Steel Products

Steel Market Chatter This Week

Written by Brett Linton

SMU polled steel buyers earlier this week on a variety of subjects including current and future steel prices, inventory strategies, demand, and new capacity. Rather than summarizing the comments we received, we are sharing them in each buyer’s own words.

We want to hear your thoughts, too! Contact to be included in our questionnaires.

Where do you think steel prices will bottom, and when? Or have they already reached a bottom? Why do you think that?

“Near bottom now, imports light in Q4, inventories should balance out by October.”

“Q4 ’22 – Prices will firm up as demand continues to be stable, and companies have reduced their buying to turn the high-cost inventory. SC’s will need to buy.”

“Still think there is room for lower.”

“HRC will bottom in Q4 at around $700.”

“Already reached bottom. Outages and lack of imports in the coming months.”

“I think it will be Q4 once more capacity comes on, so near-term firm up and then peel back.”

“$720…and I think we’ve touched the bottom.”

“I think we’re on the bottom – maybe slight ebbs-and-flows from here, but overall at/near the bottom.”

“Reached bottom, but nothing major going to happen. Hovering around $800 until the end of the year. Supply-demand is trying to find a new balance.”

“$650 per ton by mid-October after many contracts are finalized and import deals for 2022 arrival are complete.”

“I can only address plate – I think plate will bottom in Q4 and not much lower than current numbers. 2023 looking very positive.”

“Prices might have already bottomed out in US or will within a week or so. Some spot deals might drag index prices lower, but in general prices are close to bottom.”

“We will reach the bottom when lead times begin extending.”

Has your inventory strategy changed because of the extreme volatility of the last two years? Are you carrying more or less inventory than you did in the past?

“Strategy remains consistent with our customer demand.”

“Not really. You have to always be adjusting with every market each and every year.”

“With short lead times, we carry less inventory.”

“We are in balance to our shipments and carrying reduced amounts from last year.”

“We are definitely trying to carry less. For us, 2.5 MOH is the new 3.0.”

“Unfortunately, we have more because many of our customers have missed their optimistic forecasts.”

“Less inventory, but the correct inventory.”

“More inventory to avoid panic-buying situations caused when mills decide to create a supply shortage.”

“Keeping inventory levels where they need to be, buying what’s needed and proceeding with caution.”

“We are carrying less, but we are selling less due to less availability.”

“We buy back to back, no inventories. However, my final customers are cutting back on inventory buys.”

Is demand improving, declining or stable, and why?

“I would say we’re declining-to-stable based on index pricing going down, mill lead times remain short, and normal ‘summer doldrums’.”

“Demand as in new spot orders from import is down. Due to price expectations and port issues, etc.”


“Demand is stable but light.”

“Auto better than July, everyone is being cautious because of world news.”

“Declining. The raising interest rates and high pricing for energy and goods is slowing the economy.”


“Demand is improving–our volumes bottomed out the last two weeks of July and are up 25% since.”

“Stable end-use markets for us.”

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

“Yes. Greater supply makes if tougher for mills to create a shortage.”

“Obviously the additional capacity hasn’t been greeeaattt for pricing. New folks in the SW continue to try and lead the charge lower to capture market share.”

“No impact on plate.”

“Yes, new capacity is the most aggressive.”

“Yes, lower pricing on most grades.”

“So far no impact on west coast USA for now…”

“Yes. Mills fighting for tons, even though demand remains solid.”

“Yes, the lows were lower than we expected.”

“Yes, more supply, less demand, weaker pricing.”

“Tons are king.”

“Yes, all the mills are looking for business.”

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.” We will conduct our next market survey next week, contact us if you would like to have your company represented.

By Brett Linton,

Brett Linton

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