MetalMiner Prices

Aluminum Prices

View quotes and charts of the North American Aluminum Index and current pricing for 3003-H14 Sheet

Carbon Steel Prices

View quotes and charts of the North American Carbon Steel Index and current pricing for A36 Plate, 1008 Sheet, and 1011 Sheet

Nickel Alloy Prices

View quotes and charts of the North American Nickel Alloy Index and current pricing for 625 Sheet

Stainless Steel Prices

View quotes and charts of the North American Stainless Steel Index and current pricing for 304 Sheet, and 430 Sheet

Titanium Prices

View quotes and charts of the North American Titanium Index and current pricing for TI-6-4 Bar
Articles on: Metal Prices

HRC and HDG prices seem to have recovered a bit since the start of the month. CRC price increases appear less sharp, but may follow suit.

U.S. HRC and CRC prices. Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

Some steel forms have increased such as CRC and HDG for three consecutive weeks. If the price increases continue at this pace, prices could breach previous levels, which may signal strength and the start of a rally.

Chinese Steel Prices

Chinese steel prices drive U.S. domestic prices. Both usually tend to follow a similar pattern, which means that when Chinese steel prices increase, we would expect a similar movement in U.S. prices.

Despite the Chinese steel price’s cooldown during the last quarter of the year, a new sharp uptrend appears to have started this month.

China HRC and CRC prices. Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

Increasing Chinese prices add strength to the bullish case for steel. Buying organizations may want to follow Chinese prices closely, as they seem to have recovered.

Let’s Remember the Bullish Case

MetalMiner has watched steel prices closely since commodities and industrial metals turned bullish in August 2017.

Although base metals and steel do not necessarily trade in the same direction at the same time, industrial metals do tend to move together. December began with a stronger U.S. dollar caused by expectations of the Congress passing a tax bill. A stronger U.S. dollar caused commodities to fall slightly. However, this commodity downtrend appears short term, as the bullish case remains supported.

What This Means for Industrial Buyers

Buying organizations may want to closely follow both domestic steel prices and Chinese steel prices. Now that the bullish case appears more probable, steel-buying organizations may want to readjust their purchasing strategies.

MetalMiner sends automatic notifications when buying signals trigger a change in purchasing behavior.

Free Download: The December 2017 MMI Report

Take a free trial now to our Monthly Buying Outlook for a short-term analysis.

We’re another month closer to the end of the calendar year, and there’s much to recap from the last month in metals.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

After four MMIs ticked upward for our November reading, five did so for our latest report.

Hitting some of the high points:

  • The biggest winners of the month were the Automotive, Construction and Raw Steels MMIs. Automotive picked up four points, while Construction and Raw Steels picked up five points apiece.
  • The Aluminum MMI tracked back down, losing four points after a five-point rise the previous month. As Irene Martinez Canorea wrote, a dropping LME aluminum price had much to do with the sub-index’s drop.
  • The Stainless MMI, meanwhile, fell five points on the month. In this case, a 10% decline in nickel prices contributed to the MMI’s fall. Trading volume for LME nickel is still strong, Martinez Canorea wrote, and the outlook for nickel remains bullish.

You can read about all of the aforementioned — and much more — by downloading the December MMI report below.

Grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES) import levels appear to have peaked in March of this year at 3580 metric tons. Despite a rise in June, import levels appear lower now than during the summer months, but are clearly higher than 2016 levels.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

With a Section 232 investigation still underway, we might expect to see declining import levels until the Department of Commerce submits a report to the Trump administration next month — at which point it remains unclear what will happen with steel imports.

The story behind GOES imports, however, looks quite different from the story behind other steel imports, particularly carbon steel – hot rolled coil, cold rolled coil and coated products.

The GOES trade story has become more complicated, particularly when one considers what types of GOES materials have entered the U.S. market.

Most of the imports did not come from China or Korea (often the targets of trade complaints) — rather, the lion’s share of the volume comes from Japan. See chart below:

Source: US ITC

Yet, Japan produces several products for which no domestic source exists – namely, “heat-proof” products, including those using domain-refined processes used “…in specialty transformers where small size, high efficiency and low noise are at a premium.” Indeed, that description appeared in the U.S. International Trade Commission’s examination of “Grain Oriented Electrical Steel from Germany, Japan and Poland” (see link above).

The domestic producers did not win that trade case. ATI subsequently shut down its GOES operations.

Japan’s JFE and Nippon Steel remain the dominant GOES players for these more technically difficult higher end grades. The Kobe Steel scandal will have little to no impact on GOES markets, since Kobe does not supply the U.S. market with GOES.

Meanwhile, the market will await for additional grain-oriented electrical steel announcements (and potentially supply of H1-B) from Big River Steel, as well as some clarity around GOES with the Section 232 investigation.

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Exact GOES Coil Price This Month

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misunseo/Adobe Stock

This morning in metals news, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill ending the state’s moratorium on gold and silver mining, Chile approaches a busy year for mine union negotiations, and Chinese steel futures drop.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

Going for the Gold in the Badger State

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill ending the state’s moratorium on gold and silver mining, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

The moratorium was imposed in 1998, when Walker was a member of the state Assembly.

Union Negotiations on the Horizon in Chile

Chile’s copper mining industry has a busy schedule next year, with 32 union contracts on the docket, Bloomberg reported.

Chile, a dominant force in the copper industry, will negotiate the contracts, which represent approximately 75% of the country’s copper output, according to the report.

China Steel Futures Drop

Chinese steel futures took a dip Tuesday as a result of concerns regarding demand in the country, the world’s top steel consumer, according to Reuters.

Free Sample Report: Our Annual Metal Buying Outlook

According to the report, upward price movement driven by supply constriction is expected to be counterbalanced by a drop in demand as winter weather affects construction projects.

The Stainless Steel MMI dropped five points this month as nickel prices fell by 10%. Despite the increase in stainless steel surcharges this month, the sharp fall in nickel prices drove the index lower.

Nickel price volatility has increased over the past few months. Prices currently trade in a +/-$3,000/mt range. Strong demand in the stainless and battery sectors and heavy trading volumes have driven nickel prices.

Price volatility is being driven by increased activity in nickel transactions. Nickel has become one of the “hottest metals” due to its demand in electric batteries. Therefore prices and trading volumes have shifted:

Source: MetalMiner analysis of FastMarkets

Trading volume for LME nickel remains strong, and does not reveal a downtrend. Although the red lines in trading volume above seem to signal heavy selling volume, prices do not slip together with volume. Therefore, the outlook for nickel remains bullish.

In bullish markets, buying dips also present good opportunities to buy some additional volume.

Domestic Stainless Steel Market

Despite the slower momentum of the Stainless MMI, domestic stainless steel surcharges increased again this month. Surcharges reached May 2015 levels and remain far from last year’s lows (under $0.4/pound).

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

Global Stainless Steel Market

Chinese crude stainless steel output has grown five-fold since 2006, reaching approximately 55% of total worldwide output. This month, Chinese domestic stainless steel prices fell. The drop in stainless steel prices followed nickel’s short-term downtrend.

Chinese chrome metal prices and the ferrochrome prices demonstrate a market anomaly. Ferrochrome (FeCr) is a chromium and iron alloy, containing 50% to 70% chromium by weight. Ferrochrome price increases in the May-September 2017 period appear sharper than the chrome metal price increase.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

Therefore, iron ore may be the culprit increasing the ferrochrome price. When looking at the iron ore chart, readers may see that iron ore prices appeared higher during Q2 and Q3.

Source: MetalMiner analysis of Trading Economics

Despite the sideways trend during the last few months, iron ore prices increased in November and have continued their uptrend in December too. Therefore, ferrochrome prices may continue to increase driven by higher prices in both raw materials (iron ore and chrome metal).

India overtook Japan in 2016 and serves as the world’s second-largest stainless steel producer. Indian stainless steel output continues to expand and is forecasted to reach 4 million tons in 2018. Strong domestic demand from both the automotive and construction sectors has driven Indian growth.

The European domestic 304 stainless steel remains flat due to weaker domestic demand.

What This Means for Industrial Buyers

Stainless steel momentum appears slow, just as it does for all the other forms of steel. However, due to nickel’s high price volatility, buying organizations may want to follow the market closely and buy in the dips. To understand how to adapt buying strategies to your needs, dive deeper into our Monthly Metal Buying Outlook or you can take a free trial now.

To read more about longer-term stainless steel price trends, download the free Annual Outlook.

Actual Stainless Steel Prices and Trends
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The Raw Steel MMI jumped 6.5%, reaching 82 in December. This MMI sub-index remains one point above September’s reading, when steel prices were slightly higher.

Raw material prices increased this month together with Chinese steel prices and Midwest premiums, which drove the increase in this month’s Raw Steels MMI.

U.S. HRC and CRC prices. Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

Early December prices suggest a drop in HRC, CRC and plate. Only HDG appears to have increased from November’s closing price. Steel prices have failed to move into bullish mode, similar to both industrial metals and commodities.

Chinese Prices Started December Strong 

Despite U.S. steel prices falling at the beginning of this month, Chinese steel prices increased this week. Increases range between 1.5% for hot-rolled coil and 3.5% for cold-rolled coil.

China HRC and CRC prices. Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

The China Metallurgical Industry Planning and Research Institute (MPI) reported that Chinese steel output will increase in 2017 despite capacity curtailments. Output in 2017 will have increased by approximately 3% up to 832 million tons, while 2018 will result in an additional 0.7% output increase driven by the restart of mill operations.

Chinese steel demand will likely increase in 2018 up to 726 million tons from 722 million tons in 2017 due to domestic economic growth. An increasing Chinese steel demand could create upward movements in iron ore demand, which is expected to rise by 1.3% this year.

Raw Materials and Domestic Scrap

Iron ore prices increased this month after trading sideways for a couple of months. Steel prices and raw material prices are generally correlated. Raw material price increases generally support steel prices.

Source: MetalMiner analysis of Trading Economics

The latest price rise for iron ore appears sharp. Buying organizations may expect additional upward movements in iron ore prices. This fact may also result in increasing steel prices (despite the drop earlier this month).

What This Means for Industrial Buyers

Steel price dynamics showed some upward momentum this month. Although U.S. steel prices have risen (yet appear to lack strength), Chinese steel prices increased at the beginning of December together with raw material prices. Buying organizations will want to pay close attention to Chinese price trends, lead times and whether domestic mill price hikes stick. To understand how to adapt your buying strategy this season, take a free trial now to our Monthly Buying Outlook for a short-term analysis. 

Actual Raw Steel Prices and Trends

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The Construction MMI, tracking metals and raw materials used within the construction industry, surged 5.5% to a value of 95 for December.

Here’s What Happened

  • Every single price point comprising the Construction MMI — including ferrous, non-ferrous and scrap components from the U.S., Europe and China — rose as of Dec. 1, with the exception of U.S. steel bar fuel surcharges.
  • The biggest mover appeared to be the Chinese rebar price, spiking 17.7% from November to December.
  • We’ve breached new territory with this month’s reading. Not since May of 2012 has the Construction MMI performed this strongly.

What’s Going On in the Background?

  • Here’s what we wrote back in May: “We’re in the salad days for the U.S. construction sector, at least as far as 2017 is concerned.” According to the Associated General Contractors’ analysis, construction spending was at record levels for the second straight month in March,” as quoted by forconstructionpros.com. Well, after a bit of a summer slowdown, it’s looking even better this month to round out 2017 as a pretty great year for the sector.
  • The Commerce Department said last week “that construction spending increased 1.4 percent to a record high $1.24 trillion, the swiftest advance in five months,” according to Reuters, exceeding analysts’ expectations and driven by state, local and especially federal government spending.
  • To boot, the AIA announced mid-last month that “the monthly Architecture Billings Index (ABI) came in at a score of 51.7 in October, up 2.6 points from September’s score of 49.1.” The ABI is a leading economic indicator of U.S. construction activity, and “reflects a nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending nationally, and regionally, as well as by project type,” according to the article linked above.

What Metal Buyers Should Look Out For

  • Interestingly, a longer-term ABI uptrend appears to be firmly in place — since 2012, the index looks to be achieving “higher highs” each time it peaks.
  • “As we enter the fourth quarter, there is enough design activity occurring that construction conditions should remain healthy moving through 2018,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, in a press release, according to Architect Magazine.
  • MetalMiner analysts are generally bullish on both the industrial (especially base) metals complex and commodities overall, which can be seen directly in this month’s surges of our MMI sub-indexes such as Construction and Automotive.
  • Although prime contracting season usually starts in the November period and steel prices historically tend to rise this time of year, steel prices’ behavior has not shown enough strength to spur bullishness. Get more insight on that in our latest Monthly Outlook Report. (Free two-month trial here.)

Key Movers and Shakers: Exact Prices

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November ended with a general cool-down for the base metals complex, contrary to commodities, which increased sharply. MetalMiner expected the industrial metals price pullback since the uptrend started earlier for base metals than for commodities. In bullish rallies, prices usually pull back to recover from prior gains.

Source: MetalMiner analysis of StockCharts

Despite the slight downtrend for industrial metals, the uptrend appears sustainable. Rising commodity prices and a weaker dollar both help to support the bullish sentiment.

For the second month in a row, commodities breached previous levels. When commodities move above previous peaks, the index shows signs of strength.

Source: MetalMiner analysis of StockCharts

The CRB index has now climbed close to its starting value for 2017. If the CRB index breaches the 196 level, the bullish trend could continue. Increasing oil prices drove the jump in commodities this month, together with raw material price increases such as iron ore.

What about the U.S. dollar?

This month, however, the U.S. dollar decreased sharply. In October, some analysts intimated that the U.S. dollar may have reversed its longer term downtrend. However, this month the U.S. dollar has shown weakness, and it seems that the downtrend appears set to continue. Read more

The Automotive MMI, tracking metals and raw materials used within the automotive industry, jumped 4.3% to a value of 97 for May.

Benchmark Your Current Metal Price by Grade, Shape and Alloy: See How it Stacks Up

Here’s What Happened

  • The U.S. HDG steel price tracked by the MetalMiner IndX jumped 11% to an 8-month high for December, last reaching its current level in April 2017. U.S. shredded scrap prices also spiked to an 8-month high, driving this sub-index higher.
  • Our Auto MMI has had a stalwart Q4, with sustained values in the 90s. In fact, the last time this sub-index reached 97 was in September 2014.

What’s Going On in the Background?

  • Auto sales in the U.S. were helped along by automaker and dealer incentives for consumers, with the return of the holiday shopping season — especially Black Friday, according to an AP report.
  • Edmunds.com predicted “November sales will rise 3.5 percent over last year to 1.4 million vehicles,” according to that report.
  • The historical picture, however, shows that while car sales are in a longer-term downtrend, light truck sales are in a longer-term uptrend, according to the WSJ.
  • As for the Chinese auto market, vehicle sales increased by 2% year-over-year in October, growing for the sixth consecutive month, according to MetalMiner’s monthly metal buying outlook report. New-energy vehicle sales also boomed this year, driven by government incentives to support the EV sector.

What Metal Buyers Should Look Out For

  • The state of how sales within the automotive market are structured could offer some hints as to what the future holds. Brandon Mason, a director at PwC’s automotive practice, told Reuters that, “a worrying trend for the industry was a rising number of deep subprime loans. He said subprime levels are at just over 20 percent of originations, against more than 30 percent prior to the Great Recession, but recent increases remain a concern.”
  • HDG prices, however, may be the biggest elephant in the room — not to mention often the single-biggest driver within our market basket of metals used in the auto industry. According to MetalMiner’s analysis in the monthly outlook, while 2016 saw a sizable increase in HDG prices, they’ve begun to level off to the point that real price strength is not yet evident. With slowing Chinese prices and pending circumvention cases, HDG prices may reverse this month’s uptrend just as quickly as it began.

Free Sample Report: Our Annual Metal Buying Outlook

Key Movers and Shakers: Actual Prices

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MetalMiner’s Monthly Buying Outlook
report for December is now available!

Sharpen your sourcing strategies for buying aluminum, copper, nickel, lead, zinc, tin and multiple forms of steel, complete with our coverage of drivers, market commentary, polished charts and more.

If you’re a metals buyer in North America, this is the ideal report for you.

The report provides short- and medium-term industrial buying strategies for the rest of the metals that you buy, helping you avoid unnecessary spending.

This month, you’ll also learn:

  • Repercussions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The House of Representatives passed the bill in November, and the Senate followed suit on December 2. The legislation could have a big effect on the steel and manufacturing industries.
  • What was behind the recent skid of the DBB industrial metals index
  • Why the U.S. dollar’s downtrend remains stronger than the recent two-month uptrend, and why buying organizations should expect even more movement
  • Why steel prices failed to breach resistance levels in November

Individuals, small- and mid-sized manufacturers are encouraged to subscribe to our annual buying outlook. You can sign up at any time and receive the next 12 monthly reports emailed directly to you. Learn more and subscribe today!