Keeping track of developments in steel markets can be a head-spinning endeavor, but that doesn’t mean we don’t try here at Keats Manufacturing. It’s well-known that our best advice, in the face of uncertain future cost trends, is to plan and purchase just as you always have. Accounting for cost increases and decreases is just too difficult, too frustrating, to try and do otherwise. Recent steel news illustrates this to a “T.”
Out of Indiana this week: NLMK’s flat rolled steel prices will be increasing, on the heels of Nucor’s decrease in coated steel pricing. Even more recently than either of these, South Korea’s Posco announced record stainless steel production, market expansion, and profitability. This, in one of the most tumultuous times for the industry in recent memory. Perhaps not surprisingly, Posco’s spokesperson played coy about raw material sources and costs. Magicians don’t reveal their secrets.
Unfortunately for many of us, material options are often limited, and we can’t jump from one material to another based on price alone. As this news from just the past few days shows, the only safe prediction is unpredictability.