Articles in Category: Ferrous Metals

This morning in metals news: the U.S. Court of International Trade voted to affirm the duty levels set by the Department of Commerce with respect to heavy walled rectangular steel pipes and tubes from Korea; meanwhile, U.S. distillate demand returned more quickly than gasoline and jet fuel demand; and, lastly, the copper price has bounced back this past week.

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USCIT affirms duties on Korean pipe, tube

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The U.S. Court of International Trade recently ruled to maintain a Department of Commerce determination on anti-dumping duty levels on heavy walled rectangular steel and pipe from Korea.

Korean firms Dong-A Steel Company and Kukje Steel Co., Ltd. were the plaintiffs in the case.

The Department of Commerce had previously determined a weighted-average dumping margin for DOSCO of 11.00% and 7.89% for Kukje.

Distillate demand speeds ahead

U.S. distillate demand has recovered to 2019 levels faster than gasoline and jet fuel demand, the Energy Information Administration reported.

“The combination of increases in both travel and economic activity in the United States has contributed to more demand for gasoline, distillate, and jet fuel, as reflected in the product supplied data of our Weekly Petroleum Status Report (WPSR),” the EIA reported. “Although demand has increased for all three of these products from their 2020 lows, the extent of the demand growth has differed by product.”

For the week ending June 18, the four-week average demand for gasoline reached 94% of the four-week average for the same week in 2019, the EIA reported. Meanwhile, distillate reached 98%, with jet fuel at 74%.

Copper price makes gains

Meanwhile, after an approximately six-week decline after hitting an all-time high, the copper price has made some gains over the last week.

The LME three-month copper price closed Monday at $9,460 per metric ton. The price had fallen to $9,070 per metric ton the previous Monday, June 21.

However, the price remains down 6.99% month over month.

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U.S. steel capacity utilization reached 82.7% for the week ending June 26, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported Monday.

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Steel capacity utilization takes small step back

capacity utilization

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However, U.S. steel capacity utilization for the aforementioned week dipped from 82.9% the previous week.

Steel production during the week ending June 26 totaled 1,835,000 net tons, down 0.2% from the previous week. Meanwhile, production jumped by 44.3% on a year-over year basis.

During the same week in 2020, steel capacity languished at just 56.8%, as the industry had only just started to recover from the demand hit from March-May 2020.

As we noted last week, global crude steel production gained by 16.5% year over year in May. However, production dipped slightly in May from the previous month.

As Stuart Burns explained, the U.S. steel market remains tight, despite the steady rise in capacity utilization over the past year. Furthermore, U.S. buyers looking to import will likely have to look somewhere other than Europe.

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Global crude steel production in May rose by 16.5% compared with May 2020, the World Steel Association reported this week.

However, the gain marked a drop from the 23.4% year-over-year surge in April. In addition, as Stuart Burns noted yesterday, May output fell by 0.4% compared with April.

Production jumped to 174.4 million metric tons in May.

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China’s steel production surges

Steel production


Top steel producer China churned out 99.5 million tons of crude steel in May.

China’s steel production continues to rise, despite production curbing efforts in the steelmaking hub of Tangshan.

However, earlier this month, Reuters reported the city of Tangshan might ease production restrictions.

In other steel-related news out of China, the country has filed a WTO complaint against Australia.

“China on Thursday lodged a dispute case under the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement mechanism over Australia’s anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures against some Chinese imports, the country’s commerce ministry said,” state-run news agency Xinhua said today.

“The dispute involves Australian trade measures imposed or extended on imports of railway wheels, wind towers and stainless steel sinks from China in 2019 and 2020, the ministry said.

“China opposes abusing trade measures as it not only harms the legitimate rights of Chinese companies but also undermines the solemnity and authority of WTO rules, said Gao Feng, a spokesperson with the ministry.”

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U.S. steel imports fell to 2.3 million metric tons in May, the Census Bureau reported.

The May import total marked a slight dip from the 2.4 million metric tons imported in April.

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Steel imports decline in May


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U.S. steel imports fell to 2.3 million metric tons in May, while imports through the first four months of the year were flat year over year at 8.4 million metric tons.

Imports of tin plate surged from 29,807 tons in April to 101,381 tons in May. Meanwhile, imports of cold-rolled sheets jumped from 89,028 metric tons to 131,497 metric tons in May.

In addition, hot dipped galvanized sheet and strip imports rose from 177,729 tons to 221,094 tons.

Imports of wire rod jumped from 57,343 tons to 93,849 tons.

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The steel market is running two diverging narratives.

In the U.S., the market remains extremely tight. Mill lead times are out to the end of this year. Furthermore, prices are set to stay high into 2022.

The situation is not dissimilar in Europe. In Europe, the steel market is seeing a similar post-pandemic bounceback, supply chain restocking and constraints, like the U.S., by tariffs on imported material.

But in the rest of the world, global steel production seems to be slowing. Raw material prices — iron ore, in particular — are easing.

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Steel market narrative outside of US, Europe

China steel production

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According to Capital Economics, global daily steel production in May came in somewhat lower than April, as output in China dipped.

The World Steel Association reported global steel production rose by an impressive 16.5% year over year in May. However, this is against a 2020 reference point during which many countries were only starting to emerge from national lockdowns in May 2020.

But looking at the month-over-month growth rate, daily global steel output fell by 0.4% in May. That followed a 3.5% rise in April.

At the same time, Beijing’s combination of dire warnings about manipulative speculative pricing, restrictions on credit for construction and pressure on polluting industries to reduce emissions have combined to cause a sharp correction on the previously buoyant iron ore price, down 9% on the Dalian exchange to $173/ton this week.

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This morning in metals news: the U.S. steel sector’s capacity utilization rate rose to 82.9% last week; Cleveland-Cliffs will demolish the site of the former AK Steel Ashland mill; and, lastly, the Energy Information Administration sees higher natural gas prices in the year ahead.

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US steel capacity utilization rises to 82.9%

hot rolled steel

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The U.S. steel sector’s capacity utilization rate reached 82.9% last week, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported.

Production last week totaled 1.84 million net tons, or up 0.3% week over week. The weekly production total also marked an increase of 44.6% year over year.

For the year to date (through June 19), U.S. mills produced 43.22 million net tons of crude steel, or up 14.2% year over year.

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

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Week of June 14-18 (Boeing-Airbus dispute, copper prices and much more)

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Each month, MetalMiner hosts a webinar on a specific metals topic. Explore the upcoming webinars and sign up for each on the MetalMiner Events page.

This morning in metals news: the U.S. and E.U. have reportedly reached a deal to end the long-running AirbusBoeing dispute over state subsidies; meanwhile, U.S. steel capacity utilization touched 82.6% last week, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported; and, lastly, Cleveland-Cliffs announced increases to its second-quarter and full-year 2021 financial guidance.

The MetalMiner Best Practice Library offers a wealth of knowledge and tips to help buyers stay on top of metals markets and buying strategies.

US, EU reach deal to end Airbus-Boeing dispute

Airbus plane

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Allegations of state subsidies between the U.S. and E.U. vis-a-vis their respective aircraft manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus, have extended all the way back to 2004.

Now, the parties have reportedly reached a deal to end the dispute.

Per media reports, the deal features a five-year suspension of tariffs stemming from the ongoing Airbus-Boeing dispute.

In 2019, the World Trade Organization authorized the U.S. to impose up to $7.5 billion in tariffs on E.U. goods. Meanwhile, last year, the WTO authorized the E.U. to impose $4 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods.

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The Stainless Monthly Metals Index (MMI) increased by 4.3% for this month’s reading, as stainless steel demand is likely to continue to grow in the years ahead.

June 2021 Stainless MMI chart

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Increasing stainless steel production, demand

According to International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) data, stainless steel melt shop production increased by 24.7% year over year to 14.5 million metric tons through the first quarter of 2021.

Most of the production increase came from Europe and the U.S., where production jumped by 11.0% and 9.7%, respectively. The only region that saw a production contraction was China. China’s production fell by 0.5% to 8,198,000 metric tons.

This coincides with a report by Precedence Research, in which it estimates the stainless steel market size to increase to U.S. $168.24 billion by 2027 from U.S. $106.84 billion in 2019.

Precedence anticipates a 57.5% increase over the eight-year period due to the growing preference for stainless steel over ordinary steel and its increasing application in pre-engineered buildings. Additionally, demand for steel from construction and automotive and transportation sectors is expected to keep growing.

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The Raw Steels Monthly Metals Index (MMI) rose by 0.8% as U.S. steel prices continued to pick up but Chinese prices corrected.

June 2021 Raw Steels MMI chart

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Chinese steel prices drop

China steel plant

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Since April 2020, Chinese steel prices have traded up consistently with a short decline period around December 2020. Around mid-May, all forms of Chinese steel prices peaked, as demand continued to soar in China.

Steel demand in China increased in the past few months as the government implemented its economic recovery plan, which includes infrastructure spending. Increasing steel prices continue to bring up infrastructure costs.

On May 26, steel prices saw a price drop of approximately 20% for all forms of steel. The sudden price decline in China could have been triggered by the severe punishment the Chinese government threatened to impose on any excessive speculation and fake news that might inflate critical raw material prices, such as steel.

After Chinese prices corrected, they continued to go up but at a slower rate, closing May at CNY 6,060/mt from CNY 6,100/mt at the end of April. Since, they continued to increase the first week of June but remain below the CNY 6,250/mt level.

However, volumes do not suggest speculation. Rather, the Chinese government wishes to control the rising price situation. After all, a lower domestic price can help boost the competitive advantage for Chinese firms exporting value-added products.

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