After spending much of the past year at a not-too-shabby four-star rank, Nucor (NYSE: NUE) has impressed enough top-performing members of our 160,000-strong Motley Fool CAPS community to climb to five stars. A total of 1,946 members have given their opinion on the steelmaker, with many of them offering analysis and commentary explaining the recent optimism.

Though not everyone sees light at the end of the tunnel for stagnant industrial growth, CAPS members are becoming more bullish on a potential turnaround in domestic steel demand, and many think Nucor's operations are primed to take advantage of any uptick. The company recently said the first quarter was the first time in a while that it's seen real end-demand for its products rather than demand from restocking inventories. It posted a better-than-expected first-quarter profit, with revenue growing 38%.

While the hunger for steel in China and other parts of the globe has been fueling the furnaces for South Korean steel giant POSCO (NYSE: PKX) -- which recently reported a four-fold rise in quarterly earnings -- good news has also been coming from some of Nucor's domestic steel-producing peers, which suggests improvement ahead in the U.S.

U.S. Steel (NYSE: X) said it sees signs of recovery and expects to return to a profit in the upcoming quarter, while AK Steel (NYSE: AKS) reported a 78% jump in shipments in the first quarter. Steel Dynamics (Nasdaq: STLD) topped Wall Street's first-quarter expectations and followed that with a positive view for 2010.

Nucor still sees weakness in the U.S. commercial and nonresidential construction markets and has yet to see any significant impact from federal stimulus dollars. Others are echoing the same view: Heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) has seen most of its recent strength outside the U.S., and Commercial Metals (NYSE: CMC), which recently posted a quarterly loss because of heavy reliance on building construction, hopes projects will pick up in the second half of the year.

Despite the domestic uncertainty, Nucor is expecting continued earnings improvement in the second quarter and many CAPS members like its long-term prospects.

Do you think Nucor deserves its raised status? Add your thoughts in the comments box below on this page, or head over to CAPS to rate the company and check out all the information and opinions the community offers, absolutely free.

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Fool contributor Dave Mock owns no shares of companies mentioned here. Nucor is a Stock Advisor choice. POSCO is an Income Investor selection. The Fool's disclosure policy moonlights at a local dinner theater.