Articles in Category: Ferrous Metals

The U.S. steel sector reached a capacity utilization rate of 82.3% for the year through Jan. 18, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI).

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Production for the year to date reached 4.94 million tons, up 2.6% from production during the same period last year (when capacity utilization rate reached 80.4%).

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This morning in metals, miner Rio Tinto recently released its Q4 production results, China unveiled new copper scrap and aluminum scrap regulations, and China’s Jingye Group has called on consultants to help strengthen its case for its British Steel takeover plans.

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Rio Tinto’s iron ore shipments down 3%

Rio Tinto’s Pilbara iron ore shipments fell 3% in 2019 compared with 2018, the company recently reported.

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According to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest report on industrial production, industrial production in December dipped 0.3%.

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Industrial capacity utilization dipped by 0.4 percentage point to 77.0%, which is down from the long-run average — from 1972-2018 — of 79.8%

Utilities fell 5.6% on the month, down to an index reading of 101.6% (with a reading of 100% equivalent to production in 2012) — marking its first decline since August.

“The drop for utilities resulted from a large decrease in demand for heating, as unseasonably warm weather in December followed unseasonably cold weather in November,” the Fed said.

Manufacturing ticks up in December

However, manufacturing production was up 0.2% (after rising 1.0% in November), while mining increased 1.3% after posting declines in four of the previous five months (including a 0.2% drop in November).

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This morning in metals news, the U.S. plans to appeal a World Trade Organization (WTO) compliance panel ruling related to its steel dispute with India, China’s crude steel production again hit a record high in 2019 and General Motors announced plans to invest $40 million at its Spring Hill Global Propulsion Systems plant in Tennessee.

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U.S. will appeal WTO compliance panel ruling

In its ongoing dispute with India over its tariffs on Indian hot-rolled carbon steel, the U.S. plans to appeal a WTO compliance panel ruling.

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The successor to the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, dubbed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), has now made its way through both chambers of the U.S. Congress.

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In December, the White House and House Democrats reached a deal over revisions to the USMCA, yielding an overwhelmingly bipartisan 385-41 vote Dec. 19 that sent the deal over to the Senate.

On Thursday, the Senate voted 89-10 to approve the USMCA via the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act. Sen. Pat Toomey was the only dissenting Republican vote.

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This morning in metals news, aluminum maker Alcoa released its financial results for Q4 and 2019, an Ohio steel plant touts investment that it says will bring new jobs and a Pittsburgh-based metals manufacturer says it will have to close a facility unless it wins a steel tariff exemption.

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Alcoa releases quarterly financials

Aluminum maker Alcoa reported a net loss of $303 million ($57 million excluding special items) in Q4 2019.

Fourth-quarter revenue came in at $2.4 billion, down from $2.6 billion the previous quarter and $3.3 billion in Q4 2018.

“In 2019, we acted to further strengthen Alcoa, completing the divestiture of uncompetitive assets, modernizing labor agreements in three countries, implementing a new operating model, and making quick progress on the asset review process we announced last quarter,” Alcoa President and CEO Roy Harvey said.

“While the market in alumina and aluminum challenged us, we maintained a strong cash balance of nearly $900 million and drove operational stability,” Harvey said. “Also, our low-cost, top-tier bauxite and alumina segments both set new annual production records based on our current portfolio.”

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Steel companies and mining companies in India have heaved a sigh of relief after the federal government amended the prevailing mining law to permit the “seamless transfer” of regulatory approvals to new owners of operational iron ore mines, the Economic Times reported.

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Earlier the week, the government amended the Mines & Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act to ensure smooth transfer of ownership.

The lease of 334 non-captive mineral mines will expire March 31 this year. Of these, 46 mines are operational, 26 of which are iron ore mines.

When the lease expires, all will go on the auction list as per the mining law. However, for some time now there have been apprehensions that the auction round would not be concluded as scheduled.

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The escalation in U.S.-China trade relations appeared to take a brief pause Wednesday when U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signed what has been billed as a “Phase One” trade agreement between the world’s two largest economies.

“Today we take a momentous step, one that has never been taken before with China, toward a future of fair and reciprocal trade as we sign Phase One of the historic trade deal between the United States and China,” Trump said in opening remarks during the signing ceremony Wednesday, adding the deal would begin to “right the wrongs of the past.”

Keep up to date on everything going on in the world of trade and tariffs via MetalMiner’s Trade Resource Center.

Over the past two years, following the launch of a Section 301 investigation in August 2017, the U.S. has imposed a total of approximately $370 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods, with China responding with tariffs of its own at each step of the way amounting to $110 billion.

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The January 2020 Monthly Metals Index (MMI) report is in the books, including coverage of rising steel prices, U.S. automotive sales, construction spending and much more.

This month, all 10 of the MMIs increased.

The GOES, Rare Earths and Global Precious MMIs were the biggest risers, surging by 19.1%, 5.3% and 4.5%, respectively.

Keep up to date on everything going on in the world of trade and tariffs via MetalMiner’s Trade Resource Center.

Some highlights from this month’s MMIs:

  • U.S. steel prices made gains across the board during the first half of December.
  • Copper prices made gains but were capped somewhat by concerns over demand.
  • U.S. automotive sales were forecast to fall 1.7% in 2019 compared with the previous year.
  • U.S. construction spending in November picked up 4.1% on a year-over-year basis.

Read about all of the above and much more by downloading the January 2020 MMI Report below:

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This morning in metals news, the U.S. and China will ink the previously agreed “phase one” trade deal today, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is expected to be up for a vote in the U.S. Senate soon and China’s steel mills may be looking away from higher-grade iron ores.

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U.S., China to sign preliminary trade deal

After many turbulent months that saw an escalation of trade tensions, the U.S. and China are finally set to sign a so-called “phase one” trade deal today that, while it doesn’t mark an end to the trade war, at least constitutes a de-escalation.

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