Industry News

This morning in metals news: the United States International Trade Commission made determinations in a five-year sunset review covering imports of cut-to-length carbon steel plate; meanwhile, United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai will outline the Biden-Harris administration’s “worker-centered trade policy” today; and, lastly, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers rose by 0.6% in May.

The MetalMiner Best Practice Library offers a wealth of knowledge and tips to help buyers stay on top of metals markets and buying strategies.

USITC rules on cut-to-length carbon steel plate imports

United States International Trade Commission

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The USITC recently made determinations in a five-year sunset review regarding an existing anti-dumping duty order on cut-to-length carbon steel plate from China and terminating suspended investigations on imports of the product from Russia and Ukraine.

In its vote, the USITC said revoking the anti-dumping duty order on the carbon steel plate from China “would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of material injury within a reasonably foreseeable time.”

It also voted to maintain existing suspension agreements for the imports from Russia and Ukraine.

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The Construction Monthly Metals Index (MMI) held flat for this month’s reading.

June 2021 Construction MMI chart

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US construction spending ticks up in April

housing starts

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U.S. construction spending reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,524.2 billion in April, the Census Bureau reported.

The estimated April rate marked a 0.2% increase from the previous month and a 9.8% increase on a year-over-year basis.

Construction spending amounted to $452.3 billion during the first four months of the year, or up 5.8% from the same period in 2020.

Meanwhile, private construction spending reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,180.7 billion, up 0.4% from March. Under the umbrella of private construction, residential construction increased by 1.0% to a rate of $729.2 billion in April. Nonresidential construction fell by 0.5% to $451.4 billion in April.

Public construction spending fell 0.6% to $343.5 billion. Educational construction spending fell 0.5% to $84.8 billion. Highway construction rose 0.6% to $99.8 billion.

Construction employment declines in May

On the labor side, employment in the construction sector fell by 20,000 in May, the Census Bureau reported. Employment in construction is down by 225,000 from February 2020.

The Associated General Contractors of America noted contractors continue to struggle with unpredictability with respect to securing materials.

“Steadily worsening production and delivery delays have exceeded even the record cost increases for numerous materials as the biggest headache for many nonresidential contractors,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “If they can’t get the materials, they can’t put employees to work.”

ABI posts growth for third consecutive month

For the third straight month, the Architecture Billings Index, released monthly by the American Institute of Architects, showed growth (meaning an index value greater than 50).

After the onset of the pandemic, the ABI had contracted each month for a year until the February 2021 reading.

For April, the ABI checked in at 57.9, up from 55.6 the previous month. The design contracts index reached 61.7, up from 55.7 the previous month.

The ABI marked its highest level since before the Great Recession.

“Interest in new projects remained extremely strong as well, with the Inquiries score rising to 70.8, and the value of new signed design contracts reaching 61.7, the highest score in that index since data collection started in late 2010,” the ABI report stated. “This means that not only are clients talking to architecture firms about starting new projects, but that they are also signing contracts to begin that work at a high rate.”

By region, the Midwest led the way with an ABI reading of 60.6. Trailing the Midwest were the South (58.3), Northeast (55.0) and West (52.4).

As we’ve noted in this space on a regular basis, shortages and delays in receiving materials have had a ripple effect. The sudden surge in demand throughout some sectors has produced a bullwhip effect.

The ABI report noted the 0.8% jump in the Consumer Price Index from March to April and the 4.2% jump from April 2020 to April 2021, which marked the largest increases since before the Great Recession.

“In addition, core inflation rose by 0.9% in April, the largest increase in that indicator since 1981,” the ABI report notes. “Rising consumer prices at this time are largely caused by supply constraints due to a shortage of key inputs subsequently leading to production delays, and by rising demands for services, particularly travel and hospitality.”

Pending home sales drop in April

Meanwhile, in the housing market, pending home sales fell by 4.4% in April, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported.

“Contract signings are approaching pre-pandemic levels after the big surge due to the lack of sufficient supply of affordable homes,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “The upper-end market is still moving sharply as inventory is more plentiful there.”

Actual metals prices and trends

The Chinese rebar price dipped 0.7% month over month to $802 per metric ton. Meanwhile, the Chinese H-beam steel price fell 2.3% to $815 per metric ton.

The U.S. shredded scrap steel price rose by 3.2% to $450 per short ton.

The European 1050 commercial aluminum sheet price rose by 0.4% to $3,577 per metric ton.

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This morning in metals news: as the U.S. economy reopened, job openings hit a record high in April; meanwhile, steel prices continue to rise; and, lastly, emissions from the electric power sector have declined as it has shifted from coal to natural gas.

The MetalMiner Best Practice Library offers a wealth of knowledge and tips to help buyers stay on top of metals markets and buying strategies.

Job openings hit record high in April

job openings

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U.S job openings reached a record high of 9.3 million on the last business day of April, the U.S. Census Bureau reported.

Hires, meanwhile, reached 6.1 million, little changed from the previous month.

“Total separations increased to 5.8 million,” the Census Bureau added. “Within separations, the quits rate reached a series high of 2.7 percent while the layoffs and discharges rate decreased to a series low of 1.0 percent.”

In durable goods manufacturing, separations increased by 7,000.

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The Atlanta-based aluminum firm Novelis announced it is partnering with China’s leading universities to conduct research into the innovative use of aluminum.

The partnership between Novelis’ Shanghai Customer Solution Center (CSC) and the Tsinghua University Suzhou Automotive Research Institute (TSARI), confirmed by way of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) will drive research and development of aluminum products to promote a “low carbon, sustainable future.”

Novelis is a subsidiary of India’s Hindalco Industries Ltd. The company accounts for almost half of Hindalco’s consolidated revenue.

Furthermore, with operations in 10 countries, Novelis is one of the largest aluminum recyclers in the world. It reported U.S. $11.2 billion in net sales for the most recent fiscal year.

The MetalMiner Best Practice Library offers a wealth of knowledge and tips to help buyers stay on top of metals markets and buying strategies.

Novelis in China

aluminum sheet

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However, Novelis already has a significant presence in China.

Back in May, for example, the aluminum major announced that it would supply Nissan with a sustainable, lightweight aluminum body sheet for the all-new Qashqai SUV and create a closed-loop recycling system in Europe.

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This morning in metals news: the Biden administration today released a 250-page report detailing the findings of its 100-day supply chain review; meanwhile, the US steel capacity utilization rate ticked up to 82.3%; and, lastly, the U.S. goods and services deficit fell in April compared with the previous month.

Each month, MetalMiner hosts a webinar on a specific metals topic. Explore the upcoming webinars and sign up for each on the MetalMiner Events page.

Biden administration releases 100-day supply chain review

supply chain chart

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Earlier this year, President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling for 100-day reviews of critical U.S. supply chains. The reviews in question included those for things like critical minerals, semiconductors and high-capacity batteries.

The 100-day period has come and gone. Today, the administration released a 250-page report detailing its findings.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic dislocation revealed long-standing vulnerabilities in our supply chains,” the report’s introduction states. “The pandemic’s drastic impacts on demand patterns for a range of medical products including essential medicines wreaked havoc on the U.S. healthcare system. As the world shifted to work and learn from home, it created a global semiconductor chip shortage impacting automotive, industrial, and communications products, among others.”

In addition to its deeper analysis, the report included six broad recommendations for strengthening U.S. supply chains:

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This morning in metals news: Nucor Corporation today announced it will acquire Cornerstone Building Brands‘ insulated metal panels business; the oil price approached $70 per barrel to close last week; and the aluminum price has retraced over the last month.

Each month, MetalMiner hosts a webinar on a specific metals topic. Explore the upcoming webinars and sign up for each on the MetalMiner Events page.

Nucor to acquire insulated metal panels business

mergers and acquisitions

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Nucor announced today that it plans to acquire the insulated metal panels business of Cornerstone Building Brands.

The acquisition comes at a cash purchase price of $1 billion. Nucor said it expects the transaction to close later this year, pending regulatory approvals.

“Today’s announcement accelerates our vision to broaden value-added solutions that Nucor provides to our targeted end markets. Additionally, it enhances our strong financial position with attractive free cash flow conversion rates and accretive EBITDA margins,” Nucor President and CEO Leon Topalian said. “We are excited about this opportunity to acquire a historical leader and innovator in the quickly growing IMP product category serving the non-residential market.”

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ArcelorMittal is eyeing the potential acquisition of Liberty Steel France, which includes a steelmaking plant at Ascoval and rail rolling mill at Hayange, a source within the Luxembourg-headquartered company told MetalMiner.

“We were interested last year, when they were available,” the source said.

ArcelorMittal logo

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Bids are due for assessment likely in July, the source added.

Each month, MetalMiner hosts a webinar on a specific metals topic. Explore the upcoming webinars and sign up for each on the MetalMiner Events page.

ArcelorMittal strategy

One analyst expressed his surprise on ArcelorMittal’s interest in those plants. In February, the steelmaker announced financial results for 2020, stating that its strategy would be to focus on organic growth.

ArcelorMittal also rolls rails in Europe at Gijón in Spain and Luxembourg’s Rodange mill. It also does so in Poland at the Dąbrowa Górnicza and Królewska sites.

The financial difficulties that Liberty’s parent company GFG Alliance now faces could possibly allow ArcelorMittal to acquire the assets at lower prices, the analyst added.

Rothschild & Co (Paris) is managing sale of the assets on Liberty’s behalf, a spokesman for the steelmaking group told MetalMiner in an email.

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Before we head into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the week that was and the metals news here on MetalMiner, including iron ore volatility, rare earths production quotas in China and much more:

bulk cargo iron ore

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Week of May 31-June 4 (iron ore volatility, rare earths quotas and more)

Each month, MetalMiner hosts a webinar on a specific metals topic. Explore the upcoming webinars and sign up for each on the MetalMiner Events page.

This morning in metals news: US nonfarm payroll employment rose by 559,000 in May; the EU plans to impose carbon emissions costs on imports of steel, cement and electricity, Reuters reported; and the LME copper price dropped below $10,000 per metric ton.

Each month, MetalMiner hosts a webinar on a specific metals topic. Explore the upcoming webinars and sign up for each on the MetalMiner Events page.

Nonfarm payroll employment rises in May

nonfarm payrolls

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Nonfarm payroll employment in the US increased by 559,000 in May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate declined by 0.3 percentage point to 5.8%.

“Notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, in public and private education, and in health care and social assistance,” the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

EU to slap carbon emissions costs on imports

The European Union will introduce new carbon emissions costs on imports of steel, cement and electricity, Reuters reported.

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This morning in metals news: General Motors says it will increase vehicle deliveries to customers in the US and Canada; US nonfarm business sector labor productivity rose by 5.4% in the first quarter; and crude oil prices continue to rise.

Each month, MetalMiner hosts a webinar on a specific metals topic. Explore the upcoming webinars and sign up for each on the MetalMiner Events page.

General Motors to increase deliveries to US, Canada

General Motors headquarters in Detroit, Michigan

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General Motors announced plans to increase vehicle deliveries to customers in the US and Canada.

The automaker cited “strong demand” for Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles.

Production of the Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD full-size pickups will increase by about 1,000 trucks per month, General Motors said, beginning in mid-July. In addition, shipments of Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-size pickups will increase by about 30,000 total units from mid-May through the week of July 5.

“As announced in May, GM will return full-size pickup production to Oshawa Assembly in Canada during the fourth quarter of 2021,” the automaker added. “The new accelerated timeline and incremental volume are expected to make an impact in 2022, as production ramps up.”

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