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.

Do you plan to change your spot to contract mix in 2023? And, if yes, how so?

“Heavier spot until probably Q2 2023 due to over inventory at distributors.”

“With the tremendous oversupply still existing, we will probably start adjusting in January.”

“Yes, short volumes until pricing stabilizes.”

“We are only spot regardless.”

“More spot.”

“We will stay the course with contractual agreements and leave a little room for spot.”

“Yes, likely more contract (I know, in the minority on that one).”

“No, but we aren’t in a position to handle contracts anyway.”

“We will sign up for less contracts if customers are not willing to commit.”

“Not at this time.”

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

At this rate, they may drop down in the mid to low 20s per cwt ($400s per ton). I guess all of the mills want to lose money.”

“We are at the bottom this month. Lead times moving to January and annual contracts are being settled.”

“With China easing restrictions, I optimistically see January as bottom.”

“They will bottom in December, until all mills reach January lead times.”

“I think we’ve still got a ways to go. Do we break $600/ton? Unfortunately I think the answer is ‘Yes’.”

“Once hot rolled reaches $600 this market will start its upward movement.”

“Plate — We are at the bottom for 2022. Q1 ’23 expecting a slight increase.”

“$550 and the end of the year. Demand is weak and supply is still high.”


“Plate will continue to drop until it gets $300–400/ton closer to HRC.”

“$575–600 bottom.”

Is demand improving, declining or stable, and why?

“Demand is weak as availability has gone up due to new volumes and inflation overall is curbing demand.”


“Declining — it almost always does in fourth quarter.”

“Demand in our sector is stable but we do hear some bad things from construction and related industries.”


“Demand continues to remain weak. Limited orders or even inquiries. Price decreases and short lead times and future economic headwinds.”

“Demand is declining just a bit, most of the decline is residential and multifamily.”

“Stable to slightly declining (seasonality).”

“Demand has slowed in the past six weeks.”

“Stable; lots of quoting for potential projects in 2023.”

“No one wants to buy anything more in Q4.”

“Improving slightly.”

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

“Yes, southern demand is low and extra capacity is now available over the next several months.”

“Yes, short lead times.”

“Yes, prices continue to come down… supply exceeds demand at the moment.”

“Not seeing much on the West Coast.”

“The rumored “discipline” at the mill level never materialized. Likewise, service centers are as reckless as ever. There is still too much capacity at both levels in that supply chain.”

“Not at this time.”

“Yes as there is more availability now.”

“Not just yet, expect more in Q1.”


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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