Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

There is much to discuss, much to learn…

As trade attorney Lewis Leibowitz lays out in his article/opinion piece this evening, there are no easy solutions to issues built over decades. International manufacturing companies need to review their supply chains to ensure they are not doing business in countries potentially hostile to the United States. Steel mills are balancing supply against demand. Steel buyers are rethinking their sourcing strategies.

John Packard Summit 18During a “normal” economy, the U.S. steel mills do not produce enough steel to satisfy domestic consumption. Even Barry Zekelman admitted that in the SMU Community Chat webinar we held with him a couple of weeks back. There are new mills under construction, but at the same time it appears old mills are going to be phased out.

One question that we will address during the 2020 SMU Virtual Steel Summit Conference is: Will the mills be able to balance supply with true demand, including items that are not being produced in the U.S. right now?

You will hear answers to that question and many more during this year’s SMU Virtual Steel Summit Conference. You can register for the event by clicking here.

We produced our SMU Service Center Inventories & Shipments “Flash” report for data providers last week. We will produce our full report for data providers and for Premium members shortly thereafter. If you are a service center and would like to participate (confidential basis), please contact or John Packard at If you would like to upgrade your membership to Premium, please contact Paige Mayhair at or 724-720-1012.

We are conducting one of our SMU flat rolled and plate steel market trends surveys this week. Look for your invitation in your email inbox at 8 AM ET on Monday. If you would like to participate in our surveys, please send a note to:

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

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.

Final thoughts

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?