State of Steel - January 2021

Pricing, Lead Times, and Availability

The CRU index continues to rise and overall, we have seen a 41% increase in the steel index since the first week of December and 143% increase since the first week of August. Nucor Tubular and Atlas Tube have once again raised prices on HSS, pipe, mechanical, and piling products most recently by an astounding $150/ton on January, 20th.  All other structural tubing mills have followed suit.  This kicks off the tenth round of price increases since August. As far as mechanical tubing such as DOM and CDS, most mill pricing is now in it's 5th round of price increase for a total of 34-37% overall since the beginning of October 2020.  Below is a current listing of all price increases we have seen since late August of 2020.   


DOM and CDS Price Increases Structural Tube Increases

Oct. 5th – 6% increase

Nov. 9th – 6% increase

Dec. 13th – 7% increase on OD’s below 4” &

10% increase on 4” OD and over

Jan. 4th – 5% increase

Jan. 24th – 10% increase





Aug. 26th - $50/ton

Sept. 14th - $50/ton

Sept. 25th - $50/ton

Oct. 13th - $50/ton

Oct. 26th - $50/ton

Nov. 20th - $75/ton

Dec. 4th - $100/ton

Dec. 11th - $100/ton

Jan. 6th - $100/ton

Jan. 20th - $150/ton


Understanding lead times for steel products are important to every participant in the supply chain. Lead times for steel products as of 1/12/21 are:

HR Coil lead times approximately running 12-14 weeks.

Mechanical Tubing is 18-22 weeks given the availability of raw steel coils

Structural Tubing mill lead times are running approximately 10-12 weeks upon receipt of order.

Dura-Bar Continuous Cast Iron mill lead times are approximately 3-4 weeks. Pricing on all cast iron products is gradually increasing. This can be attributed to higher material surcharges.  

Metal Production

In the week ended January 9, US raw steel production increased 3.6% week over week to 1.71mt (-10.3% YoY).  US capacity utilization was 75.4% vs 82.4% last year.  This marks a significant improvement from the 51.1% capacity utilization low in early May.  This is also the highest utilization rate since March.   (Source: AISI) Brazil’s annual Section 232 slab quota has reset, with sources expecting this is likely to relieve the US supply squeeze at least partially. Brazil’s Section 232 slab quota for 2021 is appr3.86 million tons, according to information from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, part of the Department for Homeland Security, with the 1Q 2021 limit at ~1.16 million tons, up significantly from the ~66,000-ton quota set in 4Q 2020.  (Source: SMU)


Three Detroit mills started the January scrap trade by offering to buy prime scrap at up $100/ton month-over-month and up $90/ton month-over-month for secondary grades such as shredded scrap and plate and structural scrap. This is at the higher end of the previously expected range of up $60-$100/ton month-over-month.  This marks the sixth consecutive month in which US monthly scrap settlements have been either flat or higher month-over-month, with representative shredded scrap prices up 98% since the troughs in July.  (Source: AMM)

China will allow imports of steel scrap beginning January 1, 2021, ending its two-year ban on ferrous scrap imports, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment announced. According to some market participants, the move could drive up prices in the seaborne market that are already at multi-year highs.  (Source: Platts)

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