Steel Products

Steel Market Chatter This Week

Written by Brett Linton

On Monday and Tuesday of 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?

“Soon, we are going see lead times start to hit early January in the next couple of weeks and that normally causes mills to tighten up.”

“$700 as demand is still week and mills are still making good margin at that level.”

“I have been thinking we were at the bottom. Looks to still be trending down. Likely bottom December. Demand is still stable for now.”

“Mid next year for plate.”

“Nov/Dec, In the $600’s, lack of demand.”

“After midterms for sure but more than likely February 2023.”

“Mid 2023.”

“December 2022. Too much capacity, too little orders.”

“We are close. The amount of outages in Q4 and dropping import levels should help us find a floor.”

“Hot rolled will bottom out around $700–720. Outages along with mill maintenance will force demand to grow.”

“Further down, looks like they will continue to digress until second quarter 2023.”

“I feel within the next month we will reach the bottom and likely are very near it already. With companies running on very lean inventory, it won’t take much to start moving pricing up with just a little uptick in demand.”

“It has to be soon, but I don’t think we’re quite there yet. Maybe mid-November? That being said, I don’t see a major catalyst to lift pricing much from the bottom either.”

“I think when lead times hit December and demand slows for the holidays, pricing comes under another attack.”

Is demand improving, declining or stable, and why?

“Declining. Shipments remain strong, but bookings point to more challenging times ahead.”

“Stable to slightly improving.”

“Declining because of overall business conditions. Inflation is rearing its ugly head.”

“Stable with a slight declining trend.”

“Stable — Moving forecasted quantities of material. Customer backlog good through February.”

“Demand has been stable for the last 4–5 months.”

“Demand is declining, we are heading into the holidays.”

“Declining, recession fears, inflation and higher interest rates.”

“Demand is “Ok”. It certainly doesn’t sound like service centers are restocking much though.”

“Improving, but slowly”

“Not yet in plate.”

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

“Not really yet, expected to be more of an impact once mill maintenance finishes and we enter the first quarter of 2023.”

“Yes. Some idling, some mills taking early mill outages.”

“Yes, prices would have moved up by now if the new capacity was not in play.”

“Not yet, I don’t see any of the new capacity able to produce at the rates they want to yet.”

“The newer mills, especially in the southwest continue to try and steal tonnage wherever they can. They are very aggressive.”


“Too much capacity for now until demand picks up, that will not happen until interest rates come down and inflation starts to reverse.”

“Yes. They are hungry to fill new capacity, but demand doesn’t support it right now.”

“No, any new capacity is currently more than offset by idled capacity. CU [capacity utilization] is lowest since January 2021.”

“Not that I’m aware of.”

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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