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Steel stocks rise on hope for import penalties

Shares of U.S. Steel and other steel producers rose Wednesday after the U.S. Department of Commerce announced preliminary penalties on sheet steel made in China, processed in Vietnam, and exported to the U.S.

The federal agency recommended the duties after Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel and other domestic producers complained the imports were China’s way of getting around duties slapped on Chinese imports two years ago.

A final decision on the penalties could come as soon as February.

The penalties would apply to corrosion-resistant steel and another type of high-margin steel used in automobiles, appliances and other products. All imports arriving on or after Nov. 4, 2016, the date U.S. steelmakers lodged the complaint, would be subject to the duties.

U.S. Steel praised the decision, calling it “a critical step in shutting down one of the many paths used to flood the U.S. with dumped and subsidized steel.”

“This decision presents an encouraging sign for the steel industry and should put other countries and companies on notice that their cheating will no longer be tolerated,” the company said in a statement.

U.S. imports of higher-margin finished steel were up 15 percent in the first 10 months of the year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. The industry group said imports of finished steel from China were down 6 percent over that period.

U.S. Steel shares jumped at high as $32.16 Wednesday before finishing at $31.11, up $1.28. They are down 6 percent this year.

Shares of AK Steel, a West Chester, Ohio, steelmaker with operations in Butler, edged up 21 cents to $5.03 while nonunion producer Nucor was up 30 cents to $57.94.

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