Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

We are quickly moving toward the Christmas and Hanukkah Holidays with Hanukkah beginning Sunday evening and Christmas next Wednesday. Which reminds me, I think I have some shopping to get done (I haven’t started yet). Am I the only one?

My expectation is for the markets to calm down over the next couple of weeks as we get through Christmas, Hanukkah and the New Year. Wow, it’s going to be 2020 – another election year – YIKES!

John Packard Summit 18I remember our 2016 SMU Steel Summit Conference when our attendees overwhelmingly predicted a Donald J. Trump victory. You will have the opportunity to weigh in next August to see if our conference can go two for two.

What a difference a year makes…. During the first week of December 2018, we conducted our normal survey and found 72 percent of the service centers reporting their company as dropping spot pricing (we were in the long decline that we saw throughout most of 2019). In 2017 the mills had just announced price increases ($30/ton) and 44 percent of the service centers were raising spot pricing. In 2016 there had been four increases over a short period of time totaling $140 per ton, and 90 percent of the distributors reported raising spot prices to their customers. If you want to know what pricing did, you can find that information in the pricing section of our website. If you need help in using our pricing tools, you can ask and we will help you.

As I look ahead over the next few years, I see huge technological changes coming to the steel industry. The industry is moving to limit its carbon footprint. A couple of mills have already announced they will be going with wind or solar projects to power their mills. Other technologies are being installed at USS Mon Valley, and of course we have many new steel mills under construction. The next few years will be a fun time to be in the steel industry.

I don’t normally write about a competitor to SMU, but Joe Innace of Platts is retiring at the end of this year (officially; he recently penned his last article for Platts). Joe has been a good friend and supporter of Steel Market Update for many years. I want to wish him a healthy, happy and long retirement. Now I’ll take bets on how long it will be before he gets back involved with the industry in some form. When it’s in your blood, it’s hard to leave (Joe is younger than me, so I know).

Another note to let everyone know we will publish on Thursday and Sunday, and then we will not publish again until Sunday, Dec. 29. We will not publish our pricing for next week until the 29th.

We will be closing registration for the Ontario, California Steel 101 workshop at the end of this week. After Friday, registrations will need to be done by phone and will be subject to availability. Our next workshop will be in Indiana on March 31 and April 1, 2020. We will be touring the NLMK Portage EAF steel mill.

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

John Packard, President & CEO

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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.