Steel Falls This Week as Import Duties, Car Body Issues Unresolved

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The cash price of steel billet fell 1.3 percent on the LME to $390.00 per metric ton after rising 1.3 percent the week before. Also on the LME, the 3-month price of steel billet traded sideways last week, hovering around $400.00 per metric ton.

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The steel market has been tossed and turned by several different pricing storms this week. Reuters reported recently that executives and union leaders have asked the Department of Commerce to slap duties on cheap imports of steel products from South Korea and Turkey. Steel industry executives, unions and pro-steel lawmakers made the request on Tuesday.

Automotive industry procurers continue to struggle with how much steel to order for next model-year production, that will have to conform to new federal CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards. Aluminum is vying to replace steel in car and truck bodies but how much or even if it will work is still very much up for debate.

Finally, several US steelmakers created minimum pricing levels last week as they attempt to compete with Chinese and Indian competitors.

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Chinese steel prices were flat for the week. The price of iron ore 58% fines from India hit a high price of CNY 840.00 ($135.40) and a low price of CNY 830.00 ($133.79) per dry metric ton. Following a steady week, prices for Chinese HRC closed flat at CNY 3,360 ($541.60) per metric ton. Chinese coking coal remained essentially flat from the previous week at CNY 1,390 ($224.05) per metric ton. Chinese slab prices held steady from the previous week at CNY 3,480 ($560.94) per metric ton.

Korean steel prices were flat for the week. Prices for Korean steel scrap remained constant, closing the week at KRW 305,000 ($285.34) per metric ton. At KRW 635,000 ($595.63) per metric ton, the price of Korean pig iron did not change since the previous week.

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