Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

Welcome to 2019!

As we begin the New Year, I want to welcome everyone back to their offices or plants. I am looking forward to another interesting year as we continue to deal with the effects of Steel 232, anti-dumping and countervailing duties, threats of Section 232 for automotive and Section 301 on finished goods out of China.

Will the domestic mills go after Vietnam with new dumping complaints (it will be tough to prove at current price levels)? That is a question that was asked of me over the Christmas/New Year holiday. There are other questions that you may have and would like for Steel Market Update to address in the coming days and weeks. If there is something you would like for us to spend some time on, please send me an email: and I will see if we can accommodate your question.

I thought it might be a good idea to provide a little information having just come off a long holiday. The steel market did not disappear over the past 10 days, although it was quietly nestled in its bed for most of that time…

John and Kermit Boston 2018Capacity utilization rates just barely dropped below 80 percent the week prior to Christmas. According to AISI, production was 1,870,000 net tons for the week ending Dec. 22, 2018. The capacity utilization rate was 79.8 percent. To put this into perspective, during the same period one year earlier the capacity utilization rate was 71.9 percent and the domestic steel mills produced 194,000 fewer tons.

For the year (through Dec. 22, 2018) the domestic steel mills are reported by AISI to have produced 93,164,000 tons with an average capacity utilization rate of 78.3 percent. This is up 6.1 percent year-over-year.

We reported last week’s SMU range and average flat rolled and plate steel prices earlier in this issue. Because of the lack of volume and available data, we rolled pricing from the previous week. We will produce new ranges and averages, which will be published on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019.

We will begin our early January 2019 flat rolled and plate steel market trends analysis on Monday, Jan. 6. If you would like to be included in our invitation to participate in our questionnaire, please send an email to: with your company and contact information.

We will begin our December 2018 flat rolled and plate steel service center inventories analysis on Thursday of this week. If your company is a flat rolled or plate steel service center or wholesaler and you would like to be included (or would like more information about what we are collecting and what kinds of information is being generated), please send an email to

A reminder that we will conduct one of our Steel 101: Introduction to Steel Making & Market Fundamentals workshops in Starkville, Miss., on Jan. 29-30. There will be a tour of the SDI Columbus flat rolled mill and paint line as part of this workshop. We do have seats available. You can get more information at or by sending an email to or by contacting me directly.

Registration is also open for the 2019 SMU Steel Summit Conference, which will be held at the Georgia International Convention Center adjacent to the Atlanta International Airport (ATL). The conference dates are Monday, Aug. 26 through Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. We will be starting the conference on Monday afternoon with a strong program and we recommend everyone plan on arriving early. I also understand that the CME Group will be doing a Monday morning program on steel futures. We are not yet providing a lot of information about our program as we do not want to tip our hand to our competitors. I will tell you we have a number of steel mill CEO’s already committed to participate and we have secured Alan Beaulieu of ITR Economics to provide his insights into the economy. We will begin rolling out some of the individual speakers and parts of our program in the coming weeks and months. You can find a listing of the companies that attended last year’s conference and details about registration on our website:

The government shutdown does have an impact on data collection and will impact information such as imports. If you go to the government website, there is a big note saying no data due to the government shutdown. Hopefully, the new Congress and President Trump will come to a timely resolution yet this week.

A reminder that Paige Mayhair handles renewals and new subscribers (we prefer to call them members) for our newsletters. She can be reached at 724-720-1012 or by email at We will be raising our subscription by 10 percent in the coming weeks (February or at the latest March). There will also be some changes that will allow your company to add more people to your membership. I will be rolling out details about the new pricing within the next week or so.

2018 was an interesting year for the steel industry, for Steel Market Update and for me personally. As we enter 2019, I want to assure our readers that we will continue to strive to provide quality information on topics of interest to our readers. Our charge has not changed despite the new ownership (CRU) and I will continue to research, write, direct and build new products that will benefit our readers and events clients.

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

John Packard, President & CEO

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