Steel market chatter this week

Written by Brett Linton

Earlier this week, SMU polled steel buyers on an array of topics, ranging from market prices, demand, and inventories to imports and evolving market events.

We are sharing some of the comments we received in each buyer’s own words, rather than summarizing them in ours.

Want to share your thoughts? Contact david@steelmarketupdate.com to be included in our market questionnaires.

“The rate of decline seems to have slowed down. I anticipate domestic mills will announce increases mid to late next month. Foreign and domestic supply will be back into a better balance. I anticipate demand to pick up.”

“They will bottom out at 650 per ton for HRC by August due to demand for the fall and less capacity at mills.”

“Prices will start to recover by early July.”

“HRC will bottom in July with August bounce, then settling in for the balance of 2024. Plate will see one more decrease before year-end.”

“We are near a bottom, but not sure what will cause a change in direction. The mills will be selling contract tons below $600 very soon.”

“Bottoming in July and slight increase in August before moving up further in Q4. Spread over scrap is a bit of an issue and we have to assume markets will get back into ‘normal’ cycles.”

“Flat to slightly lower.”

“Trend a little lower through August, then bounce back up late Q3/Q4.”

“Lower for next few weeks, then a short spike before dropping again in fall. Oversupply and typical business seasonality.”

“Pricing is 100% trending lower and there is no real reason to think that won’t continue.”

Is demand improving, declining, or stable?


“Demand is just ‘OK.’ The bigger the SSC or the bigger the shop, the slower they seem to be.”

“Demand is stale, with contract prices resetting lower and spot buyers still on the sidelines. No one is buying.”

“Demand is stable at best.”

“Stable to declining.”

“While some brighter spots remain, overall demand continues to slowly decline.”

“Declining due to high interest rates.”

Is inventory moving faster or slower than this time last year?

“Turns are up as we carry less inventory. Service centers have stock and mill lead times are short.”

“Inventory is moving as anticipated. Just have to be flexible with pricing.”

“Inventory is moving a wee bit faster for us, but we’re also gaining market share, so it makes sense.”

“About the same.”

“Slower. Nobody buys in uncertain markets, nobody.”

“Slower due to low demand this summer.”

Are imports more attractive than domestic material?

“Import pricing is still pretty good, but lead times are scary for a falling marketplace (domestically).”

“Cold rolled imports still attractive but the gap is shrinking.”

“Imports are always priced more attractively.”

“They have become less attractive based on how much domestic prices have fallen.”

“Imports are at domestic levels, but there is still a bit of downward pressure.”

“No, price gap to domestics too tight. If imports drift lower, there may be incentive to book plus tons’ to counteract a potential domestic price hike for HRC.”

“Same price as domestic and much longer lead time than domestic mills.”

What’s something that’s going on in the market that nobody is talking about?

“What will tariff increases mean to the US manufacturing space. Especially to those that have nearshored to Mexico?”

“Layoffs and plant shutdowns. We are seeing many in our area.”

“No follow-up on the Cliffs/NLMK talks; that was a flash in the pan.”

“High interest rates and domestic building and how it is impacting metals in the US (lack of demand or slowdown and delays).”

“Cliffs vs. Nucor HR spread is high.”

“I feel that AHMSA will be back at some point, which could impact some Southwest and West Coast numbers. Overall, this market is just on a pretty heavy bear run. Not a lot of positivity out there.”

“You would think prices have gotten lower than expected, so for how much longer.”

“Russian steel going through India.”

Brett Linton

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