State of Steel - Decemeber 2021

Pricing - Beginning to see some relief?

Steel price increases have seemed to peak in November and are now beginning to fall in December. Coil continues to be in high demand, but the tubing mills are beginning to get relief in the form of shorter lead times. For the first time in over a year, we saw an entire month (November) decline week over week. Thus far in December, we have seen the first 2 weeks declining as well although the very latest index just increased. Even though we have seen a recent declines, the CRU index has still seen a 64% increase in the steel index since the beginning of the year and a 95% increase since a year ago in December of 2020.  Structural tubing has seen a very slight recession in pricing since end of November/beginning of December.  Most structural mills have reduced their pricing by $100/ton. This is the first decrease in structural tubing in over a year. With regards to DOM, we have not seen an increase since August 20th. Most DOM mill pricing has increased 13 times for a total of 89-92% overall since the beginning of November 2020. Lead times are still very drawn out for mechanical tubing thus less urgency to reduce pricing.  Cold drawn and hot rolled seamless tubing has seen 2 price increases in the last 4 months but has since slowed. The below charts reflect a current listing of all price increases/decreases on tubing that we have seen since late August of 2020.

Nucor announced it is increasing its published base price for cut-to-length plate by $40/ton to $1,815/ton, effective immediately. Additionally, Nucor is now accepting orders for January shipment. (Source: AMM)

Commercial Metals and Steel Dynamics announced they are increasing steel rebar prices by $30/ton, effective immediately. (Source: Platts)

The LME price of nickel has surged to a nearly 7 year high, driven by low warehouse stocks that point to tight supply. (Source: Bloomberg)



Pricing on Dura-Bar continuous cast iron bar has increased in December due to base prices being raised by an average of 8% to 10%. The most current base price increases come just months after recent base price increases in February of this year and additional significant base price increases (of 10% to 30%) implemented on both July 1st, 2021, and August 1st, 2021. The below chart details the Dura-Bar surcharges over the last year or so.


Lead Times

Understanding lead times for steel products are important to every participant in the supply chain. Lead times for steel products are as follows (as of 12/13/21):

Average HRC lead times declined again this week to 4.3 weeks versus an average of ~5.2 weeks since 2016. HRC lead times have now been flat or declined in 20 straight weeks and are down from their all-time high of 9.8 weeks reached in January 2021. Other product lead times were mixed this week with CRC lead times at 6.5 weeks, HDG lead times at 7.0 weeks, and plate lead times at 7.2 weeks. (Source: Platts)

DOM Tubing lead times continue to be long and are anywhere from 25 to 32 weeks primarily now due to backlog. We continue to see lead times grow and are now seeing availability not free up until August/Sept of 2022.  

Structural Tubing mill lead times have improved and are running approximately 8-10 weeks upon receipt of order. Common sizes we can get sooner.

Dura-Bar Continuous Cast Iron mill lead times are approximately 10-14 weeks depending on size, grade, and finish. If it’s a large bar, special grade, size, or shape then the lead time could be even longer. 

Metal Production

In the week ended December 4, US raw steel production decreased 1.6% week-over-week to 1.807mt (+11.8% YoY).  US capacity utilization was 81.9% vs 73.1% last year. Year-to-date production is 88.081mt up 19.6% year-over-year from 73.669mt last year.  (Source: AISI)


The US scrap market for December settled at mostly unchanged prices from November across all grades. Market sources also indicated the market was softening as weaker mill demand and the export market weighed on trading.  (Source: AMM)


AMM reported that mills are reducing offers for January to be more competitive with the cheaper imports currently on route, while some buyers indicated mills may attempt to support prices by reducing production in 1Q 2022, possibly through unscheduled outages.  (Source: AMM)

The US Department of Commerce released details on the tariff-rate quotas with the European Union (replacing Section 232 tariffs), effective January 1, 2022. In total, the quota is set at 3.33 million tons annually. (Source: AMM)

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