This Morning in Metals: Copper Ticks Up, the State of the Union and Nippon Results

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This morning in metals news, copper rises for third straight session, President Donald Trump’s State of the Union addresses China, NAFTA and more, and Japan’s Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. reported its quarterly earnings.

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Copper Picks Up

According to Reuters, the copper price rose for the third straight session Wednesday.

With a March deadline approaching — after which Trump has pledged the U.S. will increase the tariff rate from 10% to 25% on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods coming into the U.S. — the report states another round of U.S.-China trade talks is scheduled next week in Beijing. As such, the copper price picked up, as it has when the news cycle shifts toward the easing of trade tensions between the two economic powerhouses.

Trump Talks China, NAFTA During State of the Union

After a delay due to the partial government shutdown, President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union address before members of Congress Tuesday night.

As U.S.-China trade talks continue — with talks scheduled for next week in Beijing after a recent visit from Vice Premier Liu He to Washington, D.C. — Trump again cited U.S. trade gripes against China.

“We are now making it clear to China that after years of targeting our industries, and stealing our intellectual property, the theft of American jobs and wealth has come to an end,” Trump said. “Therefore, we recently imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods — and now our Treasury is receiving billions of dollars a month from a country that never gave us a dime. But I don’t blame China for taking advantage of us — I blame our leaders and representatives for allowing this travesty to happen. I have great respect for President Xi, and we are now working on a new trade deal with China. But it must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit, and protect American jobs.”
On the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Trump touted its pending replacement, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which must be ratified by the legislatures of the three countries.

“Another historic trade blunder was the catastrophe known as NAFTA,” he said.

“I have met the men and women of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Hampshire, and many other States whose dreams were shattered by NAFTA. For years, politicians promised them they would negotiate for a better deal. But no one ever tried — until now.

“Our new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — or USMCA — will replace NAFTA and deliver for American workers: bringing back our manufacturing jobs, expanding American agriculture, protecting intellectual property, and ensuring that more cars are proudly stamped with four beautiful words: made in the USA.

“Tonight, I am also asking you to pass the United States Reciprocal Trade Act, so that if another country places an unfair tariff on an American product, we can charge them the exact same tariff on the same product that they sell to us.”

Nippon Reports Quarterly Results

Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. released its third quarter fiscal year 2018 (Oct. 1-Dec. 31) financial results today, cutting its 2019 profit forecast by 6%, Reuters reported.

For Q3 2018, Nippon reported ordinary profit ¥256.4 billion, up from ¥225.4 billion for Q3 2017.

The firm’s steel segment picked up in sales and profit in Q3 2018.

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“In the Steelmaking and Steel Fabrication segment, domestic steel demand remained solid, especially for shipments to the automotive sector, and overseas steel demand as a whole was on a rising trend,” Nippon’s financial report states. “In the domestic steel markets, prices were at a generally high level against a background of stable demand, while prices declined in the overseas markets in the third quarter of fiscal 2018, due to uncertainty over China’s economic outlook.”

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