Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

When we reported steel prices on Tuesday, we noted that for the first time in a year we saw mixed results with some prices rising, one remaining the same and one dropping. We did not change our Price Momentum Indicator. However, we noted that we were carefully watching the markets to see when we would move from Higher to Neutral or Lower. We are not yet ready to make a definitive move, but we caution our readers to remain vigilant as we anticipate there could be instability in market prices as we approach the peak. (Whether we are at the peak or $100 per ton away from the peak is not something we are forecasting. We leave that up to others.).

Service Center Spot Market Changing?

As we watch for signs of change, one of the items I look at is what service centers are doing in regards to spot pricing to their end customers. SMU collects the data every other week from manufacturing companies and service centers. Over the past few surveys we have conducted, we are seeing signs of a potential change in the way service centers are handling spot prices into the market.

I want to be careful here and remind everyone, the question we are asking our data providers is: How are service centers handling spot prices this week compared to two weeks ago? In the graphics below, we are looking at the blue bars (we are keeping prices the same) and red bars (we are lowering prices).

The manufacturing companies are reporting a potential weakening as 21% of the respondents reported stable prices. This is up 5% from one month ago and 2% higher than two weeks back. Around 5% of the manufacturers reported decreasing prices from their suppliers. As you can see by the graphic below, when looking at the green bars (prices are rising compared to two weeks ago) the vast majority of the manufacturers continue to see higher prices from their service center suppliers.

spot prices mfg 8 5 21

Service centers are also beginning to report some weakening in their spot prices to their customers as 16% now report no change in spot pricing and 3% are reporting lower prices. The vast majority of distributors are reporting continued higher spot prices (81%).

spot prices sc 8 5 21

What would cause service centers to stop raising prices to their end customers? In my opinion, it is tied to the perceived risk of holding high-priced inventories in a potentially falling market. If a service center has been able to build back inventory on specific products, it may behoove them to keep them turning, even if they have to lower prices in order to make that happen.

Steel SummitSMU Steel Summit Conference Update: 950+, Masks, Food, Platform

The SMU Steel Summit Conference registrations continue to expand. We are now at 950+ executives registered to attend the Aug. 23-25 event, which will be held at the Georgia International Convention Center adjacent to the Atlanta International Airport (ATL).

The following companies were added to the list over the past two days (those with an * means more than one attendee from that company): AkzoNobel, American Heavy Plates, Broan Nutone LLC, Cleveland Steel Container, Great Dane LLC, MetalMekanik Steel Service SA de CV, Pacesetter*, Rio Tinto Services Inc., and Schaeffer Industries*. The following companies added additional executives to their existing registration: Andritz (ASKO) Metals*, Apex Tool Group*, Imperial Manufacturing Group*, Metal One America Inc.*, SPS Companies Inc.*, and Universal*.

If your company would like to be added to the registration list, you can do so by clicking here. If you want to learn more about the program, speakers, etc. you can do so by clicking here. The main Steel Summit website is:

You can now view the individual attendee names, title, and company on our virtual platform. The virtual platform is available to all registered attendees. You should have received a link to the platform and a password on Monday morning. If for some reason you have not yet seen the link, please send an email to:

I highly recommend that you log into the platform prior to the conference. Besides being able to view the attendees’ names, you can also email them directly out of the platform. You can view our agenda, speaker bio’s, and review a large number of videos on a wide array of topics from how to use the platform to an introduction to our Steel 101 workshop program. Once the conference begins, you will be able to stream the speakers/panelists live, and then after the conference you will be able to stream presentations on demand.

If you have questions about the platform or are having difficulty logging into the platform, please use the green help button in the bottom right corner of your screen (when you are on platform page). The live helpers will be available from 8 a.m. until noon ET.

Some updated information about the protocols that will be in place for the 2021 SMU Steel Summit Conference. There is a mask requirement inside the Georgia International Convention Center. This is mandated by the GICC, and we have no option but to enforce the mandate. If you are unwilling to wear a mask when not eating or drinking, we would suggest you consider attending virtually and not put the conference into a position where we could be shut down for non-conformance. Again, the mask mandate is from the GICC, not SMU/CRU. If you have any questions about COVID protocols, please contact

Social distancing is not a requirement within the conference center, but we ask that you spread out when in contact with large groups of people.

We have expanded lunches and breaks because there will not be “grab and go” at the food stations. We will be having servers provide food and drinks to you so there is less chance of any exposure to someone else’s germs.

Southern cooking is back with BBQ and peach cobbler lunch day on Tuesday (peach cobbler is my favorite).

I got a call about the restaurants being closed at the Marriott Gateway and Renaissance Gateway hotels. We have spoken with the hotels, and they will be serving breakfast at both restaurants on Monday-Wednesday. There will be a lunch buffet at Champions (Marriott Gateway) from 11:30-2:00 p.m. Monday-Wednesday. Dinner will be served at both restaurants from 4:00 p.m. until midnight. The Lobby Bar will be open at the Marriott Gateway from 4:00 p.m. until midnight on Monday and Tuesday.

At the conference venue we will have breakfast pastries, coffee, etc. on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings prior to the beginning of the conference. There will be treats and drinks available during breaks on all three days, and we will have lunch in the facility on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

As I have been suggesting for weeks now, if you are not vaccinated you should consider getting vaccinated or consider using our virtual platform option (at home, at work, or onsite).

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at

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

John Packard, President & CEO,

Latest in Final Thoughts

Final thoughts

Last week was a newsy one for the US sheet market. Nucor’s announcement that it would publish a weekly HR spot price was the talk of the town – whether that was in chatter among colleagues, at the Boy Scouts of America Metals Industry dinner, or in SMU’s latest market survey. Some think that it could Nucor's spot HR price could bring stability to notoriously volatile US sheet prices, according to SMU's latest steel market survey. Others think it’s too early to gauge its impact. And still others said they were leery of any attempt by producers to control prices.