State of Steel - May 2023

Pricing - Flattening out, could we see some stability from this point forward?

Structural steel pricing has been on the rise since January and seems to be flattening out now. After 6 months of mill increases, we have now seen several weeks of level CRU prices. Over the last 4 weeks, we have hovered between $1,168 per ton and $1,203 per ton, which is a minimal week-over-week margin. Structural tubing continues to see competitive pricing due to a constant fluctuation in mill adjustments. Look below for a detailed graph of all structural tube increases or decreases since 2022.   

With structural tubing beginning to decrease from its high, mechanical tube pricing continues to remain elevated. Due to weak imports and limited producers, pricing looks to remain somewhat high. Scrap surcharges have increased over the last few months and now sit at $87/ton and the fuel surcharge is $40% for May. DOM mills have announced that they will now be paying the price in effect based on the “Ready-to-Ship” date as well as pushing through an additional $50/ton base increase. Per steel mills, this puts pricing closer to market conditions. See below for a graph of price adjustments since 2021 (it went up then and hasn’t come down). 

The CRU index (below chart) came in at $1,170/ton this week. Last week it was $1,168/ton. Week over week change was +$2/ton. It appears that we have hit a new plateau for now. We have seen CRU increases from the beginning of the year until recent ups and downs which now seem to be hovering around that $1,175/ton mark. 


Cast Iron Pricing

There have not been any base price increases on cast iron since April 1st of 2022. As of May 2023, Dura-Bar’s surcharges seem to have leveled off with very little change month over month. 

Scrap & Steel Inputs

Market sources currently expect shredded scrap prices will decline $40-$60/ton month-over-month, while prime scrap prices are expected to be down $20-$30/ton month-over-month. (Source: AMM)

Metal Production

In the week ending on May 6, 2023, domestic raw steel production was 1,712,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 76.1 percent. Production was 1,773,000 net tons in the week ending May 6, 2022, while the capability utilization then was 81.2 percent. The current week’s production represents a 3.4 percent decrease from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending May 6, 2023, is down 0.2 percent from the previous week ending April 29, 2023, when production was 1,716,000 net tons and the rate of capability utilization was 76.3 percent. (Source: AISI)

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 05/09/23):

DOM Tubing lead times have loosened up quite a bit. We are now anywhere from 12 to 20 weeks.  HRS and CDS tubing has recently gone down as well and now stands at 15-25 weeks.   

Structural Tubing mill lead times are low and running approximately 2-4 weeks upon receipt of order.

Dura-Bar Continuous Cast Iron mill lead times are approximately 3-5 weeks depending on size, grade, and finish. If it’s a large bar, special grade, size, or shape then the lead time could be considerably longer. 

Oil & Gas Industry

The US rig count decreased 1.0% week-over-week from 755 to 748 rigs as of 5/5/23. The rig count is up 6% year-over-year. (Source: Baker Hughes)



Economic Factors

China’s imports contracted sharply in April, while exports rose at a slower pace, reinforcing signs of feeble domestic demand despite the lifting of Covid curbs and heaping pressure on an economy already struggling in the face of cooling global growth. (Source: CNN)

US regulators seized First Republic Bank and sold its assets to JPMorgan Chase this week, in a deal to resolve the largest US bank failure since the 2008 financial crisis. (Source: WorldEconomicForum)

The US central bank lifted its benchmark overnight interest rate to 5.00-5.25% – its highest level in 16 years – but in doing so it dropped language from its policy statement saying that it "anticipates" further rate increases. (Source:

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector contracted in April for the sixth consecutive month following a 28-month period of growth, say the nation's supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report on Business. "The April Manufacturing PMI registered 47.1 percent; 0.8 percentage point higher than the 46.3 percent recorded in March. (Source: Institute for Supply Management)

Employment / Hiring

Approximately 0.242 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance last week. This was worse than economists’ expectations of 0.240 million claims, and worse than last week’s downwardly revised claims number of approximately 0.220 million claims (revised down from 0.225 million claims). Continuing claims decreased during the week ending April 22nd (continuing claims have a week lag in terms of reporting) and stand at approximately 1.805 million. (Source: Reuters)  

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