SMU Data and Models

SMU's May at a glance

Written by David Schollaert

SMU’s monthly at-a-glance articles summarize important steel market metrics for the prior month. This May report contains data updated through June 7.

Steel prices for sheet and plate products continued to edge lower throughout May. The SMU Price Momentum Indicator was adjusted from neutral to lower at the beginning of the month.

We saw a decline in Steel Buyers’ Sentiment, with the index falling to its lowest reading since August 2020. Steel mill lead times continued to hover right around five weeks throughout May, while the percentage of buyers reporting that mills were willing to talk price increased to 82% on average last month.

Raw materials prices were largely flat at the beginning of the month before eroding toward the month’s end. Scrap prices were down from April to May, except for busheling, which was flat. Zinc and aluminum prices strengthened throughout the month.

We also saw a mixed bag of economic indicators. Employment figures rebounded after a poor showing in April. While edging up, the AIA Billings Index remained in contraction territory. Construction spending flattened out but has been strong historically overall. Steel trade has increased, with imports and exports both near multi-month highs.

See the chart below for other key metrics for May. Note our new ‘trend’ column showing mini-graphs for each item (click here to expand).

David Schollaert

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