Steel Products Prices North America

Steel Price Direction - Our Respondents Lead the Way

Written by John Packard

Steel Market Update (SMU) asked those responding to last week’s flat rolled steel market trends questionnaire where they see flat rolled steel prices headed? The results are shown in the graphic below. However, what is also of interest were the comments left behind by respondents.

First, the results: The majority (52 percent) believe there is no clear-cut direction for flat rolled steel prices right now. Thirty-four percent believe prices are heading lower, while the remaining 14 percent believe prices will move higher.

What Our Respondents Said Regarding Higher Prices:

A service center general manager told us, “There definitely is some temporary softness, but foreign isn’t a good buy at this time and there are some big macro items hanging out there that should lead to higher prices.”

“I believe the downward pressure on pricing will be short-lived,” said another large service center. “I see prices bottoming in the next 30 days and then a slow climb into December, when pricing pressure will reappear.”

Another company that is both an OEM and service center told us, “Very confused, all import offers are higher than domestic including some Mexico product lines.”

A large manufacturing company told us, “We bought ahead due to Section 232 and are maxing out contracts, which are highly favorable right now. Regardless of 2018 contract negotiations, my order book with the mills will be very weak come Q1. I suspect many others are in the same boat and that will bring the market down.”

From a steel mill salesperson we heard, “There are as many positive as negative developments. Normally softness ‘wins’ in a similar situation, but this has to play out for a month or two.”

“Too much flat rolled in the system,” is what one medium-sized service center executive told us.

While another service center told us, “Depends on which mill you talk to.”

Written by: John Packard –

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