Steel Products Prices North America

HARDI Members Bullish on Demand

Written by Becca Moczygemba

Galvanized sheet continues to be in high demand, according to members of the Heating, Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) Sheet Metal/Air Handling Council.

HARDISince the January HARDI meeting, prices have increased, lead times have extended, scrap is up, and zinc is down. Despite the roller coaster, HARDI members remain bullish on demand in general.

“Demand is steady, forecasts remain strong throughout the year. We’ve got good orders on the books and demand should remain steady, so full-steam ahead right now,” said one West Coast member.

Another member from the East Coast echoed the sentiment, noting that commercial construction has been strong, with residential construction trailing behind.

“Demand has been substantially better than Q4 of last year. Expected demand is good. There are a lot of pent-up jobs in our marketplace that haven’t started,” he said.

It was also mentioned that demand is strong in the Midwest, which is expected to continue. Additionally, price hikes are now being reflected at the street level. In January, pricing had not yet trickled down to the end-user.

Another notable topic during the meeting was the amount of consolidation that has happened over the past 10 years. “I think we’re in a new reality and we’re just going to have to adjust a little bit,” said one HARDI member.

As steel price increases follow one after another, the question remains as to where they will plateau.

According to some members, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) demand has been really good, and agriculture is especially busy. “We’re seeing a lot of holes in agriculture and those guys have been steady. There’s a lot of building going on,” said an East Coast participant. He added that inventory levels have also been stable, but extending lead times is something to keep a close eye on.

On the Feb. 21 HARDI call, 59% of members present predicted galv prices would be up more than $2 per hundredweight over the next month. Another 28% predicted prices to be up more than $4/cwt, and 6% said prices would be up more than $6/cwt. Looking out six months, 28% anticipate prices will be up more than $2/cwt, while 25% predicted pricing to go beyond $6/cwt, and another 16% anticipate prices to be flat.

Steel Market Update participates in a monthly steel conference call hosted by HARDI. The call is dedicated to a better understanding of the galvanized steel market. The participants are HARDI member companies, wholesalers who supply products to the construction markets. Also on the call are service centers and manufacturing companies that either buy or sell galvanized sheet and coil products used in the HVAC industry and are suppliers to the HARDI member companies.

By Becca Moczygemba,

Becca Moczygemba

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