Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. I hope you got to enjoy some quality time with your kids earlier today.
There has been a call on the Commerce Department to review exports of steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico. There is a question if exports of these products have “surged” since the two countries were eliminated from Section 232 tariffs.
We did a quick review of the products we cover on a regular basis, and the only product that comes into question is semifinished (slabs), which cannot (or are not) being supported by the domestic steel mills. Please review the following two tables (one Canada and one Mexico) and you can come to your own conclusions:
A reminder, SMU will not host our Wednesday SMU Community Chat webinar this week. Instead, we are deferring to the free CRU Steel Briefing webinar that is scheduled for 10 AM on Tuesday. This webinar will focus on the CRU steel outlook with Chris Houlden (Head of Steel for CRU), Josh Spoores (Principal Analyst), Ryan McKinley (senior analyst) and Anissa Chabib (economist). I think you will find it quite interesting. You can register for the CRU webinar by clicking here.
On Wednesday, July 1, our Community Chat speaker will be Eddie Lehner, President & CEO of Ryerson. We will have registration available later this week.
I am not going to spend time this evening providing information about the 2020 SMU Virtual Steel Summit Conference; you can find more details, including the companies that are currently registered, by clicking here.
On Wednesday, July 8, we will take a portion of the time allocated to our SMU Community Chat webinar to give some insights into our conference.
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
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.
Sheet prices have fallen again this week on shorter lead times, higher imports, and potentially higher inventories. (We’ll see for sure when we release our service center shipment and inventory data next week.) I remember reporting almost exactly the same thing about a month ago and getting a fair amount of pushback. Not so much these days.