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hot rolled steel

niteenrk/Adobe Stock

Before we head into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the week that was and some of the metals storylines here on MetalMiner, which this week includes coverage of steel capacity utilization, the latest OPEC ministerial meeting and much more.

Overall, most base metals seem to be retracing from a late February peak. LME copper and aluminum have both been declining since late February.

The tin price’s dive has been more stark. LME three-month tin has dropped over 13% since Feb. 25. However, in the long term, the outlook for tin remains promising, particularly given its application in electronics.

The MetalMiner team will be presenting a commodity forecast for copper, aluminum, stainless and carbon steel on Wednesday, March 24, at 10:00 a.m. CDT: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_6J8wAyYySfihVk3ZUH9yMA. 

Week of March 1-5 (steel capacity, oil prices and more)

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oil barrels featuring flags of OPEC nations

Maksym Yemelyanov/Adobe Stock

This morning in metals news: ministers of oil-producing countries agreed this week to by and large maintain March output levels in April; Texas and Florida posted gains in small-scale solar capacity last year; and China’s steel imports surged in 2020.

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OPEC ministers agree on output levels for April

While still not meeting in person, energy ministers of oil-producing nations met virtually Thursday for the 14th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting.

The members agreed to largely maintain oil production levels from March to April.

However, the members agreed to allow production increases for Russia and Kazakhstan. Russia will be able to increase output by 150,000 barrels per day, while Kazakhstan will increase output by 20,000 barrels per day.

Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, previously announced a two-month output reduction of 1 million barrels per day as of Feb. 1. The kingdom agreed to extend that reduction into April.

“The Ministers also commended Saudi Arabia for the extension of the additional voluntary adjustments of 1 mb/d for the month of April 2021, exemplifying its leadership, and demonstrating its flexible and pre-emptive approach,” OPEC ministers said in an official statement.

Oil prices have shown strength so far in 2021. After falling below $25 per barrel last spring, the Brent crude price moved above $66 per barrel this week.

Meanwhile, the WTI crude oil futures price closed Thursday at $61.28 per barrel. The price is up by  $14.10 per barrel from a year ago, per the Energy Information Administration.

Texas, Florida add solar capacity

California leads the US in small-scale solar capacity, but other states are ramping up.

Texas and Florida, in particular, were among the top risers in 2020, the Energy Information Administration reported.

The US added 4.5 GW of small-scale solar capacity in 2020, of which California accounted for 31%. Texas added 422 MW, while Florida added 282 MW.

“State incentives, strong solar resources, and policy changes are largely driving these gains,” the EIA said.

China steel imports surged in 2020

As Beijing aimed to pull China out of the economic doldrums stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s steel imports surged by 150% in 2020, Nikkei Asia reported.

Citing customs data, China’s steel imports reached 38.56 million tons last year, the news source reported.

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