SMU Data and Models

SMU Steel Buyers Sentiment Index Sets New Record High

Written by John Packard

Records seem to be breaking just about every time we measure how flat rolled steel buyers and sellers feel about their company’s ability to be successful in the current market environment. There has been a growing optimism within the steel community as business conditions improve for most market segments. This optimism is reported in our SMU Steel Buyers Sentiment Index which was measured at +62 this week.

The +62 reading is the highest ever recorded, breaking the previous high set at the beginning of May when Sentiment was reported as being +59. Since the beginning of the calendar year Sentiment has added +19, indicating attitudes have improved over the past 5 months (more optimistic). To provide some balance and to remind our readers, Sentiment was measured at -85 back in March 2009 –the most pessimistic our Index ever recorded.

Our three month moving average, which is a better indicator of trend, has also improved. After averaging +39.33 early this year, the 3MMA has risen to its current level of +50.33 – also an all-time high.

Based on what we are seeing within our survey results, one of the driving factors of improved optimism is connected to a positive attitude regarding demand (which our survey indicates is also improving). In addition, steel prices are high enough to create value for most companies holding inventories and service centers are able to collect higher spot prices. No manufacturing companies reported declining spot pricing from their distributors.

SMU Future Sentiment Index Moves Higher

The SMU Futures Sentiment Index, which reviews how buyers and sellers of flat rolled steel feel about their company’s ability to be successful three to six months into the future, was measured at +67, up three points from earlier this month. The all-time high for the index was +72 set one month ago.

What Our Respondents Are Saying:

“Plate market is strong due to: Bridge, Wind, Rail Car, Oil & Gas, Surface Mining. All strong.”

“Business was good in Q4 2013, lousy in Jan, Feb and ½ of March, great in April, quiet in May.”

“I expected things to pick up in May, but it still feels like the winter drag. I am still optimistic.”

About the SMU Steel Buyers Sentiment Indices

SMU Steel Buyers Sentiment Index is a measurement of the current attitude of buyers and sellers of flat rolled steel products in North America regarding how they feel about their company’s opportunity for success in today’s market. It is a proprietary product developed by Steel Market Update for the North American steel industry.

Positive readings will run from + 10  to + 100 and the arrow will point to the right hand side of the meter located on the Home Page of our website indicating a positive or optimistic sentiment.

Negative readings will run from -10 to -100 and the arrow will point to the left hand side of the meter on our website indicating negative or pessimistic sentiment.

A reading of “0” (+/- 10) indicates a neutral sentiment (or slightly optimistic or pessimistic) which is most likely an indicator of a shift occurring in the marketplace.

Readings are developed through Steel Market Update market surveys which are conducted twice per month. We display the index reading on a meter on the Home Page of our website for all to enjoy.

Currently we send invitations to slightly less than 600 North American companies to participate in our survey. Our normal response rate is approximately 110-170 companies. Of those responding to this week’s survey, 45 percent were manufacturing companies (down 9 percent from the 54 percent reported in our last survey) and 43 percent were service centers/distributors (up 10 percent from the 33 percent reported in our last survey). The balance of our respondents are made up of steel mills, trading companies and toll processors involved in the steel business.

Below is an interactive graph of our Sentiment Index (open white space if you are not on our website). In order to see and manipulate the graph you will need to be logged into the SMU website. Contact us at: or by phone at 800-432-3475 if you need assistance.

{amchart id=”109″ SMU Steel Buyers Sentiment Index- Survey}

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