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”

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. “

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 …

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.'”

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.

Michael

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 ….

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. “