CRU – This week’s Supplemental price for HR @ $1168 a gain of $8 ton w-o-w, CR @ $1368 a gain of $0 ton w-o-w & GA @ $1386 a gain of $14 ton w-o-w
Platts HR $1200 increase of $10/ton from previous week
AMM HR $1202, increase of $46/ton from previous week
Scrap – Prime scrap is projected to move up $20-$40 in March on a projected busheling shortage
Spot Pricing – Very little spot availability for April so far. Early offers on HR are around $1240/ton
ArcelorMittal – Aditya Mittal has been appointed chief executive officer, with Lakshmi Mittal to become executive chairman and continue to lead the board
ArcelorMittal – The global steelmaker plans to reduce corporate office positions by a fifth and cut the number of contractors hired to reduce $1 billion
General Motors – Finished 2020 with a net profit of $6.4 billion. Announced that it will extend three outages due to the global semiconductor shortage, but their plan is to leverage every available semiconductor to build and ship the most popular and in-demand products
Section 232 – The Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users (CAMMU) is calling on President Biden to end Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs
Imports – The United States imported an estimated 22 million tons of steel in 2020, down 21.2% y-o-y, that included 16.1 million tons of finished steel products
Import pricing remains at a 12 year high
Infrastructure – President Biden met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to discuss the US need to invest in infrastructure, urging the two parties to come together to reach a long-sought deal to modernize and improve infrastructure in the U.S.
In summary, lead times and pricing are not showing any relief in the short term with where we stand now. April looks to be another difficult month on the availability as some analysts are saying it could be worse than any month in the first quarter. Even with Cliffs bringing capacity online, as well as JSW coming online, we are beginning to see more outages be pushed out into late Q2, early Q3. North Star has split their outage up in April and June. Nucor has many locations taking capacity offline for outages which is putting pressure on the number of tons they can supply in the second quarter. As automotive and other manufacturing sectors remain robust, I do not see the current market direction changing any time soon or at least through March. I would keep a close eye on the March monitor as mills may be using the current market to keep the March monitor high going into April. I do believe we are close to a floor on pricing but there are many factors playing a role in the current market that could sway this decision for the mills.
AK Steel Middletown – HSM – 7-10 days planned
Cleveland Cliffs Cleveland – No.6 furnace will restart
JSW Mingo Junction – EAF will restart
North Star – HSM – 10 to 14 days planned, reduced to 5-7 day
Cleveland Cliffs Riverdale – HSM – 10 days planned
Nucor Gallatin – HSM – 10 to 14 days planned June 8-17
Nucor Decatur – HSM – 6 days planned June 4-9
Nucor Hickman – HSM – 10 days planned June 22-July
Nucor Crawfordsville – HSM – days and timeframe TBD
North Star – HSM – 5-7 days planned
Nucor Gallatin – HSM – 25 days planned Thanksgiving and Christmas 2021
Initial jobless claims, week ended February 13: 861,000 vs. 773,000 expected and an upwardly revised 848,000 during prior week
Continuing claims, week ended February 6: 4.494 million vs. 4.425 million expected and an upwardly revised 4.558 million during prior week
At 861,000, new jobless claims posted a surprise back-to-back weekly increase to reach the highest level in one month. The prior week’s new claims were also upwardly revised to 848,000, from the 793,000 reported previously.
Hotels/Motels is the hardest hit of all the sectors for employment followed by Passenger Airlines and Restaurants. The numbers below are total unemployment (U-6) numbers for June 2020. These has been little if any change to this chart based on January 2021 bls.gov records. Manufacturing sector has actually stood up pretty well and currently stands at a little under -4%.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen has been very vocal, calling for more stimulus saying the risk of overspending on stimulus is nothing compared to the risk of underspending and stalling recovery. When asked about possible inflation, she felt there is plenty of room to address as interest rates have been artificially suppressed and a small (1.5%) upward move would be negligible compared to the alternative.
There are 2 schools of thought on recovery:
We will have enough vaccines administered to influence almost total recovery of industries across the board by end of Summer 2021.
We won’t have curbed numbers enough even with vaccine administration and will continue to limp through 2021 and start recovery late Q4 2021 or early Q1 2022.
I personally hope option 1 is correct, but there are many unknowns – such as clear guidelines on reopening (which is independent for every state) and impacts of mass gatherings between now and then.
“Today there is fairly extreme port congestion,” Hapag-Lloyd CEO Rolf Habben Jansen said, sharing an image crowded with dots representing ships anchored in San Pedro Bay waiting to berth. Jansen did not count the dots, but Port of LA Executive Director Gene Seroka this week dropped an astounding number: 62 ships were anchored awaiting berth space early Wednesday afternoon. In addition to this, over 700 Longshoremen have been hit with COVID further reducing offloading and turnover of ships at port. This has a major impact as Longshoremen have been reduced significantly over the years, more than doubling the current turnaround time. Used to be 12 days on the water and 3 -4 days at port. Now, its 12 days on the water and 6-8 days at port.
Winter storms across the country termed SNOVID 2021 — in particular the nor’easter in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and the damaging ice storms in Texas — have caused many retailers to close down and disrupted freight operations. Subsequently, tender volumes have taken a nosedive in the U.S. this week.
It is not typical for tender volumes to decline and rejections to rise midseason. It’s a common occurrence to see this dynamic play out with weather and on major holidays when capacity is taken off line at a faster rate than volumes.
This is a short-term story, but it could have a major impact on freight networks for weeks to come due to the tight capacity environment currently. If this would have occurred at a time when capacity was plentiful and carriers’ assets underutilized, networks could be shifted much easier to absorb the disruption. But with an already tight market, and a meaningful percentage of drivers sidelined, freight will pile up and create a backlog of pent-up demand. Therefore, it may take weeks for already strained carriers to accommodate this freight. Southern states like Texas, Tennessee and others all experienced a 30% decrease in freight volume overall.
Intermodal and Rail has remained strong hitting all-time highs in volume despite coal volume going down. Rail is a leading indicator for other freight and GDP recovery. Container availability is still a major issue due to the shortage and the Federal Government has opened a formal investigation into the major container management outfits to determine if there was any wrongdoing. Results of this audit won’t be available for a few weeks and raises concerns about China’s influence in the market. Container shortages is impacting export out of US, while imports are still running strong.
Signs of the market softening was felt the last 2 weeks and per McClellan Report we are due for a bottom Feb 22 – March 5. After that, we could be stuck in a sideways moving market until adequate catalyst come to bear to move back to a Bullish sentiment. 2021 new term on the street is SPAC. SPACs are in the news after Richard Branson’s SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company) VGAC announced involvement in IPO for 23andMe, after which the stock rose significantly and then returned to normal levels late last week. Read more on SPACs here: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/spac.asp
WallStreetBets, Melvin Capital, Robinhood all testified in Congress this past week surrounding what’s been called a “populist uprising” and Robinhood stated they were just trying to meet the system rules and would have preferred to let the saga playout without short-circuiting trading. The obvious takeaway is that investors en-mass are getting smarter and coordinated efforts can eventually break the market-beating Hedge funds at their own game. The rules need to change to prevent a market failure, but investors have made it clear that Hedge funds days of market manipulation without backlash are numbered.
The Technical Outlook
Contributor: Joe Kotansky
Let’s start with the big picture. Below is a monthly chart, on a logarithmic scale, starting from the 2009 low. You can view the dates at the bottom of the picture. Regarding the candlesticks, each candlestick represents one month of price action. Green means we went up that month compared to the previous month, red means we went down. This is a busy chart but I will break it out piece by piece:
As you can see, we are near the top of the positive sloping channel. The channel being the two blue dashed lines. So far, every time we have touched this top channel, we have pulled into the dotted red line. However, this doesn’t necessarily need to happen immediately.
Note the stretch between mid 2013 and 2015 when we rode the upper channel line (the highlighted gray box in the middle of the picture) for approximately 2 years before falling back to the red dotted line (seen with the negative slopping orange line). Per the analysis box, this was a –16.25% drop which took 275 days, or 10 months. (Remember, 1 bar = 1 month so 10 bars is 10 months).
Additionally, it is important to highlight, the strengthening MACD (Moving Average Convergence / Divergence). MACD is one of the more popular oscillators among traders. There is a mathematic formula online that you can check out if interested but in short, it is a trend following system. Today as I write this in Feb. 2021, the MACD trend is strong and pointing to continuation (shown with the positive sloping purple line in the lower right-hand corner). To prove the point, also refer to the same time period of 2013 – 2015 highlighted in the grey box discussed earlier. We had price moving up yet with MACD falling. This signaled weakness. (Look at the MACD with the negative sloping purple line near the bottom, middle portion of your chart.) This led to the eventual fall of -16.25% in the S&P.
Now, moving to the daily chart, meaning now 1 candlestick = 1 day. The chart below begins Feb. 2020 just before the covid crash. Again, you can view the dates on the bottom. The dotted blue channel is from the same monthly chart above.
As stated before, we are near the top end of the channel. I’ve highlighted the dotted red line between April and May of 2020 (shown with the purple arrow) where traders gave this area some respect, evidence seen with the choppy price action. After we broke out beyond the red line, it was a nice trajectory to the top, (seen in with the positive sloping orange line)
Now, how to analyze this? Well, there is enough negative news in media these days to make the average investor believe we are approaching a bear market yet from a technical perspective, the trend is up. There is an old saying, don’t fight the trend. Getting into fundamental news, lumber prices are at an all-time high, which shows high demand for housing.
Copper is nearing its all-time high, which also signals growth / strong demand for manufacturing. Both gold and silver, which traditionally are hedges, are elevated but not at their all-time highs, showing skeptical risk for markets. Oil has recovered however I don’t want to put too much emphasis on this due to OPEC’s ability to manipulate markets by cutting production to artificially drive-up pricing.
So, do I think we will get a bear market? Sure, eventually. What goes up, must come down, right? Do other market professionals and media outlets think we are in a bubble? Some of them, yes. That is why there is so much negative news.
However, at this time, in my opinion there is no reason to turn negative. I’ll refer to the 2008 – 2009 crash to illustrate my point. Here is a monthly chart (1 candlestick = 1 month) from 1997 – 2011 but I only want to focus on 2003- 2008:
From 2003 – 2007, markets went higher, shown with the positive sloping blue line. The early sign to get out of the markets was January 2008 with a large red candlestick, breaking the positive sloping line (shown with the first blue arrow).
A second sign to get out of the markets was May of 2008 (the second blue arrow) when we failed to make a higher high. Instead, we got a lower high, which is negative.
In June 2008, only the very next month, we initiated the long sell-off of the ‘08-’09 crash. If I measure from June 2008 to the low, markets crashed 51.84% in 10 months / 272 days, (shown with the solid purple line). Referring back to where we stand now in Feb. 2021, we haven’t had any of these types of warning yet.
Not is all rosy however. We still have an elevated VIX and the SKEW remains high. Bonds are selling of causing the 10-year treasury to rise. Next writing, I will discuss more on the VIX and SKEW, both provide insight into the volatility of the S&P. We will also re-evaluate markets again looking for clues of future movement.
Want to discuss any of the material cited? Don’t see something here you feel is relevant and should be added in for future editions?
Note: The information in this report is for informational purposes only and are not direct signals for readers to buy/ sell or invest. As always, perform your own due diligence for any financial transactions or trades relative to the information provided
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