Steel tariffs have only been in effect for a few months, but metal buyers are already starting to feel the pain. President Trump enacted 25% tariffs on steel imported from the European Union, Canada, China and other countries earlier this year, and since then prices have been on the rise, along with fears of a trade war.
Once the tariffs were in place, the Fed reported that steel prices rose sharply in some parts of the country, leading some manufacturers to start a stockpile. While hot-rolled steel was around $650 per net ton in December 2017, it topped to $800 per ton in March. Today, it’s approaching $1,000.
While steel is an almost ubiquitous material in the U.S. – businesses use 100 million tons every year – the industries most likely to feel the biggest impact include aerospace, shipbuilding, automotive, and oil and utilities that rely on steel pipelines. The Fed also reports companies passing through price increases to customers in manufacturing, IT, transportation and construction.
For most of these industries, project lead times aren’t conducive to massive swings in material prices. And for fabricators, the loss of a foreign supplier may leave them starting from scratch. All of this uncertainty makes it more important than ever to stay on top of price changes and trends. Depending on your business, and your business perspective, a number of resources can help guide your decisions.
1. Consult EXPERT ANALYSTS
A number of organizations provide subscription-based news, analysis and information specifically dedicated to metals. They usually employ reporters around the country (or even the world) to provide in-depth data and research you can’t get elsewhere.
American Metal Market is focused on news, alerts and the metal exchanges, broadcasting updates in almost real time. It’s a fast-paced, in-the-moment site that includes tickers, graphs, pricing alerts, and a host of publications tailored to specific industries. It also includes classified ads, the latest news (including an entire section devoted to the tariffs,) and information on industry events.
Metal Bulletin is a part of the American Metal Market publications. It gathers “metal intelligence” from a global portfolio of news, analyses and insights based on more than 2,000 prices from around the world.
Metal Miner is a digital resource designed for metal-buying operations. It provides daily analysis and commentary on metal market trends and price directions for more than 10 types of metals based on information gathered from more than 1,500 metal suppliers across North America. It also covers the latest industry news and offers forward-looking strategies and insights to help them make smart buying decisions.
2. WATCH THE MARKET
If you’re familiar with stock markets and exchanges, you can keep an eye on current prices and futures by watching the New York Mercantile Commodity Exchange (COMEX) and the London Metal Exchange (LME). A host of business news sites, including marketwatch.com, The Wall Street Journal, and dailymetalprice.com broadcast the markets online in near real-time.
3. SET NEWS ALERTS
The tariffs are an international news story and garner coverage nearly every day. By setting a Google news alert to bring you to new stories from across the web, you’ll see not only the numbers as they change, but the context and stories around them.