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No bounce soon in US steel market; 'crapshoot' in 2020: Nucor CEO

Monterrey, Mexico — The steel market in the US won't see much of a pickup the remainder of this year, and next year is too early to call given political uncertainty, according to Nucor Chairman and CEO John Ferriola.

"The rest of this year will be pretty flat," he said during an interview ahead of the World Steel Association general assembly. "Going into next year, it's really a crapshoot."

The 2020 presidential election has brought political uncertainty.

"So I don't know how it's going to play out next year," Ferriola said.

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The outgoing Nucor CEO, who announced his retirement effective December 31, said he feels good about the overall long-term aspects of steel demand in the US.

"Manufacturing is coming back," he said. "My biggest concern is that we have what I call a media-induced recession ... talking ourselves into bad news."

From Nucor's vantage point, especially its downstream businesses like Harris and Vulcraft as of the end of Q2, Ferriola said, "Pricing has slipped, but demand is good."

The S&P Global Platts price assessment for US-made hot-rolled coil steel closed Friday at $505/st, ex-works Indiana, down nearly $100 from the recent high of $600.50/st August 15.

The World Steel Association's short-range outlook for 2020 sees finished steel demand growth for North America of 0.8% to 142.6 million mt over 2019's projected 141.5 million mt.

-- Joe Innace, joseph.innace@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Bill Montgomery, newsdesk@spglobal.com

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