Nucor Beats Estimates, Reports Strong First Half as AK Steel and Steel Dynamics Expand

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US steelmaker Nucor reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings on Thursday as shipments and average prices increased from a year earlier.

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Charlotte, NC-based Nucor said performance improved at its steel mills compared with the first quarter, especially at sheet and bar mills.

Nucor’s consolidated net sales increased 4% to $5.29 billion in the second quarter of 2014 compared with $5.11 billion in the first quarter of 2014 and increased 13% compared with $4.67 billion in the second quarter of 2013. Average sales price per ton increased 1% over the first quarter of 2014 and increased 4% over the second quarter of 2013. Total tons shipped to outside customers were 6,370,000 tons in the second quarter of 2014, a 3% increase over the first quarter of 2014 and an increase of 9% over the second quarter of 2013. Total second quarter steel mill shipments increased 1% over the first quarter of 2014 and 9% over the second quarter of 2013. Second quarter downstream steel products shipments to outside customers increased 17% over the first quarter of 2014 and increased 11% over the second quarter of 2013.

While prices were generally flat for the week, Nucor’s and ATI’s positive earnings show that US steelmakers have found ways to make a healthy profit despite the continued flatness of steel prices. OAO Severstal selling its North American assets to AK Steel and Steel Dynamics also showed, this week, that US steelmakers are looking to expand and not just sitting back and relying on current assets.

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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 ($135.41) and a low price of CNY 830.00 ($133.79) per dry metric ton. Chinese HRC remained essentially flat from the previous week at CNY 3,380 ($544.85) per metric ton. Chinese coking coal traded sideways last week, hovering around CNY 1,390 ($224.07) per metric ton. Closing at CNY 3,480 ($560.97) per metric ton, Chinese slab remained unchanged for the week.

On the LME, the 3-month price of steel billet remained steady from the previous week at $425.00 per metric ton. At $420.00 per metric ton, the steel billet cash price remained essentially flat on the LME.

Korean steel prices were flat for the week. At KRW 255,000 ($248.85) per metric ton, the week finished with no movement for Korean steel scrap. Closing at KRW 635,000 ($619.69) per metric ton, Korean pig iron remained unchanged for the week.

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