NEW YORK Merchant bar mills are sticking to their guns on a recent $20-per-ton ($1-per-hundredweight) increase, sources told AMM this past week.
"Everybody went along," a source at an East Coast distributor said.
A Midwest distributor source attributed the firm stance to rising scrap prices rather than a pickup in demand. "Historically, this time of the year scrap gets strength. It (the increase) is not being so much demand driven," he said.
As a result, little additional buying has been spurred by the increase as distributors continue to maintain lean inventories, but sources wonder whether the increase will last until the first quarter, when distributors typically have to restock.
"Usually, for us the first quarter is the busiest," the Midwest distributor source said.
A western distributor said the increase was being backed up by low stock levels at mills in his area, even for commodity items. "Theres a big need in the market, and now you need to book for rollings in the future," he said.
The increase puts U.S. prices for benchmark 2- x 2- x ¼-inch angles at $773 per ton ($38.65 per hundredweight) for spot purchases, up from $753 per ton ($37.65 per cwt) previously, although discounting for large-volume buyers continues, sources said.
Meanwhile, import prices for 2- x 2- x ¼-inch angles remain at $660 to $700 per ton ($33 to $35 per cwt), with Mexico still said to be the most active shipper of merchant bar to the United States.