Sunday, December 31, 2006
With the lockout at AK Steel's Middletown Works entering its 11th month, leaders of the union representing some 1,800 workers have done an about-face. They are now embracing contract terms that members overwhelmingly rejected in October.
The union has dropped its opposition to outsourcing work, the union president said, but wants assurances that the company won't use rigorous back-to-work physicals as a way to get rid of hundreds of longtime employees and strip them of pension and health care benefits.
I wouldn't call the lockout over quite yet, though. The company says the offer being accepted was withdrawn after being voted down by such a clear majority, and isn't on the table any more.
Friday, December 29, 2006
But I think this heist takes the cake, at least at the moment.
In a season of scrap-metal heists, police here may have found the boldest: The theft of $200,000 worth of copper in broad daylight that required a semi-truck to haul away.
The owners of the scrap, Allen Park-based Danou Enterprises, this week posted a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of bandits who stole a 40-yard, 15-ton roll-off box of copper wire Dec. 22 from a demolition site
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Samsung Heavy Industries Co., the world's third-largest shipbuilder, will more than double purchases of steel plate from China next year because it can't get enough from suppliers in South Korea and Japan.
The company will rely on China next year for 21 percent of the 5 millimeter- (0.12 inch) to 20-millimeter-thick slabs used to make vessel hulls, compared with 9 percent in 2006
Copper demand in China, the world's largest consumer of the metal, is likely to fall seven percent this year
The AISI wants us to feel sorry for them. Again. By every measure, the steel industry is doing better than they have in years. But crying towels are still needed. Tears, it seems, are not enough.
The United States is likely to import a record amount of steel this year, a sign that it needs to address unfair trade practices by China and other Asian exporters, the American Iron and Steel Institute said.The United States is likely to import a record amount of steel this year, a sign that it needs to address unfair trade practices by China and other Asian exporters, the American Iron and Steel Institute said.
Over much of the last year, North American steel was the most expensive steel in the world!
This table (data from MEPS) shows global prices and prices in the EU, Asia and North America for steel over the last year. The last column is how much more the N. American price was, compared to the global average.
|Month||Global||EU||Asia||N. Amer.||N. Amer. Premium|
Friday, December 22, 2006
In the short term we forecast stainless steel prices moving even higher, due to further nickel price rises on the LME during December. This gain will impact on transaction values into the second quarter of 2007. March should be the highest month with cold rolled 304 transaction figures reaching almost $US4,900 per tonne and grade 316 figures topping $US7,300 per tonne. In the longer term, we expect stainless selling values to decline as nickel prices reduce and the US economic slowdown begins to take its toll on stainless consumption in the US
We commented on this strike when it first happened. It has the potential to shut down the car companies, and therefore, many stampers. It seems to be resolved and, to the best of my knowledge, no stampers were closed as a result of it.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and a union representing about 12,600 active union workers in the United States tentatively agreed Friday to a contract that would end an 11-week strike over health care benefits and Goodyear's plan to close a tire factory in Texas.
The deal allows Akron-based Goodyear to stick with its plans to close the plant in Tyler, Texas, but not immediately. It provides for a one-year transition period during which workers can take retirement buyouts. The plant employs 1,100 workers.
Goodyear announced Oct. 30 that it was planning to shut down its unprofitable Tyler plant, which makes wholesale private label tires. The plant's fate had been a key difference in negotiations. But the union was unable to save the plant beyond the end of 2007.
Copper hit an eight-month low on Thursday as a build-up in stocks and worries about a slowdown in demand weighed on the market.
Copper dropped decisively below $3 US as I was battling my cold this week, closing Thursday at $2.878 US.
Zinc also dropped, perhaps in sympathy, in the last few days, but nowhere near as impressively - it's still close to record high levels.
Nickel doesn't seem to be dropping at all.
Just so's you know:
Zinc is used in electroplating and also in pre-galvanized steel stock. So basically, if you want your steel to not rust, one way or the other, you'll need zinc.
If your parts' made of brass, that's copper and zinc.
If your parts' made of stainless steel, a major price factor is nickel.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
In the short term, this is good for stampers. Stainless steel markets have been tight, forcing prices up. Also contributing to high stainless prices were nickel prices. If the markets loosen up a bit, because production goes up, this will bring stainless prices more back into historical line. However, in the long term, it's less clear. The pendulum is still swinging too much, and that means highly unpredictable raw material prices. Which leads to uncertainly back when material selection is made for stamped parts.
The world's stainless steel sector will record an unprecedented jump in crude production this year. We expect total output in 2006 to climb to 27.8 million tonnes - 3.4 million tonnes above the outturn in the previous twelve months.
Such a rate of increase is unsustainable. The long term growth in production has been around 5 percent per annum. This year, the figure will be nearer 14 percent.
A substantial rise in output will be recorded in the EU this year. The gain will be almost 12 percent. A significant increase was expected after the decline in 2005 but not a double digit percentage gain.
A noteworthy production rise will also be reported for the United States this year - expanding to an estimated 2.55 million tonnes from 2.2 million tonnes twelve months earlier. New capacity pushed the growth to above 15 percent.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
I find it hard to believe that, every 6 months, the Bush administration comes to this conclusion.
The Bush administration said Tuesday that China does not meet the technical requirements of a country that is manipulating its currency to gain unfair trade advantages.
The administration did say Tuesday that “more flexibility in China’s exchange rate will help it achieve more balanced growth” and promote a number of other outcomes that would be economically beneficial.
But in the report it is required to deliver to Congress every six months, the administration said that no country met the “technical requirements for designation” as a currency manipulator.
World stainless crude steel production rose by 30.4 percent to 7.1 million tonnes in the third quarter of 2006 versus the same period last year, the International Stainless Steel Forum said on Tuesday.
Total production for the first nine months of 2006 is 20.9 million tonnes, up by 13.0 percent compared to the same period in 2005
More than five years after the destruction of the twin towers, the first steel columns for the Freedom tower will be raised Tuesday morning at Ground Zero.
The 30-ton steel beams are massive, each up to 35 feet long. Eleven more will be delivered to the site by the end of the month.
Construction workers have poured 3,000 cubic yards of concrete to prepare the foundation for the soaring 1776- foot freedom tower, the symbolic cornerstone of New York's efforts to rebuild after the terror attacks.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Detroit Free Press
The auto industry won a surprising victory in a trade dispute over steel on Thursday, as a federal panel voted to drop import tariffs on a key type of steel from four countries.
The vote by the U.S. International Trade Commission follows months of debate and an aggressive campaign against the tariffs by the world's six largest automakers, which banded together on a trade issue for the first time. General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG raised their opposition to the tariffs in their meeting with President George W. Bush in November.
The steel industry had argued that the tariffs against corrosion-resistant steel from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and South Korea were necessary to protect their nascent economic recovery. The six-member ITC voted unanimously to keep tariffs in place against Germany and South Korea, but dropped the remaining tariffs by a 4-2 vote.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
In the short term we forecast stainless steel prices moving even higher – due mainly to an unprecedented hike in the price of nickel on the LME during October. This gain will impact on transaction prices in December and January.
We believe that the turn of the year will be the peak of the current cycle. In the longer term, we expect stainless selling values to decline, albeit at a much slower rate than the escalation this year.
Copper prices fell in New York as U.S. inventories of the metal rose to an eight-month high.
[...] Global stockpiles will continue to rise as production is forecast to increase 5.3 percent next year, creating a surplus of 404,000 tons [...]
'Copper is trading lower because of higher inventories,' said John Gross, director of metals management at Scott Brass Inc. in Cranston, R.I. 'The market is also seasonally softer.'
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Copper declined in London on speculation that growth in demand in China, the world's largest user of the metal, will keep slowing, creating a supply glut.