Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

There is a considerable amount of information/debate happening in Washington, D.C., Canada, Mexico, China and Europe regarding tariffs either in place or being threatened by the Trump administration. We included a press release in tonight’s issue that was sent out by Wilbur Ross of the U.S. Department of Commerce earlier this week. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is making news on a daily basis with comments being made in Congress about using the threat of Section 301 tariffs to enforce provisions in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.

John Packard Summit 18Speaking of Section 301’s, the big negotiations are between the U.S. and China. There is a lot of news flowing on the negotiations as the deadline that President Trump has given is March 2. I spoke to my neighbor here whose company is already affected by the existing Section 301 tariffs, which are currently at 10 percent. On March 2, his company’s tariffs would increase to 25 percent.

Trade attorney Lewis Leibowitz will be providing more information in an article slated for Sunday evening’s issue of Steel Market Update.

I also want our readers to know the 2019 SMU Steel Summit Conference will be addressing trade issues – and I am looking to do it a little differently than in the past.  We will have a couple of familiar faces: Phil Bell, president of the Steel Manufacturers Association, and Lewis Leibowitz will be on a panel addressing the topic. I am looking for a couple of end users who are being directly affected, one on each side of the fence, to also sit in on the trade panel. It will be interesting, as always.

Here are some speaker names to help entice you to attend this year’s event: Eddie Lehner, CEO Ryerson; John Reid, CEO Russel Metals; Kurt Russel, President & COO, Precoat Metals; Mark Millett, CEO Steel Dynamics; John Hritz, CEO JSW USA; Ladd Hall, Executive Vice President-Flat Rolled, Nucor… We will be rolling out more of our program in the coming days and weeks.

Registration is open for the conference, which will be held on Aug. 26-28, 2019, at the Georgia International Convention Center (adjacent to the Atlanta International Airport) in Atlanta, Georgia.

It is still early, I want to wait another week or so, but we did collect a small uptick in lead times during our analysis of the flat rolled and plate steel market trends conducted during the course of this week. Lead times are still much shorter than year-ago levels, so we need to watch them carefully to see if they lend support to the $40 per ton flat rolled price increases announced by most of the domestic steel mills.

We saw a small change in mill negotiations during our survey. This is somewhat unusual as normally when price increases are announced a larger percentage of buyers report a tightening in price negotiation. It is still too early to change our Price Momentum Indicator on flat rolled off its current Neutral position. Plate momentum is still referenced as being Lower and we are watching plate products carefully for any signs of change.

I will be in Tampa next week where I am the master of ceremonies for the Port of Tampa Steel Conference. I have attended this conference for many years, and I recommend it for those of you who are able to get to Tampa on short notice.

If you have questions about your membership, or would like to become a new customer (or upgrade your existing account), the person to reach out to is Paige Mayhair who can be contacted at 724-720-1012 or by email at

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

John Packard, President & CEO

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