Company News

New metal technologies play a key role in all we do here at MetalCrawler and none could be more promising than Tesla Motors‘ line of batteries for the home. The Chinese yuan may also be on the cusp of being declared not manipulated by the International Monetary Fund.

Tesla Home Batteries

The idea is that homes and businesses powered by solar panels could harvest and store energy during the day that could be used to run homes at night, or be used as a backup during a power outage.

Why Manufacturers Need to Ditch Purchase Price Variance

Although the exact technology involved in the battery, called Powerwall, is a closely guarded Tesla secret, it probably isn’t based on revolutionary concepts, Jordi Cabana, a chemistry professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago told Live Science. Cabana studies new battery materials and said the batteries look as if they are based on the same lithium-ion batteries in Tesla’s cars.

“Just looking at the specs that they publicize, it doesn’t look very different — in terms of the cost — to what they’re putting in their cars,” Cabana said.

The company is also planning to unveil a business-based battery-storage system, called the Powerpack, though the price for that system has not been released yet. Tesla is already taking orders for its residential system, but the products won’t ship until late summer, company representatives said at the news conference.

IMF Close to Calling Chinese Yuan ‘Not Manipulated’

In what would be a blow to US manufacturers, particularly steelmakers, the International Monetary Fund is close to declaring China’s yuan fairly valued for the first time in more than a decade, according to the Wall Street Journal, a milestone in the country’s efforts to open its economy that would blunt US criticism of Beijing’s currency policy.

The fund’s reassessment of the yuan—set to be made official in IMF reports on China’s economy due out in the coming months—follows years of IMF censure of Beijing’s management of the currency.

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MetalCrawler is covering the labor issues beat today and they might affect your metal purchases.

Century Hints at Lockout

Century Aluminum will invoke a lockout of unionized workers at its Hawesville, Ky., smelter starting on May 11 if the union does not approve a final offer on a labor deal, according to a letter posted on Century’s website on Friday.

Pool 4 Tool’s Automotive SRM Summit

United Steelworkers Local 9423 is set to vote on the proposed contract today, according to a post on the union website. If workers go on strike, it would be the first industrial action at a US aluminum smelter in more than a decade.

Train Drivers Strike in Germany

A seven-day strike by German train drivers could cost the German economy €500 million ($556.70 million), Germany’s DIHK Chambers of Commerce said on Monday.

The strike, the eighth in a dispute between the GDL train drivers union and state-owned Deutsche Bahn over work conditions, began today for freight trains and will be extended to passenger trains from Tuesday.

BP Refinery Strike Could Soon End

Workers and management at BP have reached a tentative agreement that would end a months-long strike at the multinational’s refinery in Whiting, Ind.

The United Steel Workers employees must still ratify the contract, and officials expect a vote to occur in the next few days.

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This week, our metals markets fell lower as they were buffeted by seemingly ever-increasing exports of steel, aluminum and other products from China.

Why Manufacturers Need to Ditch Purchase Price Variance

Even though China’s economic growth has been falling, its government still gives producers strong incentives to produce steel and aluminum that eventually ends up exported elsewhere. My colleague Stuart Burns rightfully points out that if Chinese mills are “supported by plunging raw material costs and extensive local state support, gifting them a break-even price around the lowest in the world, then the intent to simply ‘dump’ metal into export markets has few barriers.”

Can Debt Fuel Long-Term Growth?

But what’s the eventual result of state support? In China or anywhere else? Can government debt actually lift these economies back into growth mode? Stuart was there again, with an assist from the Daily Telegraph, postulating that sluggish growth and low inflation is the new normal and “advanced economies — and perhaps emerging ones, too — seem to have run out of productivity-enhancing growth and, therefore, need constant infusions of financially destabilizing debt to keep them going.”

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Construction spending falling again was the big news in today’s MetalCrawler report. The race for world’s largest steelmaker by market value heated up, too.

Construction Spending Falls

Outlays for US construction projects fell 0.6% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $967 billion, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

Why Manufacturers Need to Ditch Purchase Price Variance

Economists polled by MarketWatch expected a drop of 0.5%, compared with an originally reported decrease of 0.1% in February. On Friday, the government revised February’s result to show almost no change. Looking at private outlays in March, spending fell 1.6% for residential projects, and rose 1% for nonresidential projects. For overall public construction projects, spending fell 1.5%.

Baosteel Keeps Growing

Baoshan Iron & Steel Co., spurred by China’s stock-market rally and growing car market, is poised to overtake Japan’s Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. as the world’s largest steelmaker by market value.

Baosteel, supplier of half of China’s automotive steel, had a market capitalization of $23.8 billion to Nippon Steel’s $25 billion on Thursday. The spread on Tuesday was only $52 million. Also tracked in the attached chart is South Korea’s Posco, which wrestled with the Japanese steelmaker for the crown from 2013 until last year.

Shares of Shanghai-based Baosteel more than doubled in local-currency terms since Oct. 30 as the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rallied 86% Nippon Steel’s stock rose 14% and Posco fell 18% in the same period.

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The Wall Street Journal reported that a key component of the Apple Watch made by one of two suppliers was found to be defective, prompting Apple Inc. to limit the availability of the highly anticipated new product, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why Manufacturers Need to Ditch Purchase Price Variance

The part is the watch’s “taptic engine,” designed by Apple to produce the sensation of being tapped on the wrist. After mass production began in February, reliability tests revealed that some taptic engines supplied by AAC Technologies Holdings Inc., of Shenzhen, China, started to break down over time, the people familiar with the matter told the WSJ.

No Recall

Apple does not plan a recall, as there is no indication that any defective watches shipped to customers.

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In part one of this series of posts we talked about what exponential technologies are and why we should keep and eye on them and be flexible, as they will completely change industries before most even notice.

Pool 4 Tool’s Automotive SRM Summit

Before jumping into each exponential technology, in this post we’ll analyze three forces that are helping to speed up their growth:

The Do-It-Yourself Revolution

There have always been entrepreneurs out there. However, new breakthrough technologies are pushing a new breed of innovators, now more than ever, to solve problems that only big companies and governments were able to solve before. These innovators have free and instant access to information and the the capability to mass-share their progress. This allows an individual or a small group of people to create a new market and to disrupt an existing one within a matter years, sometimes even months.

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Today’s MetalCrawler brings you all the steel news fit to digitally print.

How Big Chinese Mills are Making Money

Plunging iron ore prices are providing a lifeline to some of China’s biggest steel mills and are raising the prospect of a rising tide of exports and increased friction with the European Union, US, India and other export destinations.

Pool 4 Tool’s Automotive SRM Summit

Even as China’s domestic steel demand shrinks and the industry battles chronic overcapacity, lower iron ore prices have helped many large mills post better earnings in 2014 than a year earlier, supported by record exports. Reuters reports that the latest batch of Chinese steel earnings shows just three of 18 big Chinese mills to report so far suffered losses in 2014, down from five the year before. Six of the 13 profit-making mills in 2013 increased profits last year.

Big Chinese mills are able to ship in cheaper seaborne ore direct to their coastal steelmaking operations, selling to customers nearby or shipping steel overseas.

Steel Dynamics Misses

Steel Dynamics Inc. recently reported first-quarter net earnings of $30.8 million or $0.13 per share compared with $38.6 million or $0.17 per share last year.

Excluding items, adjusted earnings for the quarter were $0.17 per share . Revenues for the quarter were $2.05 billion compared with $1.83 billion in the prior year. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters estimated earnings of $0.15 per share on revenues of $2.15 billion for the quarter.

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In the “news-that-may-not-be-news-to-you” department, we wanted to keep you posted on our site’s mobile-friendly interface. This indeed may not be news to you if you’ve navigated over to MetalMiner using your iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, Microsoft Surface, Kindle Fire or [insert highfalutin’ smartphone or tablet here], as MM has been mobile-friendly for quite a while now. However, […]

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This week, the UK’s Metalysis and GKN Aerospace announced a bold, new process that’s a significant step forward in the adoption of 3D printing/additive manufacturing for aerospace. The advance will allow users to essentially sinter titanium from rutile powder, a process that previously could be accomplished with only lighter metals.

Free Webinar: MetalMiner’s Q2 and Q3 2015 Forecasts

The cost of the powder in 3D parts makes up roughly 50% of the final cost so a significant reduction in powder costs could be a major spur to the adoption of such technology in more applications and in industries beyond aerospace and medical devices, such as automotive.

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It’s here! At 9 a.m. CT/10 a.m. ET today (register here, now) Lisa Reisman of MetalMiner and Ian Krol of Bolero (along with MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns and David Gustin of Trade Financing Matters) are about to rock your world on the following: – A 3- and 6-month forecast for major metals including: steel, aluminum, copper and […]

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