Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

Is it me, or has the world become much more complicated recently?

The NBA has suspended games indefinitely. The NCAA “March Madness” basketball tournament will be played in empty stadiums. Princess Cruises just announced they are cancelling cruises for the next 60 days. Europeans will not be allowed to fly to the United States for 30 days beginning at midnight on Friday. Events and conferences are being cancelled around the United States (including the postponement of our March 31-April 1 Steel 101 workshop). This is all being done in an effort to slow the progress of the coronavirus.

On a personal level, my son was performing in Europe this week. Today the tour was cancelled as he headed back to Sweden to figure out if he will be allowed back into the United States later this month.

I spent a portion of my day cancelling flights to New York City where my son was scheduled to perform at Columbia University at the end of this month, now postponed until September, as well as flights to Chicago as we have postponed our Merrillville/NLMK Steel 101 workshop, and flights to Paris, France, where I was hoping to spend eight days on vacation in April. Looks like I will be stuck in Florida for a while.

This evening we published an article on how Majestic Steel has been preparing for the coronavirus. I would be interested in hearing how you and your company are working towards minimizing the risks of exposure to the virus for your employees and customers.

John Packard Summit 18I am also interested in learning what you and your company think about the impact the coronavirus may have on your business (demand) in the coming days, weeks and months.

We intend to keep our readers as up to date as possible on what is happening, not only here in the United States but in the rest of the world. Bad news started overseas, I expect good news will begin there as well, since many countries have been dealing with this issue sooner than here in the U.S.

SMU is getting multiple advisements and market analyses from our CRU parent many times during each business day. CRU has offices spread around the world, has a number of economists on staff and a large number of market analysts watching everything from iron ore, zinc, copper, aluminum, steel and various other commodities and products.

We are watching Italy closely to see what steel mills are closed (we have been advised that many of the long product mills are closed but flat rolled mills appear to still be working). The key for flat rolled in Italy is FCA (Fiat Chrysler) and we are watching to see if they will be closing factories (thus impacting the flat rolled suppliers).

We will provide our Executive members a number of articles put together by the CRU Group analysts. We will also provide our Premium members even more detailed analysis and forecasts coming from our parent company. If you would like information about how to upgrade to Premium, please contact Paige Mayhair at or by phone: 724-720-1012.

Life goes on. As John Anton stated at the FMA conference, “This is not Armageddon,” and we will overcome and prosper as a country once we get over this hump.

Even though many conferences and workshops have been cancelled or postponed, we continue to see strong interest in the 2020 SMU Steel Summit Conference. With it being held at the end of August, everyone is hopeful the virus will be in check by then. Our conference could be well positioned to cover the impacts of the virus on business, forecasting for 2021 and many other topics that will be of interest to you and your company. I want to personally thank everyone for the support we are receiving from sponsors, exhibitors and the more than 300 executives already registered for the 2020 conference.

I am confident our conference will attract 1,200 healthy executives. At the recent FMA Annual Meeting, we heard from many manufacturing companies, service centers and steel mills of their intention to be with me in Atlanta on Aug. 24-26.

As many of you know, I am an optimist (you must be to remain in the industry for as long as I have), and I believe we will be in a much different place by August. You can learn more about our agenda, speakers, past attending companies, location, cost to attend and how to register by clicking here.

The other day someone told me one of the reasons why Steel Market Update has been successful is we act as a “community” center for the steel industry. SMU truly cares for everyone in the industry, and we are cheerleaders for companies to do well – even when we have no horse in the race.

I learned yesterday that one of SMU’s biggest fans and a long-time employee of Curtis Steel in Houston, Texas, unexpectantly passed away. Stuart Sherrick had 40 years in the steel industry, 32 with Curtis Steel as an inside/outside sales representative. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Stuart’s family, friends, his colleagues at Curtis Steel and the customers who grew to love and respect him. Here is a link to his obituary which is located on our website for everyone to read and to share. May he rest in peace.

If you would like to reach out to me with article suggestions, comments about what we are already writing about, or just general comments or questions, I can be reached at 770-596-6268 or via email at:

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

John Packard, President & CEO

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Final thoughts

Last week was a newsy one for the US sheet market. Nucor’s announcement that it would publish a weekly HR spot price was the talk of the town – whether that was in chatter among colleagues, at the Boy Scouts of America Metals Industry dinner, or in SMU’s latest market survey. Some think that it could Nucor's spot HR price could bring stability to notoriously volatile US sheet prices, according to SMU's latest steel market survey. Others think it’s too early to gauge its impact. And still others said they were leery of any attempt by producers to control prices.