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 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 new base price of $900/ton for hot band announced by some domestic mills stick? Why or why not?

“Short term they will get close to the $900/ton. Inventories are still low compared to recent demand.”

“Yes. The additional announcement of $1000/ton will cement last week’s announcements.”

“Maybe – mill lead-times are pushing out some.”

“Yes, in the near term. There is an actual shortage of mini-mill hot roll, or light-gauge hot roll.”

“Partially. It will depend on scrap movement in March.”

“No. Manufacturers are getting tired of these games, and shopping around is getting more serious.”

“No, I don’t think there is enough demand to support the price unless more capacity comes out of the market.”

“Why not? No imports, so it’s only not going to work if people stop buying or if mills cave.”


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

“$850. I think everyone will push back and slow buys.”


“I think we’re pretty much there. Maybe things go up a bit higher on the backs of these new hikes, but they have to come back down here soon.”

“$975/ton. $1,000 announcement is too bold. It will shore up the last announcement for a couple weeks, then fizzle.”

“I do not think the mills will get much over $900. Need lead times to get into late May or early June before buyers can push back.”

“$900 to $950 – demand will be reduced and offshore pricing is becoming more attractive.”

“I feel hot rolled will be above $1,000 ton by mid second quarter. As long as mill order books remain strong, lead times will continue above normal. This enables mills to react with increases.”

“May 2023.”

“I see $860 to $880 for a short time before falling back. The market just isn’t there to support this run.”


Is demand improving, declining or stable, and why?

“Slight improvement.”

“Demand is very stable – not great, but not bad.”

“Stable to minor improvement in demand.”

“Stable – we are still unsure of direction in the construction market.”

“Demand is stable to improving. We are seeing contracts pull at high levels and what is improving is buyers willing to buy spot, but not sure at the new pricing levels.”

“Stable, no serious increases to lead times.”

“Improving, spring is hitting and customers need inventory.”


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

“Overall, things seem pretty steady and about as predicted.”

“Inventory is moving faster, but we are getting to that point where Russia invading Ukraine impact started to change the market direction last year.”

“Slower due to demand is lower.”

“Faster, we cannot keep our stock or inbound on the ground. Moves as fast as we get it in.”

“Slower… new order pace has slowed.”

“About the same. Solid demand.”


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

“No, still have mills pushing out orders on Grade 80 and Grade 50. Some have been pushed out two months.”

“Right now we’re seeing some limitations, but the glut will be back by late summer.”

“Not at the moment. Start-up struggles at new mills making supply feel somewhat constrained.”

“Not at all. Some mills have had more issues than actual increases in production.”

“Yes, people had planned on the new capacity to be easily accessible and no one is running on time, so it is actually causing people to have to buy a little further forward than they expected to.”

“Yes, lead times are still low.”


With domestic prices rising, are you finding imports more attractive? Why or why not?

“These back-to-back-to-back(-to back?) increases here domestically are certainly making us answer the phone when traders/brokers call with a new number.”

“Potentially for late spring/summer arrival.”

“Imports are beginning to become more attractive; not enough demand to justify all these increases.”

“Not yet. Who wants to take a position for June with the level of change that occurs week to week?”

“So far, no decent offers.”

“Yes, but lead times hurt the time line vs. domestic availability.”

“Not really, it is hard to make a future commitment when you have no faith in the domestic market holding at these levels.”

“Almost, recent quote puts domestic prices level with imports, only the freight is the outlier now. Another few dollars or weeks of lead time and imports will be much more active.”

“Not likely, but if it goes up too much we may consider.”

“Imports are rising, so not attractive at all.”

“No, I was offered two separate import deals last week and walked away from both. Not attractive on price or worth the risk.”

“Getting closer, but not yet.”

 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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