Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by Tim Triplett


The service center and manufacturer executives who read Steel Market Update have been telling us for some time that they believe steel prices are near the bottom and poised to turn around soon. Our latest check of the market, with flat rolled steel prices up anywhere from $15 to $25 per ton, suggests the market may have turned a corner.

A price increase announcement from the EAF mills sometime soon would surprise no one. The integrated mills tried it about a month ago, but the move proved premature and prices gained little ground. This week, the majority (56 percent) of those responding to SMU’s market trends questionnaire said they believe steel demand has now improved to the point where such a price hike could be successful. That means 44 percent are still doubtful, though. Not exactly a slam dunk yet.

Here’s some of their comments:

“I believe the EAF producers will get an increase of no more than $40/ton, unless scrap continues to move down.”

“Prices are too low based on world economics right now.”

“Demand is truly picking up steam. We are very busy with all business segments of our company.”

“I think true demand is growing as many customers are telling me they were busier in July than June. The EAF mills are also telling me they are getting busier these days.”

“They are already [raising prices] one customer at a time.”

“I am not convinced they can get a big increase, but demand seems good enough they should be able to get some. Particularly if the increase isn’t too aggressive.”

“The Galvalume market is strong; however, other steel markets are not seeing the same amount of activity.”

“Lead-times are still fairly normal and it does not seem like service centers are that busy.”

“Maybe [an increase] would stop the bleeding.”

In other news, we published the final agenda today for the SMU Virtual Steel Summit. If you count the number of individual speakers, it totals 48! We have speakers from China, Australia, Germany, England, Chile, Mexico and Dubai, not to mention the U.S. When we said there was going to be a lot of content, we were not kidding.

Registrations for next week’s summit continue to mount, as the number of executives planning to “attend” is approaching the mid-700’s. Here are some of the companies that registered within the past couple of days: Caterpillar*, Midrex Technologies, Steel Manufacturing and Warehouse Co., Crown Equipment*,  MetalMiner*, Kloeckner Metals, Vesuvius USA*, Hanwa (HAMCO), NLMK USA*, Willbanks Metals, Teck Metals Limited, Canam, BTD, Imperial Pools, Inc., Jemison Metals and Plateplus. You can join them by clicking here or going to www.SMUsteelsummit.com

On Wednesday, our virtual platform will open for all attendees, sponsors and exhibitors. There are a number of “demo” videos on the SMU Steel Summit website (www.SMUsteelsummit.com) Just click on “Demo Videos” in the toolbar at the top. The demo videos will assist you in navigating around, how to make an appointment with someone, help with networking, etc.

Tomorrow (Wednesday, Aug. 19) at 11 a.m. ET we will have an SMU Community Chat Webinar that will feature our “live” platform. You will be able to see what an attendee sees when he or she first enters the platform. We will answer as many questions as we can about the platform. You do not need to be a registered attendee to participate. Our hope is after you see what we have created, you will break down and spend less than $10 per speaker ($7.29 per speaker if you use the SMU and multi-person discounts) to join us. You can register by clicking here or going to www.SMUsteelsummit.com

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?