News in Steel and Blog

Nippon Steel worries about U.S. trade action, yen’s surge

Tuesday, Feb 20, 2018

Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp, Japan’s biggest steelmaker, is worried that potential U.S. trade action to cut steel imports could flood Asia with products and that the yen’s recent surge may hurt customers such as carmakers.

U.S. President Donald Trump said early last week he was considering a range of options – including tariffs and quotas – to address steel and aluminum imports he said were unfairly hurting U.S. producers.

“If any measure comes, it will loosen steel markets, sending supplies back to Asia as there is nowhere else for them to go,” Toshiharu Sakae, Nippon Steel’s executive vice president, told Reuters in an interview late last week.

“That would be negative for us,” he said.

Nippon Steel’s rival JFE Holdings Inc voiced similar fears about possible U.S. trade actions last week.

“Any U.S. action may trigger retaliation by other countries. What is most troublesome is to see the world heading towards protectionism,” JFE President Eiji Hayashida said.

Sakae said Japan’s steel industry will ask Tokyo to let Washington know that “we oppose such steps as we support free trade.”

Japanese steelmakers are enjoying the best market conditions in at least three years. Steel prices have risen on increased production by automakers, while construction is in full swing for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.

Nippon Steel early this month reported a 108 percent jump in April-December recurring profit, led by healthy demand and higher prices for steel products.

But the yen’s surge poses a fresh risk, Sakae said.

The yen rose to a 15-month high against the U.S. dollar last week amid concerns that the United States might pursue a weak dollar strategy and that Trump’s tax cuts and fiscal spending may stoke inflation and erode greenback value.

Direct impact from the stronger yen on Nippon Steel’s earnings will be limited as damage on its exports could be offset by lower import costs for raw materials, Sakae said.

“But we can’t ignore it because our main customers are exporters such as automakers and construction machinery makers,” he said.

“The strong yen would hurt their exports, sales and profits, which would also make them tougher negotiators on steel prices.”

Nippon Steel and its peers have been trying to raise product prices to cope with higher raw materials costs such as for coking coal, iron ore, zinc and manganese.

 

Source: in.reuters.com

Brown Equipment has a green light on the new HK state of the art laser!

2/13/2018

Brown Equipment is committed to staying on the razor’s edge of technology with the latest installment of this new HK Laser!

The laser boasts a 4000 KW power supply along with cutting technology that is accurate and presents smooth edges throughout the part.

We here at Brown are celebrating this addition to our operation and are looking forward to passing this level of quality to our customers.

Nippon Steel worries about U.S. trade action, yen’s surge

Tuesday, Feb 20, 2018

Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp, Japan’s biggest steelmaker, is worried that potential U.S. trade action to cut steel imports could flood Asia with products and that the yen’s recent surge may hurt customers such as carmakers.

U.S. President Donald Trump said early last week he was considering a range of options – including tariffs and quotas – to address steel and aluminum imports he said were unfairly hurting U.S. producers.

“If any measure comes, it will loosen steel markets, sending supplies back to Asia as there is nowhere else for them to go,” Toshiharu Sakae, Nippon Steel’s executive vice president, told Reuters in an interview late last week.

“That would be negative for us,” he said.

Nippon Steel’s rival JFE Holdings Inc voiced similar fears about possible U.S. trade actions last week.

“Any U.S. action may trigger retaliation by other countries. What is most troublesome is to see the world heading towards protectionism,” JFE President Eiji Hayashida said.

Sakae said Japan’s steel industry will ask Tokyo to let Washington know that “we oppose such steps as we support free trade.”

Japanese steelmakers are enjoying the best market conditions in at least three years. Steel prices have risen on increased production by automakers, while construction is in full swing for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.

Nippon Steel early this month reported a 108 percent jump in April-December recurring profit, led by healthy demand and higher prices for steel products.

But the yen’s surge poses a fresh risk, Sakae said.

The yen rose to a 15-month high against the U.S. dollar last week amid concerns that the United States might pursue a weak dollar strategy and that Trump’s tax cuts and fiscal spending may stoke inflation and erode greenback value.

Direct impact from the stronger yen on Nippon Steel’s earnings will be limited as damage on its exports could be offset by lower import costs for raw materials, Sakae said.

“But we can’t ignore it because our main customers are exporters such as automakers and construction machinery makers,” he said.

“The strong yen would hurt their exports, sales and profits, which would also make them tougher negotiators on steel prices.”

Nippon Steel and its peers have been trying to raise product prices to cope with higher raw materials costs such as for coking coal, iron ore, zinc and manganese.

China urges U.S. restraint on steel imports

Tuesday, Feb 13, 2018

China has expressed concerns over excessive protectionism in the steel sector by the United States, and urged it to show restraint in a probe into steel imports, an official with Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said on Tuesday.

Wang Hejun, the head of MOFCOM’s Trade Remedy and Investigation Bureau, made the comments ahead of a meeting later in the day between U.S. President Donald Trump and a group of U.S. lawmakers to discuss trade. Trump is mulling whether to takes steps to limit steel and aluminum imports seen as damaging to U.S. businesses.

In a statement published on the MOFCOM website, Wang said excessive protection is not a remedy and will only lead to a “vicious circle” of trade actions.

Trump’s meeting comes a month after the U.S. Commerce Department handed him the results of an investigation into steel and aluminum imports. The Commerce Department has offered no insight into its conclusions, although the probe could lead to broad tariffs or import quotas among other steps.

Earlier on Tuesday, a Chinese government think-tank said in an email to Reuters that China will oppose any “unfair and unreasonable” trade measures by countries such as the United States against its steel companies, arguing protectionism will “poison” the industry.

The China Metallurgical Industry Planning and Research Institute said it was responding to recent efforts by U.S. steel firms urging President Trump to curb surging imports that they say are undermining the U.S. industry.

 

Source: reuters.com

Tata Steel third-quarter profit surges on volume growth

 

Monday, Feb 12, 2018

Tata Steel Ltd on Friday posted a five-fold rise in third-quarter profit, boosted by strong volume growth in India and increasing steel prices.

“Global steel prices have been buoyant with improved trade position in China along with cost push from raw materials,” Chief Executive Officer T V Narendran said. bit.ly/2H0Vjkk

Quarterly total steel deliveries climbed about 8 percent to 6.56 million tons, with Indian deliveries contributing about 50 percent of the total.

Total revenue from operations grew 15 percent to 334.47 billion rupees, with revenue from Indian operations up 22 percent.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, profit was 12.94 billion rupees ($200.99 million), compared with 2.43 billion rupees in the same period a year earlier, the steelmaker said in a statement. bit.ly/2H0MXJu

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 13.92 billion rupees, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The company also incurred exceptional charges of 11.15 billion rupees on provisions in respect of certain demands and claims from regulatory authorities in India.

Shares of the company ended 2.06 percent higher in a Mumbai market that ended 1.1 percent lower.

Novelis to Acquire Leased Sierre Operating Facilities, Manufacturing Assets

Friday, Feb 02, 2018

Novelis Inc., the world leader in aluminum rolling and recycling, today announced it signed a binding agreement to acquire operating facilities and manufacturing assets at its Sierre plant that have historically been leased. By doing this, Novelis will gain additional flexibility to continue serving the growing automotive aluminum sheet market and provide a more secure and stable future for its employees, customers and the community. The €200 million acquisition from Constellium, which is co-located on the site, is expected to close in the first quarter of fiscal 2019, subject to customary closing conditions.

“This acquisition further solidifies our leadership position in the automotive aluminum sheet market and provides us with the strategic flexibility to evaluate future growth opportunities in Europe,” said Steve Fisher, President and Chief Executive Officer, Novelis, Inc.

As part of the acquisition, Novelis will establish a joint venture with Constellium to administer shared infrastructure activities across the entire Sierre facility, which is expected to provide an efficient, long-term solution to both parties. Constellium will continue to own and operate its cast houses, plate, and extrusion manufacturing plants. Novelis will retain its Research and Technology Center located at the plant that offers technical assistance, research and product development to its automotive customers.

Focused on the production of aluminum sheet for the automotive industry, Novelis’ Sierre plant has been supplying the market for more than 20 years and is the leading location in Europe for the production of aluminum sheet for the automotive industry. Novelis maintains at Sierre a fully integrated system, covering the entire process from casting to finishing. The casthouse is capable of casting standard single alloys as well as multi-alloy ingots. In addition to its hot and cold rolling mills, the plant operates a state-of-the-art continuous annealing line for automotive sheet and has laser cutting capability.

 

Source: prnewswire.com

Price rally boosts Baosteel’s earnings

Monday, Jan 29, 2018

Baoshan Iron & Steel Co expects net earnings to surge between 113 and 121 percent in 2017 from a year ago amid a rally in steel prices as China cuts supply.

Net profit attributed to shareholders last year is set to rise between 10.1 billion and 10.8 billion Yuan (US$1.6 billlon-US$1.7 billion) from 2016, as the company’s profit margins widened amid steel price increases and its efforts to cut costs, it said yesterday via a public filing. Its net profit in 2016 was 8.97 billion Yuan.

In 2017 steel prices nationwide rose as China cut 50 million tons of steel capacity. The rebar price in Shanghai gained 38.1 percent to 4,350 Yuan per ton and in Beijing it rose 37.7 percent to 4,090 Yuan per ton, said Lange Steel Information Center, a steel industry consultancy.

Baosteel said the price gain has helped it to “reap higher profit margins.”

The steelmaker also attributed the profit growth to higher synergies with Wuhan Steel which merged with Baosteel in 2016 to form parent group Baowu Steel Group Corp.

Several domestic steel firms have also predicted a growth in their profits.

Great Lakes steel production falls by 8,000 tons

Thursday, Jan 25, 2018

Great Lakes steel production dropped to 648,000 tons last week, a 1.21 percent decrease.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 656,000 tons of metal the previous week, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Most of the steel made in the Great Lakes region is produced in Lake and Porter counties in Northwest Indiana.

Overall, domestic steel mills made 1.69 million tons of metal last week, a 0.82 percent decline compared to the previous week.

U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 72.1 percent so far this year, down from 74.5 percent at the same time in 2017.

Domestic steelmakers used about 72.6 percent of their steelmaking capacity in the week that ended Jan. 20, down from 74.5 percent at the same time last year and from 73.2 percent the previous week, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Some analysts say steelmaking capacity utilization of about 90 percent is considered financially healthy for the industry.

Overall, U.S. national steel output dropped by 14,000 tons last week to 1.69 million tons, down from 1.7 million tons the previous week, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Production in the Southern district, nearly always the second largest steelmaking region after the Great Lakes, fell to 599,000 tons last week, down from 614,000 tons the previous week. Steel output in the Midwest dropped slightly to 160,000 tons last week, down from 161,000 tons the previous week.

Iron ore marks first weekly fall in three as steel rally stalls

Saturday, Jan 20, 2018

Iron ore futures in China rose on Friday, but posted their first weekly drop in three as slower demand stalled a rally in steel prices after they surged nearly 50 percent last year.

Spot iron ore prices were also on course for their first weekly fall in three weeks, with the benchmark rate hitting a 2-1/2-week low under $75 a ton.

“It is really the slowest season for steel production and steel demand overall,” said Helen Lau, analyst, Argonaut Securities in Hong Kong.

Winter in China usually slows activity in the construction sector, one of the biggest consumers of steel. China has also imposed restrictions on steel production in 28 cities from November through March in its campaign against smog.

The most-active iron ore contract for May delivery on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed up 1.6 percent at 543.50 yuan ($85) a tonne. However, the contract, which touched a 2-1/2-week low on Wednesday, dropped almost 2 percent for the week.

Weaker futures have also dragged down spot prices. Iron ore for delivery to China’s Qingdao port .IO62-CNO=MB also hit a 2-1/2-week trough of $74.51 per tonne on Wednesday, recovering only slightly to $74.87 on Thursday, data from Metal Bulletin showed.

The spot benchmark slipped 4 percent this week.

Underlining leaner demand, inventories of construction steel product rebar among Chinese traders have risen to 3.62 million tonnes, as of Jan. 12, from a record low of 2.84 million tonnes in mid-December, according to data from SteelHome consultancy.

The most-traded rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange ended 2.2 percent higher at 3,926 yuan per tonne.

Rebar, which surged 46 percent last year, was still down more than 4 percent since touching a three-month high of 4,104 yuan on Dec. 4.

 

Source: in.reuters.com

Metal stocks melt after US anti-dumping crackdown

Friday, Jan 19, 2018

Metal stocks started wilting on Thursday after reports surfaced that the US has imposed anti-dumping duty on stainless steel flanges from India.

Such imports of stainless steel flanges from India are valued at $32.1 million.

Anti-dumping duty is a penalty imposed on low-priced imports to avoid flooding in the destination country and ring-fence the domestic industry from unfair competition.

In the United States, the International Trade Commission (ITC) imposes anti-dumping duties based on investigations and recommendations from the Department of Commerce. The ITC is an independent government agency, explains Investopedia.

At the time of writing this report, the Nifty metal index was trading 1.73 per cent lower at 4,046.60, with 11 out of 15 constituents ending in the red. The index was the big loser on the NSE.

SAIL was trading nearly 3 per cent lower at Rs 93.75 while NALCO dropped 2.56 per cent at Rs 78.15. Hindalco slumped 2.38 per cent, Tata Steel 2 per cent and JSW Steel 1.84 per cent.

Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com

Steel Dynamics Inc. chooses Danieli water-treatment technology

Tuesday, Jan 16, 2018

New water treatment plant for the billet welder and spooler line

Following the order for a new billet welder and spooler line to be installed at the SDI Structural and Rail Products Div. Columbia City, Indiana facility, the mini-mill group has now ordered a water-treatment plant to complete the project.
The new water-treatment plant will include the indirect cooling circuit (460 m3/h) and direct cooling circuits (1100 m3/h) equipped with DANfilterTM.

DANfilterTM -Danieli patented sand filters- are high-rate performance filters and, compared to the other filters available on the market, require fewer units thus reducing plant CapEx by about 30% and footprint by about 50%. At the same time, DANfilterTM improves the quality the water.

The new SDI water treatment plant has been designed for future rolling mill expansion.

Commissioning of the water-treatment plant is expected by third quarter 2018. This will be the 180th Danieli water-treatment plant designed and installed since 1988.

How will automation change the working climate for man?

The vast majority of humans throughout history worked because they had to. Many found comfort, value, and meaning in their efforts, but some defined work as a necessity to be avoided if possible. For centuries, elites in societies from Europe to Asia aspired to absolution from gainful employment. Aristotle defined a “man in freedom” as the pinnacle of human existence, an individual freed of any concern for the necessities of life and with nearly complete personal agency. (Tellingly, he did not define wealthy merchants as free to the extent that their minds were pre-occupied with acquisition.)

The promise of AI and automation raises new questions about the role of work in our lives. Most of us will remain focused for decades to come on activities of physical or financial production, but as technology provides services and goods at ever-lower cost, human beings will be compelled to discover new roles — roles that aren’t necessarily tied to how we conceive of work today.

Part of the challenge, as economist Brian Arthur recently proposed, “will not be an economic one but a political one.” How are the spoils of technology to be distributed? Arthur points to today’s political turmoil in the U.S. and Europe as partly a result of the chasms between elites and the rest of society. Later this century, societies will discover how to distribute the productive benefits of technology for two primary reasons: because it will be easier and because they must. Over time, technology will enable more production with less sacrifice. Meanwhile, history suggests that concentration of wealth in too few hands leads to social pressures that will either be addressed through politics or violence or both.

But this then raises a second, more vexing challenge: as the benefits of technology become more widely available — through reform or revolution — more of us will face the question, “When technology can do nearly anything, what should I do, and why?”

Insight Center

Particularly since the Industrial Revolution, technology has transitioned a widening portion of humanity away from the production of life essentials. While many people remain trapped in a day-to-day struggle for survival, a smaller percentage of humans are thus burdened. As AI and robotic systems become far more capable and committed, work will increasingly hum along without us, perhaps achieving what John Maynard Keynes described in Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren as technological unemployment, in which technology replaces human labor faster than we discover new jobs. Keynes predicted this would only be “a temporary phase of maladjustment,” and that within a century, humankind might overcome its fundamental economic challenge and be freed from the biological necessity of working.

This is an immensely hopeful vision, but also a winding, perilous path. Keynes cautioned, “If the economic problem is solved, mankind will be deprived of its traditional purpose… Yet there is no country and no people, I think, who can look forward to the age of leisure and of abundance without a dread.”

With trepidation, Keynes wondered how people would focus their attentions, interests and fears when absolved from making a living. As we unmoor from traditional pursuits, how will we avoid a nihilistic, Huxlian future? How will we define our own sense of purpose, meaning, and value?

We can explore this question through the work of philosopher, historian, and journalist Hannah Arendt, who in the 1950s designed a far-reaching framework for understanding all of human activity. In The Human Condition, a beautiful, challenging, profound work, Arendt describes three levels of what she defines, after the Greeks, as the Vita Activa.

Labor generates metabolic necessities — the inputs, such as food, that sustain human life. Work creates the physical artifacts and infrastructure that define our world, and often outlast us — from homes and goods to works of art. Action encompasses interactive, communicative activities between human beings — the public sphere. In action, we explore and assert our distinctiveness as human beings and seek immortality.

Over the next 100 years, AI and robotic systems will increasingly dominate labor and work, producing necessities and the physical artifacts of human life, enabling more of us to ascend (Arendt did present this as ascending — this is a qualitative value judgment) to the realm of action. Of course, some people might engage in labor or work by choice, but choice is the essential distinction.

Most ancient Greek philosophers prioritized contemplation over action as the pinnacle of human endeavor. Arendt did battle with this notion, arguing on behalf of action. Contemporary culture appears to agree. Ultimately, though, action and contemplation function best when allied. We have the opportunity — perhaps the responsibility — to turn our curiosity and social natures to action and contemplation.

We’ll face dramatic adjustments to our Vita Activa over the coming decades, each of us asking what to do and why. Hopefully our grandchildren will be free to pursue a life of engagement and exploration — or to garden or cook. If we are fortunate, this will be a choice rather than a necessity.

Arendt opened The Human Condition with a caution about “a society of laborers which is about to be liberated from the fetters of labor.” The danger? That “this society does no longer know of those other higher and more meaningful activities for the sake of which this freedom would deserve to be won.” Arendt particularly focused this challenge on the Communist ideology which so glorified labor. It could equally be leveled at us.

When our machines release us from ever more tasks, to what will we turn our attentions? This will be the defining question of our coming century.

Great Lakes steel production starts 2018 with jump of 46,000 tons

Thursday, Jan 11, 2018

Great Lakes steel production rose to 640,000 tons during the first week of 2018, a 7.7 percent jump.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 594,000 tons of metal the previous week, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Most of the steel made in the Great Lakes region is produced in Lake and Porter counties in Northwest Indiana.

Overall, domestic steel mills made 1.6 million tons of metal last week, a 5 percent decline compared to the same period in 2017.

U.S. steel mills ran at a capacity utilization rate of 70.7 percent, down from 74.5 percent at the same time in 2017.

Domestic steelmakers used about 70.7 percent of their steelmaking capacity in the week that ended Jan. 6, down year-over-year but up from 70.2 percent the previous week, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Some analysts say steelmaking capacity utilization of about 90 percent is considered financially healthy for the industry.

Overall, U.S. national steel output rose by 12,000 tons last week to 1.64 million tons, an increase of 0.73 percent from 1.63 million tons the previous week, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Production in the Southern district, nearly always the second largest steelmaking region after the Great Lakes, fell to 570,000 tons last week, down from 604,000 tons the previous week. Steel output in the Midwest stayed steady at 158,000 tons last week.

 

Source: nwitimes.com

Steelmakers, miners at odds over pricing benchmark for ore

Monday, Jan 08, 2018

India’s steel producers and suppliers of iron ore have very different views on the pricing benchmarks to be used for the primary input material for an industry that is crucial for infrastructure-building. Manufacturers want export parity as the peg, while miners prefer setting the tariff in keeping with deemed import costs.

A top official at a local steel major pointed out that logistics costs play a significant role in domestic ore pricing. For instance, there is price difference of between Rs 600 (Chhattisgarh-Karnataka) and Rs 1600 (Odisha -Karnataka), with plants being located far from the mines.

“Given this scenario, the question of import parity is not relevant. Iron ore is one raw material that is locally available and works to our advantage. The pricing of ore should instead be based on export prices,” an industry source said.

Export prices are lower than domestic realization by nearly Rs 500 per ton after adding export duty and transport costs. Out of the 191.6 MT of iron ore produced in 2016-17, about 24 MT were exported. In 2017-18, exports are slated to touch 30 MT.

An official note on miner NMDC’s price increase cited a steep rise in Odisha ore prices in January this year. “While the increase in lump ore prices ranges from Rs 1,200-1300/ton, for fines it ranges from Rs 550- Rs 700/ton. Effective price increase by two of the largest Odisha miners who control nearly 40% of the non-captive segment is Rs 1,300 a ton in lump ore and Rs 700 per tonne in fines,” it said.

Imports, however, are hardly a feasible option for Indian plants, given the logistics and transport costs associated with hauling the ore to hinterland locations, an industry source said.

Seshagiri Rao, joint managing director and Group CFO of JSW Steel, the country’s largest private steel company, said it imported around 5 MT of iron ore, or a bulk of the 5.7 MT of ore was shipped into India.

JSW, however, relies on imports only where it is feasible at the Dolvi plant in Maharashtra that is located close to India’s western water-margin. “We are forced to do so since it is costlier for us to transport ore from Chhattisgarh to Maharashtra than to get it from Brazil,” Rao said.