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.

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

“During summer, around August due to usual summer doldrums and a more supplied market.”

“No idea, but likely October.”

“$620 per ton, which is where it was in Q4 2022 at bottom.”

“I feel HRC will bottom in the fourth quarter somewhere in the $800s. 

“For HRC, $900/ton.”

“They have bottomed.”

“Close to peaking now. Asian steel is starting to make an impact in other markets.”

“It has already peaked and will bottom at $800 per ton at the end of June.”

“What a difference a few weeks makes, eh? This question used to be about when we think the market will “top.” But I think it is going to be a long road down. Sub-$1,000/ton in June for sure. Maybe sub-$900/ton in July?”

“Prices will decline through Q2, with the bottom at around $600 per ton and staying below $700 per ton through year-end.”

“I think buyers will make a big push over the next couple weeks. I expect June is a tough month for the mills to fill with more available spot than we have seen this year. Probably not until lead times are in July though that we hit a bottom, so expecting buyers to push prices quick.”

“Plate has probably peaked for this little cycle up.”

“HR will peak at $900 per ton. Demand has been more resilient than most expected, and scrap will be higher due to increased EAF demand.”


Is demand improving, declining or stable, and why?

“Stable for now.”

“Demand has been stable, but we are working a lot harder to get orders than we had in the past.” 

“Demand is steady but no speculation or future unsold buys.”

“Stable with slight decline outside of automotive demand.”

“Demand continues to be ok. Nearly everyone we talk to isn’t pointing at demand as a reason for the market bearishness.”

“Demand is currently stable, but expected to decline as all new order indices are dropping.”

“Demand is declining. Automotive will take some time out in areas for their summer shut down. But really buyers are making the situation look way worse than what demand is, by running down inventories in anticipation the marking is crashing.”

“Demand has declined in the last two to three weeks.”

“Demand is stable. Restocking is slowing, prices are teetering, and order books are softening.”

“Stable to slightly improving.”


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

“Slower due to softer demand.”

“A bit slower, and labor is still causing problems.”

“Steady to a bit slower.”

“Slower; demand is starting to reduce, and less inventory is being sold.”

“Slower; we’re caught up on internal orders.”

“Overall, about the same. There are some macro concerns, but that isn’t impacting consumption too much yet.”

“Slower. We’re seeing reduced auto volume.”

“It’s slower because customers are leery of pricing.”

“Slower right now as buyers are trying to get inventories down with prices peaked.”

“We’re about at the same pace as last year. It’s possible that the market jumped to hard too fast.”

“Was moving faster and may now be slowing as folks have restocked. Lead times remain manageable.”


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

“Yes, but the lead times make it risky.”

“Yes, because the domestic mills are taking too long to adjust prices down.”

“Most of what we buy has USA requirements so we don’t deal much with foreign.”

“Imports work depending on product.”

“No, we have no interest to doing so.”

“Yes, the pricing differential of almost 25% is making it more attractive to go offshore.”

“Yes, the material is cheaper.”

“Absolutely. We are hearing very aggressive numbers into Houston, and we are seeing lower figures in West Coast ports (especially LA/Long Beach).”

“Yes, but lead times are long.”

“No, not worth the chance in a falling market and a four- to five-month lead-time.”

“Imports are currently attractive, but domestic prices will come back into parity by end of Q2.”

“For us, no. The prices are better, but we see the futures market as a better opportunity to avoid speculation on inventory.”

“Not yet. Domestic prices are still too unreliable to look four to five months out.”

“We continue to buy imports at the same level as last year.”

“Yes, attractive on pricing but not on lead times.”

“Pricing wise yes, but lead times remain prohibitive especially with domestic prices falling.”

“Not really. Lead times are too far out.”

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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