Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard


We asked a question about Section 232 in last week’s flat rolled steel market trends questionnaire. The question was, “Do you think President Trump will invoke Section 232 and add duties on steel imports early next year on national security grounds?”

Relatively few steel buyers elected to answer this question, which either suggests they don’t have enough information to form an opinion, or they’ve grown tired of all the speculation and have moved on. The administration promised a decision back in June, then postponed it in the face of strong opposition from steel-consuming industries. The delay opened the door to a surge of imports and made the issue of unfair foreign competition worse. The Commerce Department has until Jan. 18 to get its recommendation on the president’s desk, then he has 90 days to make a decision.

But three revealing comments offered by questionnaire respondents clearly state the prevailing views on Section 232:

1)      The president will act on Section 232 and it will trigger a trade war and make U.S. metal users less competitive worldwide.

2)      The president will certainly do something, but it may be more of a token gesture.

3)      The president has too many other issues to deal with.

In any case, the clock is ticking, and we’ll all know soon.

Tim Triplett helped with the Final Thoughts this evening with the Section 232 information shown above.

Another note regarding our publishing schedule over the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday here in the United States. SMU will publish as normal on Tuesday of this week. We will be closed for Thanksgiving and will not publish on Thursday. Our expectation is that we will publish our newsletter on Sunday, Nov. 26.

During the Thanksgiving Holiday, our website designers will be upgrading our website and improving our mobile application. The website is expected to be down for maintenance late on Wednesday and through Thursday. We expect it to be back online on Friday, Nov. 24.

I will be speaking at the HARDI Annual Conference on Dec. 5 in Las Vegas. I will be at the conference beginning on Sunday evening, Dec. 3 and will return to my office late in the day on Dec. 6.

As always, your business is truly appreciated by all of us here at Steel Market Update.

John Packard, Publisher

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Final thoughts

Last week was a newsy one for the US sheet market. Nucor’s announcement that it would publish a weekly HR spot price was the talk of the town – whether that was in chatter among colleagues, at the Boy Scouts of America Metals Industry dinner, or in SMU’s latest market survey. Some think that it could Nucor's spot HR price could bring stability to notoriously volatile US sheet prices, according to SMU's latest steel market survey. Others think it’s too early to gauge its impact. And still others said they were leery of any attempt by producers to control prices.