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Moody's affirms CFRs of Tata Steel at Ba2 and TSUKH at B2; outlook stable

Moody's Investors Service has affirmed Tata Steel Ltd.'s Ba2 corporate family rating (CFR) and the B2 CFR of its wholly owned subsidiary, Tata Steel UK Holdings Limited (TSUKH). The outlooks are maintained at stable.

RATINGS RATIONALE

The rating action follows Tata Steel's announcement on 10 May that it has suspended its planned divestment of the European steel operations, housed under TSUKH, into a joint venture (JV) with thyssenkrupp AG (tk, Ba2 review for downgrade). Kaustubh Chaubal, a Moody's Vice President and Senior Credit Officer, said "We view the suspension of Tata Steel's plan to divest its European steel business into a JV with tk as credit negative. However, even without the divestment of the relatively weak performing European operations, Tata Steel's consolidated credit profile remains supportive of its Ba2 CFR."

However, TSUKH's continuous focus on restructuring has led to improving credit metrics, in turn supporting its B2 CFR. Specifically, TSUKH in 2016 and 2017: (1) divested its long products business to Greybull Capital; (2) sold its specialty steel operations to Liberty House ; (3) sold 42 and 84 inch pipe mills to Liberty; and (4) resolved its long impending pension issue.

"Moreover, Moody's expects Tata Steel's Indian operations will continue to dominate the company's EBITDA and cash flow, and pave the way for its debt/EBITDA leverage to further improve to around 3.1x by March 2020 from an estimated 3.5x at March 2019," adds Chaubal who is also Moody's Lead Analyst for Tata Steel and TSUKH.

Tata Steel's Ba2 CFR continues to reflect the company's significant, diversified and growing operating base, its globally cost-competitive steel operations in India that are a function of its ownership of key raw materials, and its sustained track record of improving credit metrics that mirror the favorable industry dynamics in its key markets.

Meanwhile, TSUKH's B2 CFR is supported by its significant steel producing capacity, diverse manufacturing operations across the UK and the Netherlands, and the sustained improvement in its operating profitability.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
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Norsk Hydro looks to master magnetism to keep carbon promise

Reuters reported that in the cavernous chamber of Norsk Hydro’s aluminum smelter on the Norwegian island of Karmoey, the magnetic forces are so strong they make heavy iron wrenches float out of the hands of workers. The company is piloting a technology that tames the effects of that powerful magnetic field, which is a consequence of the electrolysis process to make aluminum and leaches away energy. Norsk Hydro told Reuters it was using mathematical models to mitigate the effect of the magnetism and other energy waste. The pilot project can cut the amount of energy used in production by 15% compared to the industry average, the company said, but declined to disclose further details, citing commercial sensitivity.

The technique is one of the drives that Hydro is banking on to make good on its ambitious pledge to become carbon neutral from next year - meaning it can balance out its emissions with carbon savings elsewhere.

The Norwegian company is looking to gain a competitive advantage at a time when the aluminum industry, along with other industrial polluters, is under increasing pressure to reduce CO2 emissions, from investors as well as governments formulating carbon taxes.

Ms Hilde Merete Aasheim told Reuters in an interview at Norsk Hydro’s Oslo HQ that “If aluminum is to be a material for a low-carbon future ... we have to defend it by having as low emissions and as small a footprint as we can.” She said that “This is where the Karmoey project will play a part, developing technological elements that can be used in other plants to bring down energy consumption.”

Norsk Hydro said its pilot produced aluminum using between 11.8 and 12.3 kilowatt hours of energy per kilogram of aluminum. It said the 11.8 figure was a record low for the industry which it said averaged 14.1.

The plans have cost billions of Norwegian crowns, however, and there is a long way to go before they are likely to have a major impact across Norsk Hydro’s business.

The pilot project at Karmoey alone required an investment of 4.3 billion crowns (USD 490.69 million) - a sum roughly equal to the company’s net income last year - although about a third of that is being shouldered by state green investor Enova.

The scheme is still at an early stage, with a capacity of 75,000 tonnes of aluminum per year, a fraction of Norsk Hydro’s annual production of about 2 million tonnes.

Source : Reuters
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Kumba Iron Ore records bumper earning for 6 months

Kumba Iron Ore, Africa’s largest iron ore producer, told investors that it would record bumper earnings for the six months ending June after benefiting from high iron ore prices and a weak exchange rate. Kumba, an Anglo American subsidiary, has seen its share price spike after the collapse of a tailings dam owned by Brazil’s iron ore giant Vale in January, which has boosted iron ore prices. “Kumba is expected to deliver a stronger financial performance, underpinned by higher average iron ore export prices and a weaker average rand/US dollar exchange rate,” the company said in a trading update.

Kumba, which operates the Sishen and Kolomela mines in the Northern Cape, said it was eyeing headline earnings and basic earnings in June to gain at least R4.76 billion and ZAR 4.7 billion, respectively, from ZAR 2.97bn and ZAR 2.94bn in the same period in 2018.

The accident in January resulted in Vale suspending iron ore production and the close of mines, sending iron ore prices into a frenzy on supply fears.

Luvuyo Booi, an investment analyst at Noah Capital, said Kumba’s improved earnings were on the back of the higher iron ore prices following the Vale incident earlier this year. Booi also said that there was a good incentive for a price recovery, given that Vale’s 90 million tons-a-year capacity had been taken off the market.

Booi, referring to the unusually high number of derailments on the railway line linking Kumba’s Northern Cape mines to the Saldanha port “Kumba did not do well in the previous financial year as headline earnings and dividend per share were flat at R30/share due to derailments that affected its exports.”.

Source : IOL
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EUROFER Update on steel trade balance in EU in Q1 of 2019

The trade deficit in semis amounted to 0.84 million tonnes per month over the first two months of 2019. The net trade deficit in finished products amounted to 0.88 million tonnes per month over this period. The deficit in flat products was 0.97 million tonnes per month. The trade deficit in both semis and flat products deepened in the first two months of 2019 compared with the average monthly deficits registered over 2018.

Trade in long products bounced back to a marginal surplus of 0.09 million tonnes per month, compared with the equilibrium between imports and exports registered over 2018.

At the individual country level, by far the largest trade deficit exists with Turkey; over the first two months of 2019 the deficit rose to 0.54 million tonnes per month compared with on average 0.25 million tonnes per month over the whole year 2018. Significant deficits were also recorded for trade with Russia, Ukraine, South Korea and India. The major markets of destination for EU finished steel exports that registered a surplus over the first two months of 2019 were the US, Switzerland and Algeria.

With only two months of data available for the current trend in steel exports to third countries it is impossible to see a clear pattern in trade flows at this stage. Nevertheless, with imports remaining at elevated levels and exports on a downward trend in early 2019, a preliminary conclusion seems to be justified be that there is no evidence of an easing in competitive pressures in the international steel market. With global steel overcapacity still estimated at 550 million tonnes by the OECD, it is of the utmost importance that individual countries and regions dismantle market-distorting subsidies and other government support measures and share data and information on the process of capacity reduction in order to facilitate the process of cutting excess capacity where it is needed most and to avoid a further proliferating in trade distortions.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
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EUROFER - Update on Automotive Industry in EU in Q1 of 2019

Total activity in the EU automotive sector fell by more than 5% year-on-year in the final quarter of 2018 due to the disruptive impact of the introduction of the new WLTP emissions test on production. EU passenger car registrations began 2019 in reverse, continuing the declining trend in sales seen in the last four months of 2018. Sales fell by 3.3% year-on-year over the first quarter of 2019. Particularly the Spanish, Italian and UK car market registered a marked contraction, while sales were more or less stable in Germany and France.

Much in contrast, registrations of commercial vehicles rose by 5.1% year-on-year over the first quarter of 2019. All large EU markets saw demand for commercial vehicles increase over this period. While every segment of the EU commercial vehicle market performed satisfactory, demand for medium and heavy commercial vehicles showed the strongest year-on-year growth.

Vehicle exports to third countries remained under pressure at the start of 2019 due to weakening demand in key export destinations such as the US, Turkey, China and several of the other Asian markets.

Production activity in the EU automotive industry fell by 5.4% year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2018. While the first half of the year had registered almost 4.5% growth compared with the same period of 2017, the second half of 2018 was heavily influenced by the transition in the automotive sector to new emission testing procedures. This had a deeply negative effect on production levels in the third and particularly in the fourth quarter of last year as the sector had to clear stocks of pre-WLTP vehicles. The effect was particularly felt along the automotive supply chain in almost all EU countries with automotive production plants. At the same time, demand for passenger cars in the EU also weakened significantly, as the boom in sale prior to the WLTP emissions test procedure sharply reduced sales in the second half of the year.

On balance, total automotive production in the EU grew by 0.6% in 2018.

Automotive industry forecast 2019-2020
Having stabilised in 2018, passenger car demand in the EU is expected to register only modest growth in 2019. In principle, economic fundamentals such as rising real disposable incomes and continued labour market strength should remain supportive to solid levels of vehicle demand. However, European car markets have become saturated after several years of rapid expansion and the replacement demand that previously had supported the market is waning.

Moreover, buyer confidence is increasingly affected by uncertainty about the future of diesel- powered cars. A possible legislation banning this powertrain type could lead to a collapse in residual values. At the same, buyers are not rushing to buy alternatively-powered cars. Several major obstacles, such as their affordability and the lack of widespread charging infrastructure, is delaying – for the time being – the uptake of electric and hybrid cars.

New model launches in 2020, including several electric vehicle models from the major European OEMs, are expected to have a mildly positive impact on car demand in the EU.

The outlook for commercial vehicle demand is moderately positive for 2019 and 2020. The heavy commercial vehicle segment may register a temporary slowdown in 2019 after several years of robust growth. This will be compensated by continued strong demand for vans and light trucks.

Meanwhile, the outlook for exports of both vehicles and automotive parts and components is subdued. In the recent past, automotive OEMs have increasingly focused their commercial strategies and, as a consequence, capacity management decisions on localised production in key export markets. This has undermined EU vehicle and components exports and production. While the outlook for demand in the emerging markets is rather positive, demand in these regions will therefore increasingly be satisfied by domestic production. Moreover, demand in key markets such as the US and China is expected to soften and to remain depressed in Turkey.

Trade tensions will continue to overshadow the EU automotive sector. A no-deal Brexit and US tariffs on EU exports of vehicles and automotive parts and components pose a major threat to EU automotive production.

The outlook for EU automotive output is therefore rather subdued even going into in 2019, even if output is expected to recover from the emission standards disruption. It is expected that the sector will see major intra-European production shifts as OEMs curtail excess capacity to free up financial funds for further investment in alternative powertrains including hybrids, full battery electrics, hydrogen fuel cells, compressed air, and other types within the context of the decarbonisation of transport.

EU automotive production is forecast to fall by 0.2% in 2019 and to rise by 1.6% in 2020.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
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ArcelorMittal update on Mining operations in Q1 of 2019

Own iron ore production in 1Q 2019 decreased by 5.8% to 14.1 million tonne as compared to 14.9 million tonne in 4Q 2018, due to seasonally lower production in ArcelorMittal Mines Canada (AMMC), the temporary suspension of Serra Azul in Brazil (following evacuation on February 8, 2019 which has since been restarted on March 18, 2019; see key recent developments), and lower production in Temirtau and Hibbing (US) offset by increased production in Liberia. Own iron ore production in 1Q 2019 decreased by 3.7% as compared to 1Q 2018 primarily due to lower production in Temirtau, Mexico and Serra Azul in Brazil offset in part by increased production at AMMC.

Market-priced iron ore shipments in 1Q 2019 decreased by 8.2% to 9.2 million tonne as compared to 10.0 million tonne in 4Q 2018, primarily driven by seasonally lower market-priced iron ore shipments in AMMC. Market-priced iron ore shipments in 1Q 2019 were largely stable as compared to 1Q 2018 driven by higher shipments in Liberia, offset by lower shipments in AMMC (extreme weather conditions) and in Ukraine. Market-priced iron ore shipments for FY 2019 are expected to be broadly stable as compared to FY 2018 with increases in Liberia and AMMC to be offset by lower volume in Mexico (in part due to the end of life of Volcan mine).

Own coal production in 1Q 2019 decreased by 6.8% to 1.2 million tonne as compared to 1.3 million tonne in 4Q 2018 primarily due to lower production at Princeton (US). Own coal production in 1Q 2019 decreased by 19.7% as compared to 1.5 million tonne in 1Q 2018 due to lower production at Kazakhstan and Princeton (US).

Market-priced coal shipments in 1Q 2019 were stable at 0.7 million tonne as compared to 4Q 2018. Market-priced coal shipments in 1Q 2019 increased by 59.9% as compared to 1Q 2018 primarily due to increased shipments at Kazakhstan.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
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AK Steel union leadership shocked by Machinists’ pension fund cuts

Journal News reported that a change by one of the US’s largest union pension funds is expected to affect many hundreds of local workers now and in the years to come at AK Steel and elsewhere. The International Association of Machinists National Pension Fund recently disclosed that it will cut retirement benefits by 40% despite its overall fiscal health.The rehabilitation plan will eliminate all early retirement subsidies moving forward and also force employers to chip in an additional 6 percent of wages to the fund. IAM also will change how benefits are calculated, moving away from a service time based approach to a flat 1% of monthly contributions.In an April 29 letter to union members.

IAM Local Lodge 1943 President Mr Neil Douglas said that he had no prior knowledge that these changes to our pension plan were even being considered. He said We were completely appalled and shocked to say the least. Local Lodge 1943 is “looking into the matter further and will continue to update our membership as we find out more information.”

IAM Local Lodge 1943 represents nearly 1,800 workers at AK Steel’s fully integrated steel mill, Pilot Chemical, RMB Trucking, and Cummins/Bridgeway. In 2005, while the local lodge was still an independent union (the AEIF), AK Steel informed employees that in the upcoming 2006 negotiations, they would be locking and freezing its pension plan and doing away with retirement benefits, Douglas said in the letter. That, he said, gave workers a 401K option and meant they would work until they were Medicare eligible at age 65.When the union did not agree with this during negotiations, a lockout of more than a year ensued.

Source : Journal News
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EUROFER - Update on Steel Tube Industry in EU in Q1 of 2019

As expected, production activity in the EU steel tube industry continued its downward trend in the fourth quarter of 2018 due to weakening demand for large welded tubes from the energy sector, including pipeline operators and the offshore wind sector, and slower growth of demand for the other steel tube categories. In the fourth quarter of 2018, production activity in the steel tube industry fell by 3.7% YoY. The decline in output growth deepened in the second half of the year, more or less in line with the reduction in output registered in the first half of 2018. Most countries reported a year-on-year reduction in output; particularly sharp declines were registered in Italy, Spain, Sweden and the central European countries. In Germany, production stabilised at around the level seen the year earlier after sharp year-on-year declines over the first three quarters of 2018.

Steel tube industry activity in the fourth quarter of 2018 - In line with earlier expectations, production activity in the EU steel tube sector remained weak in the final quarter of 2018. Total output fell by almost 4% YoY. The key factor for the reduction in output is the current lack of demand from large pipeline projects. Order books have been depleted and as a consequence the production of large welded tubes is under severe pressure; this has had a negative impact on steel tube production activity in Germany in particular. In other customer segments of the EU tube industry business conditions have become more challenging than before. Demand for small and medium- sized welded tubes and seamless tubes is also facing headwinds due to slowing demand from sectors such as automotive, metal goods and mechanical engineering. Demand from the construction sector has held up relatively well, but foreign competition in this market segment is fierce.

EU steel tube output fell by 1.9% over the whole year 2018.

Steel tube industry forecast 2019-2020 - In 2019 and 2020, business conditions for the steel tube industry in the EU are expected to remain rather difficult. The outlook for demand for large welded tubes is expected to remain uncertain. There has still been no decision on the route of the Nord Stream 2 project through territorial waters. While work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is ongoing in Russia, Finland, Sweden and Germany, the route through Danish international waters is still waiting final approval by the Danish authorities. The amended Danish Continental Shelf Act entered into force with retroactive effect. The law gives the Danish authorities the right to veto infrastructure projects running through territorial waters; such a judgement has now been pending for 16 months. If, in due time, approval were to be granted, it remains to be seen to what extent EU-based large tube manufacturers will benefit. Demand from other smaller projects exists, but is not significant enough to provide a significant boost to production activity.

Meanwhile, demand from the other steel tube market segments is also facing more challenges than before. With the exception of the construction sector, demand from most downstream customers of medium-sized and small welded tubes as well as seamless tubes is expected to cool down as well. This will be particularly felt in 2019 owing to a fall in production activity in the automotive and metal goods sector. Moreover, import pressure on steel tube markets in the EU will remain high. Business conditions in 2020 are forecast to become somewhat more supportive to steel tube demand again.

Total steel tube output in the EU is expected to fall by 0.2% in 2019 before growing by 1% in 2020.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
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SMS Group bags AIST James Farrington Award 2019

Franck Adjogble and Wolfgang Spies, both SMS group engineers, received the AIST James Farrington Award 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pa., USA, on the 7th of May for their work entitled “Holistic Approach of High Quality Flat Steel Production – Dynamic Production Scheduling in Respect to Process Quality, Control System and Plant Condition”. The AIST James Farrington Award was established in 2005 to honor James Farrington, founder and first president of AISE and his vision for iron and steel companies to join together, present papers, share mutual problems and set standards for the improvement of electrical machinery and processes. The award was presented to the author of the paper Franck Adjogble, and Co-Authors Harald Rackel, Gregor Schneider, Klaus Pronold, Wolfgang Spies, Hans-Georg Jentsch. The paper was judged by the Electrical Applications Technology Committee to be the best technical paper submitted at AIST conference.

SMS group is a global, leading partner for the metal industry. As a family-owned business headquartered in Germany the plant builder is committed to quality and innovation. SMS group’s customers cover the entire value chain of the global metal industry.

As a systems supplier, SMS group supplied all the plants and process know-how for the steel complex of Big River Steel, Osceola in the United States, and has supported Big River Steel during commissioning. Ever since starting operations, Big River Steel has achieved a steep run-up curve in hot strip production. Covering a site of 567 hectares, Big River Steel is North America’s most modern steelworks. In the first construction stage, the plant is designed for 1.6 million tons per year of steel. The steelmaking plant went on stream together with the CSP® plant in December 2016.

The CSP® plant consists of a CSP® continuous caster, a tunnel furnace, a CSP® rolling mill, a laminar cooling section and a downcoiler. Capable of rolling a maximum strip width of 1,930 millimeters, Big River Steel’s CSP® mill is the widest in North America. The hot strip from the CSP® rolling mill is further processed in the coupled pickling/tandem mill. There it is processed into high-quality cold strip. Together with the two downstream strip-processing lines, the tandem mill produces a wide range of products. Also integrated in the continuous process route is an annealing and galvanizing line with an inline skin-pass mill for hot-dip galvanized cold strip. What makes the offline skin-pass mill stand out is its very high rolling force. The X-Pact® electrical and automation systems solution was applied in all process stages from steelmaking to the strip-processing plant. It ensured the steelmaking complex went into production right on schedule in December 2016, then achieved a steep run-up curve. Big River Steel also uses the X-Pact® MES 4.0 which took immediately over production planning and control. Now Big River Steel has the capacity to produce strip in widths of between 914 and 1,880 millimeters and gages of 1.4 to 0.28 millimeters.

To ensure top quality, Big River Steel uses the PQA® (Product Quality Analyzer) system SMS group developed in cooperation with the subsidiary MET/Con Metallurgical Plant & Process Consulting. The PQA® system collects and evaluates quality data of all products produced at all steps as well as quality-relevant process parameters along the entire process chain, from steelmaking to the finished product. Here, the process parameters can consist of measured values and results, but also complex criteria applied for quality analysis.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
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Danilei grab ship unloader at ArcelorMittal Ghent in Belgium

Danieli Cranes is executing the installation of a 50-ton Grab Ship Unloader for ArcelorMittal Ghent. In mid-March 2019 and with the collaboration of the heavy-lift service group Sarens, Danieli made a positive roll off and positioning on the rail of the new handling system, after 90° rotation on the quay of ArcelorMittal Ghent. The crane arrived from Bilbao on the barge Caroline (Sarens) after a six-day voyage. It was completely assembled at Bilbao port, including on-board piping and electrical circuits and cold commissioning (all movements and automatic sequences were checked without load).

Standing 60 meters tall, with the lifting capacity of 50 tons, 48 on the sea, maximum unload capacity of 2,000 tons, double trolleys configuration and a main trolley stroke of 82 meters, our crane (class A8/M8) is ready to unload materials for vessels up to 150,000 tons.

It was designed entirely in 3D, including the on-board circuit and electrical distribution, in order to minimize/avoid welding on site.

In June 2017 a jack up of 1,200 tons was performed with a purpose of moving the upper part into position including more than 14 hours of activities and two weeks of preparation.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
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Serbian steel output in Q1 up by 10% in Q1 of 2019


Tanjug reported that EU steel export quotas have had no adverse effect on Serbia and the country's steel output rose by about 10% in Q1 2019, Mr Milan Trajkovic, deputy head of the National Bank of Serbia Economic Research and Statistics Department, said that "So far, the steel quotas have not had a major impact on us. I think Serbia's steel output in Q1 totalled around 500,000 tonne and that this is around 10% more compared to the same period last year.”

He told that the quotas do represent a certain risk but their impact on Serbia's growth has not been great.

NBS Governor Jorgovanka Tabakovic said that, considering the structure of the Smederevo steel mill's output (hot-rolled sheets and strips, cold-rolled sheets and tinplate products), the quotas did not have much of a negative effect.

Source : Tanjug
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Stainless steel production in China in April up 12% YoY

SMM reported that production of stainless steel in China edged up 0.03% from March to stand at 2.34 million tonnes in April 2019, up 12.08% YoY. With a southern mill transferred part of its 300-series capacity to produce 200-series products, output of 300-series stainless steel declined 4.7% to 1.17 million tonnes last month, while that of 200-series rose 7.98% to 810,200 tonnes. Production of 400-series inched down 0.41% to 362,000 tonnes.

Stainless steel production is expected to expand to 2.39 million tonnes in May, with output of 300-series extending its declines, down 2.53% to 1.14 million tonnes as the mill continues to cut its 300-series output and turn to 200-series. In May, output of 200-series stainless steel is expected to grow 5.9% to 858,000 tonnes and that of 400-series is estimated to gain 8.56% to 393,000 tonnes.

Source : SMM
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Steel scrap exports from US in Q1 down by 22% YoY

Latest US Census Bureau data points to substantial decline in US exports of steel scrap, which totalled USD 1.14 billion in Jan-Mar’19, significantly lower by over 22% YoY

Jan-Mar’19 Data

Zie pdf

Source : Strategic Research Institute
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AM Castle announced Q1 result

AM Castle & Co a global distributor of specialty metal and supply chain solutions, today reported its first quarter 2019 financial results.

First Quarter 2019 Financial Highlights:
1. Generated net sales of USD 149.5 million, a 2.5% YoY increase compared to USD 145.9 million in the first quarter of 2018.
2. Reported an operating loss of $0.3 million, compared to an operating loss of $3.3 million in the first quarter of 2018.

3. Reported a net loss of $8.0 million, which included S9.4 million of interest expense, of which USD 6.4 million was non-cash related to long-term debt held primarily by major shareholders, and USD 1.3 million was non-cash related to the Company’s pension plan, compared to a net loss of USD 5.1 million for the first quarter of 2018, which included USD 7.1 million of interest expense, of which USD 4.5 million was non-cash related to long term-debt held primarily by major shareholders, and SI .2 million was non-cash related to the Company’s pension plan.

4. Reported EBITDA of $3.4 million and adjusted EBITDA of USD 3.9 million in the first quarter of 2019, which included no significant foreign currency gains or losses, compared to EBITDA of USD 3.8 million and adjusted EBITDA of USD 3.5 million, including transactional and intercompany loan foreign currency gains of USD 2.8 million and a transactional foreign currency gain of USD 1.8 million, respectively, in the first quarter of 2018.

5. Improved gross material margin to 25.8% compared to 23.5% in the previous quarter and 24.7% in the first quarter a year ago.

Chairman and CEO Steve Schcinkman commented that "After a challenging fourth quarter of 2018, we saw our operating performance improve significantly in the first quarter of 2019. We continue to benefit from a strong pricing environment, which drove both QoQ and YoY revenue growth. From a volume standpoint, we arc committed to selectively pursuing sales that arc accretive to the business."

Source : Strategic Research Institute
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Trump Trade War - Drouin wants permanent safeguards

The Review reported that Mr Francis Drouin Member of Parliament for Glengarry-Prescott and Russell stated that following permanent layoffs at Ivaco Rolling Mills in L’Orignal, the Minister of Finance and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal which oversees international trade disputes, need to take action against the so-called Section 232 tariffs the Trump administration has placed on Canadian-made steel entering the United States. Mr Drouin wants Finance Minister Bill Morneau to implement permanent safeguards on wire rod or measures similar to safeguards on the product until the US lifts the tariffs. Wire rods are one of the primary steel products manufactured at Ivaco.

Mr Drouin argued that the safeguards would stabilize the steel market. He said that “Provisional safeguards allow for historical amounts of steel to be imported tariff-free.”

Past import/export statistics are used to set a limit on the amount of steel that can be imported tariff-free. Once that amount is reached, tariffs are again applied.

According to Mr Drouin’s statement, Ivaco has made its case for provisional safeguards before the CITT but was only allowed to advocate for them based on market statistics from before July 2018.

Mr Drouin noted though that provisional safeguards are only temporary.

On April 3, the CITT wrote the Department of Finance and recommended permanent safeguard measures, but not for wire rod. On April 4, Mr Drouin wrote to the Minister of Finance expressing concerns with the CITT recommendations.

Mr Drouin’s concern with the recommendations is that they were not based on up-to-date market information. He stated that “It made a recommendation with market data that was already obsolet.”

The CITT recommended to the Department of Finance that Canada can implement safeguard measures on two other varieties of steel products without facing trade consequences from other countries.

Mr Drouin said the latest market information is clear, and that other countries have begun or increased their wire rod exports to Canada during the past year, which has resulted in layoffs at companies like Ivaco.

Source : The Review
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Southland Steel Fabricators hiring at expanded Amite facility

New Orleans City Business reported that a steel manufacturer that recently announced an USD 18 million expansion in Amite is looking for workers. Southland Steel Fabricators is holding a job fair May 21 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Northshore Technical Community College campus in Greensburg at 7067 LA-10. The company wants welders, machine operators, fitters, material loaders and inspectors for hourly positions at the former Bradken foundry.

Southland Steel employs 176 in Greensburg and plans to fill 70 new positions in Amite with an average annual salary of USD 46,000 plus benefits.

Source : New Orleans City Business
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China deepens the deindustrialization of Latin America

During 2018, Chinese exports of indirect steel trade to Latin America grew by 17%, reaching an impressive USD 47,468 million. The volume of steel in products that came from the Asian giant increased 12% compared to the previous year, close to 6.8 million tonne. Mr Máximo Vedoya, President of Alacero said that “China is a problem because of all the subsidies its industry receives. It generated a loss of employment and industrial development in other parts of the world where local industry can not compete. The world has sought to defend itself from the global overcapacity caused by China and countries have imposed measures to mitigate the effects of this unfair trade. But, Latin America is delayed in this process.”

Brazil and Mexico are the main consumers of indirect steel from China and represent 56% of the total consumed by the region. Mexico, despite the low import of finished steel from China, was the main indirect trade market with USD 16,210 million, a growth of 25% compared to 2017. Brazil had a growth of 37.6% in value spended, reaching USD 10,590 million.

Chinese exports to Latin America of products included in the indirect steel trade reached 6.8 million tonne in 2018. Among the products that arrived in the region, cars and commercial vehicles contributed 1.2 million tonne, reaching the most significant participation in terms of dollars (USD 9,098 million), 19% of the total.

The second most relevant category (in terms of value in dollars) was Office Machines of which Latin America received 42 thousand tonnes from China at a value of USD 6,564 million. The Machines and Equipment followed reaching the value of USD 5.763 million (532 thousand tonnes).

Finished steel and derivatives trade advances between China and Latin America

In 2018, Latin American domestic consumption suffered serious consequences derived from the uncertainties caused by trade wars and global protectionist measures. The exchange of finished steel and derivatives between China and Latin America continues to grow, but in very different proportions. Total exports of Chinese steel to Latin America, including finished products (long steel, flat steel and seamless pipes) and derivatives (wire and welded pipes), reached 7.3 million tonne, 4% more than in 2017 (7 , 0 million tonne).

In 2016, the region had 7% of China’s exports in the World, but now it reaches 11%. Latin America assumed the 2nd place of greatest destination of Chinese exports of finished steel. Mr Vedoya said that “As some parts of the world reacted against China’s unfair trade, the Asian giant went to other regions and Latin America remained the preferred one. That leads to our deindustrialization.”

The exchange of finished steel and derivatives between China and Latin America continues to grow, but in very different proportions. Total exports of Chinese steel to Latin America, including finished products (long steels, flat and non-consturated pipes) and derivatives (seamless wire and pipes), reached 7.3 million tonne, 4% more than in 2017 (7, 0million tonne ).

The main destinations of finished steel and products derived from China to Latin America were Chile, which received 1.5 million tonne (21% of the regional total), Central America (1.2 million tonne, 17%) and Peru (1.1 million tonne, 15 %). While Brazil was the fourth destination of these steel in the region with 1.0 million tonne and had a growth of 20% in imports. Followed by Colombia with 784 thousand tonnes, Ecuador with 535 thousand and Mexico with 502 thousand.

Flat products concentrated 72% of the total of finished and derivative steel from China to Latin America (5.2 million tonne), increasing its volume 10% versus 2017 (4.7 million tonne). The long products received from China reached a volume of 1.1 million tonne, 15% of the total and 11% less than in 2017 (1.2 million tonne).

The seamless pipes reached 278 thousand tonnes, while the derived products received by the region reached 688 thousand tonnes, fall of 9% according to the same comparison.

Imports represent 35% of the region’s consumption. Of these imports, 28% are due to China, an increase of 6.5% in the representativeness of Chinese imports in apparent consumption of Latin American.

The current anti-dumping cases show that there is a reaction in Latin America towards China’s Unfair Trade. Although the mechanism does not seem to be sufficient or effective against the paths of unfair competition that both China and other economies triangulate to Latin America.

Currently there are 65 anti-dumping steel cases in force in Latin America, of which 65% are against China (42 cases). Mexico and Brazil are the countries that most accuse China: of the 42 cases in force, 17 are from Mexico and 15 from Brazil, both represent 76% of China’s total cases in Latin America. Alacero discloses data on China-Latin America Foreign Trade with alarming figures.

Source : Strategic Research Institute
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US’s total steel imports in Jan-Apr’19 dip 11% YoY - AISI

Based on the Commerce Department’s most recent Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis data, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported that steel import permit applications for the month of April totaled 2,894,000 net tons. This was a 3.6% increase from the 2,794,000 permit tons recorded in March and a 27.4% increase from the March final imports total of 2,271,000. Import permit tonnage for finished steel in April was 1,983,000, up 6.6% from the final imports total of 1,861,000 in March. For the first four months of 2019 (including April SIMA permits and March final imports), total and finished steel imports were 11,079,000 NT and 8,039,000 NT, down 11.1% and 17.2%, respectively, from the same period in 2018. The estimated finished steel import market share in April was 21% and is 21% YTD.

Finished steel imports with large increases in April permits vs. March final imports included standard rails (up 223%), sheets and strip electrolytic galvanized (up 153%), wire rods (up 80%), black plate (up 70%), cut lengths plates (up 49%), sheets and strip hot dipped galvanized (up 18%), hot rolled bars (up 16%), and hot rolled sheets (up 12%) . Products with significant year-to date (YTD) increases vs. the same period in 2018 include line pipe (up 21%) and wire rod (up 13%).

In April, the largest finished steel import permit applications for offshore countries were for South Korea (234,000 NT, up 35% from March final), Japan (160,000 NT, up 61%), Germany (141,000 NT, up 50%), Brazil (68,000 NT, up 403%) and Taiwan (63,000 NT, down 43%). Through the first four months of 2019, the largest offshore suppliers were South Korea (956,000 NT, down 33% from the same period last year), Japan (489,000 NT, down 1%) and Germany (450,000 NT, up 10%).

Source : Strategic Research Institute
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Salzgitter Group with successful start to the year

Against the backdrop of an increasingly competitive environment, the Salzgitter Group generated earnings before taxes of EUR 125.9 million (Q1 2018: EUR 95.9 million) in Q1. Along with the very satisfactory pre-tax result of the Strip Steel Business Unit, all other business units and the participating investment in Aurubis AG, a company included at equity, contributed to the positive start to the year. CEO Prof Dr Ing Heinz Jörg Fushrmann said “We can look back on the best first quarter since 2008 with a result that was also better than expected at the turn of the year due to accounting-related effects. Key stimulus determining the steady uptrend in the last five years has been derived from the successful implementation of our own measures. We therefore have every reason to be confident: We have already achieved a great deal! We will continue to forge ahead in a focused manner in the future as well. In the face of emerging economic headwind, and in view of the uncertainties in the political environment, it is indispensable that we continue our intensive endeavors to develop and optimize further with fresh impetus.”

The external sales of the Salzgitter Group came in at EUR 2.3 billion, thereby unchanged against the previous year’s period (Q1 2018: EUR 2.3 billion). With the development of the Strip Steel Business Unit remaining virtually stable, the decline in the Plate / Section Steel Business Unit was compensated by the other business units. The pre-tax earnings of EUR 125.9 comprise a EUR 50.2 million contribution from the Aurubis investment (Q1 2018: EUR 7.5 million) that included € 18.3 million in reporting-date related valuation effects (Q1 2018: EUR –6.3 million) essentially from positive precious metal price developments.

Salzgitter said “Given the volatility, we cannot assume that this trend will continue over the remainder of the year. Moreover, the contribution from the Aurubis investment includes EUR 20.0 million (Q1 2018: EUR 0) in income from an accounting adjustment through profit and loss in connection with shares acquired in Aurubis AG in the first quarter of 2019 at average price below the market value of the pro rata equity capital. The after-tax result stood at EUR 96.7 million (Q1 2018: EUR 65.2 million).”

Outlook Salzgitter AG affirmed its forecast for the financial year 2019. It said “We continue to anticipate a slight increase in sales to above the EUR 9.5 billion mark and a pre-tax profit (EBT) of between EUR 125 million and EUR 175 million.”

Source : Strategic Research Institute
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VS stelt besluit over importheffingen op auto's uit

(ABM FN-Dow Jones) De Amerikaanse president Donald Trump heeft zijn besluit over importheffingen op auto's met 180 dagen uitgesteld, zoals de markt ook verwachtte.

Volgens The Wall Street Journal blijven de onderhandelingen met Japan en Europa doorgaan.

"We hebben het rapport niet gezien en we weten niet wat er zal gaan gebeuren, zei EU-commissaris Cecilia Malmström eerder vandaag volgens persbureau Bloomberg.

Door: ABM Financial News.
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