This Morning in Metals: Recapping December metals prices; Steel Dynamics earnings guidance; USITC launches Section 337 probe

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This morning in metals news: MetalMiner’s Maria Rosa Gobitz recaps movements in December metals prices; Steel Dynamics released its Q4 earnings guidance; and, finally, the United States International Trade Commission launched a Section 337 investigation relating to vehicle control systems.

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Recapping December 2020 metals prices

MetalMiner’s Maria Rosa Gobitz recapped the last two weeks in metals and oil as the year draws to a close.

“The U.S. oil market traded up over the past two weeks,” Gobitz explains. “The WTI oil price closed Thursday at $48.23/barrel, up from $46.57/barrel two weeks ago. According to the Energy Information Administration, U.S. crude oil inventories were at 499.5 million barrels by the week ending Dec. 18, an decrease of 0.7% from 503.2 million barrels compared to two weeks prior. Even though inventories increased this fortnight, they are still up about 11% from the five-year average for this time of year.”

Gobitz rounded up the world of metals over the last two weeks in bullet form:

  • Over the last two weeks, the Thomson Reuters/CoreCommodity CRB increased to 165.55 from 161.25. The oil price rose by 3.6% over the same period. 
  • Prices for almost all steel forms increased during the past two weeks. U.S. HRC steel prices continued to increase. By Dec. 25, the price reached $917/st, up 12.4% over the past two weeks. Similarly, the CRC and HDG prices increased by 5.8% and 6.1%, respectively, over the past two weeks to $1,022/st and $1,141/st. The plate price increased by 12.3% to $812/st. 
  • However, wire rod prices remained flat over the past two weeks at $29.39/cwt. Capacity utilization for the week ending Dec. 11 reached 73.2%, up from 71.4% for the week ending Dec. 5. 
  • The dollar index closed at 90.41 on Dec. 23, slightly down from 90.98 on Dec. 11. The dollar reached its lowest point — 89.82 — in the year to date Dec. 17. 
  • Aluminum prices traded sideways. The price closed last week at $2,025/mt (down from $2,034/mt).
  • The LME three-month copper price increased slightly by 0.7% over the past two weeks, closing last week at $7,811.5/mt. 
  • In the past two weeks, nickel prices breached the resistance level of $17,230/mt but later retraced. The LME three-month nickel price closed last week at $17,013/mt, down from $17,254/mt two weeks prior. 
  • Meanwhile, the tin price closed last week at $20,100/mt, up from $19,505/mt two weeks prior. 
  • Lastly, the zinc price traded sideways over the past two weeks, closing at $2,845/mt from $2,838/mt on Dec. 11. 

Steel prices

“Steel prices remain strong as they continued to increase over the last two weeks (as they have since mid-August),” Gobitz added. “We also saw capacity utilization increase as mills extend their lead times. All base metals traded sideways over the past two weeks. Markets seem to have slowed down ahead of the holidays. However, buying organizations should continue to pay close attention to prices.”

Steel Dynamics announces Q4 earnings guidance

Meanwhile, Steel Dynamics announced Q4 earnings guidance, calling for adjusted earnings of between $0.80 and $0.84 per diluted share.

By comparison, Q3 adjusted earnings reached $0.51 per diluted share.

USITC launches Section 337 investigation

The USITC has invoked Section 337 of the Trade Act of 1930 to investigate imports of “certain vehicle control systems, vehicles containing the same, and components thereof.”

“Unfair import (a.k.a., Section 337) investigations conducted by the U.S. International Trade Commission most often involve claims regarding intellectual property rights, including allegations of patent infringement and trademark infringement by imported goods,” The UISTC explains on its website regarding the scope of Section 337.

In November, Jaguar Land Rover Limited (of Coventry, United Kingdom), and Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC (of Mahwah, New Jersey), filed a complaint alleging violation of Section 337. The complaint alleges unfair importation of “certain vehicle control systems, vehicles containing the same, and components thereof” that infringes a patent.

In addition, respondents in the investigation are:

  • Dr. Ing. h.c.F. Porsche AG, d/b/a Porsche AG, of Stuttgart, Germany
  • Porsche Cars North America, Inc., of Atlanta, GA
  • Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. of Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy
  • Automobili Lamborghini America, LLC, of Herndon, VA
  • Volkswagen AG of Wolfsburg, Germany
  • Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., of Herndon, VA
  • Audi AG of Ingolstadt, Germany
  • Audi of America, LLC, of Herndon, VA.

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