This Morning in Metals: Energy costs surge; steel imports rise; aluminum price picks up

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This morning in metals news: energy costs surged in 2021; U.S. steel imports picked up in November; and, lastly, aluminum prices rose during the second half of December.

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Energy costs rise in 2021

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Energy costs surged in 2021, putting the squeeze on residential consumers and industrial users alike (including metal producers).

According to the Energy Information Administration, energy prices used in the S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI) finished 2021 up by 59% from the first trading day of the year.

“Price increases were largely driven by increased demand from the initial phase of global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the EIA reported. “By comparison, most other commodity indexes included in the GSCI increased by about 20%. The precious metals index was the only one to decline. The energy index of the GSCI increased more than twice as much as the industrial metals index on a percentage basis during 2021, the next highest commodity index group price change.”

Steel imports rise in November

U.S. steel imports rose to an estimated 2.8 million metric tons in November, the Census Bureau reported, up from 2.5 million metric tons.

Meanwhile, for 2021 through October, imports reached 24.1 million metric tons, up from 17.4 million during the same time frame in 2020.

Imports of hot dipped galvanized sheets and strip increased to 312,092 tons in November from 244,941 tons in October. Meanwhile, imports of cold rolled sheets increased from 158,451 tons in October to 208,656 tons in November.

Aluminum price gains to close 2021

Aluminum prices showed some upward momentum to close 2021 after having trended sideways from the beginning of November to mid-December.

The LME three-month aluminum price closed last week at $2,810 per metric ton, or up 7% month over month, according to MetalMiner Insights data. The price had dipped below $2,600 per metric ton in early December before rallying.

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