The Construction Monthly Metals Index (MMI) gained 2.9% this month.

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The Automotive Monthly Metals Index (MMI) held flat this month.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on India’s solar power program.

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Aluminum prices have been on an upward trend the last week or two, currently holding comfortably above $1,500 per ton for spot cash after months in the $1,400s.

The market, though, is undergoing convulsions.

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Can China ever record economic growth greater than 6%?

We don’t know, but if I were a betting man I’d say not.

After contracting some 6.8% in the first quarter of this year, estimates vary with respect to what China’s GDP growth will be for 2020 in total. CRU expects between 2-3%, according to a Financial Times article, but analysts polled by the South China Morning Post are quoting between 1.5-2.5%, with some major banks, like UBS, expecting growth at the bottom of that range.

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Many view tiny Hong Kong as something of an anathema — a hangover from the days of the British empire, part of China but not part of China, often missing the point that that is exactly its strength (or has been).

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

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Sector experts in India are hailing the new coal mining and mineral sector reforms announced a few days ago by the country’s finance minister, believing the reform will open up commercial coal mining, attract investments and save on India’s import bills, thus pushing self-reliance in coal production.

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A disturbing article in the usually sober British newspaper The Telegraph makes for difficult reading for consumers with supply chains dependent on the Pakistan or Indian subcontinent. It suggests, for different reasons, both countries are significantly underreporting the level of coronavirus deaths.

In the process, both countries could be a ticking time bomb for a return to more extreme lockdown measures this year just as both economies are supposedly coming out of hibernation.

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Steel prices have been caught in a long-term downtrend since the summer of 2018 and, more recently, have faced a decline in demand related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Steel mills have suspended production at furnaces around the country amid the drop in demand, particularly from users like the automotive sector. After suspending production in March, Detroit’s Big 3 is only just this week restarting production at its North American facilities.

What does this all mean for steel prices?

In short, steel prices could spike — and industrial buying organizations will want to have plans in place before this happens to avoid losing some serious cash.

This week, MetalMiner released a two-page guide for anybody buying steel. The quick-hit guide features two likely market scenarios and five tips on how to prepare for a steel price spike before it happens.

“The most successful strategies will take the peaks off the price spikes,” said Don Hauser, vice president of business solutions for MetalMiner and former steel buyer for John Deere. “It’s not as important to get the best price as it is to make sure you never get the worst price.”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, steel mills across the U.S. have idled production amid declining demand.

With those supply sources taken offline and a projected demand recovery — particularly from the restarting automotive sector — the elements are there for some upward movement in steel prices.

“Mills have taken out an unprecedented amount of capacity in an effort to stabilize pricing,” Hauser continued. “Then they announced increases lately and have been diligent in not undercutting price for the sake of volume. Some of those increases have stuck. Finally, as demand picks up, prices will gain some legitimate upward pressure that will be accelerated by panic buying. This won’t be corrected until more capacity is turned back on but not until after the price spike.”

Download the steel price spikes guide.

Talk to a MetalMiner expert about steel prices.

Look at MetalMiner’s latest steel price forecast.