MetalMiner’s monthly Automotive MMI® has hit some bumps in the road – but the wheels haven’t quite fallen off yet.
Our automotive metals price index fell to 85 in March, a decrease of 2.3% from 87 in February. While automotive continues to be one of our stronger metal sectors, particularly aluminum and palladium used in automotive applications, it’s being dragged down by crude oil and other commodities that are keeping prices low.
Despite a relatively healthy US automotive industry and strong results from manufacturers of original equipment (OEMs), prices are not rising for automotive raw materials such as steel and copper. Copper prices are a big component of our Automotive MMI® and their free-fall continues (even though the 3-month LME copper price inched up a bit this month). General Motors recently cut production of some of its more popular models as the cars are sitting on dealer lots awaiting buyers despite low prices and abundant supply of materials.
Thanks to the war in Ukraine and economic sanctions, Russia’s steel costs are now the lowest in the world and, as with gold before it, Russian steelmakers such as Severstal and Novolipetsk Steel are taking advantage of the situation by exporting heavily and getting paid in dollars and euros for the same steel – whose production is paid for by rubles that are worth at least 50% less.
US HRC and HDG both lost significant price territory to US steel imports this month, as US producers cut prices in an attempt to compete with the imports. According to recent figures released by the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), US steel imports rose 33% in January compared with the year before, reaching 3.85 million tons, compared with 2.9 million tons a year earlier, as reported by the WSJ. “The jump in imports comes as oil and gas drillers cancel orders for steel pipe, underscoring the resilience of overall U.S. demand compared with other markets,” according to the Journal. The continuing decline in the price of iron ore is also a factor in falling steel prices.