Steel Products Prices North America

Spot Market Reacts to Trump Tariffs

Written by Tim Triplett

Most service centers are raising spot prices to their end customers following President Trump’s announcement that he plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports this week. But some are taking a more wait-and-see approach to spot business. Following are some insightful comments from the marketplace:

• “Absolutely we’re raising prices!”

• “Inventory replenishment will be difficult and at much higher numbers. Anticipation of 232 is causing some panic buying. I think our customers are booking heavier than normal in case of the unknown.”

• “Well, the herd has escaped from the coral and is running wild as [our two suppliers] have both raised the coil price of G90 approximately 20 percent. We need to check with them on any large orders. So, the steel mills are taking full advantage of Trump’s ruling as the order book is closed at [one mill] with new pricing due next week with an increase of $5.50 to $7.00. The ride is about to get real rough.”

• “This market is crazy, for sure. The spot pricing trend has escalated as rapidly as I’ve ever seen it. Our [southern] division noted that their spot pricing on cut to length had increased $10.00/cwt. in 10 days! Granted that market is extremely volatile due to the lack of foreign steel coming in and the uncertainty of Section 232’s effect on future availability. I don’t think we’ll see that kind of escalation continuing, but everything depends on the president’s ruling next week. Even at the status quo, spot prices will continue to escalate based on the rapid rise in the CRU, but where they will level off is anyone’s guess. Pricing for CTL HR in Chicago was $34/cwt. in early January and in early March it’s almost $10/cwt. higher. We can certainly see it getting into the 50’s as the mills keep pushing the base price on HR spot tonnage higher and higher.”

• “Yes, we are raising spot prices to our end customers. We began raising prices at the beginning of February, which is why our Galvalume has been a slow shipper.”

• “We have suspended all quoting activity for at least the next five days due to the uncertainty and potential shortages that may occur.”

• “We are not quoting spot business at this point and we will not be first to run up prices but will wait instead until there is a formal release of 232 and will let others rush to market with increases.”

• “Yes, we are raising prices based on the rising average cost, not specific to 232. We see plate and HRC being very tight in Q2 with or without 232.”

• “We are putting disclaimers into recent quotes with provisions to raise prices if/when 232 is enacted.”

• “We’re not specifically raising prices due to Trump’s comments. However, we’re contemplating the effect on replacement cost or where the indices might settle on March 14 so that we can price correctly.”

• “We have been raising prices along with mill increases, but we did not react to President Trump’s comments and won’t until definitive measures are announced. We are telling our customers to just relax until we know what the impact will be. Trying to speculate is an exercise in futility.”

Steel Market Update will begin a new flat rolled steel market analysis on Monday, March 5th. Please look for an invitation to participate in your inbox at 8 AM ET.

Latest in Steel Products Prices North America