Steel Products

Market Chatter

Written by Brett Linton

Earlier this week SMU canvassed steel buyers on a variety of subjects, ranging from steel prices to supply and demand to new mill capacity. We are sharing the comments we received in each buyers’ own words, rather than summarizing them in ours.

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Where do you think steel prices will bottom, and when? Why do you think that?

“December bottom at $750 Busheling cost will determine the bottom.”

“At this juncture, I’m saying early-to-mid Q2. By then we’ll be below/around $900/ton and the mills will be taking things offline.”

“$700-800, mid-August.”

“Within the next 30-60 days.”

“I think it bottoms in Q3, buyers are pushing hard now, pricing probably gets just south of $900 for HRC, maybe not on an index, but deal prices. Then there will be some furnace outages or labor issues with the upcoming contracts.”

“HR should bottom out around $950 – pricing pressure combined with current raw material costs should put the bottom around $950.”

“After mid-term elections. Everything is just too volatile.”

“$900 HRC end of summer.”

“Still think end of October. Mills will find a way to stop the fall.”

“HRC will bottom out close to $880 probably by late July early August.”

“Nobody knows.”

Is demand improving, declining or stable, and why?

“Declining to some degree, automotive shutdowns for July, contract prices resetting are leading to buyers being very concerned with inventory.”

“Demand is also very tough to predict, normally at this time of the year volume starts increasing, but I haven’t seen this happen yet.”

“Declining… Residential and commercial construction is declining.”

“Staying very stable in our sector, but I’m hearing murmurs of softening, which is far from ideal.”

“Demand is stable with hints of slowdown on residential side of things.”

“Declining. Many ultimate customers of many US manufacturing firms are heavy on high-priced steel and demand for finished products has dropped for many.”

“Stable – good activity in the markets we serve.”

“Customers are on sidelines. Demand is softening overall slightly by some and steady by others.”

“Stable but waiting until absolutely necessary.”

“Stable in some sectors, declining in most.”

Are supply chain issues getting better or worse, and why?

“Metal supply chain is stable at the moment, other products still messed up.”

“It appears that some issues are rectifying themselves, while others keep popping up. It is the belief of our company that transportation is going to continue being the biggest challenge for us all!”

“Better, significant availability.”

“Hard to say things are getting any better. Worth monitoring the situation with the ongoing West Coast port negotiations too.”

“Galvanized steel seems to be more readily available, cartons and machinery still seem to be backed up.”

“Worse. Trucking and key electronic components for industrial equipment (drives).”

“Port congestion still present in West Coast ports. Inland trucking high costs and high FSC.”

“Steel supply chains are better, most other are worse.”

“No change, just questionable about what politics are going to impact next.”

“Worse – project delays are widespread due to lack of availability of a growing list of items.”

“Really no change, what was an issue, is still an issue.”

Are you seeing the impact of new North American capacity in the market? If yes, how so?

“Yes, the new mills will need to run tons!”

“We are, just in the fact that all of the new capacity are the ones chasing things lower. A very simple supply > demand dynamic right now.”

“Hard to say if it’s more supply or lower demand. Give it a month and it should be clearer.”

“Not yet for plate, but it will start to impact the market later this year.”

“Outside of Sinton, we are not seeing any new capacity. If anything Nucor Gallatin is still struggling with their start up, and North Star is not producing any new tons.”

“Not yet, the new capacity is not significant yet.”

“I hear of availability. SDI and BRS are looking to ship tons to West Coast destinations aggressively.”

“As of now, not much impact. It all depends on demand remaining at or close to current levels.”

“Yes, SDI Sinton aggressive for business.”

“Not seeing impact.”

PSA: If you have not looked at our latest SMU Market Survey results, they are available here on our website to all Premium members. We often refer to this as our ‘Steel Market Trends Report,’ and we publish updates every other Friday. We encourage readers to explore the full results, as we simply cannot write about all of the information within. After logging in at, visit the Analysis tab and look under the “Survey Results” section for “Latest Survey Results.” Historical survey results are also available in the Survey Results section under “Survey Results History.”

By Brett Linton,

Brett Linton

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