Don't look for lasting relief from high steel prices through the end of the year. Factors that drove prices higher so suddenly in the first quarter, including insatiable demand from China, continuing growth in the U.S. economy and shortages of scrap and other feed stocks, will continue to drive the market.
Many distributors have new skylights and better ventilation this spring, thanks to the holes blown in their roofs by rising steel prices. Few have had time to gaze at passing clouds, though, dealing with the flood of price-increase and surcharge announcements from suppliers. Other key issues: How to manage inventory investments, availability concerns, customer credit issues and the delicate question of how to pass along the pain.