Industrial Insight

Copper prices steady

November 30, 2017
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Oil prices steady

November 30, 2017
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Steel production fell to bottom of recent range, price stable

November 30, 2017
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Chemical Activity

November 21, 2017
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The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), notched another solid increase over October’s reading both on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis and an unadjusted basis. The CAB was up 0.4 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. The increases continued a bounce back from the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Compared to a year earlier, the CAB is up 3.3 percent on a 3MMA basis, a pace that continues to suggest further gains in U.S. commercial and industrial activity into 2nd quarter 2018.

The Chemical Activity Barometer has four primary components, each consisting of a variety of indicators: 1) production; 2) equity prices; 3) product prices; and 4) inventories and other indicators.


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Copper prices decline slightly

November 20, 2017
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Oil prices decline slightly

November 20, 2017
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Steel production and prices advance slightly

November 20, 2017
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Steel

November 13, 2017
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Prices in October fell for all forms of steel, although HRC and plate prices increased slightly at the end of the month.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

However, historical Q4 price trends generally suggest rising prices and increasing demand. In addition, industrial metals remain solidly in a bull market.

Will steel prices see a bump too? Let’s take a look at the market indicators.

Domestic Steel Market

Domestic steel prices fell this month after trading flat (sideways) for the last few months. Steel price momentum has declined but Q4 increases often come in November and later. Service centers still report steady demand, despite significant steel price drops in October.

Lead times increased for all forms of steel. Increasing lead times generally support rising steel prices.


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Stainless

November 13, 2017
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Stainless steel surcharges have decreased for this month after increasing two consecutive months in August and September.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

Stainless buying organizations will also want to review the potential impact of the latest electrode surcharge for stainless steel products.

Stainless Steel Market

Meanwhile, crude stainless steel output could hit 47.5 million tons for 2017. 2017 forecasted output would represent an increase of 3.8% compared to last year’s reading, also a record.

Domestic stainless steel output will likely have grown by 10% this year, totaling 2.75 million tons in 2017. In addition, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) announced in October the continuation of dumping and subsidization of stainless steel flanges from China and India. The estimated dumping margins range from 99.23-257.11% for China and 78.49-145.25% for India. Moreover, mills announced higher base prices starting in November.

2017 Chinese forecasted output will likely come in lower than expected due to capacity curtailments. However, recent data point to higher production during the summer months.


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Copper

November 13, 2017
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Copper prices look strong as they twice breached the $7,000/metric ton ceiling in October. Moreover, copper prices climbed over the previous peak (during the beginning of September, yet below the $7,000/mt ceiling), which signals the continuation of the bullish sentiment.

Even if price pullbacks occur, the uptrend appears sustainable. Readers may notice the green dotted line in the chart above, which signals the start of the sharp copper rally. Copper prices today stand about $1,000/mt higher than prices in July.

Supply and demand indicators also point to a continuation of the copper rally. The International Copper Study Group forecast a of 151,000-ton deficit for this year. The deficit may continue next year, which would support copper prices.


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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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