On Monday and Tuesday of this week, SMU polled steel buyers on a variety of subjects, including steel prices, demand levels, import offers, and inventory. Rather than summarizing the comments we received, we are sharing some of them in each buyer’s own words.
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Have steel prices bottomed? If not, when and at what price level do you think steel prices will bottom, and why?
“Yes, we are at bottom for the year. Demand remains steady, inventories are low, and import lead times are into the end of the year or for early 2024 consumption, so domestic mills can call the shots.”
“Hard to see a “bottom” with scrap being so soft and lead times being so short. Maybe we will see a true floor in the late summer? I expect the number to start with a 7 too.”
“I think they have bottomed for the near term. Things will probably take another step back when lead times reach Q4.”
“I believe pricing will bottom in August/September, below $800 per ton.”
“I believe we’ve hit bottom. I’ve heard from many mills and all of them have increased lead times.”
“No, there is still movement with the service centers.”
“I think we have a temporary floor, but in 45-60 days from now things will be ugly.”
“$780 over the next 3-4 months.”
Is demand improving, declining or stable, and why?
“Declining due to summer doldrums.”
“Demand remains steady albeit a little slower this past holiday week.”
“Demand seems okay. I had someone say “soft-to-stable,” which seems pretty accurate from the service center side.”
“Demand is improving after spot and contract buying finally showed signs of declining due to higher interest rates and inflation pressure.”
“Declining due to automotive shutdowns in July.”
“Demand has been stable. There have been some slowdowns, but we are staying stable due to new business.”
“Declining relative to 2021 and 2022. The economy is slowing.”
Is inventory moving faster or slower than this time last year – and why?
“It’s moving slower – not a strong market.”
“Inventory is reported as steady but it’s lower.”
“Right about the same, which is just fine.”
“Slower. Demand has slowed with additional inventory on the ground.”
“Demand seems to be slightly slower.”
“Slower due to the holiday and vacations.”
“Slower. Holidays and people taking vacations are killing our July sales thus far. NOBODY is working. EVERYONE is sitting near or on the beach.”
“Moving faster because folks are stocking less.”
With US sheet prices higher than prices abroad, are imports more attractive than domestic material? Why or why not?
“No, not enough of a gap to have to wait three months for material. You have better odds in Vegas.”
“Imports are slightly attractive price-wise, but lead times are longer and into Q4 arrivals, which is when the domestic market is forecasted to soften.”
“Imports are always attractively priced.”
“They are indeed. Anyone who can risk or wait for the longer lead times, the import pricing becomes a no-brainer.”
“Pricing is attractive, but lead times are extended.”
“Yes, there is a big spread in domestic vs. offshore.”
“Pricing is attractive, but with lead times out so far and late Q3 demand a big question mark, I don’t want anything on the water.”
“Price wise, yes, lead time no, But should the price spread continue to widen, folks will be more inclined to buy imports.”
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Becca MoczygembaRead more from Becca Moczygemba
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