Steel prices declined for the third consecutive month in November, following a 12-month streak of continuous price increases. Hot-rolled coil prices declined $105 per ton throughout the month, with the SMU index averaging $1,770 per ton ($88.50 per cwt) as of Tuesday, Nov. 30. The SMU Price Momentum Indicator for hot-rolled coil was adjusted from Neutral to Lower in mid-October. It was adjusted to Lower for all other sheet products on Nov. 23.
November scrap prices were up $30-75 per ton from the month prior, climbing back towards the historically high prices seen in July. Click here to view and compare prices using our interactive pricing tool.
Zinc spot prices declined following an October surge. They hovered around $1.50 per pound in November and ended the month at $1.5066. Aluminum spot prices also declined from the multi-year high seen in October (excluding the occasional 2-5 day surges commonly seen in aluminum spot prices). They were down to $1.1963 per pound as of Nov. 30.
The SMU Buyers Sentiment Index continues to show a high level of optimism, ending the month at +73. Recall that the early-October reading of +84 was the highest ever recorded. Viewed as a three-month moving average, buyers’ sentiment declined slightly to +78.67 in late-November.
Hot-rolled coil lead times continue to shrink. They were down to an average of 6.09 weeks as of last week, their lowest level since October 2020. The percentage of buyers reporting that mills are willing to negotiate on hot-rolled coil prices continues to rise. It reached 75% in late November. A history of HRC lead times can also been viewed within our interactive pricing tool.
Key indicators of steel demand continue to remain positive, as has been the case for months. The ISM Manufacturing Index indicated further economic expansion for the 18th consecutive month, and the AIA Billings Index indicated that construction activity has recovered for the 10th month in a row. In the energy sector, the active drill rig count was up week after week – and it reached a 20-month high last Friday. Total U.S. steel imports, exports and apparent steel supply continue to improve each month, with each at a much healthier level than this time last year.
See the chart below for other key metrics in the month of November:
By Brett Linton, Brett@SteelMarketUpdate.com
Brett LintonRead more from Brett Linton
Latest in Economy
American steel firms’ fundamentals sound for 2024: Fitch
Sector fundamentals for US steel companies remain solid overall, according to ratings agency Fitch’s 2024 outlook report.
Durable goods orders slip in October
New orders for manufactured durable goods fell in the US in October.
October US housing starts inch higher but remain down on-year
US housing starts crept higher for a second consecutive month in October. Starts were lower, however than the same month last year, according to the most recent data from the US Census Bureau.
NAHB: Builder Confidence Down for Multifamily and Single-Family Starts
Increasing mortgage rates have caused builders to lose confidence in the market, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
CRU Aluminum: Geopolitics, Sustainability Goals Could Alter 2024 Trade Flows
European Aluminium, an association representing the entire European aluminum value chain, announced in a press release that it supports the European Commission's proposed 12th package of sanctions against Russia.