Steel Products Prices North America

HARDI Members Continue to See Stable Demand

Written by Becca Moczygemba

Galvanized sheet continues to experience stable demand but market sentiment is waning, according to members of the Heating, Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) speaking on the March 22 meeting of its Sheet Metal/Air Handling Council.

HARDIBullishness has subsided from sentiment in February. With lead times approaching eight weeks, HARDI members are experiencing tighter inventories and delayed mill orders.

“Will we see a price rally and then see it come down comparatively? That’s a question to be asked,” commented Michael Cowden, managing editor of SMU, speaking on the call. Cowden added that furnaces have been restarted at US Steel’s Mon Valley and Gary Works, which will add to increased capacity utilization. SMU’s furnace status updates can be found here.

One East coast HARDI member said, “I personally think the run up is going to be sharp, and then the fall is going to be sharp. The market demand, in my opinion, isn’t really great. It’s good, it’s average, but it’s not great.” The participant added that at this same time last year, more customers were looking for material than they are this year.

Another member stated that service center inventory levels were good and they have worked through elevated inventory positions with steady sales so far this year. The same member also noted that restaurant and agricultural business is still up. SMU data shows service center inventories and buying patterns have changed in just the past two weeks: On March 1, 83% of service centers were managing current inventory levels, compared to 79% on March 15.

Regarding the latest banking news,“Regional banks are more exposed to the banking issue, and they lend to service centers. We will have to see what that means for steel,” said one participant.

On this week’s HARDI call, 44% of members present predicted galvanized base prices would be up more than $2 per hundredweight over the next month. Another 33% predicted prices to be up more than $4/cwt, and 22% said prices would be flat. Looking ahead six months, 37% anticipate prices will be down more than $6/cwt, while 30% predicted pricing to drop more than $2/cwt, and another 19% 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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