Sunday, February 29, 2004
Yahoo! News - 'Sad day' as EU imposes sanctions on US goods
: "The aim is to force the US Congress to change the foreign sales corporation provision (FSC), which grants tax breaks to US exporters and was ruled illegal by the World Trade Organisation in 2002.
But to John Disharoon, vice president of the trade committee at the American chamber of commerce to the EU, Monday is simply 'a sad day for trade relations between the US and Europe'. He says: 'Nobody wants to see sanctions. It adds to the negative climate.' "
Saturday, February 28, 2004
Yahoo! News - Weirton Wants Conditions on Rival Bidders
: "The sale also would affect Weirton's 10,000 retirees, dependents and surviving spouses.
Glyptis said ISG has agreed in principle to provide health insurance coverage for some 8,000 union retirees through a Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association. ISG would contribute more than $3.7 million in seed money for the plan, but enrollees would also pay premiums.
The agreement submitted to the court says Weirton would terminate its retiree health coverage 'as soon as administratively possible' after the sale is finalized.
Many retirees have complained they accepted lower wages as workers in exchange for free, lifelong health care. But Weirton CEO Leonard Wise said last week those promises were made when health costs were lower and Weirton's fiscal position was stronger. "
The article touched on many other matters too, but I found this one most interesting ...
Yahoo! News - Trade Fight Exports List
: "Some of the items that the European Union has targeted for retaliatory tariffs, beginning Monday:
Hand tools, Drilling tools
Water-tube boilers, Steam engines, Refrigerators, Various types of electrical machinery, Nuclear reactors
Ferro-nickel alloys, Nonalloy ingots, Flat hot rolled steel"
[just out of curiousity, what's an electronic steam engine? ... mw]
Friday, February 27, 2004
Yahoo! News - Steel Price, Availability Problems Put Public Construction at Risk, Contractors Warn Federal Agencies
: "'Unprecedented run-ups in steel prices over the past few weeks' threaten the ability of general contractors and their subcontractors, usually small businesses, to complete projects on which 'firm' steel prices have been replaced by 'scrap surcharges' and other unexpected costs, said AGC Chief Executive Officer Stephen E. Sandherr. 'Even more alarming, we are beginning to hear reports that suppliers will no longer guarantee delivery at any price because of fast-dwindling supplies of certain steel products.'"
OK, so this isn't directly a steel story. But the sheer size of it is staggering. Yahoo! News - Bush Budget Said to Cause $2.75T Deficits
Do you know how big 2.75 trillion dollars is? The current population of the US, according to the US Census Bureau
, is, at the moment 292,682,317. So 2.75 trillion is $9,396 per person. The same people forecast a population in 10 years of 309,753,000. Whew! What a relief! That brings the deficit per projected person down to a mere $8,878.
I feel better already.
Yahoo! News - ISG Earns $24.9 Million in 4th Quarter
: "ISG has catapulted to the top of the industry by buying bankrupt steel makers at bargain prices, cutting costs including retiree pensions and reinventing the companies so they can produce more steel cheaper than nearly anyone else in the United States. "
Thursday, February 26, 2004
EU to Impose Sanctions on U.S. on Monday
: "Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said on Thursday the EU would slap a 5 percent duty on more than $4 billion worth of U.S. exports beginning on Monday because of Congress' failure to repeal tax breaks declared illegal by the World Trade Organization."
Yahoo! News - Kerry Blames Bush for Job Losses in Ohio
: "'I won't come here and tell you that if I'm president all of Ohio's factories will spring back to life, that all the rivers of steel will flow again,' Kerry said in a speech at the University of Toledo.
The Massachusetts senator said he will require companies that ship jobs offshore to tell the Labor Department and the workers when, where and why the jobs are moving.
'Companies will no longer be able to surprise their workers with a pink slip instead of a paycheck,' he said. "
Yahoo! News - U.S. Steel Cuts Its Retiree Obligations
: "U.S. Steel Corp. said it has slashed its future obligations for retiree health benefits by $450 million for 2003, contributing about $69 million to income in 2003, largely as a result of last year's Medicare prescription-drug bill, "
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Well, I guess it's amusing to us at a distance, but not quite as amusing to the people who have to live there ... Yahoo! News - Gehry-Designed Concert Hall Causes Glare
: "The glare off the shimmering stainless steel curves is so bad, it's heating up nearby condos at least 15 degrees.
Architects blamed the problem on the type of steel used on the Founders Room. The Founders Room is covered in a glossy, mirror-like steel that reflects the sun more brightly than the duller, brushed steel used elsewhere."
Yahoo! News - WTO Gives EU OK to Sanction U.S. Steel
: "The United States was given until July 2001 to repeal the law. When it failed to do so, the EU asked the WTO for permission to start imposing retaliatory trade sanctions.
The arbitrators ruled that the EU could base its sanctions on the amount European companies were fined under the law, or the amount they paid in out-of-court settlements. They declined to rule on the EU's plans to adopt a 'mirror' law that would allow U.S. companies to be prosecuted in the European Union.
Numerous cases linked to steel have been heard by the World Trade Organization. In the biggest so far, President Bush dropped additional 'safeguard' duties on steel imports after the WTO ruled them illegal.
In the most recent case, the EU complained this month that U.S. anti-dumping duties on imports of steel — as well as pasta and chemicals — are being wrongly calculated. "
Yahoo! News - EU Won't Impose Immediate Trade Sanctions Against US
: "'I hope that rapid action from Congress will make sanctions unnecessary,' E.U. Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said in a statement.
On Tuesday, a panel of arbitrators from the World Trade Organization ruled that the E.U. could impose sanctions in retaliation for U.S. failure to repeal the anti-dumping act that was ruled illegal by the WTO about four years ago.
U.S. steel producers and other companies have used the 88-year old law to fend off low-priced imports which are 'dumped' on the U.S. market, harming local producers. "
Yahoo! News - Brussels awaits WTO dumping ruling
: "The European Union will learn on Tuesday whether it can retaliate against the US in a long-running trade dispute over antidumping law[s]
Brussels has asked the World Trade Organisation to sanction legislation that would drastically increase the pressure on US lawmakers to revoke the 1916 Antidumping Act.
The act allows US companies to claim damages from foreign companies found to have dumped their goods on the US market. It was ruled illegal by the WTO in September 2000, but so far the US Congress has failed to comply with the decision.
Should the WTO again side with the EU, Brussels would be free to to impose matching import duties on American companies that have benefited from the act. The proceeds would be passed on to their European counterparts.
Although legislation repealing the act was introduced last year, Brussels complains that the bill in the House of Representatives, which was approved by the House judiciary committee at the end of last month, does not terminate the pending court cases. "
Monday, February 23, 2004
Yahoo! News - Nickel Strong Despite Falconbridge Deal
: "they said dwindling stocks were compounding a global shortage of the metal, used mainly in the production of stainless steel. This would keep prices close to double their levels a year ago and close to a 14-1/2-year peak reached last month"
Industry analysts expect the global shortage of nickel to continue until at least 2006, when new capacity is scheduled to come on stream in Canada and New Caledonia.
"Actual consumption this year will not be sufficient to meet underlying demand for nickel, especially from booming stainless steel production in China," AME's Barkas said.
Sunday, February 22, 2004
Yahoo! News - Falconbridge Union Accepts Labor Deal
: "union's membership voted 95.5 percent to accept the proposal"
Falconbridge reaches tentative strike settlement agreement with CAW at Sudbury nickel operations
: "ratification vote scheduled for Sunday, February 22, 2004. A return to work agreement [...] orderly resumption of operations [...] within a two-week period of time."
Saturday, February 21, 2004
A friend from university days wrote
so how can there be a shortage of scrap steel? There's a whole elevated expressway here in Boston being taken apart one beam at a time... http://www.bigdig.com/thtml/t013104/t013104.htm Where would all that steel end up?
It's a good question. Not only don't I know the answer, I'm not even sure how to find out. Anyone have any ideas?
Yahoo! News - BHP Billiton profits surge 40 per cent
: "Chip Goodyear, chief executive, cited strong demand for base metals from China as one factor for higher profits. About 10 per cent of the group's sales are now to China, compared with 5 per cent a year ago. But he also noted that demand from the US and Japan was picking up. 'Japan is as economically healthy as it has been for 15 years,' he said. 'A synchronised global recovery is not out of the realms of possibility.' "
Yahoo! News - Brazil CVRD Signs 20 Million Tons-Per-Year Contract With Arcelor
: "The company is also increasingly locking in future sales by signing contracts with big buyers. Earlier this week, CVRD signed a contract with the Corus Group to deliver between five and ten million tons of iron ore annually over the next ten years.
In late 2003, CVRD signed contracts with roughly eight new clients in China, each stipulating the purchase of about two to four million tons of iron ore annually over the next three to 10 years. The Brazilian miner already had a contract to sell ore to China's biggest steelmaker, Shanghai Baosteel Group, and sold a total of 10.2 million tons of iron ore to Chinese steelmakers in the first half of last year. "
Starfield - Wyn expand Joint Venture property and plan 2004 exploration program at Ferguson Lake, Nunavut
: "magnetic anomalies possibly associated with extensions to the Ferguson Lake Mineral District which hosts Copper - Nickel - Cobalt - Palladium - Platinum - bearing massive sulphide resources "
Labels: Copper, nickel
Slater Steel Announces Financially Superior Offer for Sorel Forge
: "from a subsidiary of A. Finkl & Sons Co. an executed definitive agreement to acquire on a going concern basis substantially all of the assets of the Company's Sorel Forge subsidiary. Slater has until March 2, 2004 to accept the offer. "
Delaware Street Capital sees strong growth potential for Hamilton steel plant
: "a tentative agreement was reached last night between the company and local 4752 of the United Steelworkers of America, representing workers at the Slater Steel Hamilton Specialty Bar facility, which has been operating under creditor protection since June 2003. The deal would see a Delaware Street affiliate purchase substantially all of the assets of the facility and keep the mill producing an uninterrupted supply of specialty steel products for its customers."
Friday, February 20, 2004
Reports Offer Hope More Hiring Lies Ahead
: "The best we can say about the job market is that it is improving at a moderate pace"
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Recovery Trickles Down Very Slowly (washingtonpost.com)
: "'If you have investments already, and if you have a job already, the last 12 to 18 months have been very nice to you,' said Gary Burtless, a labor economist at the Brookings Institution. 'The stock market has done well. You can refinance your mortgage. You can finance your new cars at very favorable rates, and prices haven't been rising.
'But if you are looking for a new job or had the misfortune of losing a job, for those folks, life is much, much tougher. It's just so damned hard to get employment.' "
Commerce Dept. Plans More Help For Industry (washingtonpost.com)
: "Under election-year pressure from disappointing employment figures, the Bush administration today will publish a plan to help manufacturers that includes support for a business-aid program that the White House once tried to virtually eliminate. "
INDUSTRYWEEK: LEADERSHIP IN MANUFACTURING -- Viewpoint -- Commerce's Manufacturing Report Is A Must Read
: "these are issues often bigger than a single manufacturer or even all of U.S. manufacturing. These are issues whose priority and substance, for better or worse, are largely determined by government "
Metalforming Xtra - Steel Surcharges and Shortages are Hitting Metalformers Hard: "At the end of January, steel producers were operating at only 83-percent capacity, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. The shortages that producers face of raw materials, such as coke and iron ore, coupled with the skyrocketing price of scrap used in minimill production, are causing great pain among steel users in the form of mill-product surcharges. "
Unfortunately, their software won't let me link directly to their article ...
Yahoo! News - How Beijing May Loosen Up
: "China, it is said, will soon bend to international pressure and loosen its fixed currency regime. The Chinese yuan is considered grossly undervalued by the U.S., Japan, and the Europeans -- all groaning under the weight of cheap Chinese exports. "
Yahoo! News - Base Metals Emerge As BHP Billiton Profit Drivers
: "Citing resurgent base metal prices and a hungry Chinese economy, BHP Billiton Ltd. Thursday said first half net profit jumped 47%, its strongest performance since the Anglo-Australian resource giant's US$28 billion merger almost three years ago. "
Yahoo! News - Town's Future Uncertain After Weirton Sale
: "For one day, students and teachers at Madonna High School agreed it was more important to ponder a real-world lesson in economics than do their regular algebra.
In a town where nearly everyone knows or is related to a steelworker, each class began Wednesday with discussion of a $225 million buyout offer for bankrupt Weirton Steel ? a deal that positions 2-year-old International Steel Group of Cleveland to become the nation's largest integrated steelmaker. "
Yahoo! News - Pending Plant Sale Adds to City's Jitters
: "City and economic officials said news of the Butler sale has further rattled nerves in a city that has been reeling since Maytag Corp. announced more than a year ago that it would close its factory and move production to Mexico by the end of 2004. "
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
The Globe and Mail Obituaries - GORDON, Jay (Jacob Moses Genziuk)
: "Long time respected Bay Street steel analyst, in his 65th year. Formerly of Montreal, resident of Toronto. Passed away on Saturday, February 14th, 2004 after a long illness. A graveside service will be held at Pardes Shalom Cemetery, Community section, on Tuesday, February 17th at 10:00 a.m. For further information kindly contact Benjamin's Park Memorial Chapel 416-663-9060. "
I saw a wonderful article about this guy in the National Post (which I can't BLOG because of their insistance on a registration/subscription business model). He was an outspoken guy who called 'em as he saw 'em, even when his opinions weren't popular. He said Stelco would go bankrupt and they did. As Tom Caldwell, chair of Caldwell Securities, said "He outlasted Stelco".
In 2000, he went on long-term disability for health reasons. His employers health insurance denied the claim. Without resources, he ended up on the Seaton House shelter for men. Even after friends rescued him and set him up in housing, he continued to visit the shelter, befriending Hungarian refugees and teaching them English and chess. He was still fighting the insurance claim when he died.
Monday, February 16, 2004
Forbes.com: Commodities - Copper near 8-year high, soybeans sink
: "Copper prices rose to the highest level in almost eight years on Thursday as the outlook for tight supplies with economies expanding in China and the United States kept speculators on the buy side.
In other commodity markets, corn and soybean prices fell "
Now if only I could stamp soybeans ....
China demand pushes copper to new peak
: "Copper prices have raced to eight-year highs as global economic recovery fuels demand for the metal.
[...] global copper inventories equate to about six weeks supply - down from a ratio of eight weeks this time last year - and moving towards four weeks worth of supply based on the current rates of consumption. "
Steel industry faces crisis 02/15/04
: "Trickle-down effect: Steel prices have risen 50 percent in 6 months"
Buffalo News - Higher cost of steel scrap boosting price of finished steel
: "Old appliances are among the sources of scrap steel, an ingredient that steel mills literally cannot get enough of these days.
Industry experts say China's thriving steel sector is a driving force. Many mills need scrap to make steel, and the Chinese plants are gobbling it up from the United States.
With the rise in demand, prices for steel scrap have soared 100 percent in one year, to $229 per gross ton, said industry newsletter Iron Age. In turn, some steelmakers are charging more for their products, in some cases with surcharges. "
Northwest Indiana News: "Scrap prices soar; steel producers feel heat"
: Steel companies have been squeezed by an almost 100 percent increase in ferrous scrap prices during the past 12 months, and their bottom lines are showing the pressure.
Steel users facing heavy prices, short supplies
: "Many domestic steel users are being pinched by rising prices, which are being attributed to a weak dollar, high consumption in China and inflated prices for raw materials.
Prices were at 20-year lows just a few years ago, which steelmakers blamed on a worldwide glut of capacity.
Industry players say the weak dollar has inflated the price of imported steel, discouraging foreign steelmakers from shipping products to the United States. Prices of imported steel were further inflated by ocean freight rates that have doubled or tripled over the last year.
Prices for raw materials have gone up as well. With more than half of U.S.-produced steel made from melting junked cars, refrigerators and other steel products, prices for some high-grade scrap are approaching $300 a ton, compared to less than $200 a few years ago."
But I love this next bit best ...
"China is basically screwing up the world market for steel prices right now," said Don Lawrence, purchasing agent for George L. Wilson & Co., a Pittsburgh building materials distributor.
So first it was all China's fault, because they were dumping their cheap steel on us. Now they're using their own steel and ours and it's still their fault.
John Anton of consultant Global Insight says the 200-million ton glut that industry leaders were gripping about a few years ago has disappeared because of worldwide demand, mill shutdowns in the U.S. and raw materials shortages.
The Globe and Mail - One man's crusade for factory skills
: "Training program would help keep jobs in Canada
"From shop-floor apprentice to factory boss, Douglas Greer spent most of his life making things, a line of work now increasingly left to the Chinese. At 77, he is devoting some of his remaining time to trying to save Canadian manufacturing, which he sees as doomed without a new corps of superskilled people to give it a jump on the low-wage competition"
Saturday, February 14, 2004
Yahoo! News - Experts Warn of Japan Buying U.S. Dollars
: "Tokyo bought an astounding $172 billion last year to keep the yen from strengthening too much against the greenback. The push only accelerated in January, when Japan snapped up another $67 billion.
The purchases are so large they are effectively subsidizing record U.S. budget and trade deficits, keeping American interest rates low and worrying some experts that a painful shock will hit if the spending spree stops. "
Friday, February 13, 2004
Stelco provides update on restructuring
: "The Applicants intend to bring a motion seeking a representation order for retired salaried beneficiaries of the Applicants. The Monitor is of the view that the requested representation order is reasonable and recommends that this order should be made."
Thursday, February 12, 2004
It may have nothing directly to do with metal stamping, but sooner or later we all end up using these things for designing ...
Intel develops revolutionary optic chips / PCs may span vast distances, scientists say
: "Intel researchers said they have shown that it should be possible to build optical fiber communications systems using Intel's conventional chip-making process without resorting to either the exotic materials or hand-assembly techniques that are now the standard in the fiber- optics networking industry. "
researchers use a component made from pure silicon to send data as much as 50 times faster than the previous switching record
Yahoo! News - Steelmakers, Buyers Consider Cap on Scrap Exports
: "Both steel makers and buyers, who were on opposite sides of the steel tariffs enacted by the White House two years ago, say growth in exports to Asia and elsewhere has sent scrap prices soaring. If limits are granted, they would mark the first such restrictions on scrap exports in three decades. "
Finally something both sides can agree on ... steel producers and consumers both united against free trade ...
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
In essence, the "Big Chunk" they own is a large area in Alaska containing an ancient volcanic structure known as a caldera. They think this area will be found to be rich in gold and copper deposits. No information here on cost of extraction or climate effects.
Labels: Copper, Gold
Noranda reports fourth quarter earnings of $64 million
: "'Our outlook for 2004 is for nickel markets to remain strong and the fundamentals for copper and zinc to continue to improve as higher demand is expected to outstrip supply and further reduce inventories. "
Labels: Copper, nickel
Yahoo! News - GM Expects More Strong China Growth
: "GM executives estimate they had 8.7 percent of the Chinese market in 2003, up from 7.4 percent in 2002. But this still lags far behind market leader Volkswagen AG, which held 33 percent of the market in 2003.
GM had said in November it would increase capacity at its Chinese plants by 50 percent by 2006, tacking on production lines at its Shanghai plant and another in the southern region of Guangxi. "
No response from Slater: United Steelworkers to file motion in court to slow Slater liquidation
: "'We are seeking an extension of the timeframe so that [...the purchasers...] have an opportunity to pursue the purchase of the plant as a going concern,' Kelly said. 'It has been six days since our letter and the company has not deemed it important enough to respond to the union and advise us of its position on our request.
Kelly said the union would prefer to have the matter resolved without the assistance of the courts, but in a letter added, 'we feel we have no option but to bring it to the court's attention.
'I urge you to consider our request and to extend the timeframe for the planned liquidation, and that you do it right away.
'Continuing on a course of liquidation when a purchaser has stepped forward and has stated an interest in the operations as a going concern, is not only heartless for those people who depend on it for their livelihood, but is not a sound business decision.
'An extension of 30 to 60 days is surely not that much to ask for in the circumstances.'
Steelworkers' Hamilton Area Coordinator Tony DePaulo added, 'I cannot understand why the company and its advisers would not welcome an offer to purchase the plant and work out a way to bring it out of bankruptcy protection as a going concern.'"
Stelco Inc. Investor Relations
: "since filing for creditor protection, [Stelco] is experiencing few disruptions in operations in relation to customer orders and shipments. Customers have continued to support the Corporation as it initiates its restructuring efforts. [...] suppliers have also shown significant support for its continuing business. "
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
If you find you keep getting only old versions of this page, your browser or your company firewall or your ISP may be caching this page and serving you the older, out of date version rather than the more up to date one. For most pages, that's fine (and a fine optimization), but for this page, that's not cool.
Most days, there will be new activity on this page. So if the top line doesn't have a recent date, try to force a refresh. With internet explorer, hit the F5 key while holding down the Control key. This should repaint the whole page.
Yahoo! News - OPEC Springs Surprise Oil Output Cut
: "The deal slices production limits for the group that controls half the world's oil trade to 23.5 million barrels a day from April 1. "
Here comes higher energy prices! And energy cost is in everything else, including steel ...
Yahoo! News - Dodge Ram Work Moves to Mexico-Tower Auto
: "About 500 of the 650 people who work at Tower's Milwaukee plant may lose their jobs, the company said. It expects the plant, which also makes frame assemblies for the Ford Ranger truck, will remain open. "
There goes 500 jobs ...
Yahoo! News - French Ban on Religious Items Passes Test
: "The government argues that a law is needed to protect France's secular traditions and to diminish rising Islamic fundamentalism. The ban would apply to Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses as well as the head scarf. "
While we're at it, there goes some more religious tolerance ....
Monday, February 09, 2004
Yahoo! News - Nunavut prospecting rush more good news for eastern Arctic mining sector
: "The results exceeded all expectations.
In all, 1,518 permits were issued - almost eight times last year's total.
'It's a huge area we're talking about,' said McLean. 'That's twice the size of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick - combined.'
The companies now have up to five years to examine their territories and stake specific claims. They are legally required to spend at least $6.3 million a year on exploration, but Jason Sharp of Indian Affairs expects the total to be much higher.
In 2003, mining companies spent about $83 million exploring in Nunavut, with about 20 per cent of that being spent locally. "
Yahoo! News - China-US Trade Surplus at $58.61 Billion
: "Chinese exports to the United States, its second-biggest trade partner, rose an annual 32.2 percent in 2003 to $92.47 billion, while imports from the United States rose 24.3 percent to $33.86 billion, the newspaper said. "
Yahoo! News - Japanese Business Ties With China Explode
: "The China boom is so strong it is playing a key role in fueling Japan's recovery, a rebound many hope will finally lift the world's second largest economy out of the humiliating slump where it has languished since the early 1990s. "
So if I understand this properly, Asia is actually consuming more steel than it is "dumping" on the U.S. ... so why the tarifs?
Sunday, February 08, 2004
Mediator Adjourns Discussions between Falconbridge and CAW
: "[...] and requested that the parties reflect on their respective positions. He will be contacting the parties with possible meeting dates for next week.
Falconbridge Sudbury operations are part of the Company's Integrated Nickel Operations (INO). The operations employ over 1,500 people and consist of four underground mines, a mill and a smelter. Approximately 1,050 production and maintenance workers are represented by Sudbury Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union Local 598 (CAW). The strike began on February 1, 2004.
Falconbridge Limited is a leading producer of nickel, copper, cobalt and platinum group metals. "
Labels: Copper, nickel
Saturday, February 07, 2004
AP Wire | 02/01/2004 | Demand, prices for scrap metals on the rise
: "A published report points to China's demand for raw materials and its booming economy as contributors to double-digit increases in the price of domestic steel. The report said China now consumes a third of the world's output of rolled steel.
'China is the sleeping giant,' Calandra said. 'Its appetite for scrap and raw materials is voracious.'
Competition from China is pushing up prices everywhere. Data show that domestic steel prices this month are up by about 12 percent from December."
Yahoo! News - W.Va. to Challenge Sale of Aluminum Plant
""We have been working for some time with Pechiney and have discovered that very few purchasers would be able to run the plant because of technical and quality complexities associated with aluminum production," Wise said.
Instead, Wise wants the consent decree modified so Alcan can continue operating the Jackson County plant."
Yahoo! News - Bush says he has US economy back on growth track
: "Opposition Democrats say more than two million jobs have disappeared since Bush took office in January 2001. "
The markets would appear not to agree with him ... Yahoo! News - Dollar Drops More Than 1 Pct on Jobs Data
: "News the U.S. economy created 112,000 new jobs in January, far fewer than the 150,000 the market expected, sent the dollar down more than 1 percent against a range of currencies "
Who knows, maybe life on Mars is more intelligent than what we have here ... Yahoo! News - Mars Rovers Probe Soil for Clues to Life, Water
Maybe there's hope for life on earth still ...
A refreshing change from the depressing recent trend in most stores to hire only the youngest, cheapest and least experienced staff ... Yahoo! News - Home Depot Seeks Older Workers for Jobs
: "Under the agreement, the AARP will find and train the workers and will help them apply for the jobs, said the AARP's Jim Seith. Home Depot will try to accommodate part-time schedules and varying skill levels. "
Friday, February 06, 2004
Yahoo! News - Iowa Thieves Steal the Kitchen Sink
: "thieves have stolen washers and dryers, furnaces, faucets, fixtures, even doors and windows.
Forty-one construction burglaries were reported in Des Moines in the last eight months of 2003. "
Yahoo! News - American job data for January pushes stocks higher; C$ up almost 2/3 cent
"Investors took solace in the creation of 112,000 jobs in America last month, the highest pace in three years. [T]he 112,000 jobs added in January was well below the 175,000 economists had hoped for.
But Scotiabank senior economist Andrew Pyle notes that "112,000 at least holds the trend"
Statistics Canada reported an increase of 47,000 full-time jobs last month, partly offset by a decline in part-time work, for a net gain of about 15,000 positions. Economists had expected 20,000.
The Canadian dollar was up 0.64 cent to 75.36 cents US after Statistics Canada said Canada's unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.4 per cent. "
Yahoo! News - U.S. group could buy insolvent Slater Steel's Hamilton operations: Union
: "Slater had initially hoped to emerge from bankruptcy protection with two of its divisions - Hamilton Specialty Bar, and Atlas Stainless Steels in Sorel-Tracy, Que. - continuing to operate. It abandoned those plans last month, citing high costs and failure to reach cost-cutting deals with unions in both provinces.
The company had sought $3.9 million in labour concessions from a unit of the Confederation of National Trade Unions in Quebec and $5.6 million from the Steelworkers members in Hamilton.
Both unions said they'd been told by Slater that even those cuts wouldn't be enough, and that millions more in savings - as much as $10 million in Hamilton alone - were needed to improve productivity. "
Hamond bought stainless from Atlas/Tracy in the past.
Forbes.com: Strike enters 5th day at Billiton copper mine in Chile
: "[C]opper set a string of successive 6-1/2-year highs to $2,538 per tonne Tuesday on supply worries about low inventories and the strike at Cerro Colorado, which produces 130,000 tonnes of copper a year."
Inmet Mining announces net income of $3.21 per share in the fourth quarter
: "Earnings were positively impacted by higher copper, gold and zinc prices, [...] partially offset by the impact of the weakening of the United States dollar in relation to the Canadian dollar"
Amazing what you find out when you put the word "Copper" into a news search engine ... Pig Industry News - Copper cut in pig rations will effect growth rates - Brought to you by ThePigSite
: "Brussels has reviewed downwards the amount of copper allowed in pig diets. Diets that don't comply with the new levels should be used up by April 26. After that, it will be illegal to feed them.
So, let me get this straight ... will the worldwide price of copper be effected by this reduction in consumption by pigs?
Were they feeding copper to the pigs on purpose?
Or was the copper a byproduct of the process somehow? It jumped out of the electrical wiring and into the feed?
Just like other major news stories of this century, like WMD & Janet's glands, I'm sure there's more here than meets the eye ... "
Thursday, February 05, 2004
Media Advisory - Stelco provides information update to employees
: "We've stated that we need to review our entire cost structure during our restructuring process. We have not singled out and do not intend to single out any one particular group to bear the entire burden of this exercise, be it employees, bondholders, pensioners, trade creditors or others."
Yahoo! News - Whirlpool to close its Montmagny, Que., plant, 500 to lose jobs
: "About 60 workers will be laid off by the end of February and the rest in mid-May. The plant opened in the community 65 kilometres southeast of Quebec City in 1867.
Ivan Menard, a consulant, said the factory is just too old, and too far from Quebec's major cities. "
RPT-UPDATE - Inco returns to profit, but 2004 outlook nags
: "Prices for nickel, last at $6.85 a pound, are 110 percent up in the past year due a shortage of production start-ups at a time of strong demand from China for stainless steel, of which the silvery white metal is a key ingredient."
Yahoo! News - EPA Reaches Agreement With ISG Indiana Harbor on Clean-Air Violations
: "'As part of the agreement, ISG will protect the health of its neighbors by installing two air conveyor systems at its sinter plant, cutting dust emissions by about 7,500 pounds a year,' said EPA Region 5 Administrator Thomas V. Skinner. Skinner said the systems will cost the company at least $111,783. This is in addition to a civil penalty of $42,839.
Hydrochloric acid is corrosive to the eyes, skin and mucous membranes. Inhalation may cause coughing, hoarseness, inflammation and ulceration of the respiratory tract and chest pain. "
Reduce, reuse, recycle ... Yahoo! News - Cubans Sailing to U.S. in Car Caught by Coast Guard
: "A group of Cubans tried to sail to the United States in a 1959 Buick car fashioned into a boat "
Yahoo! News - Algoma Steel earns $10.1M profit in Q4 as lower costs offset drop in sales
: "Algoma's profit comes as other steelmakers are reeling from heavy debtloads and piling losses. Hamilton-based steel giant Stelco Inc. entered bankruptcy-court protection late last month, joining Slater Steel of Mississauga, Ont., and Montreal-based Ivaco Corp., who made such moves last year.
Algoma itself has endured two bankruptcy restructurings, emerging from its second one in early 2002. "
It doesn't directly bear on steel or stamping, but I found this an interesting take on business in the new century ... Yahoo! News - Sun Microsystems CIO H. William Howard: Driving Out Complexity
: "Howard: In the current economic environment, doing more with less is top of mind. Not only am I expected to take out costs, but I'm expected to stay on the leading edge of technology at the same time. To do that, I use our products to drive out cost and complexity.
Everything now needs an ROI, ROA and TCO. In the high-growth years, there was less focus on that. Now you really have to pass some pretty tough hurdles to get the money to keep the technology refreshed. "
Yahoo! News - No guarantee of a provincial bailout for faltering steelmaker Stelco
: "The Ontario government is closely monitoring the situation [...] but Premier Dalton McGuinty is making no promises to bail out the Hamilton company.
The company blamed its financial troubles on its high cost structure, a deteriorating cash position and its inability to compete with other steel companies that have already restructured.
Stelco, whose 9,500 active workers are outnumbered by its 12,200 retirees, has said that so-called legacy costs, such as pensions, are a major factor in its inability to compete. "
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Ok. I'm confused. These two reports, filled one minute apart by 2 different news agencies, cast 2 different lights on (presumably) the same report. Did Daimler do well or poorly?
DaimlerChrysler Beats 2003 Profit Target
: "FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's DaimlerChrysler posted a 2003 operating profit excluding one-off items of 5.1 billion euros ($6.4 billion), topping its full year target of about five billion euros."
DaimlerChrysler reports fall in net profit for 2003 from year before
: "FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Automaker DaimlerChrysler said Wednesday that net profit for 2003 fell to euro448 million (US$564 million) from euro4.7 billion the year before, with the turnaround at its troubled U.S. Chrysler division and a one-time financial adjustment weighing on the bottom line."
And now for the technical types,
A few places not to shop for Valentine's Day gifts - Feb. 3, 2004
: "When love is a handy drill set
Home Depot, furniture stores, White Castle may not be the best gift destinations for Valentine's Day"
Yahoo! News - Steelmakers Irked by Lack of Data on China Market
: "China's ascendancy as the world's most-important steel market has outpaced the country's ability to definitively track consumption or production
The stampede to China to manufacture goods and build its infrastructure has created a huge demand for steel, which in turn has boosted demand for the iron ore and coal used to make the steel. "
Yahoo! News - Whirlpool Swings to Fourth-Quarter Profit
: "The appliance maker said 2004 earnings will top Wall Street forecasts. [they also] said Whirlpool faced a number of risks this year, including rising pension and health-care costs and higher steel prices. [...] Whirlpool and Maytag Corp. face increasing competition from Asian manufacturers, and must continue to cut overhead costs. "
Yahoo! News - Fording coal trust looking at raising production after $31M profit in Q4
: "The global glut of coking coal has been burned off, the Fording Canadian Coal Trust said Tuesday, disclosing that it is considering raising production after a $243-million profit last year. "
A Global Glut of Coking Coal ... where were these guys when I needed an example of alliteration in high school english class?
Yahoo! News - Inco seeks to cut costs in 2004 amid high nickel prices, resurging profits
: "'Don't think we're fat, dumb and happy.' The company is looking for 'every way that we can' to produce more nickel from its current operations and from projects that are under development."
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
Forbes.com: Saving Steel
: "There is little chance that the U.S. government, or any other, would allow companies to fold on the scale required to make the steel industry more efficient. [...] Steel companies around the world still have the capacity to produce, each year, at least 200 million more tons of coil, plate, wire, rods and other products than customers want, with disastrous effects on prices. "
BBC NEWS | Business | Material costs 'hit steel firms'
: "Steel production could be cut across the world following a rise in the cost of raw materials,
[...] firms might be forced to concentrate production on the most profitable products if they cannot pass cost rises on to customers.
An increase in the demand for steel in China had forced the cost of raw materials up by 22% last year, it said.
there [is] a 'real risk of steel shortages developing'. "
Yahoo! News - Falconbridge Cuts Metals Output As Strike Bites
: "The strike at Falconbridge Sudbury will slash its nickel output by 2,000 tonnes a month, but it expects to have enough stock to supply customers until next month.
Falconbridge officials said there were no immediate plans to declare force majeure as the firm had enough nickel stocks to meet supply commitments for the next four to six weeks.
Firms declare force majeure when they cannot meet supply contracts due to unforeseen circumstances. "
Yahoo! News - Brazil, China Planning Steel Mill
: "The mill would be located in the northeastern state of Maranhao, and could be expanded to eventually produce 7.5 million tons of steel."
Monday, February 02, 2004
Here comes the future .... Yahoo! News - Nanotechnology the Science of Small Things
: "Nanotechnology, according to its fans, will jumpstart a new industrial revolution with molecular-sized structures as complex as the human cell and 100 times stronger than steel. "
Strike Shuts Falconbridge Ontario Nickel Site
: "The Sudbury smelter, which produced 57,900 tonnes of unrefined nickel in 2002, would be run at a reduced rate by a small number of non-union workers, Falconbridge spokesman Dale Coffin said. During the last strike at the unit, a six-month halt in 2000, the smelter was run at 50 percent to 60 percent capacity.
Metals markets have been on tenterhooks about a strike at the Canadian operation as it comes at a time when the world is forecast to need 30,000 tonnes more nickel than can be supplied. Nickel is a key ingredient in stainless steel.
The work stoppage comes just four months after a supply-crippling, 13-week strike ended at Toronto-based Inco Ltd, the world No. 2 producer.
A shutdown of the Sudbury mine, milling and smelting site will deplete world supplies by more than 4,000 tonnes a month. Smaller quantities of copper, cobalt and precious metals, which are mined as by-products of nickel, will also be lost.
Nickel prices more than doubled last year on supply worries and were expected to continue to rise with a Sudbury shutdown."
Labels: Copper, nickel
Sunday, February 01, 2004
First .... Yahoo! News - Union Says New Falconbridge Offer Not Good Enough
'There will be a strike,' said Tom Datillo, an official with the Canadian Auto Workers "
and then a few hours later .... Yahoo! News - Strike, Lock-Out Hit Falconbridge Nickel Site
: "operations at Falconbridge Ltd.'s Sudbury site were halted on Sunday after the company and union failed to agree a new labor contract. "
Metals markets have been on tenterhooks about a strike at the northern Ontario operation, as it would coincide with an already worrisome shortage of nickel. The work stoppage would come just four months after a supply-crippling, 13-week strike ended at Inco Ltd, the world No.2 producer.
Analysts expect the market to be short of 30,000 tonnes of nickel both this year and next year, creating problems for producers of stainless steel, of which the silvery white metal is a key ingredient.
... Well, there goes the price of stainless steel. While some of the possibility of this strike was priced into stainless steel surcharges, the actual strike happening will undoubtedly cause stainless prices to rise some more.
What can you, our customers, do about it? Well, get your orders in now for any stainless parts. There may still be stainless supply at the slitters, and at least some of them don't pass surcharges through on steel they bought in the pre-surcharge era.
If you're not willing to commit to an order for parts, sign an authority to purchase raw material, and we'll get the raw material laid in at the old price. Of course, there were already some surcharges posted as in effect for February, but they're very likely to get worse now before they get better.