Steel buyers’ expectations of incoming orders, backlogs, general economic activity and even their own business plans improved in January compared with December, an industry survey shows.
Members of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Steel Buyers Forum stocked up on steel last month, with one-third now reporting they have two to three months’ supply on hand. That compares with no respondents who reported holding 90 days of material in December.
At the same time, none said they planned to increase stocks in the next six months, compared with 8.3 percent who said they planned to buy more when surveyed the previous month.
Nearly 92 percent of survey respondents said they expect incoming orders and backlogs to stay flat or rise over the next three months, a strong increase from the 75 percent who offered the same forecast in December.
All respondents reported having full employment, and a greater number (58.3 percent vs. 41.7 percent in December) said they’re hiring. In addition, those planning to build or buy new manufacturing space within in the next year rose by 8.4 percentage points month over month, the survey shows.