SMU Data and Models

Steel Mill Lead Times: Still Trending Down

Written by Tim Triplett

Lead times for most flat rolled steel products are about a week shorter than they were two months ago. Shorter lead times suggest that steel demand is easing. Lead times for steel delivery are a measure of demand at the mill level—the shorter the lead time, the less busy the mill. Lead times for hot rolled now average just four weeks, cold rolled a bit more than six weeks, galvanized about six and a half weeks, and Galvalume seven weeks.

Hot rolled lead times now average 4.07 weeks, slightly longer than this time last year. Current lead times for hot rolled are down from 5.18 weeks two months ago and 4.62 weeks one month ago. This year’s peak for hot rolled delivery was 5.73 weeks in April.

Cold rolled orders currently have a lead time of 6.16 weeks, down from 7.30 weeks in mid-July and 6.52 weeks in mid-August. Last year at this time, CR lead times averaged 6.13 weeks. The 2018 peak for cold rolled delivery was 8.19 weeks in early May.

The current lead time for galvanized steel is 6.58 weeks, down from 7.68 weeks two months ago and 7.05 weeks at this time last month. Galvanized lead times peaked in June at 8.46 weeks and averaged 6.45 weeks at this time last year.

At 7.00 weeks, current Galvalume lead times are down from 7.89 weeks two months 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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