Steel Markets

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 sheet prices, demand, inventory, imports, and what people are talking about in the market.

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 to be included in our questionnaires.

Are steel prices near a peak? If not, when and at what price level do you think prices will peak, and why?

“I don’t think we’re quite there yet – maybe January.”

“Steel prices will continue to increase. They will peak in March or April.”

“No. This is likely to continue until the beginning of the second quarter in 2024.”

“I think prices will peak in February or March around $1,150, then we will see a rapid decline.”

“I believe they will peak at the end of the first quarter. 2024 will be a repeat of 2023.”

“I think they are nearing peak. As scrap bumps up in December and possibly again in January, mills may try another round of increases pushing towards $1,200 per ton.”

“We will see a peak of $1,050 to $1,100 by mid-January.”

Is demand improving, declining or stable, and why?

“Demand is remaining the same. I’m hearing some folks slowing down due to the holidays, but we’re actually slightly up.”

“For now, demand is stable. By the end of this week, most customers start to push off until January.”

“Discrete plate is stable to improving and will remain on that track through Q1 2024.”

“Demand is improving as buyers are restocking and working to beat the increase. Buying is primarily driven by contract buying on trailing prices.”

“Our demand is stable to seasonal trends.”

“Stable due to contract buying.”

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

“Inventory is doing the same seasonal dance as usual, although escalating mill and service center pricing is causing some headaches.”

“Slower due to high interest rates and many jobs shelved until the economy improves.”

“Inventory is moving around the same. If you remember pricing was starting to rise in this period last year, which led to increased buying.”

“Was moving faster but should start to slow down going into the holidays and into January.”

“Slower because of interest rates and price increases.”

Are imports more attractive vs. domestic material? Why or why not?

“Very attractive for March/April arrival for coil and tube.”

“Absolutely more attractive. And whenever that is the case, we’re normally very close to an actual peak domestically.”

“Imports are attractive price-wise but lead times are into when prices will adjust downward.”

“No to me. Too many uncertainties still in the domestic market.”

“Yes, pricing still has a significant gap versus domestic.”

“Imports are attractive for early Q2 vs. domestic material based on pricing.”

“Imports are NOT attractive in discrete plate at all.”

What’s something that’s going on in the market that nobody is talking about?

“How tight will material be in Q2 2024.”

“AHMSA restarting, large service center consolidation, and Evraz.”

“What are the delays at Nucor Brandenburg?”

“Imported finished goods of steel intensive products are flooding in.”

“A potential shake up in supply chains if/when Cliffs buys USS. Do they keep Big River? Does Cliffs keep driving steel prices up next year regardless of macroeconomic conditions??”

“How the US presidential election may affect the steel market.”

Becca Moczygemba

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