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This morning in metals news, copper prices approached a 10-week high, trade tensions continue to rise between the U.S. and China, and an Australian coal miner boasts a $4.4 billion IPO.

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Copper Prices Hover Near 10-Week High

Even with trade tensions weighing on markets, copper prices reached nearly a 10-week high, according to Reuters, despite dropping on Monday.

The U.S. recently announced a new batch of tariffs on Chinese goods amounting to $200 billion, while China responded with $60 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods.

China Says U.S. is Acting Like a Trade Bully

As trade tensions took a big leap forward in recent weeks, China has accused the U.S. of trade bullying, according to a BBC report.

The U.S.’s $200 billion in tariffs and China’s retaliatory $60 billion in tariffs went into effect today.

Coal Miner Has $4.4B IPO

An Australian coal miner, Coronado Coal, boasted a $4.4 billion IPO listing, the highest since the mining boom, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

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The company expects earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $578 million for 2018, according to the report.

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This morning in metals news, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) dished out criticism for a global steel forum and its efforts toward curbing excess steel capacity, Chinese steel rebar prices are up and Walmart warns tariffs could result in price increases.

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USTR Criticizes Global Steel Forum

Following the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity ministerial meeting held in Paris yesterday, the USTR released a statement questioning the forum’s efficacy in efforts to curb global steel capacity.

“The United States thanks Argentina for its chairmanship of the Global Forum and for its efforts to achieve meaningful outcomes from the Forum process this year,” the statement begins. “The United States has been an active and committed partner in this process, working to seek prompt implementation of the Forum’s past policy recommendations, which are aimed at reducing excess capacity as well as restoring balance and market function in the global steel sector.”

However, the USTR argued the forum has not done enough to realize its goals.

“Unfortunately, what we have seen to date leaves us questioning whether the Forum is capable of delivering on these objectives,” the statement continued. “We do not see an equal commitment to the process from all Forum members. Commitments to provide timely information critical to the proper functioning of the Forum’s work, for example, have gone unfulfilled. More importantly, we have yet to see any concrete progress toward true market-based reform in the economies that have contributed most to the crisis of excess capacity in the steel sector.”

Chinese Rebar Prices Rise

Chinese construction steel rebar prices were up Friday, according to a Reuters report.

According to the report, the most-active contract on the SHFE rose 0.1% on Friday.

Walmart Warns of Price Increases as a Result of Tariffs

On the heels of Washington’s announcement this week of the forthcoming imposition of tariffs worth $200 billion on imports of Chinese goods, Walmart wrote a letter to USTR Robert Lighthizer warning that it may have to raise prices, Reuters reported.

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According to the report, the letter cited products which could be hit with price increases, which included gas grills, bicycles and Christmas lights.

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This morning in metals news, contract talks between United Steelworkers and U.S. Steel have been “frustrating,” China’s scrap usage increased during the first six months of the year and Thyssenkrupp’s CEO says the firm will forge on with plans to merge its European operations with those of Tata Steel

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Negotiations Continue

Contract talks between U.S. Steel and United Steelworkers continue to drag on, with the union referring to the dialogue as “frustrating,” according to a report by the Times of Northwest Indiana.

The union’s contract expired Sept. 1, but union members have stayed on the job. Earlier this month, the union voted to authorize a strike at U.S. Steel.

“These workers have made a number of sacrifices over the past several years – including three years with a wage freeze – to put this company back on track,” USW International President Leo W. Gerard said in a prepared statement Sept. 10. “Now that U.S. Steel is expecting to make a profit of nearly $2 billion this year, it is time for the workers to share in the success U.S. Steel is seeing now.”

Scrap Usage on the Rise in China

According to S&P Global Platts, China’s scrap usage in the first half of 2018 increased.

Per the report, 87.72 million mt of scrap was used by steel mills in the first half of 2018, while 148 million mt was used in all of 2017.

Thyssenkrupp CEO Says Tata Deal Still On

The interim chief executive of Thyssenkrupp says the German firm’s previously agreed upon deal to merge its European operations with those of Tata Steel will continue as planned, according to a Reuters report.

Heinrich Hiesinger, the previous CEO, stepped down in July, forcing the German firm to replace the chief executive who helped bring the Tata deal to fruition. Guido Kerkhoff has served as interim CEO following Hiesinger’s departure.

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The merged operations would combined to create Europe’s second-largest steelmaker, behind only ArcelorMittal.

Source: wto.org

This morning in metals news, China went to the World Trade Organization to file a complaint regarding the U.S.’s $200 billion worth of tariffs announced Monday, Nucor resumes operations in the Carolinas following Hurricane Florence and copper prices rally.

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China Goes to the WTO

Following the U.S.’s announcement Monday of its intention to slap $200 billion worth of tariffs on imports from China as of Sept. 24, China has gone to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to file a complaint, Reuters reported.

The U.S. announced plans to impose a 10% tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports on Monday.

Nucor Operations Restart in North Carolina, South Carolina

After halting its operations in the Carolinas last week ahead of Hurricane Florence, Nucor’s plants in the two states are back up and running, S&P Global Platts reported.

Copper Prices Rise

Despite an escalation in trade tensions between the U.S. and China, the price of copper rallied Tuesday, Reuters reported.

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LME copper jumped 1.4% Tuesday, according to the report.

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The Trump administration announced after markets closed Monday that it would go through with the imposition of a 10% tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

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The tariffs — stemming from the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) Section 301 investigation of Chinese trade practices — will go into effect Monday, Sept. 24, and will escalate to 25% as of Jan. 1, 2019.

Taking into account the $50 billion in tariffs that have already gone into effect, the additional $200 billion means about half of the value of Chinese exports to the U.S. is now subject to tariffs (in 2017, the value of U.S. imports of Chinese goods hit just over $505 billion).

However, the tariffs don’t stop there — the U.S. will add $267 billion in tariffs if China responds with retaliatory tariffs, according to a statement from the White House.

“For months, we have urged China to change these unfair practices, and give fair and reciprocal treatment to American companies,” the White House statement read. “We have been very clear about the type of changes that need to be made, and we have given China every opportunity to treat us more fairly. But, so far, China has been unwilling to change its practices.

“To counter China’s unfair practices, on June 15, I announced that the United States would impose tariffs of 25 percent on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports. China, however, still refuses to change its practices – and indeed recently imposed new tariffs in an effort to hurt the United States economy.”

According to a USTR release, the finalized list of products in this $200 billion tranche of tariffs includes 5,745 full or partial lines out of the originally proposed 6,031 tariff lines.

“Included among the products removed from the proposed list are certain consumer electronics products such as smart watches and Bluetooth devices; certain chemical inputs for manufactured goods, textiles and agriculture; certain health and safety products such as bicycle helmets, and child safety furniture such as car seats and playpens,” the USTR release states.

U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, in a statement expressed support for measures aimed at addressing alleged unfair trade practices by China, but offered a cautionary note vis-a-vis the impact of tariffs.

“Any time tariffs are imposed I worry that Americans will be forced to pay extra costs – in this case on nearly half of U.S. imports from China,” Brady said. “I continue to emphasize that the ultimate means to create an effective outcome is for President Trump and President Xi to engage constructively to develop a long-term and profound solution that levels the playing field for American manufacturers, farmers, and workers.

“Until China comes to the table, one way to relieve pressure on Americans is establish an effective and timely process to allow products to be excluded from these additional tariffs if tariffs would make it harder for us to sell more ‘Made in America’ products globally.”

Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, disapproved of the decision.

“The U.S. economy runs on pro-growth policies, but that’s not what tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods deliver,” he said in a statement. “The administration has serious issues to resolve with China on market access, unfair subsidies, technology theft, and cybersecurity. But there are less harmful ways to truly achieve free and fair trade with China.

“Today’s decision makes clear that the administration did not heed the numerous warnings from American consumers and businesses about rising costs and lost jobs on Main Street, in factories, and on farms and ranches across the country. Both countries should stay at the negotiating table, and the U.S. should continue working with its allies to seek alternative solutions.”

On the other hand, Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul supported the move to put additional pressure on China.

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“Strong trade enforcement against China’s persistent violations of trade laws, including the theft of American trade secrets, is long overdue,” Paul said. “These tariffs should compel China to finally address unfair trade practices. America has the leverage in this economic relationship, and it’s about time we use it to defend our workers and businesses who can compete with anyone on a truly level playing field.”

The full list of Chinese products included within the latest round of tariffs can be found here.

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This morning in metals news, President Donald Trump again expressed support for imposing tariffs on imports (as the U.S. considers further tariffs on Chinese goods), shares of the Chinese aluminum giant China Hongqiao fell, and base metals prices are down on the prospect of escalating tariffs between China and the U.S.

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Tweeting for Tariffs

On Monday morning, President Trump expressed support yet again for his administration’s strategy of tariffs:

Tariffs have put the U.S. in a very strong bargaining position, with Billions of Dollars, and Jobs, flowing into our Country – and yet cost increases have thus far been almost unnoticeable. If countries will not make fair deals with us, they will be “Tariffed!”

He also made direct reference to the steel industry:

Our Steel Industry is the talk of the World. It has been given new life, and is thriving. Billions of Dollars is being spent on new plants all around the country!

The U.S. has already slapped a total of $50 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese goods, and, according to The New York Times, the president is expected to announce an additional $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods this week, which would mark a significant escalation in tensions between the two countries.

China Hongqiao Shares Fall

Shares in Chinese aluminum maker China Hongqiao dropped on the news of new fees announced by Shandong province, Reuters reported.

Shares fell by as much as 8.5% Monday after falling nearly 16% Friday, according to the report.

Base Metals Prices Drop

Speaking of trade tensions, said tensions have had a depressive effect on base metals prices, according to Reuters.

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Base metals prices fell across the board Monday in anticipation of an expected announcement this week from the U.S. regarding an additional $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods.

The markets appear strangely relaxed about the growing economic and political standoff between the U.S. and China.

Maybe because it has been a slow burn over the last six months or maybe because no one quite believes either side would be stupid enough to allow a full-blown trade war to develop, but markets are generally quite sanguine … so far.

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Yes, the Chinese stock market is down. In addition, commodity prices are depressed relative to where we would have expected them to be back in Q1, when global growth was strong and there appeared little to deflect both mature and emerging markets from enjoying another couple of years of robust growth.

Gideon Rackman, writing in the Financial Times, argues that we are being far too relaxed about this, that for a number of reasons the prospect of these initial $50 billion of tariffs escalating to $200 billion — or worse — is real and the consequences should worry us.

For a number of reasons, neither side is likely to back down.

Read more

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This morning in metals news, Nucor announced plans late last week to invest $650 million in its Kentucky sheet mill, ArcelorMittal put in a revised bid for Essar Steel and China warns it will retaliate if the U.S. imposes further tariffs.

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A Big Investment

The Nucor Corporation announced Friday that it planned to invest $650 million in to expand the production capability of Nucor Steel Gallatin, its flat-rolled sheet steel mill in Ghent, Kentucky.

“This investment is another major component of our planned strategy for long-term profitable growth,” said John Ferriola, chairman, CEO and president of Nucor. “Together with the new galvanizing line, this expansion increases our presence in the important Midwest market, specifically in the automotive, agriculture, heavy equipment, and energy pipe and tube sectors.”

According to the release, Nucor acquired the former Gallatin Steel Company in late 2014 for approximately $780 million.

ArcelorMittal Revises Essar Bid

ArcelorMittal submitted a higher bid for the bankrupted Essar Steel, the Economic Times reported.

According to the report, the new bid is higher than the bid submitted by another suitor, Numetal.

China Warns of Tariff Retaliation

As the U.S. mulls whether to impose tariffs on Chinese goods worth approximately $200 billion, China warned it would retaliate against additional tariffs, ABC News reported.

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In addition, President Donald Trump indicated Friday he was considering tariffs on an additional $267 billion worth of goods (in addition to the aforementioned $200 billion currently under review).

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This morning in metals news, Argentina sets exports tariffs, LME copper drops and China’s biggest aluminum-producing city is getting set to roll out high-end aluminum projects.

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Argentina Slaps Exports with Tariffs

Argentina added export tariffs to all products, including steel, according to S&P Global Platts.

According to the report, the country’s steel exports to the U.S. in the year to date are down 11.9%.

Copper Falls

LME copper reached a nearly two-week low Tuesday, Reuters reported.

However, the metal stabilized, ultimately trading flat on Tuesday, according to the report, while SHFE copper fell 0.4%.

High-End Aluminum

The Chinese city of Binzhou, home to aluminum major China Hongqiao Group, is planning projects to encourage growth in high-end aluminum production, according to a Reuters report citing a local government document.

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One of the projects includes an aluminum alloy plant of 10,000 tons per year, according to the report.

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Just last year, the U.S. Department of Commerce kicked off an investigation of imports of aluminum foil from China; in February, it issued a final affirmative determination in its anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases.

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Last week, Mexico announced it was going in a similar direction.

The Mexican government launched an anti-dumping investigation of imports of aluminum foil from China. Mexican firm Almexa Aluminio was the petitioner in the case, according to the government release.

The products referred to in the company’s petition are “aluminum foil coils for domestic and/or industrial use with a thickness equal to or less than 0.080 millimeters (mm), without support, simply laminated, with an external diameter equal to or greater than 100 mm and weighing more than 5 kg,” according to the release.

The Aluminum Association, a U.S. industry group, expressed support for the Mexican government’s decision.

“The Aluminum Association is pleased by the Government of Mexico’s decision to launch an antidumping investigation on imports of certain Chinese aluminum foil,” said Heidi Brock, president and CEO of the Aluminum Association. “The North American aluminum market is highly integrated, and it is vital the region work together to combat unfair trade practices and enforce rules-based trade. The U.S. aluminum industry has already seen real results from targeted and durable trade enforcement actions, and we are glad to see trading partners like Mexico demonstrate their commitment to rigorous and timely enforcement of global trade rules.”

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Per the Mexican government release, “non-market economy conditions prevail in China” for some several reasons, including:

  • the artificial reduction of prices
  • the role of “industrial associations as tools of the state”
  • and the “control and state direction of foreign direct investment abroad and the direction and control of the State in the entry of investment and property”