HARDI Members Note Stable Demand

Written by Becca Moczygemba

A stable market and steady lead times have led to decent demand, but companies are still keeping a close eye on where the market is headed, according to members of the Heating, Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) speaking on the July 25 meeting of its Sheet Metal/Air Handling Council.

During June’s meeting, 36% of meeting participants thought that prices would stay flat in the next 30 days. A quarter of the individuals thought it would be down more than $2 per cwt per by now.

Since last month’s meeting, Steel Dynamics Inc. (SDI) announced an unplanned outage. Many expected a second wave of mill increase announcements after the one in mid-June, but it has not come to fruition.

To recap, U.S. Steel increased prices by $2.50 per cwt ($50 per ton) on June 14. Nucor followed with its own $50-per-ton increase on June 16, while Cleveland-Cliffs and ArcelorMittal followed with the same on June 20.

HARDI members highlighted that prices have bounced around but finished on the lower end, and are down 20% compared to one year prior. They added that lead times have extended modestly. We are also coming up on the three-year mark of when the market exploded, participants at the Sheet Metal/Air Handling Council said.

One member from the Midwest said, “Demand has been decent and pricing has firmed up. The downward slide stopped, but we’re not paying more for steel. Inventory is average to slightly below. Overall, we expect pricing to move in a downward direction going forward.”  

A service center member that operates throughout the US seconded the stability in demand. However, the HARDI member made note of volatile pricing, leaner inventory, and mills who have been late on some orders.

Another member who is located in the Northeast region said that the market has also been stable and ports have not seen many imports arriving lately.

An end-of-meeting poll asked participants where galvanized prices would be in the next 30 days. 54% said they see prices remaining flat, while 31% said they see prices dropping more than $2 per cwt. Another 4% voted on prices increasing more than $2 per cwt.

The outlook on where galvanized prices are headed in the next six months was closer, with 38% of people saying it would be down more than $2 per cwt. 31% also said that prices would be up more than $2 per cwt. 23% believe prices will remain flat.

Looking ahead 12 months, 46% of participants think the galvanized base price will be $50-59 per cwt, 31% think prices will increase to $60-69, and 19% see prices dropping to $40-49 per cwt.

Steel Market Update participates in a monthly steel conference call hosted by HARDI. The call is dedicated to a better understanding of the galvanized steel market. The participants are HARDI member companies, wholesalers who supply products to the construction markets. Also on the call are service centers and manufacturing companies that either buy or sell galvanized sheet and coil products used in the HVAC industry and are suppliers to the HARDI member companies.

Becca Moczygemba

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