Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Election Day – Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

If you have a mail-in ballot, it is now too late to put in the mail. You will need to personally drop the ballot off at a collection box. If you can vote early, I would highly recommend it (I voted last week in Florida and the wait was only 15 minutes). If you vote in person, please wear a mask and social distance – I need you and your business in 2021….

As I wander around the industry, and speak with buyers and sellers of steel, I pick up interesting tidbits about the market, market pricing, lead times, disruptions, etc. Here are some of the comments I received this week:

John Packard Summit 18I was investigating a rumor regarding Big River Steel offering galvanized at lower than market prices. One service center steel buyer who normally buys quite a bit of material from Big River Steel told me, “Rumor mostly, quoting me high… [specific business removed] higher than everyone else. Nucor Gallatin blowing them away in pricing by over $3/cwt with freight equalized.”

This same buyer went on to tell me, “Mills $700/ton hard quote for HR now. I bought 400T at that yesterday due to increased volume from a customer. Algoma in Canada lead time is the end of February for HR now ( I buy 80-inch wide from them). Mexico no quoting everything. Korean HR inbound, but not till February. If AM [ArcelorMittal] doesn’t bring on more HR capacity this year, I’m not sure where we will go. Buckle up; $750 [hot rolled] in play for sure in Q4.”   

I was also investigating rumors of Turkey coming back into the U.S. market. I spoke with a trading company associated with the Turkish mills and was told there were cold rolled and galvanized offers being made into the southeastern markets that were making sense, and the expectation is there will be orders placed with Turkey for these items in the coming days. Hot rolled pricing is still a tad high, but as domestic mill prices rise, it will open the door on Turkish hot rolled as well.

The Chinese market has slowed over the past few weeks, which has opened the door for exports of flat rolled steel into the United States.

We were also provided some insights into the Turkish scrap markets, “Regarding scrap, Turkey has bought several cargoes ex USA in the last month. The last reported deal was from Oct .16 at $286 FOB Turkey from Schnitzer USA to Turkey. Price paid today for scrap going from the UK to Turkey is $285/MT, so no change over the last day.”

Interesting item I read in Reuters India. China was the top buyer of Indian steel between April and September, taking 1.9 million metric tons or 29 percent of India’s finished steel exports. China and Vietnam purchased 75 percent of the 6.5 million metric tons exported out of India, which was the highest in at least six years.

Equally interesting, the World Steel Association is reporting China as the only country whose steel production grew during the first nine months 2020. Its production was up 4.5 percent, in contrast to North American production, which was down 18.2 percent. Reuters India stated, “China, the world’s top steel consumer, has bucked the COVID-linked trend of sluggish global demand, supported by economic stimulus such as infrastructure investments.”

With no second stimulus package being passed by the U.S. Senate (House did pass a package), there is a good chance, no matter who is president, that an infrastructure bill gets done early in 2021 (my opinion).

decisionA top executive with a large Midwestern service center group told me today regarding the amount of supply available in the market, “I think there is enough steel, and each week the output is increasing. But short term (into December), the booming auto demand and other demand recovering is moving prices back toward normal levels. ArcelorMittal has really struggled producing and getting slabs to the correct hot strip mill under this BF scenario. Their bad performance has seriously affected auto and in turn the rest of the market. This is really key to the current market shortage. Add in the absence of Stelco and the NLMK strike and the pinch is real.”

He continued: “Mills holding back December availability is the perfect play in this environment. They have many weeks to allow buyers to access product at $700 before they would need to consider discounting. If the demand remains urgent at the $700 level, prices could move up further.

“But the weekly output is growing. AM’s output will recover in Q1, Stelco will be back on, and NLMK and/or JSW will have more product too. The market seems a bit overheated, but AM has folks pulling their hair out.”

Stelco is coming back into the market, although they did have a hack of their systems earlier this week. We will need to watch them closely as their blast furnace comes back online.

We had an excellent SMU Community Chat Webinar with Dr. David Schultz of Hamline University. Dr. Schultz broke down the election in light of his research and other polls, and described the key areas within Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan that we need to watch on election eve. You can view the recording of his comments by clicking here or going to You can also find recordings and PowerPoint presentations from all of our past webinars on the referenced page.

A comment from one of our Steel 101 attendees last week, “It was a pleasure attending the workshop. The information that I needed to learn was wrapped up in a single package. The workshop and the trainers were great. Just what I needed to be successful.” Brian Bohm, Morton Buildings

Our next Steel 101: Introduction to Steel Making & Market Fundamentals Workshop will be held virtually on Dec. 8-9. You can learn more about the agenda, instructors, costs and how to register by clicking here.

New to Steel Market Update and you would like to know more about how to become a subscriber? You can do so by reaching out to or by calling her at 724-720-1012. Paige can also assist existing member companies should they wish to add employees to their subscription, change their membership from Executive to Premium or just to renew.

As always, your business is truly appreciated by all of us here at Steel Market Update.

John Packard, President & CEO

Latest in Final Thoughts