Steel Products Prices North America

Steel Market Chatter This Week

Written by David Schollaert

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 some of them in each buyer’s own words.

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

Will the latest round of $50/ton sheet price hikes announced by domestic mills stick? Why or why not?

“I still don’t think so. That being said, the mill utilization rate is ticking up and scrap’s strength in February might say otherwise.”

“Will settle between $800-$850.”


“Indications are in favor of them sticking. Tonnage might help keep price down a bit.”

“Mostly likely if Nucor sanctioned it.”

“Yes, do not see that buyers have an option, mini-mill is extremely tight on spot and buyers are looking everywhere to feel their needs.”

“Partially – maybe $25. Scrap up $20, iron ore $129 and imports – especially from Europe – too high.”

“Yes, they’ll stick. Mills are in unison on this, expect another $50/ton increase in the next week or two.”

“It will stick for those that need to buy (lower volumes).”

When and at what price level do you think steel prices will peak, and why?

“$800-825. March 2023.”

“I think the indices will crest $800/ton (which I didn’t think was going to happen a month ago), but that there is limited room above that.”

“March – demand isn’t strong enough to bypass lead times getting close to summer slowdown months.”


“Too early to tell.”

“Wish I knew.”

“I think HRC will get pushed to $900, based on limited availability in the next few months, with a lot of maintenance outages upcoming in second quarter and limited imports, it will take until May lead time before availability starts to come through.”

“April – $800-$825. Economy not strong enough and capacity coming on stream while imports become attractive.”

“I believe they’re going to top out around $850/ton by the end of February, and then fall. Not enough demand.”

“March. The mills are raising prices too quickly without an increase in “real demand” in a high interest rate environment.”

“40-45/cwt range.”

Is demand improving, declining or stable, and why?

“Improving minimally.”

“Demand is stable but the major question is whether things were brought forward and not ‘true’ demand.”

“Demand remains stable.”


“Demand is not different, but buyers restocking and buying to beat the increase on trailing contract mechanisms, is making things look better than they should.”


“Stable in Canada. Many customers are holding inventory levels waiting for prices to drop again.”



Is inventory moving faster or slower than this time last year – and why?


“We are hearing that SSC inventories are actually moving slower, which is pretty scary.”


“Moving a bit faster.”

“Same as last year.”

“Faster than last year. When we got into last year prices were falling. It was not until Russia invaded Ukraine that prices started to recover.”

“Roughly the same as last year.”


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


“We were, but there are so many ‘scary stories’ coming out of Mexico and Texas that we’ve seen a bit of a break in the glut of new capacity.”


“Not at all.”

“Not yet, but that is because AHMSA is not on the market and SDI is ramping up too slow.”

“Not yet.”

“Yes. More steel is available despite attempts by mills to create a shortage so they can increase prices.”

“No–capacity utilization is down.”

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 David Schollaert,

David Schollaert

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