Last week we conducted one of our flat rolled and plate steel market trends analyses. Some of the information gathered was shared in Thursday’s and again in tonight’s issue (see above). However, we share in our newsletter only a small fraction of the information that is being collected. Our data providers and Premium members can access a PowerPoint presentation that puts a large portion of the data into historical perspective. That information is available online now.
We have an excellent economist speaking this Wednesday at 11 AM ET as part of the SMU Community Chat series of free webinars. Tim Gill, Chief Economist for the American Iron and Steel Institute, will join us to discuss how he is seeing the economy and the steel industry. You can register for the webinar by clicking here or going to www.SteelMarketUpdate.com/blog/smu-community-chat-webinars
14 Days to Go…
We are busy preparing for the 2020 SMU Virtual Steel Summit Conference. We have already begun the recording process for some of the “on-demand” presentations, and we are working on the lobby video, our introduction videos and with many of the speakers’ presentations. The program looks strong, and we are looking forward to rolling out our first virtual Steel Summit Conference.
When I last checked we had 24 nominees for this year’s SMU NexGen Leadership Award. Each of the nominees will receive a free pass to this year’s conference. Nominations are now closed. The judges and I will be reviewing the nominations over the next couple of weeks and we will announce the winner during the conference. A special thank you to the Steel Manufacturers Association for their support of this award.
We had 128 new registrations for the conference last week. Here are just some of the companies who registered: Batesville Casket Company, Larson Manufacturing Company, Conklin Metal Industries, Black Rock Metals, CARMEUSE Europe, Bank of America, PGT Trucking and Steel Dynamics who registered 15 of their executives. You can register by clicking here.
I want to recognize our sponsors without which our ticket prices would have been much higher than the $450 (no discounts) price ($350 for SMU/CRU member companies who register more than one person). If you would like more information about registration, please visit www.smusteelsummit.com or contact us at Events@SteelMarketUpdate.com
Our platinum sponsor is Red Bud Industries. Our Gold Sponsors are Mill Steel, Bank of America, Crowe, Big River Steel, Heidtman Steel, Reibus and Kenwal. Our Silver Sponsors are Nucor, CME Group, Steel Manufacturers Association, Fifth Third Bank, Felux and BMO. Our Bronze Sponsors are MidWest Materials, Alliance Steel, Ratner Steel Supply Company, Acero Prime, Magic Coil Products and Paragon Steel. We also want to recognize the following supporting companies: Metal Center News, Modern Metals, FF Journal, Fabricators and Manufacturers Association and Fitch Ratings.
This will be another busy week for the steel industry. We are still waiting to see if any of the EAF or conversion mills make a public move to take spot prices higher. SMU will be reaching out to a select group of steel buyers to get their opinions early this week, and we will be reporting on the results in Tuesday evening’s newsletter.
For those of you who are interested in learning more about upgrading, adding more employees or becoming a subscriber to the Steel Market Update newsletter, please contact Paige Mayhair at 724-720-1012. She can also be reached at Paige@SteelMarketUpdate.com
I can be reached at John@SteelMarketUpdate.com
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.