SMU Data and Models

SMU survey: Steel Buyers' Sentiment Indices fall

Written by Ethan Bernard

SMU’s Steel Buyers’ Sentiment Indices both declined this week, with Current Sentiment tumbling more than 10 points, according to our most recent survey data.

Every other week, we poll steel buyers about their companies’ chances of success in the current market as well as three to six months down the road. We use this information to calculate our Current Steel Buyers’ Sentiment Index and our Future Sentiment Index. (We have historical data dating to 2008. You can find that here.)

SMU’s Current Buyers’ Sentiment Index was +55 this week, off 12 points from two weeks earlier (Figure 1). This is the second-lowest reading so far this year.

SMU’s Future Buyers’ Sentiment Index measures buyers’ feelings about business conditions three to six months in the future. The index edged down two points this week to +68 (Figure 2). Our survey two weeks ago marked the only time so far this year when the reading touched +70.

Measured as a three-month moving average, the Current Sentiment 3MMA fell to +58.40 vs. 60.19 two weeks earlier. 

Meanwhile, this week’s Future Sentiment 3MMA increased to +67.38 from +65.79 at the last market check (Figure 3).

What SMU survey respondents had to say:

“Lots of inventory out there, dependent on products, though.”

“Price drops always equate to margin compression.”

“We have enough contract tons locked up to be fine.”

“(Future outlook) ‘good’ for sure. As an OEM, lower tags aren’t the worst thing in the world for us.”

“As long as declining market stabilizes for a quarter, I feel good about us navigating it.”

About the SMU Steel Buyers’ Sentiment Index

The SMU Steel Buyers Sentiment Index measures the attitude of buyers and sellers of flat-rolled steel products in North America. It is a proprietary product developed by Steel Market Update for the North American steel industry. Tracking steel buyers’ sentiment is helpful in predicting their future behavior. A link to our methodology is here. If you would like to participate in our survey, please contact us at

Ethan Bernard

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