SMU Data and Models

SMU survey: Buyers say mills slightly less willing to talk price

Written by Ethan Bernard

The percentage of steel buyers saying mills were willing to negotiate spot pricing on the products SMU surveys was mixed this week. Overall, though, the mill negotiation rate dipped slightly, according to our most recent survey data.

The biggest slip was in plate, with the negotiation rate dropping 17 percentage points from two weeks earlier to 57%. This was followed closely by galvanized sheet, whose rate tumbled 16 percentage points to 28% in the same comparison.

Every two weeks, SMU asks steel buyers whether domestic mills are willing to negotiate lower spot pricing on new orders. This week, 40% of participants surveyed by SMU reported mills were willing to negotiate prices on new orders, down from 44% at the previous market check (Figure 1). This is the lowest reading since Thanksgiving. At the start of 2023, the rate stood at 50%.

Figure 2 below shows negotiation rates by product. Hot rolled’s negotiation rate fell nine percentage points to 33% from two weeks earlier. Meanwhile, cold rolled’s rate rose two percentage points to 23% and Galvalume’s increased six percentage points to 44%. We have averaged Galvalume with the previous market check because of fewer market participants and to reduce volatility.

Here’s what some survey respondents had to say:

Not seeing much negotiation just yet (for hot rolled).

Pricing is more of a range of $1,300-1,350 (on cold rolled).”

Depending on the size of the buy, bigger orders can get some competition (on galvanized).”

“(Willing to negotiate on) large hot rolled orders.”

Note: SMU surveys active steel buyers every other week to gauge the willingness of their steel suppliers to negotiate pricing. The results reflect current steel demand and changing spot pricing trends. SMU provides our members with a number of ways to interact with current and historical data. To see an interactive history of our Steel Mill Negotiations data, visit our website.

Ethan Bernard

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