The attitudes of steel buyers and sellers, as measured by this week’s SMU Steel Buyers Sentiment Index questionnaire, are slightly less optimistic than they were at the beginning of October as the market waits for a turnaround in the decline in steel prices.
The goal of the index is to measure how buyers and sellers of steel feel about their company's ability to be successful today (Current Index), as well as three to six months into the future (Future Index). Results are posted as both a single data point and as a three-month moving average, which smooths out the numbers and provides a clearer view of the trend. Any reading above zero (+) indicates those responding to SMU’s survey are optimistic about the markets. When numbers go negative (-), this represents a pessimistic group of buyers and sellers. In its history, the index has ranged from lows of -85 (March 1, 2009) to as high as +78 measured earlier this year.
Lead times for most flat rolled steel products ticked up slightly this month, according to returns from Steel Market Update’s latest market trends questionnaire. Could this signal the end of the downtrend? This is an important question considering the domestic steel mills announced price increases just last week.
Steel buyers still have a strong bargaining position with the mills, but perhaps not quite as strong as a month ago. Steel Market Update tracks how buyers and sellers of flat rolled steel characterize the mills in price negotiations. A slightly lower percentage report mills willing to negotiate spot prices on new orders placed this week for hot rolled and cold rolled steel.
Will the flat rolled mills be successful in collecting the $40 per ton price increase they announced last week? No, they will not, predict eight out of 10 steel executives who responded to this week’s Steel Market Update Market Trends questionnaire. Only about 20 percent believe the price increase will stick. Following are some insightful comments:
Gaurav Chhibbar is a partner at Metal Edge Partners, a firm engaged in Risk Management and Strategic Advisory. In this new role, he and his firm design and execute risk management strategy for clients along with providing process and analytical support.
In Gaurav’s previous role, he was a Trader at Cargill spending time in Metal and Freight markets in Singapore before moving to the U.S. He can be reached at Gaurav@MetalEdgePartners.com for queries/comments/questions.