Survey respondents tilt cautiously optimistic on market outlook for ‘10

Dec 06, 2009 | 07:00 PM |

This much perhaps we can all agree on the best thing about 2009 is that it's almost over.

As for what 2010 might hold, well, that's where things get tricky.

The Federal Reserve says the U.S. economy is on the mend, although the Fed concedes the economy may take its grand old time getting back on its feet. And financial titan Goldman Sachs in a recent report reasoned that the steel sector—especially oil country tubular goods (OCTG)­—could be poised for a breakout in the second half of next year.

If economic wizards of that ilk think we're on the proverbial road to recovery, what could possibly go wrong?

Maybe respondents to the Perspectives Steel Tube and Pipe survey are a bit bearish because it would seem—at least by our admittedly informal polling—that a lot of folks in the tubular sector are still plenty worried about the future. But unlike in the past, they appear to be at least willing to consider the possibility of better times ahead.

Nearly 56 percent of respondents described the current steel pipe and tube market as "poor" with another some 33 percent characterizing it as "very poor." A tiny minority said conditions were "fair"—and no one ventured to describe them as "good."

Despite the continued grumpiness about the market, nearly 78 percent of respondents said they believed prices would stay where they were in coming months, with the balance saying they might move downward a bit. That's hardly something to write home about—but it's a lot better than in past months, when some respondents have suggested prices could move sharply downward and very few thought they would manage to hold steady.....

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