Steel Buyers Predict Unchanged Activity

Written by Sandy Williams

Steel buyers in the October ISM Steel Buyers Survey are expecting general economic activity to remain unchanged for the next six months. When asked about the trend for sales and production during the six month period, seventy-five percent responded “the same.” A solid 91.7 percent of steel buyers said the trend for incoming orders will remain the same in the next three month period as well.

Seventy-five percent of survey respondents said they were operating at their most efficient levels with 83.3 percent saying incoming order levels were at right for efficiency.

Shipping levels were the same as three months ago for 66.7 percent of respondents while 66.7 percent said compared to 12 months ago they were higher.

Inventories were lean with 75 percent considering inventory right for demand and 25 percent still finding inventories too high. Most buyers (58.3 percent) had enough tons on hand to cover shipping levels for 1-2 months and 33.3 percent had enough to cover 0-1 month. Backlogs were expected to stay the same over the next three months according to 75 percent of respondents.

Selling prices were considered competitive for 83.3 percent of buyers. More buyers are seeing foreign mill prices coming in well below domestic—33.3 percent in October compared to 9.1 percent in September. Overall, 58.3 percent responded that foreign prices were below or well below domestic mill prices. Dependence on off-shore sources will remain the same for the next six months said 77.8 percent of buyers.

No buyers reported workforce on short time or layoff and 83.3 percent have plans to build or buy new manufacturing facilities with the next year (up from 54.5 percent in September).

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