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Charter Steel's 2024 Market Outlook

September 5, 2023

vehicles parking lot

As your strategic partner, Charter Steel is proud to be at the forefront of emerging business and economic trends relative to the steel industry. We’re sharing our outlook for 2024, based on industry trends and what we are hearing from the market. 

We expect the overall economic environment to be strong next year, driven by robust employment and consumer demand. Elevated interest rates will likely continue to weigh on the industrial sector and although inflation has eased recently, it is expected to remain elevated—pushing up labor and material costs. As we move into 2024, construction-based indicators such as housing starts and private construction show signs of recovery.

Auto Market: Light Vehicle Production

We continue to see strength in the U.S. light vehicle market with increased vehicle sales. While U.S. light vehicle inventory is notably higher than the same period last year, inventory remains significantly lower than pre-pandemic numbers. Fleet vehicle sales continue to rise, and vehicle offerings are changing to more moderately priced vehicles—appealing to the mass market. North America light vehicle production is currently forecasted to increase in 2024 and again in 2025 and 2026, leading to a strong light vehicle outlook well into the foreseeable future.

• 2.5% year over year growth helps support the demand for steel, fasteners and suspension springs 

• Inflation continues to drive input costs while the supply chain issues that disrupted production have diminished

• Monitoring and preparing for a potential United Auto Workers (UAW) strike; we are forecasting potential demand fluctuations which may constrain the market at times

Cold Headed Steel Market

As this market remains strong, melting, rolling and processing operations for cold headed steel are at high demand, especially with fewer producers.

• Processing demand is expected to remain robust, driven by strong automotive production
• Tightening capacity: recently idled steelmaking operations and projected maintenance outages expected to affect 2024 capacity
• Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and other manufacturers continue to de-risk the supply chain through reshoring

Our Continuous Investments

At Charter Steel, we care deeply about doing what is best for our customers and for each other. As part of The Will To Grow, our decisions are guided by our mission, vision and values—enabling us to reinvest in our people, communities, environment and future.

• Continue to invest in sustainable practices (like electric arc furnaces) so quality steel is made cleaner, with less waste and pollution, which impacts our carbon reduction goal of 25% by 2030
• Solar field in Saukville, WI to come online in 2024, which will help reduce our carbon footprint by generating an estimated 27 million kWh of electricity per year
• Investing and growing our special bar quality (SBQ) line and adding capabilities with our new non-destructive testing facility in Cleveland, OH
• Ongoing safety improvements such as our SafeAlign Program, a proactive coaching approach to identifying and controlling potential hazardous exposures, to help keep employees safe
• Aligning and planning with customers to manage through proactive investment in plant upgrades