Hot-Rolled Steel Prices Hit Record As Infrastructure Deal Nears 

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021 - 02:39 PM

Future prices for hot-rolled steel, commonly used in producing frames for trucks and heavy machinery, hit a record high Monday on the prospects of an infrastructure deal nears. 

July Nymex Midwest Domestic Hot-Rolled Coil Steel Futures hit a record high of $1,801 Monday, rising nearly 1%, after more than doubling from the virus pandemic low in 1Q20. 

Hot rolled steel is used in agriculture and heavy machinery equipment because of its high strength and formability. With the Biden team in damage control last weekend, admitting they will sign the roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure, prices have been on a tear. Base metal prices, such as copper, iron ore, and other metals, have also surged, as bets that infrastructure spending to revamp and expand railroads, highways, and bridges will boost demand. 

Chief Investment Officer Americas at UBS Global Wealth Management said the total amount of infrastructure spending could be greater than the bipartisan compromise. 

"This is a scenario that we do not think markets are fully pricing for yet, and thus could provide a tailwind for the reflation trade if the momentum for a two-bill track builds," Marcelli said. 

S&P Global Platts noted the continued tightness throughout the steel supply chain in the US and elsewhere could result in higher prices if infrastructure spending is passed. 

With the infrastructure deal risking to fuel more persistent inflation, the likes of former Clinton Treasury Secretary and erstwhile Harvard President Larry Summers, fellow Democrats, are warning the firehose of COVID-inspired fiscal and monetary stimulus would likely cause runaway inflation.

More on this is BofA chief equity strategist Savita Subramanian who summarized the current state of affairs as follows: "On an absolute basis, [inflation] mentions skyrocketed to near-record highs from 2011, pointing to at the very least, "transitory" hyper-inflation ahead."

Also, BofA Chief Investment Strategist Michael Hartnett told clients that inflation is far from transitory and may last up to four years. 

However, the curve for hot rolled steel futures is sloping downwards and suggests that the market is looking for weakness heading into later summer, early fall. 

So is the next move in hot rolled steel futures a classic blowoff commodity top, but just like lumber, remain at a premium versus pre-COVID prices?