Steel prices are more complicated than you might think. Steel is a global commodity, and that means the price of steel can change from day today.
Here’s what we know now with Presidents Trumps tariff on steel and aluminum imports and how it will impact businesses: import offers have slowed considerably and domestic producers have pushed through a series of price hikes, taking the price of steel to levels not seen since 2008. As of mid-March, the Steel Market Update hot rolled index was averaging $840 per ton for spot tonnage. Price offers are nearing $900 per ton and could very well be at that level in early May. The introduction of semi-finished steels is new to the trade and are purchased only by domestic steel producers. By adding semis to the mix the President has thousands of steel jobs and small steel/fabricating businesses at risk. With no steel producing mills on the West Coast, manufacturing and construction companies west of the Rocky Mountains could be hurt by inadequate supply.
The key question come mid-May will be “is there enough supply to satisfy the needs of the U.S. manufacturing and construction division of the economy?”
Here’s what steel buyers can count on: It will take months for the tariff situation to sort itself out. Boycotts will almost certainly be worked out for a number of U.S. allies. One other thing to consider is that Congress may act to abolish the tariffs and prevent them from harming the U.S. economy; but with reduced competition from imports, steel prices are likely to continue rising, possibly to record level highs.