Steel market chatter this week

Written by Laura Miller

SMU polled steel buyers on a variety of subjects this past week, including purchasing practices, steel sheet prices, scrap, and the future market.

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

We’d like to hear your thoughts, too! Contact to be included in our questionnaires.

Hot-rolled coil prices averaged $1,040 per ton in our last market survey. Where will prices be in two months?

$950-999 per ton:
“Assuming the current trend continues, the increases will play out by early February and possibly earlier.”

“Hot rolled pricing should peak for February with New Year’s demand and then ease back to Earth. I hope.”

“In two months, buyers will be pushing back on prices, and March will be a full five-week month with spot to sell.”

“We’re anticipating numbers drift back down throughout H1.”

$1,000-1,049 per ton:
“Prices could start softening in February/March.”

$1,150-1,199 per ton:
“I believe there is still room for sheet prices to continue increasing.”

“Suez and Panama Canal capacity.”

When do you think sheet prices will peak, and why?

Already peaked:
“Demand is not strong, and mills are not running full.”

“I think we are close. The mills pushed it too hard and too fast.”

“Demand is strong.”

“Even though the mills may go for one more increase, I think that this month will be the last chance to increase.”

“Demand vs. supply will move to downward pressure on pricing.”

“Things are slowing down.”

“Expect mills to jump in with price increase announcements as they continue to squeeze capacity utilization.”

“Supply will pick up while demand does not. Imports.”

“Inventories are light, and companies must replenish.

“Because the dynamics appear similar to 2023, running approximately two months ahead. Many stocked up on the lows, demand is not significantly better, and lead times are starting to roll over.”

Prime scrap prices in January will be:

“The demand for finished products will drive up the prices of raw materials.”

“Could be stable earlier than steel prices.”

“Soft sideways to up. Weather may be used to support.”

Are you an active buyer or on the sidelines, and why?

On the sidelines:
“Already concluded 2024 contracts.”

“Inventory too high.”

“We have all the steel we need.”

“Looking for deals.”

Active buyer:
“But becoming less bullish.”

“Need to replenish depleted inventory and restock contract tons.”

“Good customer demand.”

How is demand for your products?

“Demand starting January is great, compared to holiday shipments being down.”

“Stable at best, but too early to tell.”

“Ask me next month!”

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