When I started Steel Market Update back in 2008, I knew I wanted to build something that would become a community centered on providing quality market information and a platform from which I could help educate and motivate those within the industry.
On the Steel Market Update website, we describe our mission as follows:
To Inform – Steel Market Update provides real-time pricing, news and analysis of market trends affecting North American flat rolled steel, plate, scrap and related markets.
To Educate – Steel Market Update offers in-depth analysis of key indicators, as well as conferences and training programs, that give participants a greater understanding of the steel market.
To Motivate – Steel Market Update believes in helping to develop well educated, well informed decision makers who can make timely decisions to the benefit of their companies, their families and their industry.
Over the years the way we meet our mission has expanded beyond just our Executive level newsletter. We have expanded our website, added training workshops, we host the largest flat rolled and plate focused steel conference in the Western Hemisphere, we added our Premium level newsletter, we expanded our proprietary products and we recently added a free SMU Community Chat Webinar.
If you have not taken the time to register and attend one of our free webinars, you are missing something special. Here is what Jodi Parnell, Vice President of Supply Chain Management for O’Neal Steel, LLC, had to say about our webinars: “I really like these Wednesday chats, and the variety in the speakers and their views. Keep these going!! I love all the different perspectives.”
Every day I ask myself, how does one build a “community”?
You talk and treat people the way you want to be treated. You teach and motivate utilizing the successes and failures of the past. You ask questions, you improve and constantly reinvent yourself by adapting/anticipating/recognizing the ebbs and flows of the industry.
The pandemic has provided new challenges as well as opportunities for our company as well as yours.
SMU continues to reinvent itself and adapt to what may well end up being our collective virtual future. We do not know if we will be able to conduct a “live” SMU Steel Summit Conference in Atlanta at the end of August. I have been in contact with our speakers and they are all still committed to assist SMU to conduct the best conference program ever. The question is, can we do it safely in Atlanta on Aug. 24-26?
The decision to do a “live” conference will be made on June 1.
I just said that I have been in contact with the 2020 conference speakers and they (and SMU) are committed to putting on the best conference program ever. How are you going to do that if not “live?”
SMU and our CRU parent company have been busy over the past six to eight weeks to ensure that our SMU Steel Summit Conference attendees will not be left out in the cold this year. We wanted to make sure that the networking event of the year, the forecasting event of the year, the content event of the year would continue uninterrupted. If not live, then in the virtual world (or both).
Steel Market Update will offer an online option to this year’s conference. If circumstances allow for a safe live conference, we will do that, but we will also stream the conference to those who cannot attend in person. If we do not do a live conference, we will offer an online experience you will not soon forget.
The keys for an SMU online conference: Networking capabilities, quality program, sponsor and exhibitor interaction, forecasting, youth focused, forward looking, entertaining….
When I started Steel Market Update one of my former steel customers told me, as he was buying his first membership, “I don’t know what you are going to write about one month from now.”
Now, as we enter the virtual conference world, I ask you to come on a journey with the SMU and CRU events teams. Our virtual conference will look and feel nothing like the weekly Zoom, Skype, ComeToMeeting webinars you are doing now. Prepare to be entertained….
I understand you have lots of questions: What will it cost? How will I be able to network like I did at a live conference? Can I get the program “on demand”? Will there be any changes in speakers or to the program to address the pandemic? I will be speaking about our virtual plans in greater detail in the coming days and weeks. Keep your calendar clear on Aug. 24, 25 and 26, and be prepared to be informed, educated and motivated.
As always, your business is truly appreciated by all of us here at Steel Market Update
John Packard, President & CEO
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Latest in Final Thoughts
Domestic prices have been sliding since the beginning of the year, and I don’t see any obvious reasons why the slide might stop this week. But let’s put the timing of a bottom aside for a minute. The question among some of you seems to be whether we’ll see another price spike, or at least a “dead-cat bounce,” before the typical summer doldrums kick in.
I’ve had discussions with some of you lately about where and when sheet prices might bottom. Some of you say that hot-rolled (HR) coil prices won’t fall below $800 per short ton (st). Others tell me that bigger buyers aren’t interested unless they can get something that starts with a six. Obviously a lot depends on whether we're talking 50 tons or 50,000 tons. I've even gotten some guff about how the drop in US prices is happening only because we’re talking about it happening.
We’ve all heard a lot about mill “discipline” following a wave of consolidation over the last few years. That discipline is often evident when prices are rising, less so when they are falling. I remember hearing earlier this year that mills weren’t going to let hot-rolled (HR) coil prices fall below $1,000 per short ton (st). Then not below $900/st. Now, some of you tell me that HR prices in the mid/high-$800s are the “1-800 price” – widely available to regular spot buyers. So what comes next, and will mills “hold the line” in the $800s?
Everyone knows the old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Just because it’s a cliché doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. A lot of inked has been spilled trying to figure out why prices are falling now. I thought it might be as simple as this: Market dynamics in the fourth quarter (UAW strike, companies buying ahead of an anticipated post-strike price spike, etc.) pulled forward restocking activity that typically happens in the first quarter.
What a difference a month makes. There are a few full bulls left in the room, but their numbers are dwindling. We’ll release results of our full steel market survey tomorrow afternoon. I took a sneak peak at the data on Thursday. And more people than I expected think that US hot-rolled (HR) coil prices will be in the $700s per short ton (st) two months from now. Vanishingly few think prices will be above $1,000/st in mid-April.