Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

It appears that the market is being set for the next round of flat rolled price increases. With benchmark hot rolled averaging $745 per ton, which is essentially at the levels suggested by ArcelorMittal USA in their last announcement, then there is nothing to stop another increase. I heard from a buyer earlier this week that Nucor was already quoting $38.50/cwt ($770 per ton) and an end user told me yesterday that their prices were raised $40 per ton this week. My gut tells me to expect something like $40 to $60 per ton with this next announcement. AMUSA may come out with an $800 HRC “minimum” base, since they have essentially no spot to sell anyway. We should see something soon.

Imagine where prices will go should President Trump issue some form of duties/tax/quota on foreign steel. It sounds like he wants to charge an eye for an eye; if the exporting country has a 10 percent duty on imported steel into their country, then the U.S. would charge the same duty. I don’t know how this would work with AD/CVD penalties already in place. Like the price increase announcements, we will soon know since we are within the 60-day window for President Trump to make a decision. If your company is for or against the idea, now is the time to let your congressman or the president know what you believe should/should not happen.

We have had a number of registrations for the next Steel 101 workshop and there are only a few spots left. That workshop will be in Merrillville, Ind. (just outside of Chicago) and will include a tour of the NLMK Portage steel mill. Details and registration are at

We only have a couple of sponsor spots left for this year’s SMU Steel Summit Conference. Contact or myself should you have any questions (800-432-3475). We have a number of exhibition slots available, which Jill also handles. We anticipate 750-800 executives at this year’s conference. The dates are Aug. 27-29. The conference is in Atlanta at the Georgia International Convention Center, which is located adjacent to the Atlanta International Airport. Register at

I want to welcome our newest members who have joined SMU at either an Executive or Premium membership level. We are very open to communicating with our members. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, we are all ears and willing to listen. You can reach us at If you have a question about the website, passwords or issues with the newsletter, please contact Brett Linton at

Individuals associated with an SMU member company are eligible for membership discounts to any of our events. Right now we have Steel 101 and SMU Steel Summit registrations ongoing, and member companies receive discounts of $100 per person.

I noticed one of the other steel conferences recently sent out a notice that their registration is now open and they have “early bird” rates as much as $900 per person lower than their published pricing (which is well over $2,000 per person). Our rate is $1,275 per person for the SMU Steel Summit before member discount and multiple person discount. The largest discount we offer is $200 per person. I made a decision a few years ago that we would be better situated and honest with our customers to publish a fair price and to conduct the conference at a location that is economical to get to and with hotel rates under $200 per night. (I think our blocked rates right now are $149-$159 per night). There is no need to take a cab or Uber to our venue as there is a free light rail train which runs directly from the airport to the hotels and convention center.

On top of all of that, we believe we provide the best networking opportunity of any steel conference anywhere in the world. I was speaking with Eric Wolf, Director of Procurement and Logistics with Bridger Steel in Montana earlier today. He attended our conference last year and told me the one thing that impressed him the most was, “The SMU conference has all of the decisionmakers in one building.” He and colleagues will be traveling from Montana to Georgia for this year’s conference. Come join them and hundreds of other decisionmakers from manufacturing, service centers, steel mills, trading companies, logistics companies, toll processors and suppliers to the industry.

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

John Packard, Publisher

Latest in Final Thoughts

Final thoughts

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.

Final thoughts

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?