SMU Data and Models

Steel Mill Lead Times: Slightly Shorter

Written by Tim Triplett

Mill lead times for spot orders of flat rolled steel have shortened slightly this month, though not yet enough to signal a definite trend. The current numbers suggest the mills are still maintaining relatively healthy order levels, but a change may be in the works. Lead times for steel delivery are an indicator of demand at the mill level. The shorter the lead time, the less busy the mill, and the more likely they are to negotiate on price.

Comparing the data, the average lead time for spot orders of hot rolled this week was 4.61 weeks, down slightly from 4.80 weeks in early February. Cold rolled was at 6.55 weeks, versus 6.59 weeks two weeks prior. Galvanized was at 6.93 weeks, down slightly from 7.08, while Galvalume was at 7.45 weeks, up slightly from 7.22. The average plate lead time this week was 4.90 weeks, slightly shorter than the 5.00 weeks in the prior survey.

SMU’s canvass of the market this week showed steel prices moving sideways to down, which may help explain shortening lead times.

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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