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 September 2014, Aluminum, Hot Rolled Steel, Cold Rolled Steel, and Stainless Steel prices remained relatively unchanged.
A recent supply management’s manufacturing business survey showed that the pace of growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector decreased slightly in September. However, the overall economy continued to grow. US unemployment lowered to 5.9% in September, the lowest in 5 years.
Aluminum – In September, prices remained unchanged from August. Over the past few years, the world price of aluminum has declined due to over-production. In reaction to this, companies such as Alcoa and Rusal determined that production cuts were needed. In the past few months, the decrease in supply (due to production cuts) and the increase in demand have led to Aluminum price increases. In response, the mills have started to increase their capacity. The Chinese market (45% of the world’s aluminum supply approximately) has been experiencing slow growth and kept aluminum market prices depressed over the last few quarters. It is unclear whether Aluminum prices will continue to increase or if the current shortages will affect the market to a greater degree.
Carbon Steel – In September, prices remained unchanged from August. The market has generally been strong in most sectors such as automotive, appliances, construction, the rail industry, and consumer goods. Steel prices in the US continue to be higher than other parts of the world, even though imports are higher than last year. US mills have now reached 80% of their capacity. Recently, the US mills won a trade case involving certain tubular products that were sold under the market price, causing harm to the industry. Market analysts have suggested many reasons for the higher US steel prices such as, the severe past winter, unexpected outages at US mills, problems at the ports preventing imports getting to customers, and an overall reluctance of foreign importers to supply material at under the market price (due to the potential of trade tariffs).
Stainless – In September, the prices of Stainless Steel held at the same as August. Stainless steel sales were not as high as expected; while certain sectors had stronger results, the overall market results were somewhat subdued in what is normally a busy time period. This situation had a restricting effect on any planned changes to the transactional price. The Philippines is now considering a possible ban on unprocessed ores similar to the current Indonesian ban in place. While this could lead to a global nickel shortage, the ban is not expected to happen in the near future.
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