• Weekly Market Report

Commodity Market Developments

U.S. domestic steel production for the week July 25, 2020, declined 28.5% year-on-year but was up 1.1% from the preceding week to 1.32 million net tons, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. AISI also reports that the U.S. steel mill capacity utilization rate edged up from 58.3% for the week ending July 18th to 58.9% last week.


  • The World Steel Association reported last week that for the month of June 2020, world steel production decreased 7% year-on-year to 148.3 million tons. Worldsteel reports that “China produced 91.6 Mt of crude steel in June 2020, an increase of 4.5% compared to June 2019. India produced 6.9 Mt of crude steel in June 2020, down 26.3% on June 2019. Japan produced 5.6 Mt of crude steel in June 2020, down 36.3% on June 2019. South Korea’s steel production for June 2020 was 5.1 Mt, down by 14.3% on June 2020.”
  • Other highlights from worldsteel’s monthly report:
  • The United States produced 4.7 Mt of crude steel in June 2020, a decrease of 34.5% compared to June 2019.
  • Germany produced 2.5 Mt of crude steel in June 2020, down 27.3% on June 2019. Italy produced 1.8 Mt of crude steel in June 2020, down 13.0% on June 2019. France and Spain each produced 0.8 Mt of crude steel in June 2020, down 34.9% and 31.5% respectively on June 2019.
  • Turkey’s crude steel production for June 2020 was 2.8 Mt, up by 4.1% on June 2019.
  • According to our friends at Argus Media, “Sentiment firmed up a bit last week on continued strength from the export market, with a US bulk sale to Turkey at $270/t cfr for HMS 1/2 80:20. Also, integrated steelmakers hiked sheet prices by $40/st last week, while US Steel said it will restart a blast furnace at Gary Works on August 1.”
  • Argus also reports that both Nucor and SDI “…are moving ahead as planned with expansions after earlier signaling potential delays because of Covid-19. Nucor’s Gallatin sheet mill is planned to be done by mid-2021 and its new Brandenburg plate mill is slated to be finished in late 2022. SDI’s new south Texas sheet mill remains on track for a mid-2021 start up. Also, maybe a new potential customer is moving into town with Tesla announcing last week it will build an assembly plant in Austin to build its meme-worthy Cybertruck and an SUV.”

For the year-to-date, aluminum prices at the LME have had the worst performance among the major base metals this year, falling 6.6% to $1,709/mt as of this morning:


At the same time, U.S. aluminum scrap exports are down 10 percent for the year-to-date as improved trade flows with Malaysia, South Korea, and Thailand have been more than offset by weaker shipments to China, Hong Kong, Mexico, Indonesia, Canada, Taiwan, and others.


Precious Metals
Gold prices have surged to multi-year highs above $1,970 per troy ounce on gains variously attributed to the massive monetary and fiscal stimulus measures, rising inflation concerns, and dollar weakness:


As reported by the Wall Street Journal’s Daily Shot, the surge in gold prices has been accompanied by record inflows into inflation-protected assets including Treasuries (TIPS) and ETFs:


Paper and Plastic
Last week, ISRI’s MRF Committee, Paper Division, and Plastics Division met as part of the ISRI 2020 Summer Board Meetings. The following lists keys points from each meeting:

Paper Division
The Paper Division passed the ISRI Position on Paper Bags, which was approved by the Government Relations Committee and the ISRI Board of Directors. This new policy promotes free and fair trade, supports a competitive market place, opposes bans and fees on paper bags, promotes the proper recycling, encourages paper bags in curbside collection, and strongly supports using recycled content to the maximum percentage that is mechanically and commercially viable.

The Paper Recyclability protocol fills a void in the market place. The working group has met a couple of times. An analysis of MRFs and their capability is underway. By year’s end, the protocol is expected to be completed.

Plastics Division
The Plastics Division passed the ISRI’s Position on Minimum Recycled Plastic Content Legislation which was approved by the Government Relations Committee and the ISRI Board of Directors. In brief, the Position supports legislation, Design for Recycling® (DfR), public education and advocacy, and life cycle assessments to help spur the demand for recycled plastics while also increasing the commitment by stakeholders throughout the supply chain to ensure plastics are responsible manufactured and recycled into new products.

MRF Committee
The Committee accepted an invitation from the Specifications Working Group Chair, Randy Goodman, to select a representative from the MRF Committee to participate in the modernization and updating of the ISRI Specifications Circular. Also of note, fires in MRFs caused by lithium ion batteries have been a big concern and issue over the past decade. The MRF Committee, along with other ISRI departments, will be reviewing a draft report on preventing such fires. This document is the result of working with other industry associations.

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