U.S. manufacturers stare at steel shortages, soaring prices


An aerospace parts maker in California is struggling to procure cold-rolled steel, while an auto and appliance parts manufacturer in Indiana is unable to secure additional supplies of hot-rolled steel from mills.

Both companies and more are getting hit by a fresh round of disruption in the U.S. steel industry. Steel is in short supply in the United States and prices are surging. Unfilled orders for steel in the last quarter were at the highest level in five years, while inventories were near a three-and-a-half-year low, according to data from the Census Bureau.

The benchmark price for hot-rolled steel hit $1,176 a tonne this month, its highest level in at least 13 years.

Soaring prices are driving up costs and squeezing profits at steel-consuming manufacturers, provoking a new round of calls to end former President Donald Trump’s steel tariffs.

“Our members have been reporting that they have never seen such chaos in the steel market,” said Paul Nathanson, executive director at Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users. The group, which represents more than 30,000 companies in the manufacturing sector and downstream supply chains, this month asked President Joe Biden to terminate Mr. Trump’s metal tariffs.

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