I, Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush and a number of steel people are all in Davenport, Iowa enjoying the warmer than normal weather and great conditions to do a mill tour which is exactly what we did this afternoon (without Hillary and Jeb). I want to thank everyone at SSAB for their hospitality and for doing an exceptional job of highlighting their production capabilities.
We have a very interesting group attending this workshop – a lot of relatively new people in high management levels to inside customer support. This has created an atmosphere where we can discuss many topics that you wouldn’t normally see or hear during this kind of workshop. We like to build flexibility into our programs so we can discuss the topics that are of interest to our attendees.
A reminder to those who are on our survey invite list. If you have not taken the time to respond to our invite we will be collecting responses until Thursday afternoon. We will send out a reminder email on Wednesday which will have a link to SurveyMonkey.com where our questionnaire is hosted.
Why is it whenever I go away to a workshop major events happen – US Steel decides to pick to day to tell their employees Granite City may be idled for awhile and the UAW thought today would be a great day to tell Chrysler (FCA) that Wednesday sounded like a good day to go on strike. Shouldn’t the membership bitch at their leadership rather than going on strike? After all, they did negotiate a deal that the membership didn’t like. So, go back to the table and figure it out (or work on the membership so the next time you can get the votes needed).
I know automotive is doing well right now and has been for a few years – but, it won’t last forever.
If Chrysler goes on strike does this open the door to US Steel and/or ArcelorMittal to lock out their workers? I would love to get your opinions on that one. Send them to: John@SteelMarketUpdate.com.
Also, Cliffs Natural Resources announced that they were ended an iron ore supply agreement with Essar Steel Algoma saying the company is in breach of contract. Cliffs had a 3 million long ton per year contract with Essar Steel Algoma.
It’s been a long day. As always we thank you for your business as it is truly appreciated by all of us at Steel Market Update.
John Packard, Publisher
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Latest in Final Thoughts
A clear consensus has emerged among respondents to SMU’s latest steel market survey that hot-rolled (HR) coil prices will bottom this month or in April. Seventy-five percent of respondents to our latest survey think that prices will find a floor before May as the chart below shows:
I want to give a big shoutout to the good folks at the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association (FMA) for inviting me to their annual conference this week in Clearwater, Fla. I also want to give a special thanks to the FMA for awarding SMU founder John Packard with a lifetime achievement award – on that also gave me a chance to catch up with my old boss in person.
What are some “Black Swans” to watch out for? With the war in Ukraine entering its third year, your mind might understandably move to conflicts overseas. Here is one closer to home to consider: US trade relations with Mexico taking a turn for the worse. I mention that because the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) dropped a (virtual) bombshell earlier this month.
Domestic prices have been sliding since the beginning of the year, and I don’t see any obvious reasons why the slide might stop this week. But let’s put the timing of a bottom aside for a minute. The question among some of you seems to be whether we’ll see another price spike, or at least a “dead-cat bounce,” before the typical summer doldrums kick in.
I’ve had discussions with some of you lately about where and when sheet prices might bottom. Some of you say that hot-rolled (HR) coil prices won’t fall below $800 per short ton (st). Others tell me that bigger buyers aren’t interested unless they can get something that starts with a six. Obviously a lot depends on whether we're talking 50 tons or 50,000 tons. I've even gotten some guff about how the drop in US prices is happening only because we’re talking about it happening.