SMU Data and Models

SMU survey: Buyers' Sentiment Indices plunge to near four-year lows

Written by Ethan Bernard

SMU’s Steel Buyers’ Sentiment Indices both plummeted over 10 points this week, each hitting lows for 2024, 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 +42 this week, diving 13 points from two weeks earlier to almost a four-year low (Figure 1). The last time it fell below such a reading was in August 2020 when it registered +34 and from a Covid-stricken reading of -8 in April 2020.

SMU’s Future Buyers’ Sentiment Index measures buyers’ feelings about business conditions three to six months in the future. The index crashed 12 point points this week to +56 (Figure 2). Future Sentiment has not seen a reading that low since June 2023 when it hit +52.

Measured as a three-month moving average, the Current Sentiment 3MMA dropped to +55.77 from +58.40 two weeks earlier. 

Meanwhile, this week’s Future Sentiment 3MMA fell to +65.31 vs. +67.38 at the last market check (Figure 3).

What SMU survey respondents had to say:

“May not hit forecast but profitable.”

“Cautiously optimistic.”

“Top market participants are being irresponsible on the pricing side.”

“Losing money on inventory due to drop in prices.”

“Increased capacity for us coming on with opportunities to buy low will increase profits.”

“Fair at best given the outlook.”

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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