Automotive

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.

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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.

Manufacturers financing domestic and international commercial transactions are concerned with mitigating risk, and rightfully so. In the B2B e-commerce world, supplier financing off an approved invoice is one way to achieve this goal, but is it really the optimal solution? Could the answer lie in the new networks that are managing supplier data and document integration? A […]

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General Motors is trimming production at two of its car plants amid mounting dealer inventories, an effort to reduce stocks of the Chevrolet Sonic and Camaro, Buick Regal and other models.

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This week, GM scheduled downtime for March 9-13 at its Orion Assembly plant in suburban Detroit, where the Sonic and Buick Verano small cars are made, to adjust supply to demand, a plant worker and another person with knowledge of the schedule told the Automotive News.

The Orion plant also was idle last week and previously had scheduled a down week for April 6-10, also to trim excess inventory. Meanwhile, the “flex” line at GM’s Oshawa, Ontario, plant will be idled April 13-17, cutting production of the Camaro sports car, Regal sedan, Cadillac XTS sedan and Chevy Impala, one of the sources told the Automotive News.

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It is one of the neglected metals sectors in India. The metals recycling business suffers from government apathy and to some extent, even a lack of awareness on part of the various participants within the metals ecosystem. How else can one explain that India’s recycling rate is just about 25%, putting it at the bottom of the global list of recycling nations. In the US metals are recycled at a rate of 90%.

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Slowly, though, realization is creeping in that recycling metal scrap is a must in the modern world since the nation’s carbon footprint reduction has become imperative.

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Novelis Inc., a subsidiary of Aditya Birla Group's Hindalco Industries, plans to grow its auto and specialty aluminum businesses to a quarter each of its overall shipment size, closing down its foil and other businesses.

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Auto and specialty aluminum are currently 9% and 12%, respectively, of their overall shipments. The foil and other businesses are second largest segment of its shipments (about 17%) after its beverage cans business (62%).

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In the wake of life-threatening defects that led to massive recalls in the automotive industry, Congress passed the TREAD Act, requiring automakers to alert the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of any data related to incidents with their products. Not doing so could result in criminal prosecution, which only further adds to the need for an […]

This month our base metals took a big tumble. Some industrial metal prices that faltered in January fell of a steeper cliff.

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The Copper MMI®, Raw Steels MMI® and Construction MMI® all recorded drops of more than 5% and only our Global Precious Metals MMI® and Rare Earths MMI® were able to post price increases this month as low oil prices continued to drag down other commodities.

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Several base metals are reaching the point where they’ll either start new trends or fall even further as we speak. Nickel, lead, aluminum and tin are all right there and copper, well, it’s gone so far past its sell-by date even the spoiled milk is looking down at it.

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In light of the bearish environment around our metals these days, we released several reports this week on how to tighten your corporate belt and achieve the cost certainty that will make your business run better. Executive Editor Lisa Reisman researched how trade automation can lock in prices and keep you from having to renegotiate international trades at the dock or the railway station.

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This week Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine AG talked to the media for the first time about its project to fuse aluminum with steel for automotive use. Voestalpine also said low oil prices will not hinder its attempts to enter the US automotive market.

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In platinum Glencore officially divested its interest in platinum/palladium miner Lonmin Plc by selling it to its investors.

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As I write this, the Times is running a multi-part series on the shell companies (and foreign, often shady, power brokers behind them, including Vedanta’s Anil Agarwal) involved in huge real estate deals in Manhattan’s Time Warner Center, titled “Towers of Secrecy.” These buyers come from places as far flung as Malaysia, Colombia, Russia and China.

See why our Auto MMI® is a leading indicator: download the Monthly MMI® Report.

But that’s no surprise to us, as China buying up US assets in the form of manufacturing companies has been going on for years.

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