Courtesy of Majestic Steel USA

Each week, Majestic Steel USA [], a steel service center that distributes prime, flat-rolled galvanized steel sheets and coils to industries across the United States, compiles the Core Report. The Report is “an in-depth look at key indicators and trends driving the steel market. Market volatility demands your attention about what’s driving prices, when and why.” 

Majestic Steel has granted Rollforming Magazine permission to publish information excerpted from the Report for its readers. The information included here is from the Core Report for the week ending January 5, 2024.

Domestic Steel Production

According to the American Iron & Steel Institute’s Weekly Domestic Steel Production report dated Jan. 3, 2024: Domestic raw steel production ended 2023 down significantly due to the shortened holiday week.

U.S. mills produced an estimated 1,680k tons at a 73.1% utilization rate; this is down from 1,693k tons and a 73.7% rate previously.

• This is the lowest weekly tonnage output since April and the lowest utilization rate since January of last year.

Production decreased in four of the five regions, with the largest drop (in tons) coming from the Great Lakes region.

• Production from the Great Lakes region slipped from 551k tons to 545k tons.

Raw steel production ended the year at 88,730k tons, up 0.2% from 2022 raw steel production of 88,530k tons, but down from 91,632k tons in 2021.

Steel Price Increase

According to a Mill Price Increase Letter from Cleveland-Cliffs for the week ending Jan. 5, 2024: Cleveland-Cliffs kicked off the new year with a price increase for all hot rolled, cold rolled and coated products, effective immediately with all new orders.

Cliffs set minimum base price for hot rolled at $1,150 per net ton ($57.50/cwt).

• This is the sixth published price increase since September.

Hot rolled prices have increased 64% since hitting a low of $670/ton in mid-September. Further increases by other domestic steelmakers are expected to keep momentum through the first quarter. 

Spot Iron Ore

According to Platts, Spot Iron Ore, Jan. 5, 2024: Spot iron ore pricing started off the new year strong, increasing for the second consecutive week to a multi-year high.

Spot iron ore pricing ended the week at $140.75/mt, up from $136.16/mt a week ago.

• This is the highest level for iron ore since May 2022.

Heavy restocking by Chinese mills ahead of the new year along with a new round of interest rate cuts by Chinese state-owned banks in the last weeks of 2023 boosted market confidence.

Zinc Pricing

According to London Metal Exchange, Weekly Zinc Price and Inventory Report  and the Shanghai Futures Exchange, Weekly Zinc Inventory Report, both dated Jan. 5, 2024: Zinc pricing softened after ending 2023 with four consecutive weekly increases.

Zinc pricing ended the week at $2,519/mt ($1.143/lb), down from $2,640/mt ($1.197lb) previously.

• This is down 4.5% after hitting the highest price since April 2023.

The International Zinc Association expects a bullish year for zinc, as the global economy returns to more normalized levels and as U.S. interest rates remain steady.

Global zinc inventory came in relatively flat to start the new year.

• LME warehouse inventory dropped slightly, slipping from 222,125 metric tons to 221,775 metric tons.

• Shanghai warehouse inventory increased slightly, climbing from 21,215 metric tons to 21,814 metric tons.

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