

"Business has slowed down quite a bit in the last week and a half," a Midwest distributor added.

Sources in the East and Midwest said mills in their regions were producing more floor stock, as they aren’t cutting production even as activity levels have slowed.

However, one western distributor said less common sizes were becoming hard to get in his area due to reduced rolling schedules at mills. "(Mills) are skipping a lot of sizes. They’re trying to roll bread-and-butter sizes and the other sizes are based on accumulation," he said.

Sources aren’t expecting much change in the market ahead, with pricing "disgustingly stable," one trader said.

"(Domestic mills) should push the prices up to give (importers) a little window," he said.

As a result, U.S. prices for 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) this past week.

However, some sources claimed that big buyers were getting discounts on published numbers of between $10 and $40 per ton (50 cents and $2 per cwt).

Meanwhile, import prices for 2- x 2- x ¼-inch angles also remained steady this past week at $660 to $700 per ton ($33 to $35 per cwt), with imported material said not much of a factor.

"If you’re a big buyer and you get discounts from the domestic mills, their (importers’) spread is not advantageous," the Midwest source said.

"There’s not much import going on. It’s a domestic business right now," the East Coast source added.

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