John Packard (who is traveling) says his sources are telling him that JSW’s flat roll mill in Mingo Junction, Ohio, may be shutting down (not taking orders) for an unknown amount of time. No confirmation or details yet from the company.
John also reports that Steel Dynamics ran the first coil through the new #3 galvanizing line at its mill in Columbus, Miss., last week. SDI announced in June 2018 that it planned to invest $140 million to add a third galvanizing line at its Columbus Flat Roll Division. The new galvanizing line has an annual coating capability of 400,000 tons.
The coronavirus pandemic has been dominating the headlines since mid-March. Public opinion seems to have vacillated between panic and indifference from one week to the next. Within the steel industry, views have evolved dramatically over the past few months as seen in the charts below.
In May when we asked readers how quickly they thought business would return to pre-COVID levels, this was the distribution of responses to SMU’s market trends questionnaire. The majority saw the virus running its course by the end of July, and almost all by the end of the year. Only 7 percent acknowledged the crisis could extend into next year.
This week’s responses reveal a much more sobering outlook, with 43 percent anticipating the virus will impact their businesses into the first or even second quarter of 2021.
As disconcerting as the pandemic is, especially with reports of surges in various parts of the country this week, we know a lot more about the virus than we did a couple months ago and can now make more informed and realistic plans on how to deal with it.
Andre Marshall, president and founder of Crunch Risk, LLC, will offer his insights on how the coronavirus is impacting the steel futures market as the featured speaker during SMU’s next Community Chat webinar this Wednesday, July 15. The webinar begins at 11 a.m. ET and is free to anyone in the industry. Click here to register.
Registrations continue to grow for the 2020 SMU Virtual Steel Summit Conference For more information visit www.SteelMarketUpdate.com and click on the SMU Virtual Steel Summit link. Or to register, click here.
As always, your business is truly appreciated by all of us here at Steel Market Update.
Tim Triplett, Executive Editor
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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.