Sunday, December 30, 2007
After years of record growth, Germany's key steel sector is likely to face more uncertain times as the fall in the dollar and the global credit crunch raise business risks, the nation's steel industry association said.After years of record growth, Germany's key steel sector is likely to face more uncertain times as the fall in the dollar and the global credit crunch raise business risks, the nation's steel industry association said.
[he said] major export industries such as the automotive field and electrical engineering were likely to be hit by a weaker dollar with automakers also scaling back demand as a result of concerns about new CO2 emission rules.
Friday, December 28, 2007
The notice comes from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission web site.
Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.
Name of Product: Counterfeit Circuit Breakers labeled as “Square D”
Units: About 50,000
Distributor/Retailer: North American Breaker Co. Inc. (NABCO), of Burbank, Calif.
Hazard: The recalled circuit breakers labeled “Square D” have been determined by Square D to be counterfeit and can fail to trip when they are overloaded, posing a fire hazard to consumers.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Seattle Times Newspaper
Late in 2007, containers of raw steel began leaving Nucor Seattle for buyers in Taiwan and Indonesia as the city's only steel mill began exporting steel to Asia.
It is a small amount. Perhaps more significant, Canada, a tariff-free market, takes 30 percent of the plant's output. The Seattle plant is operating its melt shop five days a week in three shifts — and is asking the pollution-control authorities to allow it to add a fourth shift and operate 24/7.
We are used to booming aircraft and software — but steel is old.
Think of it as recycling. The feedstock for the Seattle plant begins as steel cans tossed into a thousand recycling bins. It begins also as junkyard cars, derelict appliances and tangles of old reinforcing bar torn from demolished buildings. Call it scrap. At the plant in West Seattle, the old steel is grabbed by giant magnets and plunked into an electric-arc furnace to be reborn as youthful steel. All the steel made here is this recycled kind.
The Enquirer (Cincinatti)
The union that represents workers at AK Steel's Middletown Works is, like the company itself, leaner and focused on surviving in a competitive global economy.
A new union leader takes over next month, with both sides ready to look ahead after a year that began with the company in the midst of a lockout that was then the nation's longest major work stoppage. The union has also rebuilt itself a little, with new members coming from replacement workers kept after the lockout ended in March.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
General Motors (GM) said Tuesday it is raising prices on its 2008 model year vehicles an average of 1.5% to help cover increasing steel and commodity costs.
The increases are effective with vehicles invoiced to dealers starting Wednesday and will not affect vehicles already in dealer inventory, the automaker said.
The price of most cars and trucks will increase by $100 to $500, but the prices of certain vehicles in more competitive segments will not increase at all, said Mark LaNeve, GM North America vice president for vehicle sales, service and marketing.
GM's U.S. sales dropped 11% in November from one year earlier, hurt by falling demand for trucks as well as cuts in sales to low-profit rental car fleets. GM's sales were down 6% for the first 11 months of the year.
China will impose or raise export duties on products including wood pulp, coke, alloy steel, steel billets, and some finished steel products in 2008, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) announced on Friday.
The nation will also impose temporary export tariffs on coal, crude oil, and metal ores next year, the MOF stated, without providing further details.
China, which produces a third of the world's steel, will raise export tariffs on some steel products from Jan. 1 to help rein in a record trade surplus and reduce energy consumption and pollution.
It didn't give details on new tax rates. The country will also impose export tariffs on coal, crude oil and metal ores next year, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement on its Web site late yesterday.
China, seeking to curb a record trade surplus, cut tax rebates and raised duties on steel shipments this year. The Asian nation's exports have pressured rivals, leading the European Union last month to threaten tariffs to shield its producers, including ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- History buffs practically salivate at the thought of being able to explore the massive ruins of Bethlehem Steel, the industrial behemoth that armed hundreds of U.S. warships, provided the raw material for the Golden Gate Bridge and transformed the New York City skyline.
Thanks to an $800 million casino complex rising on the site, the dream that has eluded preservationists for more than a decade is now within reach: the ability to tell the story of America's industrial history through the prism of one of its most important companies.
These visitors could help provide the economic shot in the arm necessary to stabilize and maintain many of the historic buildings, making them suitable for public display.
No one knows how much it will cost to preserve the Bethlehem Steel story, or who will agree to pay for what. But Sands has already saved 20 buildings from the wrecking ball, and those who are passionate about "the Steel" say that some kind of public access is a certainty.
Here's another article that goes into more detail about what machines were preserved that might go into the museum.
Martin, Bethlehem Steel's chief engineer from 1962 to 2002, is a consultant to the National Museum of Industrial History. The nonprofit museum is planned to house the tools among myriad parts of the United States' industrial past.
Among the items sharing storage with them are a locomotive for moving ore and two Mack fire trucks from the 1960s.
The machine tools represent a small portion of the artifacts saved from Bethlehem Steel's namesake plant.
"The National Museum of Industrial History is very interested in having a working machine shop. The reason being there's not an industry of significance that doesn't have a machine shop," Martin said. "Everybody's got a machine shop."
Salvaged were 10-foot-long lathes, boring mills, band saws, swing drill presses, cast-iron structural columns and an overhead crane operated by hand with ropes.
A dozen or so volunteers spent two weekends using forklifts to ferry the tools from the South Side plant's Weldment Shop, which was subsequently demolished, to the machine shop, which is slated for preservation.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Since copper is often used in construction, the red metal usually moves with economic news. Traders still considered the Federal Reserve's announcement of a series of measures aimed at addressing the problems in the short-term funding markets, which could boost fuel demand. The moves were made in conjunction with many of the world's other major central banks. The announcement came a day after the Fed announced a quarter-point reduction in its benchmark interest rate, a move that was widely criticized for not giving enough help to the markets.
With concerns over the U.S. economy, copper supplies are at a nine-month high. Data showed inventories monitored by the London Metal Exchange were at 3,675 metric tons, up 193,000 tons, its highest level since the middle of March.
For all that copper goes up slightly and down slightly, it's still awfully expensive in terms of long term trends. Copper is back to where it was a year ago, but still more than 3 times the price it was 5 years ago (about 80 cents US).
International Herald Tribune
The EU began an inquiry into whether Chinese exporters, including Baoshan Iron & Steel and Wuhan Iron & Steel, sell flat-rolled steel in the EU below cost, a practice known as dumping. The inquiry covers €1.2 billion, or $1.7 billion, of imports of hot-dipped metallic-coated steel.
The investigation will determine whether the steel "is being dumped and whether this dumping has caused injury," the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, said in the Official Journal.
The commission has nine months to decide whether to impose provisional anti-dumping duties for half a year and EU governments have 15 months to decide whether to apply "definitive" levies for five years.
Here's another, similar article, from the Toronto Star, a local (to Toronto) newspaper.
EU officials have warned of a protectionist backlash if China doesn't do more to open up to European exports. They've also asked that Beijing address the valuation of the yuan, which they say gives Chinese exporters an unfair price advantage.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
On the other hand, if too many retire all at once, there will be a need for some to stay, or else the critical information about how the processes work will not be passed on from one generation to the next.
Retirements are looming at the steel plants along the Lake Michigan shoreline as the baby boomers hired in their late adolescence and early adulthood when the industry was booming begin to qualify for pensions. It's estimated that more than half of the region's hourly and salaried steel industry workers will be eligible for retirement by 2012, creating plentiful job openings in the coming years.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
German steel group ThyssenKrupp on Tuesday reported a record net profit for its 2006-2007 fiscal year, but chief executive Ekkehard Schulz indicated later that growth could slow considerably this year.
He also forecast another "good year" for steel demand in 2008 but noted that demand for stainless steel was expected to cool slightly after record results in 2007.