International Steel Prices

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 new HRC base prices of at least $1,150/ton announced by certain domestic mills hold? Why or why not? 

“Yes, they will hold. Near term with outages and contract buying still plugging along, do not see that buyers have an option.”

 “No, too much uncertainty about the second half.”

“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but yes…at least for the time being. I do expect things to get very UGLY this summer.”

“I doubt they will hold for more than 30 days.”

“Near term yes, beyond Q2, no. Demand is not strong enough to outpace supply and potential import challengers.”

“The price may get to $1,200 but cannot stay there long.”

“Yes. Demand is strong in the short run and not a lot of alternatives.”

“Yes it will until more offshore supply comes into North America.”

“I see them passing $1200 in the short term but dropping quickly in the next 30-50 days.”

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

“Just north of $1200. I think once lead times get into June/July and the outages are past, then buyers push back.”

“Not sure what the future holds. However, I am guessing that the market could use a correction and $99.00/cwt is a good target to shoot for to keep it simple.”

“June $1,200. Spread over scrap and over imports is becoming too high.”

“$1,200, unless there is a big bump in demand.”

“April/May. Fundamentals will dictate demand. I anticipate demand sliding a little as we move forward.”

“$1,300 per ton HR.”

“I think it’ll probably be in the mid-$1,200s, but I also predict we’ll be back around $900/ton in Q3.”

“I believe they have peaked at the $1,150 price we’re seeing.”

“Early April $1,250/ton.”

“$1,300 per ton. Market demand will be reduced and supply will increase.”

“$1,400 seems to be the likely peak. Smaller and smaller purchase tons as we near the top will drive the CRU regardless of the greater market. Once it peaks, there seems to be a pretty steep cliff on the other side.”

Is demand improving, declining or stable, and why?

“Demand is declining; restocking is not as heavy as it was in Q1.”

“Improving. Rising prices are inspiring demand.”

“Improving, but concerned about future demand.”

“Slight decline to demand in the last couple of weeks. Customers waiting for a price drop.”

“Near term declining as tons bought to beat increases slows. Long term, stable.”

“Demand is improving. Service centers are restocking and so are end users.”

“Down, yet that is simply based on pandemic-driven demand ending. We are back to 2019 ‘normal’.”

“Stable, as interest rates are affecting new projects.”

“Slight improvement but not much.” 

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

“Slower now. Last year Russia invaded Ukraine and prices were starting to increase quickly.”

“Slower. The weather in the West has held up jobs and shipments.”

“Inventory is moving the same as last year.”

“Moving faster because there are less and less people who are cautious to not overstock.”

“Demand is slowing so inventory is not moving as fast.”

“Faster. We planned on growing market share.”

“About the same. Some sections are busier than others, keeping overall stock moving.”

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

“Yes, pricing is attractive, but lead times are too far out.”

“Yes, imports are necessary for extremely difficult to forecast light gauge precious metals. In my opinion, when demand exceeds supply for flat-rolled steel, then imports are not necessary.”

“Yes, though the declining futures curve in the second and third quarters mutes our exuberance.”

“Absolutely. We have seen more and more offers coming through at cheap numbers compared to escalating domestic figures.”

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

“Not in the tubing market. Prices are rising faster than coil and do not seem beholden to the HRC replacement cost.”

“Yes, but minimal – has not made a huge impact yet.”

“Not to the extent we expected as they’ve controlled ramp-ups.”

“Not yet, but mills are adding capacity back such as BF’ and shortening EAF tap-to-tap times.”

“Yes, less new orders are being submitted due to high steel prices and slower demand.”

“No, there seem to be just as many outages keeping the overall capacity in line with the mill price announcements.”

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 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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