steel price index

U.S. steel prices continue to retreat. After consistent week-over-week declines, HRC prices now sit more than 15% beneath their late-April peak while plate prices continue to trade sideways as they remain just 6% beneath their all-time high.

Steel prices

The Raw Steels Monthly Metals Index (MMI) fell by 7.87% from May to June.

Know what to do when the market shifts. Related article: The Art of Timing Your Buy 

U.S. Manufacturing PMI climbed, Consumer sentiment plummeted

Steel pricesThe U.S. ISM Manufacturing PMI reached 56.1% in May. While the index climbed from April’s reading of 55.4, it marks the second-lowest reading since September of 2020. Domestic steel prices, particularly HRC, loosely mirrors the index trend. The index remains within a larger downtrend since it peaked in April of 2021.  

Of particular note, in spite of ongoing inflationary pressures, demand expanded as the New Orders Index grew from 53.5 in April to 55.1 in May. This data follows a 0.9% increase in consumer spending during April.

Meanwhile, according to preliminary data from the University of Michigan, consumer sentiment plunged to a record low between May and June. The index saw a 14% month-over-month decline, to hit its lowest recorded value at 50.2. June’s value compares to the low reached during the 1980 recession of 51.7 in May 1980. While overall consumer spending often diverges from sentiment, June’s consumer sentiment data may likely foreshadow a shift in spending trends toward necessities as consumers grapple with inflated prices. 

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Infrastructure funds could support steel prices in the longer term

According to the White House, states received more than $110 billion to fund projects related to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law since the bill was signed into law 6 months ago. The released funds are earmarked for more than 4,300 specific projects, including those related to road, bridges, port and airport modernization and water infrastructure throughout the U.S. An additional $100 billion in requests for information and notices of funding availability have also been released. Spending related to the infrastructure bill will take place over the course of the next 5 years. 

In Fiscal Year 2022 alone, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced $52.5 billion in Federal Highway Apportionment and $246 million for the Appalachian Development Highway System.Steel prices

Unlike other forms of steel, plate prices remain near record highs, albeit with modest declines since late April. HRC, CRC and HDG prices declined alongside falling mill lead times. While plate did not see the same increase in production capacity as other forms of steel, mill lead times have nonetheless retraced for plate which would indicate availability constraints no longer remain a driver in persistently high prices. Infrastructure spending has and will create steady demand for plate. Due to Buy America provisions, the plate market will likewise remain substantially insulated from lower-cost imports.    

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April U.S. steel imports, production slide

U.S. steel imports and U.S. steel production started to soften. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, total U.S. imports of steel products saw an 11.68% decline from March to April. HRC, CRC, HDG and coiled plate imports saw respective 25.11%, 16.27%, 8.91% and 13.63% declines.

Meanwhile, according to the World Steel Association, crude steel production in the U.S. fell from roughly 7.0 million tons in March to 6.9 million tons in April. Further, April’s total reflects a 3.9% year-over-year decline. As steel supply both through imports and production slid on the back of continuous, across the board steel price declines (albeit modest for plate), this may likely prove to be an early indication of a downward trend for domestic steel demand in months to come. 

Actual steel prices and trends

Chinese slab prices increased by 8.11% month-over-month to $812 per metric ton as of June 1. Meanwhile, the Chinese billet price decreased by 4.71% to $667 per metric ton.

Chinese coking coal prices fell 2.23% to $524 metric ton.

U.S. three-month HRC futures fell 14.76% to $976 per short ton. While the spot price decreased by 8.92% to $1,338 from $1,469 per short ton. U.S. shredded scrap steel prices fell 5.91% to $525 per short ton.

China and Australia appear to have finally moved away from each other. The relationship turned frosty after China imposed an “unofficial ban” on Australian coal imports back in November, 2019. At the time, many speculated that China would suffer more. But steel prices have held steadier as well.

The dispute started between sometime in 2019 after China delayed Australian coal shipments. Other factors including Covid made things worse. China hardened its stance after the Australian government called for an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19. In what is being interpreted as “retaliation”, China blocked imports of Australian products like copper and coal. Last year, China imported 54.7 million tons of coking coal, down by 24.6% from 2020.

Australia found new outlets for coking coal

Meanwhile new reports from Australia, including from one of its largest coal making provinces, Queensland, indicates Australia has found other export markets. China, too, has stepped up domestic production of coal to try and meet the shortfall. However, analysts say those efforts have not been particularly successful. China lifted restrictions on coal mining enforced by the country’s national production plan. This helped to shore up the deficit in coal demand and supply. The country’s promised increase in reliance on alternate sources of fuel and increased energy efficiency has also helped fill the gap.

Indonesia to the rescue

The lifting of export controls of coal from Indonesia may come as good news for China. China remains one of the largest importers of Indonesian coal, importing as much as 123 million tons of it last year.

The MetalMiner Raw Steels MMI tracks coking coal, scrap and other steel making input costs for a monthly inflation/deflation indicator.

Before the unofficial ban on Aussie exports had kicked in, Australian coal had accounted for almost half of China’s coal imports. The Australian import ban affected many sectors in China where coal played a prominent role, including in steel making.

China crude steel production falls

During the second half of 2021, much of China experienced power blackouts as it struggled with supplies. Also, for the first time in six years, the country’s crude steel production fell. China said production drops came as a result of reducing the sector’s carbon emissions. In addition numbers dropped due to high international coal prices.

Meanwhile, as China explored other avenues to fill the supply gap, Australia has managed quite well.

According to news reports, Queensland’s overall exports rebounded by 26.3%, or $16.5 billion, to $79.2 billion in 2021, according to a report released a few days ago.

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Coal exports from Queensland increased by about 36% in 2021.  India, South Korea and Japan have picked up the windfall of Australian coal following China’s ban. Many Australian coal companies said they would not go back to China. And China does not need to go back to Australia. When Indonesia implemented an export ban on coal and subsequently partially lifted the ban, that provided more options for China.

Unlike the 2021 China steel price rollercoaster ride, experts have expressed confidence of more stability. Markets may not see much volatility in steel prices as China’s crude steel output could increase in the first half of 2022 and then decline during the second half. China’s 2022 steel production levels should remain similar to 2021.

Higher demand and lower inventory levels market suggest higher prices for the medium-term according to analysts. Conversely, China filled its energy supply gap in 2021 through increased demand for imports of thermal and met coal.

The Raw Steels Monthly Metals Index (MMI) fell by 4.6% month over month.

U.S. steel prices continue to fall, led by HRC. Plate prices moved sideways. Nonetheless, they remain beneath their peak.

U.S., Japan reach Section 232 tariff agreement

The U.S. and Japan reached an agreement regarding steel imports from Section 232 tariffs. Announced Feb. 7, the new deal will follow a similar tariff rate quota (TRQ) structure to the one established between the EU and U.S. Unlike the EU TRQ, however, aluminum will remain excluded. The quota remains well below the 3.3 million tons of steel annually permitted for the EU to the U.S.

Beginning April 1, as much as 1.25 million metric tons of steel can come tariff-free from Japan annually. The U.S. and Japan will continue to combat excess global steel capacity, namely from China. According to a joint statement, Japan will implement “appropriate domestic measures, such as antidumping, countervailing duty, and safeguard measures or other measures of at least equivalent effect” as part of the agreement. According to preliminary data, U.S steel imports of Japanese material reached roughly 989,000 metric tons in 2021. 

Meanwhile, negotiations between the U.S. and the U.K. continue. Unlike Japan, the U.K. imposed retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods including whiskey, motorcycles, and jeans. South Korea also requested revisions to the tariffs. However, official negotiations have yet to begin. 

SDI Sinton comes online, Nucor to expand

Following numerous delays, Steel Dynamics’ Sinton, Texas flat-rolled mill melted its first coil. The mill, originally slated to begin operations in September of 2021, will continue to ramp up production to reach full capacity by Q4. At full capacity, the mill can produce 3 million short tons per year (250,000 short tons per month). The mill will produce hot rolled coil, cold rolled coil and hot-dipped galvanized. Current estimates place the mill’s 2022 output at roughly 2 million short tons.  

Meanwhile, Nucor plans to expand production at its Crawfordsville, Indiana sheet mill. Nucor will fund the expansion with a $290 million investment. Once started, construction will take around two years to complete. Nucor will expand “existing galvanizing and prepaint capabilities.” At completion, the construction grade continuous galvanizing line will boast an annual capacity of 300,000 tons. The prepaint line will reach 250,000 tons per year. The start of construction pends regulatory and permit approvals. Nucor’s announcement follows the gradual restart of its Gallatin County, Kentucky plant. The mill went offline late last year to integrate a new electric arc furnace. The mill will reach its full annual capacity of 3 million short tons in 2023. 

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China leans toward scrap, boosts iron ore production

A joint statement from China’s state planner and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced China’s intentions to “significantly increase” iron ore output from mines. The statement also indicated increased usage of steel scrap. China’s moves are part of its larger ambitions to consolidate its steel sector and reduce overall carbon emissions.

By 2025, China expects more than 80% of national steel capacity to meet low-emissions targets. In addition, the country expects to collect more than 300 million tons of steel scrap per year. The advancement to scrap demand will feed increased production from electric arc furnaces (EAFs), projected to account for more than 15% of crude steel output by 2025. In 2020, EAFs represented roughly 10% of total steel production.

Actual metals prices and trends

Chinese slab prices rose by a mere 0.83% month-over-month to $782.26 per metric ton as of Feb. 1. Meanwhile, the Chinese billet price increased by 3.71% to $696.92 per metric ton.

Chinese coking coal prices rose by 2.52% to $469.01 metric ton.

U.S. three-month HRC futures declined 20.08% to $951 per short ton. While the spot price declined by 12.22% to $1,393 from $1,587 per short ton. U.S. shredded scrap steel prices fell by 4.76% to $480 per short ton.

The monthly Raw Steels MMI® registered a value of 52 in September, a decrease of 5.4% from 55 in August.

Raw-Steels__September-2015In July, it seemed like steel prices were stabilizing for awhile, but prices fell again last month. The decline wasn’t as bad as it could have been, considering that last month China’s stock market sell-off continued and some industrial metals took serious hits.

The bearish commodity environment makes it hard to pick a bottom, proving once again that buying on weakness hasn’t been the best strategy for metal buyers during this market cycle.

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The Real Steel Story

Fundamentally, the steel story is similar to other base metals and can be summarized as: a glut of raw materials everywhere and weak demand unable to keep the market in balance, with China being the main driver on both sides of the equation. Read more

The monthly Raw Steels MMI® registered a value of 55 in August, a decrease of 1.8% from 56 in July.


After Chinese steel prices slumped in July, they fell again in August but were at least more stable. Domestic prices remain low but seem to be stabilizing as well, resulting in our raw steels index dropping by less than 2%. That’s a moral victory for steel these days.

Paring the Decline

This was definitely a small decline compared to what we have seen from other industrial metals last month. Aluminum and copper hit 6-year lows. Not only was July a bad month for base metals, it was also bad for any commodity. Gold and oil prices fell 7% and 22%, respectively. With all these declines, the Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index hit new lows last month.

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Apart from this macro commodity weakness, the fundamentals within the steel industry don’t look much better. Chinese demand seems to be getting worse. Construction data shows that demand from the sector has slowed during this first half. Also, the automotive sector is weakening with vehicle sales falling year-on-year for several months. Read more

While domestic prices remained stable in June, Chinese steel prices plunged with its stock market. Also, the non-liquid London Metal Exchange steel billet contract fell sharply, weighing on our index.

Free Download: The July Metal Price Forecast

The monthly Raw Steels MMI® registered a value of 56 in July, a decrease of 5.1% from 59 in June.


Chinese Market Reeling

Chinese steel prices are at their lowest level in more than 20 years. Chinese demand seems to be getting worse and industry analysts point out that the fall might not even be close to an end. This threatens the survival of smaller Chinese steelmakers, who are still reluctant to cut production in order to maintain cash flow and bank credit, while other small mills have already shut down.

Construction data shows that demand from the sector has slowed during this first half. Moreover, China’s demand for steel could take a further hit as construction eases over the summer.

Read more

The price forecast for US steel markets, much like me after contracting salmonella poisoning last week, has been quite lethargic lately.

An imminent pullout from the doldrums doesn’t look all too likely due to several major factors, which we’ll dive into shortly, and is supported by MetalMiner’s monthly Raw Steels MMI® clocking in with a value of 59 in June, a 1.7% drop from 60 in May.

steel price index chart june 2015

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The monthly Raw Steels MMI® – a price sub-index tracking a basket of finished steel and raw material prices from all corners of the globe – has been unhealthy for quite a while, and (after undergoing a slight recalibration at the end of 2014) has hit a new all-time low this month. Why?

Today’s Steel Market: Some Factoids to Consider

Read more

Steel prices remain at their lowest levels. Almost every industrial metal price rose in April as a weaker dollar gave a boost to commodity markets. However, steel prices remained quiet, hanging at record lows.


The monthly raw steels MMI® registered a value of 60 in May, on par with April’s value.

Raw Materials Undercutting Scrap

Scrap prices are at their lowest levels and we don’t really see anything that could give prices significant momentum on the upside, at least until a bigger supply response is seen.

Why Manufacturers Need to Ditch Purchase Price Variance

Unless we start seeing the dollar depreciate against other currencies, European scrap exports will keep gaining market share, leaving a supply excess for US steelmakers.

Cheaper to Produce

Moreover, although prices seem low, it’s still cheaper to make steel still using iron ore than scrap. Pig iron or billet could substitute some scrap as primary raw material in which case, US exporters would sell more in the domestic market, causing US scrap prices to keep falling lower.

Meanwhile, steel imports keep arriving. Since US prices are no longer inflated compared to the rest of the world ,we would imagine steel imports will start slowing down through the remainder of the year. However, Chinese exports could actually increase due to the recent removal of export tariffs.

Either way, steel demand remains weak, particularly in oil and gas tubular markets while the market remains oversupplied. It doesn’t seem likely that steel prices will rise significantly higher this year.

May Steel Prices

Last month, the steel billet 3-month price rose 3.3% on the LME to $315.00 per metric ton. US shredded scrap saw its price rise 0.8% to $250.00 per short ton.

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The spot price of the US HRC futures contract closed the month at $450.00 per short ton after dropping 5.3%. Korean steel scrap prices fell 3.6% to $124.29 per metric ton. After rising the previous month, Chinese slab prices dropped 2.8% to $388.47 per metric ton. The US HRC futures contract 3-month price fell a slight 2.5% over the past month to $512.00 per short ton. The steel billet cash price ended the month on the LME at $300.00 per metric ton, down from $300.00.

Prices for Chinese billet remained constant this past month, holding at around $333.66 per metric ton. Chinese coking coal held pat last month at $174.08 per metric ton. Hovering around $491.59 per metric ton for the month, Korean pig iron remained unchanged.

The Raw Steels MMI® collects and weights 13 global steel and raw material price points to provide a unique view into global steel price trends over a 30-day period. For more information on the Raw Steels MMI®, how it’s calculated or how your company can use the index, please drop us a note at: info (at) agmetalminer (dot) com.

Steel held its price for the first time in seven months, breaking a string of losses that most market observers expected would continue.


The monthly Raw Steels MMI® registered a value of 60 in April, on par with March’s value.

Free Download: Cut Your Steel Shipping Costs

Continuing low prices for iron ore and a generally weak scrap market are causing a deflationary spiral for most grades of steel. Read more

U.S. Steel on Thursday announced more layoffs as it continues to fight lower-priced, surging imports and declining demand in the energy sector, saying it will temporarily idle one of its iron-ore operations in Minnesota, affecting 412 workers.

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The idling of the plant in Keewatin, Minn., which ships to U.S. Steel mills, will take place on May 13 and affects six million tons of iron-ore production capacity, or 27% of U.S. Steel’s overall iron-ore output last year. U.S. Steel said the move is temporary in a statement.

The week’s biggest mover on the weekly Raw Steels MMI® was the 3-month price of the US HRC futures contract, which saw a 1.0% increase to $520.00 per short ton. This comes on the heels of a 0.8% decline the week prior. US shredded scrap traded sideways last week, hovering around $246.00 per short ton. The spot price of the US HRC futures contract stayed essentially flat at $500.00 per short ton.

After falling 3.5%, Korean steel scrap landed at KRW 139,000 ($123.34) per metric ton and making it the week’s biggest mover on the weekly Raw Steels MMI®. Prices for Korean pig iron remained constant, closing the week at KRW 530,000 ($470.27) per metric ton.

* Get the complete prices every day on the MetalMiner IndX℠

Chinese steel prices were mixed for the week. The price of iron ore 58% fines from India hit a high price of CNY 450.00 ($71.83) and a low price of CNY 445.00 ($71.03) per dry metric ton. Chinese slab finished the week at CNY 2,380 ($380.10) per metric ton after falling 3.3%. Following a 1.6% increase in the week prior, the price of Chinese HRC fell 0.8% last week to CNY 2,510 ($400.86) per metric ton. At CNY 1,080 ($172.40) per metric ton, the price of Chinese coking coal did not change since the previous week.

Following a steady week, prices for on the LME the steel billet 3-month price closed flat at $305.00 per metric ton. Also on the LME, the cash price of steel billet closed at $305.00 per metric ton after a flat week.

The US HRC futures contract 3-month price rose 1.0% to $520.00 per short ton after falling 0.8% during the previous week. US shredded scrap remained essentially flat from the previous week at $246.00 per short ton. At $500.00 per short ton, the spot price of the US HRC futures contract remained essentially flat.

The Raw Steels MMI® collects and weights 13 global steel and raw material price points to provide a unique view into global steel price trends. For more information on the Raw Steels MMI®, how it’s calculated or how your company can use the index, please drop us a note at: info (at) agmetalminer (dot) com.

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