Steel Product Producers

HARDI Members Bullish on Future

Written by Becca Moczygemba

Despite economic headwinds in the headlines, the near-term future could prove brighter than expected, according to members of the Heating, Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) speaking on the Tuesday, Sept. 26, meeting of its Sheet Metal/Air Handling Council.

With the ongoing United Auto Workers (UAW) strike and the fate of U.S. Steel up in the air, many are questioning what the effects will be for the steel industry.

“It’s unprecedented to have two events that big going on at the same time,” said Steel Market Update’s (SMU) managing editor, Michael Cowden.

However, people haven’t been as bearish as expected, added Cowden. “People are more constructive on where they see things in a month or two,” he said.

In SMU’s last survey, participants reported an 80%-90% mill negotiation rate for most of the products SMU surveys. That means a great majority of the mills are willing to talk price these days. Additionally, service center inventories slid down in August, as many have been reducing inventory.

One HARDI member from the East Coast reported that demand has been OK, with some areas being stronger than others.

Another member from the Midwest shared that though September was softer than August, there was no reason to be concerned. “October inquiries have been strong, so we’re expecting things to pick up,” the member said.

A member from the West Coast said his company is doing well year over year, and better than anticipated. However, residential construction is still soft.

According to a participating service center, shipments and inventory have been solid, and inquiry volumes have grown.

The biggest question on everyone’s minds was: When will the UAW strike end?

On this month’s call, 50% of participants present expect the galvanized base price to be flat (+/-$2 per hundredweight) over the next month. Another 28% expect the price to be down more than $2/cwt, while 1% predict the price to increase more than $2/cwt. Looking forward six months, 44% believe prices will be up more than $6/cwt, while 33% think prices will be up more than $2/cwt. Of members present, 11% think prices will be flat (+/-$2 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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