Tariffs Aren’t Weaning the U.S. Off Foreign Steel

Date: Thursday, December 6, 2018
Source: Wall Street Journal

Tariffs aren’t weaning the U.S. off foreign steel. The 25% levy on steel imports has boosted profits for domestic producers, the WSJ’s Bob Tita and Alistair MacDonald report, but sky-high prices have also deepened the U.S. market’s allure for foreign mills that fill more than a fifth of the nation’s steel supply. Hot-rolled coiled sheet steel is selling for 70% higher than elsewhere, tipping the balance for steelmakers in Europe and Asia despite higher tariff and transportation costs. Still, imports of finished steel are down 13% year-over-year through October, and domestic producers like U.S. Steel Corp. are rushing to fill the gap, restarting idled blast furnaces and hiring back hundreds of workers. The expansions have raised concerns about another steel slump if U.S. manufacturing activity slows and demand plunges among customers like General Motors Co., which is planning to close several U.S. plants.

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