SMU Data and Models

Steel Market Chatter This Week

Written by Becca Moczygemba

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, SMU polled steel buyers on a variety of subjects, 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?

“We are expecting things to bottom out in late summer, so figure we still have three more months of deterioration left – maybe not to these levels but at least still softening.”

“Plate may pull back in Q3, but not by much.”

“Prices will bottom in November/December around $650 to $700 per ton.”

“Plate prices are still elevated. We could see some weakness in Q3/Q4.”

“HRC will bottom out by the end of June 2023. Price will be around $1,000/ton.”

“I think some deals will get done around $800 per ton over June/July, but do not believe that those deals will hit the market. I feel that most buyers will miss the bottom and then try and restock before numbers go up.”

“I predict end of July, as offshore volumes will slow down due to cost cutting domestically.”

“$675/ton for HRC seems to be the new ‘low.’ I can’t see anything stopping it from getting to that point over the next five months.”

“Prices will bottom out by July.”

“I expect June/July at $900 for HRC. Summer demand slowdown will affect prices with a potential rebound into late Q3.”

Is demand improving, declining or stable, and why?

“Commercial is stable, multifamily is doing very good, residential has been slow. Overall demand is stable.”

“Demand is ‘Ok,’ although some mills and service centers are saying otherwise.”

“Demand was stable, now declining.”

“Demand is stable, but buyers are driving their inventories down.”

“Demand is stable for now.”

“Declining due to high interest rates, slowing buying, and investment into new projects.”

“Stable, but not at historic levels.”

“Overall demand is declining; customers are minimizing orders while pricing falls.”

“Demand is stable at best. These past few weeks have been rather light.”

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

“Slower, as typically this is the slower part of the season.”

“Year over year, volume off maybe 4%. I think it is due to market fears from last year; more hedge buying than what we are seeing today.”

“Slower because of prices.”

“The same if not a bit faster. Overall, our business levels are pretty solid.”

“Faster due to our customers’ order backlog.”

“Faster. Stronger shipments in May 2023 vs. May 2022.”

“Faster than last year. Our goal was to gain some market share in 2023 vs. 2022.”

“Slower as additional volumes are arriving offshore and demand is slowing.”

“About the same, seasonal uptick in business.”

“Roughly the same as this time last year as the market was in a similar position.”

“About the same as last year, maybe a bit slower.”

With domestic prices still at a premium to imports, are you finding offshore product more attractive? Why or why not?

“Yes, because the domestic mills are dropping prices far too slowly, so the spread is actually increasing.”

“Not at this time, but we will continue watching. Lead time is a big consideration.”

“No imports from our camp, zero attraction.”

“Absolutely. Anyone who says otherwise isn’t seeing the numbers. The only catch, of course, is the lead times.”

“Not more attractive due to five to six month inventory arbitrage risk.”

“No, domestic prices are dropping fast.”

“Prices are somewhat attractive, but we are not buying due to long lead times.”

“No – too long of a lead-time in a falling market.”

“Prices have been good for offshore if you don’t need the material right away. We have placed multiple orders.”

“Yes, but offshore lead times are out to August, and we believe domestic mills will be at the same price by then.”

“We have slowed down offshore purchases of plate, as the lead times are into Q4.”

“Yes. Imports are very reasonable compared to inflated US numbers.”

“With the futures market in backwardation, imports do not make sense for us.”

“Yes, the gap between domestic and offshore makes it much more attractive to buy offshore currently.”

“Long lead times are a risky obstacle to deal with.”  

“While attractive to consider, as HRC prices slip, they could lose luster.”

Do you have any recent import offers or transactions to report on either sheet or plate?

“$750/ton delivered to NOLA in August/September. This was in a conversation with a trader.”

“Import for plate into Gulf Coast is around $57.00/cwt to $58.00/cwt FOB dock.”

“HRC $39/cwt and CRC $46/cwt to Houston.”

“Yes, plate is 25% lower landed than domestic plate mill pricing.”

“Offers for $45-$47/cwt for HRC. Bids for galv at $56.80 and $48-55 for CRC.”

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

Read more from Becca Moczygemba

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