Steel

Although housing starts in the U.S. in February declined compared with January, they rose 39.2% compared with starts in January 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

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This morning in metals news, U.S. Steel unveiled its guidance for the first quarter, Glencore issued its response to the COVID-19 crisis, and gold prices are rising in relative value compared with copper and silver.

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This morning in metals news, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. and Canada have mutually agreed to close their shared border to non-essential traffic, Indian steel stocks have gotten a boost this week and Chinese iron ore futures made gains.

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As government entities in the U.S. battle to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), incrementally stricter provisions on public gatherings have been implemented. Large businesses, from casinos on the Las Vegas strip to Disney World, have closed up shop.

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As of 4:00 p.m. CET (Central European Time) on Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 168,109 confirmed cases in 148 countries, including 6,610 deaths.

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This morning in metals news, U.S. raw steel production is up through the first 2 1/2 months of the year, Anglo American will temporarily slow work on its Quellaveco copper project in Peru and China’s copper inventories are up to a four-year high.

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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 coverage here on MetalMiner, including: Tesla’s reported interest in cobalt-free batteries; the oil price crash; falling aluminum prices; supply-chain challenges amid the COVID-19 outbreak; Trump’s travel suspension; and global cobalt mine production:

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Experts in India are of the opinion that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, presents an opportunity for India to become an alternate supply chain to China in metals, especially steel.

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TV Narendran, Tata Steel’s chief executive and managing director, is one of the people who believes just that.

While addressing a meeting of business representatives recently, he said the de-risking of supply chains originating from China, which had started following heightened concerns of a U.S.-China trade war, was likely to be accelerated on the back of concerns over the recent outbreak.

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This morning in metals news, the U.S.’s steel import levels were down by nearly half in February, Norsk Hydro’s Albras aluminum plant in Brazil recently experienced a power failure and General Motors recently revealed new developments in its overall electric vehicle (EV) strategy.

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Steel import levels drop in February

U.S. imports of steel dropped by 47.5% in February, the Times of Northwest Indiana reported.

Import permit applications for February fell to 1.82 million tons, according to the report.

Hydro’s Albras plant hit with power outage

Norsk Hydro last week reported a power failure at its part-owned Albras aluminum plant in Brazil led to the shutdown of 25% of its capacity.

One of four production lines at the plant was shut down after a fire impacted an electrical transformer. The plant, in which Hydro has a 51% stake, has an annual capacity of 460,000 tons.

GM announces EV developments

Automaker GM continues to promote its drive toward electrification, this time unveiling new Ultium batteries.

“Thousands of GM scientists, engineers and designers are working to execute an historic reinvention of the company,” GM President Mark Reuss said. “They are on the cusp of delivering a profitable EV business that can satisfy millions of customers.”

The batteries are “unique in the industry because the large-format, pouch-style cells can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack,” GM said in a release.

“This allows engineers to optimize battery energy storage and layout for each vehicle design,” the release continued.

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Per GM, the Ultium batteries energy options will range from 50 to 200 kWh, “which could enable a GM-estimated range up to 400 miles or more on a full charge with 0 to 60 mph acceleration as low as 3 seconds.”

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This morning in metals news, arbitration fell in favor of the Department of Justice vis-a-vis the proposed merger of Novelis and Aleris, January steel shipments rose 5.6%, and copper made gains off of multiyear lows.

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This morning in metals news, the Aluminum Association filed antidumping and countervailing duty petitions alleging imports of aluminum sheet from 18 countries are harming the U.S. industry, the British Steel takeover is set to be completed today, and the issue of steel and aluminum tariffs on Brazil remains up in the air.

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