HDG Prices Take a Hit, as Automotive MMI Drops

Here’s What Happened

  • The Automotive MMI, our sub-index of industrial metals and materials used by the automotive sector, dropped by one point for a May reading of 87, a 1.1% drop.
  • This is the third straight month of declines for this index. Back in February 2017, the Automotive MMI hit 92 — its highest level since November 2014. But now, flagging HDG steel, copper and shredded scrap prices are dragging on the rest of the index.

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What’s Going On in the Background?

  • The U.S. auto market is officially slowing. Car sales dropped 4.7% to 1.43 million units, according to Autodata Corp. That is a bigger drop than forecasted by both Edmunds and Kelly Blue Book, according to several news outlets.
  • Meanwhile in China, the first quarter of 2017 saw a 7% overall increase in car sales. As we reported in our Monthly Metal Buying Outlook (free trial here), that was the strongest showing since 2014. The Chinese government has extended tax cuts for small vehicles, which should keep citizens buying cars through the year.

What Metal Buyers Should Look Out For

  • Many factors coming down the line — including increased construction projects in China — portend longer-term support for key automotive constituent metals such as HDG steel.
  • Even though HDG has slipped a bit this month, prices for that metal form in China could see room for improvement.

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Key Price Movers and Shakers

  • Our U.S. HDG price fell 2.3% between April and May, down to $838/short ton.
  • The 5052 coil premium over 1050 aluminum in Korea held pat for the month.
  • While LME copper and U.S. shredded scrap prices dropped, the U.S. palladium price actually increased.

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