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Cheap imports and falling demand from major consumers such as China have led to a third consecutive week of losses for steel billet.

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Imports rose 33% in January and a strong US dollar and weak Russian ruble mean the trend will continue.

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Severstal and Novolipetsk Steel are paying wages and other costs, including transportation, in devalued rubles while earning dollars or euros for exported steel. That’s allowing them to undercut rivals like ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, while maintaining profitability.

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“This is fantastic time for the Russian steel industry,” Kirill Chuyko, head of equity research as BCS Financial Group told Bloomberg News. “Most of the companies are enjoying the best profitability since the 2007 and 2008 pre-crisis commodity boom due to the ruble’s decline.”

Even before the ruble’s 47% decline last year, the industry was in good health. Output in 2014 reached the highest since the global financial crisis as demand at home was high and started to recover in European export markets. Russia’s steelmakers have invested billions in upgrading Soviet-era mills, and the nation produces more than any other country in Europe, one of its main export markets.

Now, the ruble’s slide has cut costs for Russian mills by almost half in dollar terms. Making hot rolled coil, a benchmark product, now costs $244 to $250 a metric ton in Russia compared with $405 per ton in Brazil and $434 per ton in China, according to CRU Group, an industry consultant.

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US steelmakers slashed prices in February to cope with a flood of steel imports bolstered by the strong dollar, a move that will pressure their profit margins and reduce costs for buyers of steel, including automakers.

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Imports rose 33% in January compared with the year before, according to figures released Wednesday by the American Iron and Steel Institute, reaching 3.85 million tons, compared with 2.9 million tons a year earlier. The jump in imports comes as oil and gas drillers cancel orders for steel pipe, underscoring the resilience of overall US demand compared with other markets.

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A federal judge last week dismissed Nucor‘s lawsuit against Big River Steel, saying it couldn’t use the court system to bypass Arkansas state regulators who had already given the rival permission to build a new mill in Osceola, Ark.

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US District Judge Leon Holmes ruled the lawsuit by Nucor seeking to halt construction of the Big River Steel mill is not authorized under the citizen lawsuit provision of the federal Clean Air Act. He said his court has no jurisdiction over the case.

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U.S. Steel said yesterday that it plans to close its Gary Works coke plant in Gary, Ind., in May, displacing about 300 workers. It will mark the end of a coke-making era at the steel plant that once operated several coke batteries.

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U.S. Steel spokeswoman Courtney Boone said the company notified United Steelworkers of America officials on Wednesday of the permanent shutdown. She said it was a strategic decision based on market conditions and the company’s long-term coke strategy.

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China Steel Corp. (CSC), China’s only integrated steelmaker, announced bigger price cuts of 5.2% on average for its products in April and May, taking its cue from the persistent downward spiral of global steel prices as decelerating economic recovery and oversupply curtail demand.

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The price reduction is the steepest over the past six months, according to the information posted on the company’s website.

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Large volumes of steel imports, together with collapsing oil prices, led to cuts in US domestic steel production this week.

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Steel scrap was flat for the week although there’s little optimism that its big fall will be reversed soon. Morningstar also joined other analysts in predicting another difficult year for steel prices.

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Large volumes of steel imports, together with collapsing oil prices, have led to cuts in US domestic steel production. However, these have not been sufficient to stem the continual, month-on-month, decline in flat product transaction values.

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Buyers are reluctant to make large purchases as figures trend downwards, Commodities Now reports. The volumes of unsold foreign material at the docks are climbing. Some of this steel is now priced above current domestic levels as local steelmakers have responded to the import threat.

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Big drops in steel prices and lower demand for oil and gas are leading Worthington Industries Inc. to warn of quarterly earnings “significantly below” last year’s.

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The Columbus, Ohio-based metal processor said steel prices have dropped more than $100 a ton since mid-December. That, coupled with a major softening of demand in agriculture and oil and gas, factor in the $3.4 billion company’s announcement.

The day’s biggest mover was the steel billet 3-month price which dropped by 7.5% on Monday, February 23 to close at $370.00 per metric ton on the LME

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With US GDP, construction spending, and industrial activity all on the upswing, one might think that 2015 is shaping up to be a banner year for the steel sector. But with weak crude prices undercutting demand from the energy sector and a wave of imports washing ashore, that’s unlikely to be the case. Morningstar‘s Andrew Lane expects 2015 to mark a cyclical trough as spot prices fall and capacity utilization remains unfavorable.

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The steel billet cash price saw the biggest decline of the day, dropping 3.6% on the LME to close at $400.00 per metric ton on Friday, February 20. The steel billet 3-month price saw a 1.2% decline on the LME to $400.00 per metric ton.

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