Steel

The Construction Monthly Metals Index (MMI) picked up by 4.9% for this month’s reading.

September 2021 Construction MMI chart

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US construction spending

U.S. construction spending reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,568.8 billion in July, the Census Bureau reported earlier this month.

The July rate marked a 0.3% increase from the previous month. Furthermore, the July figure jumped by 9.0% compared with July 2020.

During the first seven months of the year, construction spending totaled $883.2 billion, up 6.2% year over year.

Private construction spending reached a rate of $1,231.0 billion, or up 0.3%. Within private construction, residential construction reached an annual rate of $773.0 billion in July, up 0.5% from June. Nonresidential construction came in at $458.0 billion in July, or down 0.2%.

Meanwhile, public construction reached $337.8 billion, up 0.7%. Educational construction checked in at $79.7 billion, down 0.5%. Highway construction rose by 1.9% to a rate of $94.5 billion.

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The Raw Steels Monthly Metals Index (MMI) dropped by 1.4%, as Chinese steel and U.S. scrap prices declined.

September 2021 Raw Steels MMI chart

Each month, MetalMiner hosts a webinar on a specific metals topic. This month’s discussion is Carbon Steel 2022: What types of steel contracts to set up and when to execute them. Explore the upcoming webinars and sign up for each on the MetalMiner Events page.

Chinese steel merger to form third-largest steel producer

Chinese steel factory

fanjianhua/Adobe Stock

On Aug. 20, Chinese steelmakers Ansteel Group and Ben Gang formally began the process of merging their operations. If the process is completed, this will create the world’s third-largest steelmaker, behind China Baowu Group and ArcelorMittal.

Since both companies are state-owned, there will be no money changed in the transaction. Instead, the merger will be a government-backed restructuring in an effort to consolidate production in China’s bloated steel sector. Ansteel will be taking a 51% stake in Ben Gang.

The merged entity will keep the Ansteel name. Its annual production capacity will reach 63 million metric tons of crude steel.

US imports rise

Preliminary reports from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate steel imports rose for a second consecutive month.

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Higher stock levels and summer holidays have seen prices for hot rolled coil in Western Europe move off since late July, industry watchers said.

“I have the impression that people are not fully back yet from their holidays,” one source said.

Those who have returned are now either taking a wait-and-see approach to any new buying or are purchasing only small amounts, the source added.

Volatility is the name of the game. Do you have a steel buying strategy that can handle the ups and downs?

Hot rolled coil slides in Western Europe

hot-rolled coil steel

taitai6769/Adobe Stock

Offers on hot rolled coil prices produced in Western Europe are now about €1,150 ($1,350) per metric ton exw for December delivery. That marked a drop of 4.2% from the €1,200 ($1,410) in July.

Prices for cold rolled coil, a downstream product of hot rolled coil, normally carry a premium of €100-120 ($120-140) per metric ton.

Import offers on hot rolled coil from the Far East are now about €1,000 ($1,175) per ton cfr European ports, sources also said.

Another trader reported he had heard of offers from South Korea at €960 ($1,130) per metric ton cfr Antwerp.

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Global crude steel production fell month over month for the second straight month in July, the World Steel Association reported this week.

With volatile steel markets, knowing which strategy to execute and when can make all the difference between saving and losing money. See how MetalMiner looks at different market scenarios

Global crude steel production drops

China steel production

Zhao Jiankang/AdobeStock

Global crude steel production totaled 161.7 million metric tons in July, the World Steel Association reported.

The total marked a decline from 168 million metric tons in June. Furthermore, production totaled 175 million metric tons in May.

Meanwhile, July production jumped 3.3% on a year-over-year basis.

Chinese steel production curbs take hold

Beijing’s efforts to curb steel production might not have been particularly successful during the first half of the year, as Chinese steel production surged. Chinese steel production from January through June totaled 563.3 million tons, or up 11.8% year over year.

However, the country’s steel output has declined in each of the last two months.

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U.S. steel imports totaled 2.7 million metric tons in July, the Census Bureau reported this week.

The total marked an increase from 2.6 million metric tons in June.

Are you under pressure to generate steel cost savings? Make sure you are following these five best practices.

US steel imports paced by blooms, billets and slabs

steel made in an EAF

nikitos77/Adobe Stock

The July rise in imports came largely on the back of a jump in imports of blooms, billets and slabs.

Imports for that category totaled 860,790 tons, up 8.2% from 795,863 tons in June.

Meanwhile, imports of hot dipped galvanized sheets and strips totaled 228,981 tons in July, up from 177,925 tons the previous month.

Imports of oil country goods rose to 160,025 tons from 154,073 tons the previous month.

Rebar, hot rolled sheet imports decline

However, imports of reinforcing bars fell to 82,623 tons from 94,915 tons the previous month.

Hot rolled sheet imports totaled 282,605 tons in July, down from 311,461 tons the previous month.

Wire rod imports fell to 101,746 tons from 113,408 tons in June.

North of the border

By country, imports from Canada increased to 594,500 from tons in July from 579,405 tons the previous month.

Meanwhile, imports from Mexico fell 7.9% month over month to 349,343 tons.

Imports from Russia surged by 30.5% to 210,540 tons.

Elsewhere, imports from Japan plunged to 60,924 tons in July from 126,982 tons in June. Korean imports jumped to 265,573 tons from 248,582 tons the previous month.

In addition, imports from Brazil surged by 34.8% month over month to 413,306 tons in July.

Steel Dynamics eyes Q4 for new flat rolled mill

Steel buyers continue to face myriad challenges, from market tightness to logistics issues.

Global steel production declined for the second straight month on a month-over-month basis in July, the World Steel Association reported this week.

Global steel production totaled 161.7 million tons in July, down from 168 million tons the previous month. Meanwhile, May production totaled 175 million tons.

Furthermore, Beijing’s efforts to curb steel production appear to be taking hold. China’s steel production also declined for a second straight month, totaling 86.8 million tons in July (down from 93.9 million tons in June.

In the U.S., buyers are vying for limited supply, whether domestically or in the form of steel imports, amid an unprecedented ascent of steel prices over the last year.

Some relief is coming in the form of Steel Dynamics, Inc.’s (SDI) new electric arc furnace (EAF) flat rolled mill in Sinton, Texas. In its Q2 investor report, the steelmaker said it plans to start production at the mill in mid-Q4 2021. The company estimated an investment price tag of $1.9 billion for the new mill.

SDI estimates the mill will add 3 million tons in annual production, bringing its total annual capacity to nearly 14 million tons.

Cut-to-length adders. Width and gauge adders. Coatings. Feel confident in knowing what you should be paying for metal with MetalMiner should-cost models.

This morning in metals news: U.S. steel imports are up by 17.4% in the year to date, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported; meanwhile, Toyota Motor is imposing its biggest price hike on steel materials in over a decade, according to Nikkei Asia; and, lastly, the WTI crude oil price has ticked up this week.

Cut-to-length adders. Width and gauge adders. Coatings. Feel confident in knowing what you should be paying for metal with MetalMiner should-cost models.

US steel imports up 17.4%

imports

nattanan726/Adobe Stock

US steel imports jumped by 17.4% through the first seven months of the year, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported.

The U.S. imported a total of 3.0 million net tons of steel in July 2021, up 2.8% from June, AISI reported, citing Census Bureau data.

Meanwhile, through the first seven months of 2021, steel imports totaled 17.7 million net tons, or up 17.4% year over year.

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U.S. steel capacity utilization picked back up to 85.0% for the week ending Aug. 21, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported.

Receive the latest short-term and long-term outlook for the full range of industrial metals (base and ferrous) at the annual MetalMiner Forecasting Workshop on Aug. 25. 

Steel capacity rises

hot rolled steel

niteenrk/Adobe Stock

U.S. steel capacity utilization rose to 85.0% from 84.7% the previous week. Steel output reached 1,877,000 net tons last week, up 0.4% from the previous week.

Meanwhile, steel output for the week ending Aug. 21 increased by 27.2% from the same week in 2020, when the capacity utilization rate reached 65.9%.

For the year to date, U.S. steel production totaled 60,173,000 net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 80.4%. The year-to-date production total increased by 19.8% from 2020, when the rate reached 66.6% for the equivalent period.

Steel prices continue to gain

U.S. steel prices have embarked on an essentially uninterrupted rise over the last year.

While recent month-over-month gains are not hitting the double-digit marks we’ve seen over the last year, prices are still moving upward.

U.S. hot rolled coil closed Monday at $1,883 per short ton, or up 3.98% month over month. Meanwhile, U.S. cold-rolled coil closed at $2,088 per short ton, or up 4.56%.

Meanwhile, hot dipped galvanized rose by 2.97% to $2,184 per short ton.

Nucor acquires steel rack solutions provider for $370M

In steel sector M&A news, Nucor Corporation on Monday announced it had acquired Hannibal Industries, Inc., for a cash price of $370 million.

“We are excited to officially welcome our Hannibal teammates as part of the Nucor team,” said Giff Daughtridge, president of Nucor’s sheet and tubular products division. “Adding steel racking solutions to our product portfolio expands our ability to serve our customers in the fast-growing warehouse and distribution market. This acquisition complements our existing product capabilities in this area.”

Hannibal Industries, Inc., is headquartered in Los Angeles and produces 150,000 tons of steel products annually, according to information on its website.

With volatile steel markets, knowing which strategy to execute and when can make all the difference between saving and losing money. See how MetalMiner looks at different market scenarios.

Unusually, the global steel market is diverging in the opposite direction from “normal.”

Historically, China would show signs of strength driven by robust construction activity while Europe and the U.S. struggled, facing more mature markets and relatively higher levels of foreign penetration.

The U.S. continues to power ahead. There, mill lead times remain stubbornly protracted.

Meanwhile, China is showing all kinds of uncertainty — much of it self-inflicted.

Receive the latest short-term and long-term outlook for the full range of industrial metals (base and ferrous) at the annual MetalMiner Forecasting Workshop on Aug. 25

China’s emissions efforts

China steel plant

gui yong nian/Adobe Stock

Although much was made of China’s ambitions to reduce emissions over the coming decade, after an initial flurry of anxiety the industry settled back to assume changes would be eased in gradually.

Indeed, Beijing even sought to play down the rate at which changes would be imposed following a sudden spike in prices as expectations of steel shortages took hold.

But over the last couple of weeks, it is becoming clear that cutbacks are happening. Output in the second half of the year is expected to be considerably less than the record first half.

Iron ore has taken a cue from both the message and the reality of cooling demand. Prices for 62% iron ore has dropped from the low 1,500s RMB/metric ton in early July to the mid-1,100s today on the Dalian exchange.

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This morning in metals news: the pace of the rise of U.S. import prices slowed in July compared with the previous month; meanwhile, Nucor completed the acquisition of an insulated metal panels business; and, lastly, U.S. steel prices continue to move upward.

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US import prices up 0.3% in July

imports

nattanan726/Adobe Stock

U.S. import prices jumped by 0.3% in July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. Higher fuel prices drove the July jump, according to the BLS.

Meanwhile, import prices surged by 1.1% in June.

On the other hand, U.S. export prices rose by 1.3% in July after a 1.2% jump in June.

Nucor acquires insulated metal panels business

Nucor Corporation officially completed the acquisition of Cornerstone Building Brands’ insulated metal panels business, the Charlotte-based steelmaker recently announced.

The acquisition comes at a cash price of $1 billion.

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The Raw Steels Monthly Metals Index (MMI) rose by 7.8% as U.S. and Chinese steel prices continued their rally.

August 2021 Raw Steels MMI chart

Volatility is the name of the game. Do you have a steel buying strategy that can handle the ups and downs?

Executive order on zero emissions, electric vehicles

On Thursday, Aug. 5, President Joe Biden’s office announced its intention to sign an executive order that sets a “new target to make half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 zero-emissions vehicles, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric or fuel cell electric vehicles.”

The announcement was well-received by the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), as this executive order will boost domestic demand for steel. AISI CEO Kevin Dempsey said “the use of American-made steel, which is the cleanest in the world, will be key in the transition to EVs.”

As for the bipartisan infrastructure deal, the Senate voted 69-30 on Tuesday to pass a $1 trillion infrastructure package.

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