Category: Futures

HR futures: Nucor's price cut makes its mark on steel markets

When we were asked to provide some additional commentary to SMU about the futures markets for flat rolled, our only reluctance to contribute was rooted merely in the fact that SMU (1) already offers an excellent array of authors on this topic and (2) a concern regarding what new ground could be covered that hasn’t already been discussed to death on this issue. Thankfully, however, Nucor has offered up something we can describe, without hyperbole, as simply revolutionary for spot pricing in flat rolled - a development that we simply could not resist commenting on with respect to its probable impacts on the futures market.

HRC futures: A flock of canaries in the mine

Much has happened since we last met on Jan. 4. Cleveland-Cliffs announced a price increase on Jan. 3, lifting the futures market in the morning only for it to finish the day $20-$30 per short ton (st) below those morning highs. On Jan. 4, the futures curve was down another $10-$28/st. And in my column for SMU that evening, I asked a question: Would those aggressive sellers be met with a short-squeeze forcing them to cover, or had the market peaked with the negative price action to start the year the proverbial canary in the coal mine?

HRC futures: 2023 was wild, what comes next?

We started 2023 with HRC spot pricing around $700 per ton and the third-month future (March ‘23) trading at $800/ton. That same future eventually settled at $1,059/ton - a $259/ton swing. Today, spot pricing is just shy of $1,100/ton for HRC, and the third-month future (March ‘24) settled at $1,091/ton. The clear takeaway: a lot can change over three months. And while future contracts are a valuable tool for hedging, they are a terrible predictor of price.