CHICAGO The domestic
reinforcing bar market is poised to hold steady heading into
the new year as one producer said it plans to keep prices
unchanged after a recent sideways move in scrap. But the
picture could change in the coming months with an anticipated
pickup in demand, sources said.
Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor
Corp. plans to lower its scrap surcharge on rebar, merchant bar
and structural products by $1 per ton effective with Jan. 1
shipments following a slight dip in published scrap prices (
amm.com, Dec. 10). But the steelmaker also said it
would increase its base prices by the same amount, leaving tags
unchanged, according to a letter to customers dated Monday.
Market sources generally
expected other domestic mills to keep prices steady, although
AMM hadnt yet seen letters from other mills.
However, any also said they
expect tags to rise in the coming months as scrap supplies
tighten over the winter and as demand picks up both abroad and
domestically in early 2013.
"Some people were holding out
for a decrease. Now theyre realizing there is no drop (in
prices) and are grudgingly sending in their orders," one rebar
Several buyers are looking to
time their orders for the first week of January to avoid having
stock at the end of the year, as well as to have material on
hand in advance of any potential price hike announcements in
mid-January, he said.
"I thought (prices) were going
to move sideways," one East Coast rebar fabricator said in
echoing other market sources, adding that he didnt expect
the move to have any significant impact on the market.
A fabricator in the Midwest
largely agreed. "Its a good thing theyre not
raising them (prices)," he said.
Some market sources have become
increasingly concerned about month-to-month swings in scrap
prices despite a market characterized by generally weak demand
amm.com, Nov. 12).
The Midwest fabricator said his
company has had a decent year but business has slowed, as it
traditionally does over the holidays and during the winter
months. Most orders are a fraction of what they had been
earlier in the year, he said.
"Coming into winter, everyone is
just buying what they need right now. ... So its quiet.
And thats normal. But last year was a pretty mild winter,
and we stayed busy, so it feels a little weird," the Midwest
A West Coast fabricator said
business in the regions long-beleaguered construction
sector is showing signs of picking up. Large projects, both
public and privatesome of which could consume large
quantities of structural steelare generally on the
drawing board in the western states, and in California in
particular, the West Coast fabricator said, adding that the
projects range from bridge and rail work to residential
high-rises and technology firm expansions.
"The domestic market is in
better shape now than it has been in past years," he said.
"There are some big-volume jobs out there that allow for
optimism going forward."
Competition might also be less
intense than in the past because some fabricators have either
left the market or have been gobbled up by bigger companies, he