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.

We haven’t seen a mill price increase since April 3. Will we see another round of hikes or are we approaching an inflection point? Why or why not?

“We will not. Steel mills are not blind to what’s going on and they are quite happy to stay where they are now.”

“No, we will not. As pressure on demand is decreasing and additional volume of offshore material is starting to hit stock in North America.”

“We will probably see more increases when we are not expecting it.”

“No. Demand is slowly contracting.”

“The market has peaked.”

“I believe we’ve seen a peak on HRC. With inputs moderating and output controlled, it’s a price reset vs. a race to the bottom. Plate still has some room to increase, at least one more time in H1.”

“I do not feel there will be any additional price increases announced because the last one has proven to be ineffective.”

“We have been told there may be some slight upward movement.”

“Forecasted outages will bring about another round or two of increases by mid-May.”

“I think we have seen the last of increases. The demand is not there to keep lead-times pushed out and pricing going up.”

“I do not think we will see another increase. With scrap talked about as being down next month and buyers pulling back, figure prices have peaked.”

“The increases this year were simply “price signaling” in a tightly controlled market facilitated by trade policies. They never were tied to market fundamentals.”


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

“Peaking as we are speaking.”

“Pricing has peaked this week at $1,150 to $1,200.”

“Hard to say with so many opposing factors that are changing very rapidly these days.”

“This month $1,190.”

“Already peaked. Imports are arriving, more are coming, and business levels are dropping off.”

“I feel that we have reached the peak. I have not had a direct mill buy lately, but I am seeing service centers drop their pricing by as much as 10% in the last few weeks for HRC.”

“I think the indices might inch higher from here, but we’re pretty much there. Now the question is how rapid will the fall be?” 

“Hot Roll will peak around $1300.”

“They have peaked – already seeing cracks in the wall.”

“I think we are peaked now. Believe mill outages have offset lower buying, but coming out of the outages, prices will be under pressure.”


Is demand improving, declining or stable, and why?

“Stable due to strong automotive.”

“Overall improving but has short lulls.”

“Declining – higher interest rates slowing down the economy.”

“Declining due to high interest rates and increasing steel availability.”

“Demand has been inconsistent, but overall we have a very healthy backlog.”

“Demand seems to be remaining stable. Although I do get a little concerned about automotive and the normal ‘summer doldrums’ to come.”

“Demand in discrete plate is stable to good. Inventories are stressed, lead times are out 8-12 weeks.”

“Demand has been stagnant the last 2-3 weeks.”

“Contract demand is stable; spot buying is down as buyers think we are peaked.”


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

“Slower as customers are waiting for price reductions and early buying in Q1 ahead of the increases.”

“Similar but in spurts this year.”

“Slower, higher interest rates slowing down the economy.”

“Slower as demand is dropping off.”

“Was moving faster but beginning to moderate.”

“Slower due to the weather.”

“It all seems pretty much the same. Removing Covid from the equation and I think SSCs are running at an ‘OK’ clip.”

“Inventory always moves better in first and second quarter but will slow in the summer.”

“Slower. Last year prices rose fast on the back of Ukraine/Russia conflict.”


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

“Yes, but not available in the quantities we are comfortable buying at.”

“Yes, 25% differential and lead times are stable.”

“Not really, lead times are too long, and the risk isn’t worth it.”

“Yes, offering June/July delivery.”

“Imports are definitely more attractive at the moment.”

“We will buy North American steel, but for the most part don’t use a lot of foreign.” 

“Absolutely. We continue to see better and better numbers offshore. The only question about those is lead times.”

“Imports with May arrival is competitive, but with current lead time for new imports, likely not.”

“I have been but with pricing possibly dropping, imports due in September are not worth the risk.”

“Imports are attractive and becoming more negotiable. This is easily the most attractive market in the world with inflated prices at US mills. Timing of delivery makes it risky for buyers. Some offshore mills are sending unsold tons to fill quotas.”

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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