SMU Community Spotlight

Lead Times Log First Decline Since January

Written by Becca Moczygemba

Steel mill lead times are down for the first time since January, according to SMU’s latest steel market survey data.

Lead times seem to be tapering off after climbing week over week for the past few months. 

SMU’s hot-rolled lead time is approximately 6.1 weeks, a 0.6-week drop from two weeks ago. 

While numbers are currently declining, lead times are still higher than they were in 2022.

0413LeadTimes Fig1

Cold-rolled lead times have dropped from 8 weeks to 7.5 weeks, while galvanized declined to 7.6 weeks from 8 weeks at the previous market check. Galvalume lead times didn’t move and remain at 8 weeks. 

Plate lead times rose by 0.3 weeks to 6.4 weeks from 6.1 weeks in late March.

When asked about the future direction of lead times, about 41% of survey respondents reported they expect lead times to be flat into June. Roughly 11% percent think lead times will extend, while approximately 48% think they will contract. Premium members can view a longer history of this data series and others in our market trends report.

Looking at lead times on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis can smooth out the variability of our twice monthly readings. As a 3MMA, lead times for all products are either flat or up modestly over the past month. The latest 3MMA lead time for hot rolled inched up 0.2 weeks to 6 weeks. Cold rolled saw a 0.2-week increase, moving up to 7.4 weeks. Galvanized lead times increased by 0.2 weeks to 7.2 weeks, while Galvalume lead times were also up 0.2 weeks to 7.7 weeks. Plate lead times were up 0.3 weeks to 5.7 weeks. 

0413LeadTimes Fig2

Note: These lead times are based on the average from manufacturers and steel service centers who participated in this week’s SMU market trends analysis. SMU measures lead times as the time it takes from when an order is placed with the mill to when the order is processed and ready for shipping, not including delivery time to the buyer. Our lead times do not predict what any individual may get from any specific mill supplier. Look to your mill rep for actual lead times. To see an interactive history of our Steel Mill Lead Times data, visit our website here.

By Becca Moczygemba, 

Becca Moczygemba

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