NEW YORK Rebar buyers are starting to see price increases from the mills take hold as the market shows signs of life before winter sets in and Turkish rebar exporters back out of the U.S. market.
Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor Corp. led the charge earlier this month by announcing a price increase of $10 per ton (50 cents per hundredweight), and was soon followed by Gerdau Long Steel North America, Tampa, Fla. (amm.com, Oct. 16). It was the first increase in months, and the uptick appears to be taking hold.
"The increase is sticking. People are not complaining about it," one mill source said. "People are buying. We can cruise for the winter here at these rates. If its a cold, wet winter, (activity) will slow down around mid- to late November. Hopefully, theres enough backlog then."
A rebar buyer agreed. "Theyre sticking to that increase," he said.
Some rebar buyers are still expecting shipments at pre-increase prices and havent yet ordered at new price levels, but said they expect to pay $10 per ton more when they do.
Grade 60 No. 5 rebar is transacting at around $650 per ton ($32.50 per hundredweight) f.o.b. mill.
Some rebar buyers reported a flurry of market activity, with their customers rushing to buy fabricated rebar before the ground freezes. In regions unlikely to see sub-zero temperatures, buyers are wary of increased winter rainfall, and contractors are rushing to finish projects before December.
"Some of the business is, Hey, lets get it started now and try to get it all under roof so we can do other stuff before the snow flies," a second rebar buyer said.
Imports from Mexico have been offered at higher prices, with buyers reporting that offers have increased at least $20 per ton since the trade petition against Turkish and Mexican rebar was filed in September (amm.com, Sept. 5).
A large order of Turkish rebar was booked recently for January arrival at $520 per short ton, a rebar trader said, but current import offers c.i.f. Houston are in the $550- to $570-per-ton range. With the threat of duties looming, however, importers say they are unlikely to book much Turkish material going forward.
With cheap Turkish imports likely off the table in the coming months, mills are preparing for yet another round of increases, several sources said, although reports of a looming price hike were unconfirmed.
"Everyones running to secure material because they see prices going up," a third rebar buyer said. "I fully expect (the mills) to raise it (again) next month."