Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

I thought John Ferriola’s comments at the World Steel Association would be of interest to our readers. Joe Innace of Platts interviewed Nucor’s Ferriola and reported him saying, “The rest of this year will be pretty flat. Going into next year, it’s really a crapshoot.” He told Platts Nucor’s downstream businesses have seen prices drop, but they still have good demand.

John Packard Summit 18

There is an international scrap conference in Budapest this week. I heard from one of my sources that the talk is for maybe one more month of lower scrap prices. This is different than what I have been hearing from some of the U.S. sources who believe prices will move sideways in November.

That’s something to think about in light of international events in Turkey and Syria and how the Trump administration may react to the pressure to apply sanctions on Turkey. If the government applies some real pressure on Turkey (raising steel tariffs back to 50 percent has essentially zero impact), Turkey could respond by blocking U.S. scrap from coming into their country. If that were to happen, scrap would move from the U.S. coast inland and probably negatively impact scrap prices here.

My opinion: the low end of our hot rolled range this week could very well be a “firm” low. You need tons to get there, and once order books are sufficiently full for the remainder of the year, I would expect those deals to disappear. Watch scrap pricing for November, your customers demand levels and steel mill lead times for keys as to where pricing will be headed come December lead times and 1Q 2020.

Another item to watch carefully—the General Motors strike may be coming to an end. That would be good news for the steel mills and could be the catalyst for the mills to announce steel price increases (remember 1962?).

I have mixed emotions about the mills’ ability to collect much of an increase if it were to be announced now. It might be better to go back to the old model of increase announcements just prior to Thanksgiving (mid-November). Again, this is my opinion and you should not base your purchasing decisions on just my opinion.

Our next Steel 101 workshop will be held in Ontario, Calif., on Jan. 7-8, 2020. We will tour the California Steel Industries mill in Fontana as part of our workshop. Information can be found on our website:

I will be in Pittsburgh on Wednesday and Thursday of this week attending Metalcon. If you are going to be at Metalcon, look me up as CRU/SMU will be exhibiting this year (CRU USA headquarters are outside of Pittsburgh).

Paige Mayhair will also be at Metalcon should you have questions about becoming a subscriber, need information about upgrading your membership, etc. You can also send her an email at

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

John Packard, President & CEO

Latest in Final Thoughts

Final thoughts

What's the tea in the steel industry this week? Here's the latest SMU gossip column! Just kidding... kind of. Yes, some of the comments we receive in our weekly flat-rolled market steel buyers' survey are honestly too much to put into print. Some make us laugh. Some make us cringe. Some are cryptic. Most are serious. We appreciate them all. Below are some highlights from our survey results this week. Some of the comments that we can share with you are also included, in italics, in the buyers' own words, with minimal editing on our part.