Steel prices “Spring Up” early in the Midwest, while prices stabilize everywhere else across the country!
Increased demand from Midwest mills coupled with competition for material and a resurgence in the export steel market boosted prices in Chicago, Detroit, and surrounding Midwest areas. Unfortunately, stronger prices didn’t move too far West resulting in unchanged pricing levels here locally for March. This price strength came as a surprise to most scrap suppliers as early rumors had scrap prices pegged to fall in March but this feeling was quickly overturned by increased export pressures and tight scrap supplies.
Even with Midwest scrap prices roaring into March “Like a Lion”, prices are still vulnerable and sensitive to many market indicators including export pressures from both new steel imports and scrap exports, weak oil and gas related steel consumption, cheap iron ore prices, and flat manufacturing demand forecasts for steel products. Hopefully, the Lion will still be roaring, or at least purring by year end!
February was a positive month for base metals as most commodities found their floor and began to slowly claw their way out of the deep dark hole they have dug over the past 12-15 months. Both aluminum and copper gained nearly 3.5% during February, while lead and zinc gained near 8% and 11.5% respectively. If you are galvanizing anything, you will likely notice the cost increases as zinc made some significant price gains during the past 30 days – re-gaining all losses mounted during the past 6 months. Nickel still continues to struggle, falling another 2% in February and pushing its year-over-year loss to (-75%). This decline continues to put negative pressures on stainless and nickel alloys. So far, March is continuing to mirror the price strength trends as witnessed during February.
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