Our Metal Price Trends series provides monthly insight into industry news and economic activity affecting global metal prices, and empowers Metal Supermarkets customers to make timely and informed decisions when purchasing metal.
In December 2014, prices increased in Aluminum and Cold Rolled, but decreased in Hot Rolled Steel. Stainless Steel prices remained relatively unchanged.
The US Commerce Department stated that the GDP has risen faster than their previous estimate of 3.9% (for the July-to-September period); it has been boosted by stronger consumer and business spending. This is now the fastest rate of growth since the third quarter of 2003. It is widely anticipated that the US central bank (the Federal Reserve), will begin raising interest rates in 2015.
Aluminum – In December prices have increased from the previous month. After starting in 2014 with a chronic surplus, the industry shutdown portions of production capacity which led to increased prices. On the demand side, Aluminum consumption is expected to improve on a global basis. This anticipated consumption increase has been based on increased Aluminum usage by the automotive industry in new trucks and cars. The lowering of oil prices does raise some concerns about these plans. With lower energy prices, analysts doubt that consumers will pay extra to purchase a vehicle with an aluminum body
Carbon Steel – In December the price of Hot Rolled decreased and Cold Rolled prices increased. U.S. Steel will lay off over 600 employees working at its facility in Lorain OH. Falling oil prices hurt the company’s customers in the energy sector. The facility makes steel pipes and tubes that are specifically for oil-and-gas firms. This announcement comes after a recent U.S. International Trade Commission ruling (August 2014) that imported oil country tubular goods (primarily used in the oil, gas, and petrochemical sector) from six countries would be subject to anti-dumping duties. Overall, the improving economic conditions in the U.S. should present an opportunity for the steel mills to further improve their profitability of operations throughout next year.
Stainless – In December the price of Stainless Steel remained relatively unchanged. Stainless steel sales activity has increased and we are seeing longer mill delivery lead times. At present the base price of material is unchanged and the surcharges remain close to last month.
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