Steel Products Prices North America

Fewer Steel Buyers Say Mills Willing to Negotiate Lower Tags

The number of steel buyers finding mills willing to negotiate prices sank even further this week, according to SMU data. 

Galvanized was the only product surveyed by SMU to top 30% of respondents saying mills were willing to talk price, while plate dipped below 10%.

Every two weeks, SMU asks steel buyers whether domestic mills are willing to negotiate lower spot pricing on new orders. This week, 26% of steel buyers (Figure 1) across both sheet and plate markets reported mills were willing to negotiate lower prices on new orders, down from an average rate of 29% two weeks ago.

This marks the third straight week that number fell below 50%, but the rate of descent has slowed. With the flurry of recent price hikes, mills seem to be sticking firm on spot pricing. Recall that as late as Dec. 22, 2022, 67% of respondents said mills were willing to negotiate price.

SMU Negotiations 03022023 Fig1

Figure 2 below shows negotiation rates by product. Respondents for three products found mills more willing to talk price vs. the last market check: hot rolled stood at 27%, up three percentage points; cold rolled at 29% (+4); and Galvalume at 29% (+12). Note that figures for Galvalume are more volatile due to fewer participants in the market. Meanwhile, galvanized dropped three percentage points to 33% in the same comparison. The largest decrease came with plate, which fell 33 percentage points to just 7% of respondents saying mills were willing to negotiate price. 

Negotiations Fig2

Note: SMU surveys active steel buyers every other week to gauge the willingness of their steel suppliers to negotiate pricing. The results reflect current steel demand and changing spot pricing trends. SMU provides our members with a number of ways to interact with current and historical data. To see an interactive history of our Steel Mill Negotiations data, visit our website here.

By Ethan Bernard,

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