State of Steel - February 2022

Pricing - Steel pricing slowly receding, but when will the end-user see it??

Steel price increases have peaked in November, flattened in December, and have now decreased in January and February. Tubing mills are now seeing a large steel coil relief in the form of shorter lead times. We have now seen a steel price index decrease 5 weeks in a row. Even though we have seen a recent decline in the last few months, the CRU index is still roughly 10% higher since a year ago. Structural tubing has continued to slowly decrease in pricing since November/December.  Most structural mills have reduced their pricing by $300 per ton since December. With regards to DOM, we still have not seen an increase or decrease 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 long for mechanical tubing thus less urgency to reduce pricing. Cold drawn and hot rolled seamless tubing remains flat. The below charts reflect the CRU index and a current listing of all price increases/decreases on tubing that we have seen since late August of 2020.

US prices for steel plates have held steady at $1,815/ton for approximately two consecutive months after US mills kept base prices unchanged, although some market sources expect prices are likely to follow hot-rolled coil prices lower. (Source: AMM)

              

Pricing on Dura-Bar continuous cast iron bar remains flat this year. That is a welcome sign considering we saw 4 base price increases in 2021. Surcharges in February are mixed. We have seen a slight decrease in gray iron and a slight increase in ductile iron surcharges. 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 02/08/22):

Average HRC lead times increased last week to 4.2 weeks, which is below the average of 5.6 weeks since 2016. Other product lead times were mixed last week with CRC lead times at 5.8 weeks, HDG lead times at 6.5 weeks, and plate lead times at 4.9 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 October of 2022.  

Structural Tubing mill lead times have improved and are running approximately 4-6 weeks upon receipt of order. Common sizes we can get sooner.

Dura-Bar Continuous Cast Iron mill lead times are approximately 8-14 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 January 29, US raw steel production decreased 0.4% week-over-week to 1.796mt (+3.5% YoY). US capacity utilization was 81.6% vs 76.6% last year. Year-to-date production is 7.500mt up 4.3% year-over-year from 7.192mt last year.  (Source: AISI)

Scrap

The February scrap trade started yesterday with mills in Detroit offering to buy obsolete scrap grades at flat prices month-over-month and prime grades down $35/ton month-over-month. An increase in scrap export prices and adverse weather conditions across some parts of the US have been price-supportive for obsolete scrap grades in February. (Source: Platts)

Oil & Gas Industry

The US rig count increased 1.0% week-over-week to 610 rigs as of 1/28.  The rig count is up 58.9% year-over-year.  (Source: Baker Hughes)

Steel Capacity 

Nucor announced plans to invest $290 million to upgrade its Crawfordsville, Indiana steel sheet mill. This will expand the mill’s product capabilities by adding a 300 thousand tons per year construction-grade continuous galvanizing line and a 250 thousand tons per year pre-paint line. The project will take two years to complete.  (Source: SMU)

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