SMU Data and Models

Steel Mill Lead Times: Moving Out

Written by Tim Triplett

Mill lead times on flat rolled steel have extended in the past two weeks to levels not seen since the spring of 2017, according to the latest data from Steel Market Update’s market trends questionnaire. The average lead time for hot roll has hit four and a half weeks, while lead times for cold roll, galvanized and Galvalume are now between six and a half and seven weeks.

One of the key indicators tracked by SMU, lead times reflect the activity at the mills and the order levels they are seeing from their customers. As expected during a time when mills are raising prices, lead times appear to be lengthening, reflecting stronger demand. The trend is in its early stages, however, and may just reflect a post-holiday seasonal bump.

Hot rolled lead times averaged 4.50 weeks, up from 4.29 weeks in early January, and at the highest level since mid-June.

Cold-rolled lead times averaged 6.74 weeks, a jump from 6.27 weeks two weeks ago and at the highest level since early April.

Galvanized lead times moved up to 6.79 weeks from 6.63 weeks earlier in the month. GI lead times have not been this extended since early May. Galvalume lead times, at 6.67 weeks, are up slightly from 6.64 weeks two weeks ago.

Note: These lead times are based on the average from manufacturers and steel service centers who participated in this week’s SMU market trends analysis. Our lead times do not predict what any individual may get from any specific mill supplier. Look to your mill rep for actual lead times. Our lead times are meant only to identify trends and changes in the marketplace. To see an interactive history of our Steel Mill Lead Times data, visit our website here.

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