Steel

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

Looking for metal price forecasting and data analysis in one easy-to-use platform? Inquire about MetalMiner Insights today!

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).

Read more

Ricochet64/Adobe Stock

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.

Looking for metal price forecasting and data analysis in one easy-to-use platform? Inquire about MetalMiner Insights today!

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.

Read more

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.

Looking for metal price forecasting and data analysis in one easy-to-use platform? Inquire about MetalMiner Insights today!

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.

Read more

Zerophoto/Adobe Stock

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.

Looking for metal price forecasting and data analysis in one easy-to-use platform? Inquire about MetalMiner Insights today!

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

The Raw Steels Monthly Metals Index (MMI) showed some strength again this month with another three-point increase, rising to 72.

U.S. HRC and scrap prices increased quite a bit, while LME billet prices also registered double-digit increases.

Key forms of steel increased across the board in the first half of December 2019. Plate prices increased the most, with prices spiking a couple of times during the month.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

However, HRC, CRC and HDG increases lost some steam later in December.

Read more

byrdyak/Adobe Stock

This morning in metals news, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released monthly jobs data Friday, Liberty Steel Group announced it is the preferred buyer for Bayou Steel Group and U.S. November steel shipments dropped 3.1%.

Looking for metal price forecasting and data analysis in one easy-to-use platform? Inquire about MetalMiner Insights today!

Unemployment rate holds steady

According to the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. unemployment rate held steady at 3.5% in December.

In the manufacturing sector, employment fell by 12,000 jobs in December, while the sector was up 46,000 jobs in 2019 overall. Meanwhile, the sector added 264,000 jobs in 2018.

Liberty named preferred buyer for Bayou Steel

Liberty Steel Group, part of steel tycoon Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, has emerged as the preferred buyer for Louisiana’s Bayou Steel Group, which closed abruptly in October 2019.

According to Liberty, the company has bid $28 million for the steel firm based in LaPlace, Louisiana.

“Subject to completion of a $28 million deal to acquire the business, Liberty has developed a plan to upgrade and modernise Bayou’s idled steel mill in LaPlace, Louisiana, with a view to re-starting its recycling operations in the second half of 2020 and steel making operations by 2021,” Liberty said in a release. “The transaction is expected to close on January 31, 2020.”

November steel shipments fall

U.S. steel mills shipped 7.67 million tons of steel in November, which marked a 3.1% decline from October shipment levels, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI).

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

Through the first 11 months of 2019, U.S. steel shipments reached 88.16 million tons, up 0.8% on a year-over-year basis.

Pavel Ignatov/Adobe Stock

This morning in metals news, U.S. raw steel production in 2019 increased 1.9% over 2018, Rio Tinto announced plans to resume operations at its Richards Bay Minerals site in South Africa and the U.S. Department of Commerce made an affirmative preliminary antidumping duty determination related to collated steel staples from China.

Looking for metal price forecasting and data analysis in one easy-to-use platform? Inquire about MetalMiner Insights today!

U.S. raw steel production rises 1.9% in 2019

U.S. raw steel production in 2019 (through Dec. 28) totaled 96.3 million tons, marking a 1.9% year-over-year increase, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI).

Capacity utilization rate for the period in question reached 80.2%, up from 78.2% for the same period in 2018.

Rio Tinto to resume operations at Richards Bay Minerals

Miner Rio Tinto recently announced plans to resume its operations at its Richards Bay Minerals site in South Africa.

“Rio Tinto has today started the process of resuming operations at Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) in South Africa,” Rio Tinto said. “This follows discussions led by the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Sihle Zikalala, involving all stakeholders focused on securing stability in order to address the issues in the community and provide the stable environment necessary for RBM to resume operations.

“A phased restart is now in progress across the operation, with RBM expected to return to full operations in early January, leading to regular production in early 2020. Rio Tinto is contacting customers who were advised of a force majeure in their supply that this has now been lifted. Rio Tinto will review the restart of the Zulti South project after normalisation of operations at RBM.”

Rio Tinto said titanium dioxide slag production for 2019 is expected to fall at the lower end of its previous forecast of between 1.2 million and 1.4 million tons.

DOC announces antidumping duty determination on collated steel staples

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) issued a preliminary antidumping duty determination related to imports of collated steel staples from China.

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

According to the DOC, the product in question has been dumped into the U.S. at a margin of 301.64%.

Imports of collated steel staples from China amounted to a value of $88.8 million in 2018, according to the DOC.

Zerophoto/Adobe Stock

For Indian steel producers, 2019 was an unremarkable year.

Like some of the previous years, the steel sector slumped throughout the year, save for the last two months.

Looking for metal price forecasting and data analysis in one easy-to-use platform? Inquire about MetalMiner Insights today!

Globally and domestically, the steel industry witnessed a steep price fall not seen in the past three years. For example, prices of hot-rolled coil steel fell for 21 straight weeks; only toward the end of 2019 did some steel companies raise the price of steel products.

Rising steel imports, drop in coking coal imports

Production-wise, Indian steel makers continued to face the challenge of imported steel flooding the market. This, and the lack of pickup of steel, led to some companies reducing their steel output. In October, India had reported a 3.4% drop in crude steel output at 9.09 million tons, against 9.41 million tons in the same month the previous fiscal year.

One indicator of reduction in steel output was the drop in coking coal imports in November, which declined by 14.52% to 3.61 million tons against 4.22 million tons  in the same month last fiscal, according to a report by Iman Resources. A report in MoneyControl said the country’s crude steel production in November was down by 2.8% to 8.9 million tons, compared to production in November 2018.

The country’s crude steel production in November was down by 2.8% to 8.9 million tons, compared to the production figure of November 2018.

Looking to the future of Indian steel

So, what does the immediate future hold for steel in India?

A majority of steel producers and analysts are positive Q4 of the fiscal will show a rebound. What gives them hope is the Indian government’s announcement to put fresh investment into the country’s infrastructure.

A few days ago, the government unveiled the multimillion-dollar National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP), with projects spread across 18 states over the next five years.

From fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2025, sectors such as energy (24%), roads (19%), urban development (16%) and railways (13%) will take up around 70% of the projected capex.

To achieve a U.S. $5 trillion economy by fiscal year 2025, India needs to spend about $1.4 trillion on infrastructure.

The endeavor of the NIP aims to make this happen in an efficient manner, India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters in India.

This fresh investment in power, railways, and water, coupled with renewed interest in the automobile sector is bound to bring in fresh demand for steel, analysts say.

Need buying strategies for steel in 2019? MetalMiner’s Annual Outlook has what you need

At the start of fiscal year 2020, the steel industry’s estimated consumption growth was pegged at 7%, which was in line with the demand seen in the last two years of about 7-8%. Steel analysts feel the worst is behind them, and the new year will start off on a more positive note.

According to recent data from the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), U.S. raw steel production for the year through Dec. 21, 2019, had increased 1.8% compared with the same period in 2018.

Need buying strategies for steel? Request your two-month free trial of MetalMiner’s Outlook

Production for the nearly full year in 2019 totaled 94.45 million tons, according to the report, at a capacity utilization rate of 80.1%. The figure marked a 1.8% increase from the 92.78 million tons produced during the same period in 2018 (when the capacity utilization rate hit 78.2%).

Meanwhile, for the week ending Dec. 21, 2019, production totaled 1.87 million tons at a capacity utilization rate of 80.7%. The weekly production total marked a 0.3% increase from the 1.86 million tons produced during the same week in 2018 (when the capacity utilization rate reached 79.4%).

Furthermore, production for the week ending Dec. 21, 2019, marked a 1.2% increase compared with the previous week, when production reached 1.84 million tons at a capacity utilization rate of 79.7%.

The steel industry’s capacity utilization rate reached as high as 81.9% earlier in the year. The U.S. Department of Commerce, when it implemented Section 232 tariffs on imported steel in March 2018, identified the 80% mark as a target to be reached for the domestic steel sector.

Broken down by region, production totals for the week ending Dec. 21, 2019, reached:

  • Northeast: 207,000 tons
  • Great Lakes: 681,000 tons
  • Midwest: 194,000 tons
  • Southern: 695,000 tons
  • Western: 89,000 tons

Looking for metal price forecasting and data analysis in one easy-to-use platform? Inquire about MetalMiner Insights today!

U.S. steel prices picked up near the tail end of 2019 after slumping throughout the year.

As of Christmas week, the U.S. HRC price reached $560/st, up 7.69% from the same time the previous month, according to MetalMiner IndX data.

U.S. HDG reached $834/st, up 5.3% on a month-over-month basis.

U.S. CRC ticked up to $754/st, up 6.35% on a month-over-month basis.

The U.S. plate price reached $694/st, up 12.85% from the same time the previous month.