The steel exchange traded fund (ETF) jumped 3.7% yesterday as steel supply continues to be outpaced by demand.

But now steel may have hit a breaking point: it’s become so expensive that major construction projects around the world, investments in shipbuilding and oil-and-gas exploration are slowing down or halting altogether. Some countries are hoarding steel, and others are cutting import taxes to attract more of it.

All over the world, major projects have begun to feel the pinch, reports Robert Guy Matthews for the Wall Street Journal. And it might lead to a backlash against steelmakers.

In Turkey, one construction association said it will start a 15-day strike to pressure steelmakers to cut prices. In New Delhi, India, a bridge project has been put on hold. Housing for the poor has been postponed. In Venezuela, the largest steelmaker is limiting exports.

While the appetite for steel is still voracious and shows no signs of slowing, the CEO of ArcelorMittal (MT.AS) says that steelmakers are worried that the high prices will eventually impact demand, so the industry is taking steps to cut some costs. Some of the moves include layoffs and acquiring mines.

Since December, steel prices are up between 40% and 50%. Year-to-date, the Market Vectors Steel (SLX) is up 28.7%. ArcelorMittal is 14.1% of the fund.


The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.