US Steel Corp. Q1 Outlook Brighter, As LME Billet, Futures Prices Fall

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US Steel Corp. outlined its earnings earlier this week, while providing a few nuggets on the steel company’s outlook for Q1 2013.

Some takeaways:

  • According to company spokesmen, steel buyers are continuing to exhibit caution early in this year, and they suggest that early spot demand is healthy; average spot prices will be higher than in the fourth quarter, but this will take time
  • USS expects raw material costs — coking coal, etc. — to be lower for their flat-rolled steel operations in the upcoming year. Coal costs should, on average, come out to be 20% less over the course of the year compared to 2012

  • In terms of a flat-rolled market demand outlook: Automotive – 2012 NAFTA vehicle production was up 18% year over year; 15.5 to 15.7 million units are projected to be produced in 2013. Appliances – not as good (Q4 appliance unit shipments down 1% versus 2011; full year shipments 2% lower in 2012; producers have been rather mum on 2013 outlook, although it’s been reported that Whirlpool, for one, sees “an improving U.S. housing market and sales growth opportunities in developing overseas markets [as] providing momentum for a recovery.” Construction – US residential market, i.e. housing starts, looking up in 2013

The biggest mover on the weekly Raw Steels MMI® was the steel billet cash price, which saw a 7.8 percent decline on the LME to $260.00 per metric ton. This comes on the heels of a 0.7 percent increase the week before.

The 3-month price of steel billet fell to $265.00 per metric ton on the LME, a 7.0 percent change from the prior week.

For the third week in a row, the spot price of the US HRC futures contract dropped, falling 1.4 percent to $624.00 per short ton. The 3-month price of the US HRC futures contract rose 0.5 percent to $648.00 per short ton after falling 0.8 percent during the previous week.

The week finished with no movement for US shredded scrap.

today's metal prices - MetalMiner IndXChinese steel prices were mixed for the week. The high and low price of iron ore 58% fines from India were down just slightly. The price of Chinese slab rose 1 percent after falling 0.5 percent during the previous week.

Closing out the third week of rising prices, the price of Chinese HRC also increased by 1 percent. Chinese coking coal traded sideways last week.

Korean steel prices were mixed for the week. The price of Korean steel scrap fell 4.1 percent after rising 4.3 percent the week before. Prices for Korean pig iron remained constant, however.

The Raw Steels MMI® collects and weights 13 global steel and raw material price points to provide a unique view into global steel price trends. For more information on the Raw Steels MMI®, how it’s calculated or how your company can use the index, please drop us a note at: info (at) agmetalminer (dot) com.