Steel Markets

Steel Market Chatter This Week

Written by Becca Moczygemba

SMU polled steel buyers on a variety of subjects on Monday and Tuesday of this week, including current and future steel prices, inventory strategies, supply, demand, and new mill 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.

Now that steel prices have bottomed, will they continue to rise in response to new price hikes? If so, how high?

“I don’t see it going over 700.”

“They may make it into the 800s if scrap keeps going up, but there is no increase in demand.”

“Unsure. Most of the downstream OEMs and what not have $1.00cwt HR and $1.15cwtHDG/CR bases as their metal cost for selling their product, and most are still raising prices downstream as well.”

“Yes, but to a limited extent. Over $750 is unlikley.”

“Yes, prices will rise in response to increased scrap prices and mill increases. Best guess $780 with upside duration being limited by demand.”

“Yes. Governed by demand, hopefully.”

“They will rise through first quarter. I expect HR to be above $800.”

“Yes, because of the scrap going up more than expected and announced increases, they will get above $750.”

“Yes, 2023 will see prices rise due to cost to produce and demand.”

Mills are making less margin, so pressure is to move pricing higher, and offshore volumes are getting less.

“Maybe $750/ton HR.”

Is demand improving, declining or stable?

“Demand is tepid, and with the recession threat, not much optimism amongst buyers.”

“Stable for now, but possible recession will slow demand in the next quarter.”

“Improving. I think we are still skipping across the bottom.”

“Demand is comming back as people return from holiday break.”

“Stable to declining.”

“Varies across market segments, so lets call it stable. There’s still enough inflation and economic uncertainty out there. As well, supply in certain segments is outpacing demand.”

“Mostly stable… not improving..”

“Demand remains stable.”

“I am still seeing demand as stable but shaky.”

Improving as buyers overbuy trailing contracts to beat the price increase.”

“Demand seems stable, but the perception is that it is better—I think this is a reaction to having less inventory.”

Is inventory moving faster of slower than this time last year?

“Different climate than last year, hard to compare.”

“A little slower.”

“For us, slower. Supply chain disruptions & labor issues continue to impact (slow) throughput.”

“Moving slower.”

“So far a bit faster than last year.”

“No, business is much slower than it was a year ago—economy is slowing—winds of recession.”

“Faster, last year prices were falling in this time-frame until Russia invaded Ukraine.”

“Depends on our deals with our customers. Some are asking to be covered into the third quarter at the current cost.”

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

“Certainly in the Southwest, but not plate – yet.”

“Not really. Maybe a few more products available in small amounts from some of the mills that haven’t been quoting spot tons on those items, but not much overall yet.”

“Yes, but projects that require melted and poured in the US absorb addtitonal capacity coming online recently..”

“Not much on the west coast..”

“Lead times are being pushed out.”

“No, lead times are being heavily manipulated to artificially decrease supply. Mills have plenty of capacity and are choosing not to use it.”

“Not at all.”

“Yes, due to lower offshore supply and certain markets that are still strong.”

Do you think the $50/ton sheet price hike announced by Nucor on Monday will stick?

“It reflects the change in scrap cost to the mill. They will fight to get most of it, but demand has not improved.”

“Not so far.”


“Yes, if other domestic mills have disipline. Imports are later shipments and cannot arrive in time, so domestic mills can keep increasing for now.”

“Too early to tell.”

“Partially. Momentum is there.”

“Not completely, but a scrap bump will certainly help them recover a portion.”

“Likely, as the market was heading in this direction regardless.”

“Part of it will stick—I am guessing 20-30/ton will stick.”

“Yes, just a pass through of rising material costs (scrap).”

“No, in our construction industry, sales will not support it yet.”

“Mostly, they are playing catch-up. Most mills are already trying to hold this range.”

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 Becca Moczygemba,

Becca Moczygemba

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