Articles in Category: Automotive
cargo trains

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This morning in metals news: the USITC voted to maintain existing duties on steel rebar from Mexico and Turkey; the U.S. Census Bureau released the latest housing starts data; and General Motors released more information on its next-generation electric vehicle models.

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USITC maintains rebar duties on Mexico, Turkey

The United States International Trade Commission this week voted to maintain existing anti-dumping and countervailing duties on steel rebar from Mexico and Turkey.

In its five-year sunset review, the USITC determined revoking the duties would likely lead to material injury “within a reasonably foreseeable time.”

“We welcome the final decision and commend the ITC and the Commerce Department for their hard work in these cases and for vigorously enforcing U.S. trade laws,” said Alan Price, chair of Wiley’s International Trade Practice and counsel to the Rebar Trade Action Coalition.

August housing starts fall 5.1%

New housing starts in August fell 5.1% from the previous month, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Privately owned housing starts came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,416,000 in August. The August total, however, marked a 2.8% year-over-year increase.

GM touts Ultium Drive

With Detroit automaker GM transitioning toward an electrified world, the automaker said Wednesday that “Ultium Drive” will power its future.

“General Motors’ next-generation EVs are expected to be powered by a family of five interchangeable drive units and three motors, known collectively as ‘Ultium Drive,'” the automaker said in a release.

Furthermore, Ultium Drive will help the company transition its current portfolio to “a fully electric lineup,” GM said.

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Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for General Motors

This morning in metals news: General Motors announced a partnership with Nikola Corporation; U.S. manufacturing corporations saw their profits plunge in Q2 2020; and Chile’s copper shipments fell in August.

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GM announces partnership with Nikola

General Motors on Monday announced plans to partner with Nikola Corporation, a partnership that would see the Detroit automaker manufacture the Nikola Badger.

“As part of the agreement, Nikola will utilize General Motors’ Ultium battery system and Hydrotec fuel cell technology, representing a key commercialization milestone for General Motors,” GM said in a release.

Manufacturing profits decline

To no one’s surprise, manufacturing profits declined significantly in Q2 2020.

After-tax profits for U.S. manufacturing corporations reached $47.2 billion in Q2, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The quarterly total marked a decline from the $113.0 billion in Q1 2020 and the $136.3 billion in Q2 2019.

Chile’s copper shipments fall in August

According to Bloomberg, No. 1 copper producer Chile saw a decline in the value of its copper shipments last month.

Per data released by the Chilean government today and cited by Bloomberg, Chile’s copper exports totaled $2.76 billion in August, marking an 11% decline from the previous month.

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cars on the road in Shanghai, China

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Before we head into the long Labor Day weekend, let’s take a look back at the week that was in the world of metals.

Automakers released August sales reports, mostly showing sales remain down compared with 2019 levels.

Meanwhile, for the week ending Aug. 29, U.S. steel mills’ capacity utilization fell compared with the previous week, interrupting an extended stretch of weekly capacity increases.

In other news, President Donald Trump took aim at steel imports from Brazil and Mexico. With respect to Brazil, Trump opted to cut Brazil’s semi-finished steel quota for the remainder of the year down to 60,000 tons from 350,000 tons.

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Week of Aug. 31-Sept. 4

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The Automotive Monthly Metals Index (MMI) rose 4.7% for this month’s reading.

September 2020 Automotive MMI chart

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U.S. automotive sales

Among automakers still reporting sales on a monthly basis, Honda reported its August sales fell 21.9% year over year. Its car sales fell 29.6%, while truck sales fell 16%.

Hyundai reported total sales fell 8% year over year in August, while retail sales dipped 2%.

However, when accounting for extra selling days in August 2019, August 2020 retail sales increased 7% year over year. SUVs represented just over two-thirds of Hyundai’s U.S. retail sales in August.

“Despite a down market, our SUVs continue to drive sales and deliver results for us and our dealers,” said Randy Parker, vice president of national sales for Hyundai Motor America. “Our entire line up performed well, but Palisade led the pack and is one of the fastest selling vehicles in the industry. Sonata sales were up, because customers still want great, high-quality, safe sedans.”

Subaru’s U.S. sales, meanwhile, fell 17% year over year to 57,885 units in August.

“Thanks to the dedicated efforts of our retailer network, we are able to count August as the best sales month of 2020,” said Thomas J. Doll, president and CEO of Subaru of America, Inc. “Our retailers are continuing to sell at very high levels of sales efficiency given their on-ground inventory levels while at the same time providing a Love Promise customer experience. We are grateful for their outstanding efforts.”

August 2020 sales forecast to decline

While automotive sales have recovered somewhat over the summer months, August 2020 sales remained down year over year.

According to a forecast released jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive, retails sales were expected to fall 3.7% compared to J.D. Power’s pre-virus forecast to 1.17 million units.

Total sales were expected to reach a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 15.1 million vehicles, or down 2 million units from a year ago.

“Given the ongoing disruption that COVID-19 has on the industry, the fact that retail sales of new vehicles are only 4% below the pre-virus forecast is evidence of strong consumer demand for vehicles,” said Thomas King, president of the data and analytics division at J.D. Power. “The modest decline also is a result of significant inventory constraints.”

Toyota, Mazda JV announces $830M additional U.S. investment

A joint venture of Toyota and Mazda, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, last month announced an additional investment of $830 million in its U.S. facility in Huntsville, Alabama.

The investment will contribute to “cutting-edge manufacturing technologies to its production lines and provide enhanced training to its workforce of up to 4,000 employees,” Toyota said in a release.

The additional $830 million comes on top of the $1.6 billion investment originally announced in 2018.

“The new facility will have the capacity to produce up to 150,000 units of a future Mazda crossover vehicle and up to 150,000 units of the Toyota SUV each year,” Toyota said. “MTM continues to target up to 4,000 new jobs and has hired approximately 600 employees to date, with plans to resume accepting applications for production positions later in 2020.”

Chinese sales gain again

Meanwhile, automotive sales in China gained in July for a fourth consecutive month.

According to the China Association of Automobile manufacturers, sales rose 16.4% year over year in July.

The rise comes on the heels of year-over-year increases in April, May and June.

Actual metals prices and trends

The U.S. HDG price rose 5.6% month over month to $736 per short on as of Aug. 1.

LME primary three-month copper fell 4.1% to $6,702 per metric ton.

U.S. shredded scrap steel rose 4.2% to $248 per short ton.

The Korean 5052 aluminum coil premium rose 2.4% to $3.03 per kilogram.

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Further illustrating China’s economic recovery efforts, July auto sales in the country jumped 16.4% year over year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).

China’s auto sales have posted four straight months of year-over-year gains. The streak followed weak sales in March, when they fell 43.3% year over year.

However, July sales did slow down compared with the previous month. July sales were down 8.2% month over month.

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SUV sales power passenger-car sales

Sales of passenger cars jumped 8.5% year over year in July, CAAM reported.

However, passenger-car sales were down 5.6% compared with the previous month.

Appetite for SUVs was high, however, as sales increased 14.o% year over year. Still, SUV sales were down 6.1% from the previous month.

Commercial vehicle sales surge

As for commercial vehicles, sales in July jumped 59.4% year over year. Like other automotive categories, however, sales were down 16.5% from the previous month.

Bus sales fell 15.1% year over year and 16.6% from the previous month.

Truck sales surged 71.1% year over year but dropped 16.0% from the previous month.

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It was another busy week in the world of metals and metal-using sectors.

Among this week’s major developments were an executive shakeup at Ford, aluminum prices on the rise in China and a U.S. steel sector seeing capacity utilization gains week by week.

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In this month’s Automotive Monthly Metals Index (MMI) report: Ford CEO Jim Hackett will retire, the company announced this week; General Motors has plans to add more than 2,700 electric vehicle charging stations across the U.S.; and U.S. sales continue to show signs of recovery, but July sales remained down compared with a year ago.

The Automotive Monthly Metals Index (MMI) gained 2.4% for this month’s MMI reading.

Automotive MMI

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ungvar/Adobe Stock

Before we head into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the week that was and some of the metals storylines on MetalMiner:

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China’s automotive market has bounced back over the last quarter, with automotive sales up for the last three months.

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Marking a third straight month of year-over-year increases, China’s June automotive sales were up 11.6%, according to data recently released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).

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Toyota logo

Source: Toyota

This morning in metals news: Toyota will reportedly source electrical steel sheet from China’s Baowu SteelNevada Copper is requesting a financial hardship exemption; and iron ore continues to soar.

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