Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

Watch the market closely. I am hearing rumors that at least one EAF mill is trying to get flat rolled numbers up. Right now, most (not all) data providers were not supportive of higher numbers. I am hearing integrated mills are not booking a lot of spot business, and thus are able to get slightly higher prices. Although with new capacity coming back online there is a struggle for market share. We will need to watch lead times closely in the coming weeks.

Here are just two of the comments we received from steel buyers today:

“I do not believe pricing will rise with the announced price increases. If it does it will be short lived, as I believe the minimills’ lead time is too short, and they need tons to fill.”

“Although I was not really expecting it, I am now thinking some of the increase will stick. As a side note, based on numbers we have received, the offshore spread is shrinking a bit. The offshore increase was certainly more than the domestic.”

Less than a month to go… (26 days)

I added a couple new speakers to the 2020 SMU Virtual Steel Summit Conference. I added Big River Steel CEO David Stickler, and I added Tom Cullen, CEO of Magic Coil Products.

We have the CEOs for the following steel mills speaking at this year’s conference:

David Burritt, U.S. Steel

Leon Topalian, Nucor

Mark Millett, Steel Dynamics

Maximo Vedoya, Ternium

David Stickler, Big River Steel

Lourenco Goncalves, Cleveland-Cliffs/AK Steel

We could never have had as many mill CEOs in a live event (just not enough time in the program). With a virtual event, we can control time and offer more speakers, cover more topics.

We have a couple of professional speakers for this year’s conference that I think you will find quite interesting. Ryan Avery THE Keynote Speaker will discuss how to stop being “a” leader and become “THE” leader. In 2012 Ryan won the prestigious World Championship of Public Speaking.  Jeff Butler is an entrepreneur and he will discuss Building an Effective Multi-Generational Workplace. You will not want to miss either of these young speakers.

Encourage the “C-Suite,” Human Resources and young up-and-coming leaders to attend this year’s conference.

Our parent company’s events team produced a virtual conference for the wire and cable industry last week using the same platform we will be using for the 2020 SMU Virtual Steel Summit Conference. That conference attendance was larger than the normal live event, as it was very much international in focus, and the virtual nature allowed for attendees from around the world to interact with the platform on their schedule.

The ability to multi-task and network with large numbers of people was appreciated by the wire and cable attendees. One analyst reported having 20 conversations going on at the same time.

Whether you are registered or not, you will want to participate in Wednesday’s SMU Community Chat Webinar as Paul Terry of CRU Events and I unveil the new platform from which we will host our conference this year. We will provide answers to many questions you might have about the conference, the program and your ability to network.

You can register for the webinar by clicking here, or going to  We will record this webinar and it will be available later this week under the SMU Community Chat webinar link in our website (same one referenced at the beginning of this paragraph).

We are closing in on 600 registered attendees, having added these companies over the past 24 hours (those with an * mean more than one attendee registered from that company): Medtrade*, Bailey Metal Products, Ltd, Magic Coil Products*, Zekelman Industries*, Verde Industries, Inc., Minnesota Power*, and Metal Master. If you would like to join them click here. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to us at

Don’t forget SMU NexGen Leadership Award nominees will be given free registration to this year’s conference. You can nominate someone by clicking here or going to and clicking on the 2020 Award tab. Nominations close soon.

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?