This Morning in Metals: Steel capacity utilization dips to 81.9%, steel prices down

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This morning in metals news: steel capacity utilization fell to 81.9%; lead prices have lost ground this month; and, lastly, Liberty Steel announced the restart of its Georgetown, South Carolina plant.

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Steel capacity utilization rate falls to 81.9%

steel production

photollurg/Adobe Stock

The U.S. steel capacity utilization rate fell to 81.9% for the week ending Dec. 4, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported.

U.S. steel output during the week totaled 1.81 million net tons, or down 1.6% from the previous week. For the year to date, steel production totaled 88.08 million net tons, or up 19.6% year over year, at a capacity utilization rate of 81.6%.

U.S. steel prices began to backtrack in September after a year of uninterrupted rises.

Hot dipped galvanized closed last week at $2,131 per short ton, or down 3.8% month over month, according to MetalMiner Insights data.

Hot rolled coil closed last week at $1,770 per short ton, or down 6.1% month over month.

Lead prices retreat

Meanwhile, lead prices have lost ground so far this month.

The LME three-month lead price surged above $2,436 per metric ton in late October. However, the price plunged to around $2,220 just before Thanksgiving. Lead rallied to back over $2,300 per metric ton but has since backtracked once again, closing Monday at $2,217 per metric ton.

MetalMiner’s Jimmy Chiguil applied a technical analysis lens to lead price movements.

“As seen on the larger picture, looking back at history, there is a downtrend resistance line that originates from 2008-2009,” he explained. “It wasn’t until this year that lead prices had reached this technical resistance level to where it is visible that bearish indicators — such as bearish wedge formations and sideways trading, along with low buyer volume — certainty of volatility will soon cause a trend change that is worth being attentive to in regards to industrial purchases.”

Liberty Steel to restart Georgetown facility

Liberty Steel on Monday announced plans to restart its Georgetown, South Carolina facility.

“We’re pleased to announce the restart of LIBERTY Steel USA’s Georgetown, South Carolina plant, further evidence of healthy market conditions and strong infrastructure spending across much of the globe,” said Jeffrey S. Stein, chief restructuring officer. “GFG Alliance’s international businesses are achieving excellent performance which is bolstering cashflow and boosting the Group’s refinancing efforts.”

The rod mill will restart in mid-January, the company said.

The plant will work in synergy with Liberty’s Peoria, Illinois plant.

“LIBERTY Georgetown will integrate operations with LIBERTY’s Peoria, Illinois plant to fulfil a strong order book and clear a customer backlog,” the company said. “Billet will be manufactured in Peoria, taking advantage of the plant’s additional melt capacity, then delivered to Georgetown for conversion into 10,000 tonnes per month of finished rod.”

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