Galv prices seen falling further, HARDI members say

Written by Ethan Bernard

Prices for galvanized products have been falling for more than a month, and market participants expect this trend to continue in the near term.

Service centers, distributors, and manufacturers who are members of the Heating, Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) association convened via Zoom on Tuesday, Feb. 13, for the monthly meeting of the Sheet Metal/Air Handling Council.

Members agreed demand is relatively stable, lead times are coming down, and steel is readily available.

One member noted that it is typical in the steel industry for these downward pricing cycles to last 14 weeks, and it’s only been four or five weeks since prices started falling in this cycle.

“We’re all in the same boat trying to survive this downturn that we’re seeing,” a steel service center member commented.

A steel distributor member said a lot of the high-priced material bought from mills is just arriving now, with mills having mostly caught up from December. He expressed the hope that prices would “cascade down slowly, not just drop off” abruptly.

An HVAC product distributor said a longer-term trend will be rising scrap costs as more EAF capacity comes online. This was a theme touched on at the Tampa Steel Conference 2024 analysts’ panel, as well as the Feb. 8 SMU Community Chat with Wolfe Research’s Timna Tanners.

Another member said that “there are a lot of different opinions out there, but there should definitely be pressure on scrap going forward.”

Galvanized sheet prices

HARDI members had been more optimistic on the January call, with fewer than one-third of respondents polled saying they thought galvanized prices would fall by more than $2 per cwt ($40 per short ton) within 30 days. Meanwhile, SMU’s average galv price was $1,310/st on Jan. 16, falling $105 to $1,205/st on Tuesday, Feb. 13, according to our interactive pricing tool.

On the Feb. 13 call, 37% of members expected prices to fall by more than $4/cwt in 30 days, 30% thought they would be down by more than $2/cwt, 13% thought they would drop by more than $6/cwt, and 17% anticipated prices would be flat (+/- $2/cwt). Only 3% thought prices would rise.

For galv prices six months from now, 70% of members polled expected prices to drop by more than $2/cwt. A whopping 86% of members see galv prices in the range of $50-69/cwt ($1,000-1,380/st) a year from now.

SMU 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.

Ethan Bernard

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