Final Thoughts

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 steel prices, demand levels, and import offers. 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 david@steelmarketupdate.com to be included in our questionnaires.

 Have steel prices bottomed? If not, when and at what price level do you think steel prices will bottom, and why?

“No, they have not. The recent price announcements will cause a small upward blip, but then we continue to decline.”

“I think one more month of slightly decreasing prices, then a steady rise.”

“Yes, prices are at the bottom for now. A second price increase notice to be released this or next week will start prices up.”

“No, they have not bottomed and will hit $825 per ton in August/September, mainly due to good supply and slowed demand.”

“No, the market is slowing down and steel consumption will drop in Q4.”

“Price increases stopped the slide temporarily, but will create a lower bottom as imports arrive and new orders are being placed.”

“In talking with several mill folks today, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of confidence that these hikes are sticking. So, no, we haven’t bottomed yet.”

“I feel prices will bottom in October with hot rolled in the low $800s”.

“Plate prices are still high and haven’t started to move down yet.”

 

Is demand improving, declining or stable, and why?

“Demand in construction has increased significantly for the past two months.”

“Demand is stable with future headwinds for commerical contruction looming.”

“Stable – market is in a holding pattern.”

“Discrete plate is stable. However, the seasonality slow down for July 4th holiday has kicked in.”

“Stable/declining – people are only buying what they need right now, especially with interest rates. Market is uncertain what the next few weeks/months will bring.”

“Stable, but we are quite seasonal and our overall tonnage is down compared to prior years.”

“Demand is better. Buyers laid off contract buying in June because pricing was at a peak. Spot buying was dead. Now we are seeing contract buying back to normal in July and spot buying as very active. I feel that buyers are willing to restock.”

 

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

“Inventory is moving at a decent clip. It certainly seems like some service centers are pretty slow, though.”

“Our inventory is moving just fine.”

“Slower – still having issues with finding employees.”

“Faster. Our goal was to sell more this year.”

“Slower because prices were declining.”

 

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

“No. With long lead times and uncertain domestic pricing, better not take the risk.”

“Yes, 20% price differential landed.”

“Domestic will be a premium into 2024 as they are trying to hold their profit structure.”

“Yes. The gap in prices is too hard to ignore and domestic mills are too quick to significantly raise prices overnight.”

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

“Yes – Canadian mills have been aggressive in the US as well. I believe they are getting the push as well from imports.”

“Discrete plate offers are not worth considering because of prices and product availability from quality suppliers.”

“Offshore plate prices look good compared to USA prices but 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 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 steelmarketupdate.com, 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@steelmarketupdate.com

Becca Moczygemba

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Final thoughts

What's the tea in the steel industry this week? Here's the latest SMU gossip column! Just kidding... kind of. Yes, some of the comments we receive in our weekly flat-rolled market steel buyers' survey are honestly too much to put into print. Some make us laugh. Some make us cringe. Some are cryptic. Most are serious. We appreciate them all. Below are some highlights from our survey results this week. Some of the comments that we can share with you are also included, in italics, in the buyers' own words, with minimal editing on our part.