I have been buried with the project of resurrecting our premiere event over the last few months. Out of the ashes of the pandemic rises the new virtual SMU Steel Summit Conference. As with any endeavor Steel Market Update tackles, this task has had some unusual challenges. As the project has gathered steam, we have found that our platform presents us with opportunities we did not anticipate to introduce pure gems into the program.
You are going to hear me crow about the quality of the speakers from now all the way through to the end of the conference. Right now, I am speaking to every speaker, covering every angle, and preparing them to provide the best content possible during the time we have allotted. I know they are excited about doing this conference. We have shared the platform with most of them, and they see the value we are creating.
I anticipate doing some new things this year. Since this is a year of change, and we will be in a virtual setting, it is time to adapt to the new world order. The close of the conference will be unique in that I am bringing in two people I worked with during my steel sales career. They do not know one another and are located on opposite ends of the world. Over the years I have grown to appreciate their knowledge and have accepted their counsel on many occasions. The two guest speakers are Tom Cullen, owner of Magic Coil Products, and Micheal Setterdahl of the Global Advisory Board of the GFG Alliance. I worked for Tom when he was president of Duferco Steel Trading, and I was an agent that represented Michael’s company Novosteel. They have hands on, unique perspectives on the industry, both here and abroad.
If you have not yet registered for the 2020 SMU Virtual Steel Summit Conference you still have the opportunity to do so. You can click here, or you can go to www.smusteelsummit.com or you can send an email to Events@SteelMarketUpdate.com. We are here to help you and your company adapt to the new world because we don’t yet know what next year is going to look like… Oh, I did notice we are getting new companies who have never attended one of our conferences before. I’m an old sales guy, I want to meet the “new blood” before someone else does.
This week’s SMU Community Chat Webinar was about the platform we will be using for this year’s virtual conference. The 45-minute recording of the webinar is available to anyone who would like to view it. I think you will find it interesting, whether you plan on attending the conference or not. You can retrieve the recording by clicking here or going to www.SteelMarketUpdate.com/blog/smu-community-chat-webinars
I don’t speak of politics much on these pages. There are times and places to express one’s opinion, but a steel industry publication with a diverse client base is not the place to prosecute a position. Yet politics and political ideologies are there facing all of us each and every day.
This country is going through a change. Change is never comfortable. Just the opposite. I grew up in the 1960s. A time of assassinations, an unpopular war, racial and economic inequities and riots. It was also a time of hope as seen through my eyes as a child and then a young adult through the words and deeds of many brave men and women. It was a time when Congress and the president passed life-changing pieces of legislation such as Medicare and the Voting Rights Acts. We went to the moon and many claimed to have attended Woodstock. During my life I lived in Georgia for 32 years. Congressman John Lewis was laid to rest today in Atlanta. He was one politician I admired for his commitment from a young age, his courage to do hard things (especially so young), his passion for freedom, opportunity and equality for all Americans. Now, more than ever, I pray others will find the courage to follow in his footsteps.
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
A clear consensus has emerged among respondents to SMU’s latest steel market survey that hot-rolled (HR) coil prices will bottom this month or in April. Seventy-five percent of respondents to our latest survey think that prices will find a floor before May as the chart below shows:
I want to give a big shoutout to the good folks at the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association (FMA) for inviting me to their annual conference this week in Clearwater, Fla. I also want to give a special thanks to the FMA for awarding SMU founder John Packard with a lifetime achievement award – on that also gave me a chance to catch up with my old boss in person.
What are some “Black Swans” to watch out for? With the war in Ukraine entering its third year, your mind might understandably move to conflicts overseas. Here is one closer to home to consider: US trade relations with Mexico taking a turn for the worse. I mention that because the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) dropped a (virtual) bombshell earlier this month.
Domestic prices have been sliding since the beginning of the year, and I don’t see any obvious reasons why the slide might stop this week. But let’s put the timing of a bottom aside for a minute. The question among some of you seems to be whether we’ll see another price spike, or at least a “dead-cat bounce,” before the typical summer doldrums kick in.
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.