SMU Data and Models

Steel Mill Negotiations: Mills in Control

Written by Tim Triplett

Mills continue to control negotiations over hot rolled, cold rolled and coated steel orders as they seek to collect higher prices in a market characterized by extended lead times and tight supplies.

About 86 percent of the hot rolled steel buyers responding to Steel Market Update’s market trends questionnaire this week said the mills are unwilling to deal on hot rolled. That’s up four points from 82 percent two weeks ago. Only 14 percent said the mills are now willing to bargain to secure an HR order.

In the cold rolled segment, 67 percent said mills are not willing to talk price. While still the majority view, that’s down seven points in the past two weeks. The other 33 percent reported some room for price negotiation on cold rolled.

The percentages are similar in galvanized, where 71 percent said the mills are saying no, while the other 29 percent reported mills open to discounts. About 83 percent of those responding to the question on Galvalume reported little room for negotiation as Galv supplies remain especially tight.

Talks have tightened a bit in the plate market, where 55 percent said the mills are now open to negotiations, while 45 percent said the mills are now holding the line on plate. Two weeks ago, more than 70 percent said the mills were willing to negotiate. The plate mills are trying to collect higher prices, though SMU has not seen much movement in the plate price in recent weeks.

Based on SMU’s latest check of the market, the benchmark price for hot rolled steel continues to rise and now averages around $685 per ton.

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