Steel Products

Steel Market Chatter This Week

Written by Brett Linton

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

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?

Pricing has paused but I believe pricing will move down to around $650 by year end due to light demand and overcapacity at mills.”

“Prices have already bottomed out. Conversations have price moving up slowly.”

“I think they have bottomed in the near term now, but after a couple weeks of being firm, ultimately we feel that the mills will be forced to reduce again when lead times hit late November.”

“Pretty close to bottom… bottom in December is likely.”

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“Sometime in 2023—too much capacity and slowing economy.”

“Q4—scrap Sept. price settlement.”

“They’ve bottomed, pricing is up anywhere from $40–70/ton from the bottom.”

“Still feel that we are at or near the bottom. Economy is still too strong to drop much further, and I am not seeing significant demand erosion. I also feel we will see some supply tighten up as we move into fourth quarter.”

“Huge drop from Q2 to Q4… don’t think mills have hit bottom.”

“Late October/early November after contract season.”

US Steel has idled a blast furnace at its Gary Works. Do you expect additional blast furnace idlings in North America?

Yes, unfortunately.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised, to try to stop the bleeding.”

“No idling but maintenance will cause some issues.”

“Nothing significant.”

“Yes, I think this is the first of some supply being pulled offline.”

“Yes—anything to stop the decline.”

“Sure. Potential recession would force further action.”

“Yes, older technology but will be offset by new mills coming on stream over next several months.”

“Good possibility.”

Is demand improving, declining or stable, and why?

“Demand is OK, now that contract pricing and spot pricing are aligned, more volume is flowing.”

“Demand is a little softer than 30 days ago, but still somewhat stable.”

“Stable to declining slightly. Market is in the process of digesting economic information. Problems coming with additional HRC capacity coming online.”

“Declining. Our construction industry is incredibly nervous and speculating an upcoming slowdown.”

“Demand has slightly increased. As the market appears on the verge of an increase, many opportunities have crossed my desk.”

“Declining due to inflation and projects are being canceled or moved out due to high prices.”

“Stable but weakening. Interest rates too high for the metal building industry.”


“Declining to stable depending on market segment.”

“Slight decline.”

“Demand is declining due to unstable economy and high interest rates.”

Are you seeing the impact of new North American capacity in the market?

“More steel is available with short lead times.”

“Not yet, but it is coming.”

“I think the new capacity has been with us for a while. Yes, I think it is one of the reasons we have seen a downward pricing trend in the last 90 days.”

“No, not at all.”

“Yes—lead times continue to contract.”

“No, but our exposure is almost 100% West Coast.”

“Yes. Mills with newer capacity are most aggressive on spot transactions.”

“Yes, availability of certain sizes of product are better stocked at services centers.”

“Not yet for plate.”

“Falling prices.”

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?

“We’ve maintained our same approach, controlled inventory.”

“Leaning toward heavier as we are looking toward aggressive market share gain.”

“Just maintaining inventory.”

“Yes, I am carrying more due to games played by mills to try to tighten up supply in order to jack up prices.”

“Strategy is the same. Carry only what you need. Execution more important than ever.”

“We have too much inventory due to missed sales forecast.”

“Carrying less due to prices moving down.”

“It has been difficult to be at the proper inventory level with the volatility in supply and pricing. Different commodities present different challenges.”

“We are carrying our regular inventory levels.”

“Carrying far too much inventory.”

“Yes—aiming for increased turns.”

“We were, but not anymore.”

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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