NLMK USA has gotten the go-ahead on a new walking beam furnace for the Pennsylvania plant. Some pre-construction has already begun. James Baker, Jr. told us in an email, “We will be installing a walking beam furnace in Farrell. We have already started on initial site prep with target completion date of September 2018. There will be no negative impact on production thru the entire project, we have engineered this so as to be seamless to our customers. We will achieve significant improvements in quality, energy efficiently, emissions and scheduling from the new furnace.”
We have 3 seats left for our next Steel 101: Introduction to Steel Making & Market Fundamentals workshop which will be held in Huntsville, AL on January 24-25, 2017 with a tour of the Nucor Decatur mini-mill. Come join us in learning about the steel making process (EAF and Blast/BOF), how qualities of steel are made and how the market works. You can find information on our website or by contacting our office at 800-432-3475.
We intend on conducting four Steel 101 workshops during calendar year 2017.
As always your business is truly appreciated by all of us here at Steel Market Update.
John Packard, Publisher
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Latest in Final Thoughts
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.
We’ve all heard a lot about mill “discipline” following a wave of consolidation over the last few years. That discipline is often evident when prices are rising, less so when they are falling. I remember hearing earlier this year that mills weren’t going to let hot-rolled (HR) coil prices fall below $1,000 per short ton (st). Then not below $900/st. Now, some of you tell me that HR prices in the mid/high-$800s are the “1-800 price” – widely available to regular spot buyers. So what comes next, and will mills “hold the line” in the $800s?
Everyone knows the old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Just because it’s a cliché doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. A lot of inked has been spilled trying to figure out why prices are falling now. I thought it might be as simple as this: Market dynamics in the fourth quarter (UAW strike, companies buying ahead of an anticipated post-strike price spike, etc.) pulled forward restocking activity that typically happens in the first quarter.