This Morning in Metals: U.S. Steel Import Market Share in February Hits 20%

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This morning in metals news, U.S. imports of steel dropped in February after an import-heavy January, Alcoa released its first-quarter financial results and flat-rolled aluminum producer Novelis is looking to secure exemptions on its pending requests related to tariffs covering Canadian aluminum.

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Steel Imports Fall Back in February

Steel import market share for the U.S. hit 20% in February, down from 25% in January, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) report citing Census Bureau data.

The U.S. imported 2.43 million net tons (NT) of steel in February 2019 (down 30.1% from January).

Meanwhile, for the first two months of the year, imports reached a combined total of 5.91 million NT, up 10.2% from the January-February 2018 period.

Alcoa Reports Q1 Financial Results

Pittsburgh-based aluminum producer Alcoa unveiled its Q1 financial results this week, reporting revenue of $3.09 billion in the quarter (up from $2.72 billion in Q1 2018 but down from $3.34 billion in Q4 2018).

“We improved our operations in the first quarter, even as alumina and aluminum prices weakened,” Alcoa President and CEO Roy Harvey said. “Our Bauxite and Alumina segments increased their production rates, and we took steps last quarter to restructure our Aluminum portfolio.”

The firm reported adjusted EBITDA (excluding special items) of $732 million, down from $770 million the previous quarter and up from $467 million in Q1 2018.

Alcoa expects the 2019 global aluminum deficit to range between 1.5 million and 1.9 million metric tons, marking a slide from the previous quarter’s full-year estimate of between 1.7 million and 2.1 million metric tons.

Novelis Seeks Canadian Aluminum Tariff Exemption

The U.S.’s Section 232 tariffs on imported steel and aluminum remain in effect, including against NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico. The countries’ executives signed a new trade deal — the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) — to replace NAFTA late last year, but the deal still must be ratified by each country’s legislature.

So, the tariffs continue to remain in place for U.S. imports of steel and aluminum from its neighbor to the north.

U.S. flat-rolled aluminum product maker Novelis is hoping to secure additional exemptions on Canadian aluminum, WRVO reported, as it argues the tariffs are negatively impacting its Oswego plant in western New York State. The report notes Novelis has already received exemptions for a large number of other products, but has approximately 250 requests pending with the Department of Commerce and Customs and Border Protection.

In other Novelis news, the firm announced automaker Toyota had selected it to supply aluminum for the 2019 RAV4.

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According to a Novelis release, Novelis aluminum would be featured in the vehicle’s hood, fenders and lift gate, yielding a vehicle that is 4% lighter than previous models.

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