We are working on an article about what companies are doing with the tax windfall they will be receiving this year. We have noticed a couple of companies like Mill Steel that are giving their employees a bonus check. We would like to include your company in our article should you be doing something special for your employees (raises, bonuses, etc.). Please send any comments, press releases to: Tim@SteelMarketUpdate.com.
We have a few spots left in our March 28-29 Steel 101: Introduction to Steel Making & Market Fundamentals workshop, which will be held just outside of Chicago in Merrillville, Ind. Included will be a tour of the NLMK Portage steel mill. Details can be found on our website: www.SteelMarketUpdate.com/events/steel101.
The Department of Commerce submitted the Section 232 report and recommendations on steel on Jan. 11. By my calculations, we are 28 days into the 90 days that President Trump has to make his announcement.
Here are some of my travel plans over the next couple of months. If you would like to meet with me during the Port of Tampa Conference or the FMA Annual Meeting, please shoot me an email at John@SteelMarketUpdate.com.
I will be at the Port of Tampa Steel Conference on Feb. 19-21.
I will be at the FMA Annual Meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., at the end of March.
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
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.
What a difference a month makes. There are a few full bulls left in the room, but their numbers are dwindling. We’ll release results of our full steel market survey tomorrow afternoon. I took a sneak peak at the data on Thursday. And more people than I expected think that US hot-rolled (HR) coil prices will be in the $700s per short ton (st) two months from now. Vanishingly few think prices will be above $1,000/st in mid-April.