Industrial Insight

Steel

January 18, 2017
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Raw Steels MMI Mixed But Flat Products Surge

by Raul de Frutos on JANUARY 10, 2017
Style:Market AnalysisCategory:Ferrous Metals, Metal Prices, MetalMiner IndX, Premium, Supply & Demand

Our Raw Steels MMI fell by two points, dragged down by a sharp drop in coking coal prices. Chinese coking coal prices have been quite volatile over the past few months. But despite the recent decline, prices are still well above last year’s levels.

On the bullish side, we saw a big increase in steel flat product prices, both domestically and internationally.

MetalMiner Price Benchmarking: Current and Historical Prices for the Metals You Buy

Hot-rolled coil and cold-rolled coil prices in the U.S. have risen 13% and 17% respectively since they hit bottom in mid-November.

Additionally, steel prices in China continued to climb in December. We already noted, that one of the reasons to expect higher steel prices in the U.S. was rising Chinese prices. Prices in China set the floor for international prices and the spread between U.S. and international steel prices has narrowed so much in some steel product categories, like HRC, that there isn’t much incentive for domestic steel buyers to look for import offers.

While prices in China have risen, Chinese steel exports have fallen, suggesting that the country is absorbing more steel. In November, Chinese steel exports fell 16% compared to last year. For the first eleven months, exports are down 1% compared to the corresponding period in 2015.

The real estate sector is among the world’s largest steel consumers. Total investment in real estate in China during the first eleven months of 2016 rose 6.5% compared to the same period of last year. China’s passenger car sales rose 17.2% compared to the same month last year and it’s the seventh consecutive month were car sales rise in the double digits.


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Stainless

January 18, 2017
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Stainless MMI Down, Price Volatility Ahead

by Raul de Frutos on JANUARY 11, 2017
Style:Market AnalysisCategory:Ferrous Metals, Metal Prices, MetalMiner IndX, Premium

Our Stainless MMI fell by two points in December after a mixed performance.

MetalMiner Price Benchmarking: Current and Historical Prices for the Metals You Buy

On the one side, surcharges for 304 and 316 stainless steel rose by 34% and 25% respectively, as the chrome portion of the benchmark jumped month-on-month. The mill-announced price increase, combined with higher surcharges, marks the largest month-on-month increase seen in recent history.

On the other hand, nickel prices retraced in December on profit-taking across the industrial metals complex. Nickel prices are now at attractive levels wherein we could see investors pushing prices back up. That will depend on upcoming news that will either boost them or send prices lower. One thing is for sure: volatility is guaranteed in the weeks ahead.


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Copper

January 18, 2017
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Copper’s Bullish Narrative

One of the key factors supporting copper prices is the earlier-than-expected supply deficit. While most analysts were previously projecting the copper markets to move into deficit by the end of the decade, many of them are now expecting a deficit as early as this year.

Another factor supporting copper prices is higher energy prices. Oil prices, the main benchmark for energy prices, regained the $50/barrel level in December. Saudi Arabia said it could be ready to cut output more than originally agreed upon at the latest Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting. Non-OPEC countries, including Russia, also agreed to an output cut north of 500,000 barrels a day. Energy is key in the metals industry. For copper, energy can form almost 20% of the production costs.

President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed infrastructure investments are also positive for copper prices. However, in our view, the key demand driver continues to be China, by far the largest consumer of the red metal. China’s Caixin manufacturing purchasing managers’ index rose to 51.9 in December from 50.9 in November and beat market expectations. That figure marked the sixth straight month of growth and the strongest upturn in Chinese manufacturing conditions since January 2013.


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Copper remains also above $2.5 a pound

January 18, 2017
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Oil prices remained above $50 a barrel

January 18, 2017
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Steel production rose to over 1.7 million tons last week

January 18, 2017
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Copper prices remain higher

January 10, 2017
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Oil prices remain stable

January 10, 2017
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Steel production bounced up with the start of the new year

January 10, 2017
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Manufacturing

January 9, 2017
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https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/01/america-is-still-making-things/512282/?utm_source=feed

In some ways, the whole narrative that manufacturing is disappearing is flawed, Hicks says. Manufacturing, like most other industries in America, has modernized and become more sophisticated over the decades. To be sure, it employs millions fewer people than it did in the past. But manufacturing still makes up about 12.5 percent of America’s gross domestic product, the same as it did in 1960. People who can work in modern manufacturing—those with computer skills and advanced degrees—are in demand. The average manufacturing worker now makes $26 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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About author

I'm the executive vice president for a steel casting trade association, the Steel Founders' Society of America. I've got a crazy wife, five crazy children, three crazy people that married into the family, and two crazy fun little grandsons.

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