Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by Tim Triplett


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

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?