This Morning in Metals: U.S. steel imports reach 1.6M tons in March

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This morning in metals news, U.S. steel import levels increased from February to March, new home sales declined and BHP reviewed its operations for the nine-month period ending March 31.

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Steel imports increase in March

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, preliminary March steel imports totaled 1.6 million tons, up from 1.4 million in February.

“The March change in steel imports based on metric tonnage reflected increases in oil country goods; blooms, billets, and slabs; and cold rolled sheets,” the Bureau said. “Decreases occurred in heavy structural shapes, hot rolled sheets, and reinforcing bars. Increases occurred primarily with Russia, Korea, and Canada. Decreases occurred primarily with Turkey, Brazil, and Japan.”

New home sales dip

Meanwhile, new home sales reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 627,000 in in March, down 15.4% from the previous month and down 9.5% compared with March 2019, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development reported.

The median home sale price in March came in at $321,400.

BHP reviews operations

Miner BHP this week released a review of its operations during the nine-month period ending March 31.

BHP’s copper and iron ore production for the year to date increased 5% and 3%, respectively, compared with the equivalent period the previous year, but fell 7% and 1% on a quarterly basis.

The miner also weighed in on the short-term economic outlook amid the COVID-19 crisis.

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“The global economy has been dramatically impacted by COVID-19,” BHP said. “Many major economies will contract heavily in the June 2020 quarter, including the United States (US), Europe and India. In contrast, China has moved from intensive viral suppression to early indications of economic recovery. The majority of heavy industrial activity had restarted as of the end of March 2020, albeit with considerable variation across provinces and sectors. We note that the developed world in aggregate may have tentatively passed the peak in new COVID-19 cases for wave one infections, while the developing world is unfortunately still in the escalation phase. The arc of recovery will vary widely across countries. Where “hibernation policies” have been enacted, we anticipate a smoother resumption of activity after the first wave than would otherwise have been the case.”

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