‘Twas two weeks before Christmas, and at our publication
We kept logging steel price increases from across our fair nation.
Up hot rolled, up cold rolled, and galvanized coil.
On Galvalume and plate — gushing skyward — like a geyser of oil.
Blink for a moment and you might miss a hike,
Oh what a change from the United Auto Workers strike.
Discuss prices at your holiday party but do practice moderation
As you sip on spiked eggnog and discuss decarbonization.
Will the EU and US agree, or will we see some global sheriff
Ride into Washington and pronounce a world carbon tariff?
Maybe start a little smaller, a more realizable goal,
Hang up our stockings and receive metallurgical coal.
Though it’s true some say Old Saint Nick is not real,
The same can’t be said for the much vaunted “green steel.”
Lower and lower the carbon goes, the greener it gets,
Are we reaching net zero soon, is anyone taking bets?
Carbon capture, hydrogen, the only limit’s the sky
As long as we don’t end up getting taken over by AI.
Here at SMU, we wish you all a joyful holiday season.
Join us soon in Tampa, in Florida, the weather sure is pleasin’.
There’ll be much to learn and discuss, old and new friends aplenty,
It will be 2024, a real blank slate, let’s finally forget 2020.
So two weeks before Christmas, and if you’ve also got that holiday feel
Don’t hesitate to drop us a tip: Who’s going to buy U.S. Steel?
Are you shivering through the season? Beat the winter blues and get a jump on all things steel at our 35th Annual Tampa Steel Conference. Rooms are filling up fast. Register here.
Ethan BernardRead more from Ethan Bernard
Latest in Final Thoughts
I want to give a big shoutout to the good folks at the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association (FMA) for inviting me to their annual conference this week in Clearwater, Fla. I also want to give a special thanks to the FMA for awarding SMU founder John Packard with a lifetime achievement award – on that also gave me a chance to catch up with my old boss in person.
What are some “Black Swans” to watch out for? With the war in Ukraine entering its third year, your mind might understandably move to conflicts overseas. Here is one closer to home to consider: US trade relations with Mexico taking a turn for the worse. I mention that because the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) dropped a (virtual) bombshell earlier this month.
Domestic prices have been sliding since the beginning of the year, and I don’t see any obvious reasons why the slide might stop this week. But let’s put the timing of a bottom aside for a minute. The question among some of you seems to be whether we’ll see another price spike, or at least a “dead-cat bounce,” before the typical summer doldrums kick in.
I’ve had discussions with some of you lately about where and when sheet prices might bottom. Some of you say that hot-rolled (HR) coil prices won’t fall below $800 per short ton (st). Others tell me that bigger buyers aren’t interested unless they can get something that starts with a six. Obviously a lot depends on whether we're talking 50 tons or 50,000 tons. I've even gotten some guff about how the drop in US prices is happening only because we’re talking about it happening.
We’ve all heard a lot about mill “discipline” following a wave of consolidation over the last few years. That discipline is often evident when prices are rising, less so when they are falling. I remember hearing earlier this year that mills weren’t going to let hot-rolled (HR) coil prices fall below $1,000 per short ton (st). Then not below $900/st. Now, some of you tell me that HR prices in the mid/high-$800s are the “1-800 price” – widely available to regular spot buyers. So what comes next, and will mills “hold the line” in the $800s?