Raw Steels MMI: Steel Prices Continue to Decline, Iron Ore Surges After Vale Dam Breach

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The Raw Steels Monthly Metals Index (MMI) posted a one-point increase this month, moving to an MMI reading of 80.

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Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

As reported last month, steel prices continued to fall from their historically high levels reached back in the spring of 2018.

CRC and HDG prices are back to June 2016 levels, while HRC is still slightly higher than the price point hit following the spring 2016 raw steel price surge.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

Steel plate, however, bucked the trend with a price gain into February. It remains to be seen if it will break the previous price resistance point hit earlier in the month, a historical high of $1,004/st for the MetalMiner Index.

While raw materials, such as coking coal and iron ore, typically trade in the same pattern, in January they traded differently.

Coking coal prices moved sideways, while iron ore prices increased sharply this month on the back of a 10% production cut announced by Brazilian iron ore miner Vale SA.

Moreover, iron ore prices may continue to rise if the Chinese government prohibits expansion of iron ore and steel projects in 2019.

China continues to struggle with industrial pollution in the top steelmaking city of Tangshan and in the industrial province of Henan.

What This Means for Industrial Buyers

Plate prices may be at or close to their peak.

Meanwhile, buying organizations will want to pay close attention to any price changes, particularly to the upside (in fact prices have notched up for HRC, CRC and HDG in the opening days of February) to determine if the current downtrend shifts to a sideways trend.

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Actual Raw Steel Prices and Trends

Chinese coking coal prices continued to climb this month, increasing another 15.5% on top of last month’s 23% increase, ending at $315.18/mt, which was still lower than October’s $348/mt.

Korean standard scrap steel also increased in price again this month, adding a 12% increase on top of last month’s 6% increase, ending the month at $175.33, also recovering and still lower than the recent October high of $193.69/mt.

Chinese steel slab increased 7% to $566/mt.

U.S. shredded scrap fell 11% to $314/st.

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