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Steel market looks sluggish in near term, survey shows

Keywords: Tags  steel buyers, Institute for Supply Management, Steel Buyers' Forum, inventory levels, michelle applebaum, Catherine Ngai

NEW YORK — The steel market likely will remain sluggish for the next three months, according to the latest Institute for Supply Management’s Steel Buyers’ Forum survey.

Nearly 62 percent of steel buyers surveyed said they had enough product on hand to cover current shipping levels for one to two months. The same number reported that their current receipts were equal to current shipments, and that their inventories were neither too high nor too low compared with demand.

More than 46 percent of respondents said that they aim to maintain inventory levels over the next six months, while an equal number said they would lower their inventory levels. Some 46 percent said that incoming orders for the next three months were likely to fall, while nearly 31 percent said they likely would stay the same.

Three-quarters of survey respondents said they would not change their current offshore buying patterns over the next six months. However, some 46 percent reported that foreign mill offering prices were below domestic levels, and 15.4 percent said they were "well below" domestic levels.

"We think deteriorating fundamentals, along with a questionable economy—which is now being exacerbated by political uncertainty as the November election nears—has led to indecisiveness and weaker outlooks among businesses," Michelle Applebaum, managing partner at Chicago-based Steel Market Intelligence, said in a research note.

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