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Another merchant bar price hike seen possible

Keywords: Tags  merchant bar, scrap, angles, Mexico, price increase, Thorsten Schier

NEW YORK — Another merchant bar price increase before year-end isn’t impossible due to further anticipated gains in scrap prices, sources said.

"I think the mills certainly will pass that on. That’s the trajectory and things are generally going up," one Midwest distributor said.

A second Midwest source was less certain of a near-term increase.

"It’s a coin flip, I think. If they want to follow the scrap prices yes, but will demand support it? Possibly. We are getting into the year-end slowdown," he said.

"I don’t have any real feedback from the mills yet whether demand is firm enough (for another increase)," an East Coast service center source said.

While the end-of-year slowdown looms, demand hasn’t dropped off yet, most sources agreed.

"Demand actually over the past six to eight months, it’s been relatively consistent," the first Midwest distributor said, with the second Midwest source adding that he could "hardly remember a time when things have been so level."

Meanwhile, a $20-per-ton ($1-per-hundredweight) price increase by domestic mills in early November remains in full effect.

"I haven’t seen any softening. The increase that (the mills) announced pretty much went through," the first Midwest distributor said.

In terms of price levels, published mill list prices remain in effect for spot purchases, most sources agreed, although discounts are reportedly available for larger forward buys.

"People are trying to stick to the list price as much as possible," the second Midwest source said.

Mexican mills have also attempted a price increase in response to the domestic move, sources said, though AMM’s import merchant bar assessment for 2- x 2- x ¼-inch angles remains at $660 to $700 per ton ($33 to $35 per cwt) due to a lack of reported transactions this past week.

"Mexico went up too in the same way (as the domestic mills). Officially they are sticking to it," a West Coast distributor said.

Mexico is said to be the most active shipper of merchant bar to the United States.

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