SMU Data and Models

Steel Mill Lead Times: Still Extended

Written by Tim Triplett

Mill lead times on flat rolled steel orders continue to stretch as buyers replenish inventories in the first quarter. One of the key indicators tracked by Steel Market Update, lead times reflect the activity at the mills and the order levels they are seeing from their customers. About 9 percent of respondents to this week’s SMU market trends questionnaire report that lead times are highly extended, while an additional 69 percent call them slightly longer than usual. Another 23 percent consider lead times normal for this time of year. None consider them shorter. SMU’s latest data indicates that the average lead time for hot rolled remains around five weeks and cold rolled about seven weeks, while galvanized and Galvalume lead times have extended to a bit over seven weeks.

Hot rolled lead times now average 4.95 weeks, up from 4.50 weeks a month ago. Hot rolled lead times have extended by almost two weeks since steel prices began their rise in October.

Cold-rolled lead times now average 7.09 weeks, up from 6.74 weeks a month ago. Cold rolled lead times have not been this long since mid-January last year.

Galvanized lead times have moved up to 7.20 weeks from 6.79 weeks a month ago. Buyers have not had to wait this long for galvanized orders since April 2017.

The lead time for Galvalume is now 7.33 weeks, up from 6.67 weeks at this time last month.

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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