Keys to Watch in December

Written by John Packard

December tends to be a slow month having just come off of a late in the month Thanksgiving Holiday coupled with Christmas and the Jewish Holidays during the month of December. The bottom line is there are a limited number of shipping days during the month.

One of the first things SMU will be watching is scrap and scrap pricing. Early indications are the dealers will hold back scrap rather than sell it to the domestic mills at sideways (no gain) numbers compared to the beginning of November. The early opinions are for modest gains of $10 to maybe as high as $20 per ton. If gains reach $20 per ton this could prompt the domestic mills to reach down into their pricing bag and go for another round of increases.

Price increase announcements – the domestic mills did not have much success with their November announcements as not all mills followed the AK Steel and Severstal price leads. The rumor mill has the mills announcing another increase so we will need to see if this happens. What we may see is if scrap prices move by $20 per ton this may force the mini-mills to move up at least $20 and perhaps as much as $40 per ton.

What impact will the ThyssenKrupp Steel USA purchase by the AM/NSSMC joint venture have on the market? Many within the industry believe it will have a psychological impact because in reality the JV will not close the deal for TK USA until sometime during the 2nd Quarter 2014.

We need to watch foreign steel – both the tonnage of imports coming into the USA as well as new price offers available in the market for future orders. Foreign price offers could help temper the domestic mills thirst for higher prices.

Latest in Economy