The steel market continues to struggle with lower pricing. Even though in some products there has been some strengthening of this position, it is still questionable whether the pricing will remain or whether prices will drop more in 2014. We suggest metals will continue to be impacted by importers and global over production, both of which have obvious negative price implications.

Aluminum – Prices have fallen again in December. This ongoing problem is prompting mills like the U.S. producer Ormet Corp to announce that it would close its 270,000 ton per year aluminum smelter in Hannibal, Ohio. While such production losses are a concern, Chinese mills are producing more metal, which will offset any production that is lost in the west. We expect excessive supply and still weak demand will keep Aluminum prices depressed for the near future.

Cold Rolled – Prices showed further increases during the month. U.S. Steel Corp. announced base price increases effective December 16th 2013; the increase affects new spot orders on all flat-rolled products. Providing that the demand for Cold Rolled Steel remains stable, we expect further mill price increase announcements.

Hot Rolled – After the gains made in October, prices continue to decline through November and December.  The mills continue to push for price increases; this has most recently been shown by SSAB Americas, ArcelorMittal USA LLC and Nucor Corp, all of whom increased their transaction prices on plate products effective December 13th.  Also, the major producers of steel beams have increased their transaction price effective with new orders placed after December 19th. Providing that the demand for these Hot Rolled Steel remains, we expect further mill price increase announcements.

Stainless – After a short period of price stabilization, the minor downward trend continued in December for this product.  Recently AK Steel Holding Corp increased the price of specialty stainless steel products and it has now announced a price increase on the rest of its stainless steel products. The increase will be effective with all shipments after Jan 1, 2014.  While this increase is welcomed by the mills, it is difficult to pass on raw material price increases to consumers due to overcapacity, and a glut in cheaper Chinese steel imports.

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