The manufacturing sector continues to improve, and the steel industry in particular has been buoyed by strong auto sales, Berlin Metals president Roy Berlin said.
Auto sales reached 16.1 million a year in the United States in 2007, just before the downturn. They are on a pace to reach a new post-recession high of 15.6 million this year, Bloomberg News estimates.
"Automotive is like a canary in the coal mine, and indicative of the overall health of the economy," Berlin said. "When auto sales are strong, it shows consumers feel confidence."
Another area where business is strong is oil and gas tubes, because of all the shale extraction that is now taking place in North America. That boom has lowered natural gas prices and created more demand for steel, leading to more investment in new mills and further contributing to the ongoing problem with overcapacity, Berlin said.