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This Morning in Metals: Ford, Mahindra end joint venture talks

This morning in metals news: Ford Motor Co. and Mahindra announced the mutual decision to end joint venture talks; the Energy Information Administration released its quarterly coal report; and,…

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joint venture puzzle pieces

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This morning in metals news: Ford Motor Co. and Mahindra announced the mutual decision to end joint venture talks; the Energy Information Administration released its quarterly coal report; and, finally, the zinc price has retraced.

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Ford, Mahindra end joint venture talks

A previously announced joint venture between Ford Motor Co. and Mahindra will not be going through, the companies announced recently.

The two companies had reached a deal back in October 2019, with a long-term expiration date of Dec. 31, 2020.

“According to the companies, the outcome was driven by fundamental changes in global economic and business conditions – caused, in part, by the global pandemic – over the past 15 months,” Ford said in a prepared statement. “Those changes influenced separate decisions by Ford and Mahindra to reassess their respective capital allocation priorities.”

Meanwhile, Ford said its independent operations in India will continue “as is.”

EIA releases quarterly coal report

In addition to the Ford-Mahindra joint venture news, the EIA released its quarterly coal report, reporting Q3 2020 production of 135.8 million short tons.

The output total in Q3 marked an increase of 17.9% from the previous quarter. However, Q3 2020 output declined 25.2% year over year.

Meanwhile, U.S. coal exports jumped 3.2% from Q2 to Q3, with the average export price reaching $89.18 per short ton.

On the other hand, 74.8% of U.S. coal imports came from Colombia.

Zinc price drops

Lastly, metals prices did slow down somewhat over the holiday season.

Among them, the LME three-month zinc price is down 1.52% over the past month. The zinc price closed 2020 at $2,745 per metric ton.

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Automotive

This Morning in Metals: U.S. average retail gas price dropped to lowest since 2016 last year

This morning in metals news: U.S. average gas prices fell to their lowest level since 2016 last year; the U.S. Treasury announced sanctions against Iran’s steel industry; and Ford Motor Co….

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gas station pump

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This morning in metals news: U.S. average gas prices fell to their lowest level since 2016 last year; the U.S. Treasury announced sanctions against Iran’s steel industry; and Ford Motor Co. released its Q4 2020 U.S. sales results.

Cut-to-length adders. Width and gauge adders. Coatings. Feel confident in knowing what you should be paying for metal with MetalMiner should-cost models.

U.S. average gas price drops in 2020

As MetalMiner readers know, we keep tabs on commodities like oil insofar as they can be price drivers for metals. In short, oil price increases are often supportive of metals prices. (Readers can learn more about our analysis in the most recent update to our Annual Outlook.)

Unsurprisingly, given the slowdown in travel last year stemming from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., the average gas price fell to its lowest level since 2016, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported.

Per the EIA, the average gas price dropped to $2.17 per gallon.

Meanwhile, in mid-March 2020, before the declaration of a national emergency, the average stood at $2.38 per gallon.

U.S. levies sanctions on ‘key actors’ in Iran’s steel sector

The U.S. Treasury on Tuesday announced sanctions on several firms in the Iranian steel sector, in addition to a Chinese supplier of graphite electrodes.

The Treasury announced sanctions on China’s Kaifeng Pingmei New Carbon Materials Technology Co., Ltd. (KFCC), which sold graphite electrodes to Pasargad Steel Complex, the Treasury said.

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also announced sanctions on 12 Iranian steel manufacturers or holding companies.

Ford announces Q4 sales results

Ford Motor Co. announced its total U.S. sales fell 9.8% in Q4 2020 on a year-over-year basis.

Furthermore, truck sales fell 12.5% and car sales fell 41.1%. However, SUV sales ticked up by 4.0%.

In addition, Ford’s full-year 2020 sales fell by 15.6% compared with the previous year.

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Automotive MMI: General Motors posts strong Q4 in U.S. sales

The Automotive Monthly Metals Index (MMI) jumped 4.9% for this month’s index reading, as General Motors posted a strong Q4 in the U.S. market. Become part of the MetalMiner LinkedIn group and…

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General Motors headquarters

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The Automotive Monthly Metals Index (MMI) jumped 4.9% for this month’s index reading, as General Motors posted a strong Q4 in the U.S. market.

January 2021 Automotive MMI chart

Become part of the MetalMiner LinkedIn group and stay connected to trends we’re watching and interesting metal facts.

General Motors posts strong Q4

In the U.S., General Motors reported Q4 sales of 771,323 vehicles, up 5% year over year.

The automaker said the quarter marked its best fourth-quarter retail sales since 2007.

“GM outperformed the industry in the quarter and the full year by a significant margin because our manufacturing and supply chain teams and dealers helped keep people safe at work and our launches on track,” said Steve Carlisle, executive vice president and president of GM North America. “Extraordinary teamwork has set up everyone to succeed in 2021 as the economy continues to recover and we further ramp up truck and SUV production.”

Furthermore, average transaction prices set fourth-quarter and full-year records, GM reported, at $41,886 and $39,229, respectively.

Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler reported Q4 U.S. sales of 499,431 vehicles, or down 8% year over year. The automaker’s full-year sales in 2020 declined by 17% compared with the previous year.

“The work undertaken by our dealers was nothing less than heroic given the challenges they faced this year,” U.S. Head of Sales Jeff Kommor said. “The fourth quarter provided a strong springboard heading into 2021. Looking ahead, we anticipate an exciting year that will include a variety of new vehicles. Just in the first quarter alone, we will be offering the Ram 1500 TRX, Jeep Wrangler 4xe, Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392, the refreshed Dodge Durango and the refreshed Chrysler Pacifica.”

Nissan reported Q4 sales of 243,133 vehicles, down 19.3% year over year. The automaker’s full-year sales, meanwhile, declined by 33.2% year over year.

Honda’s December sales were about flat on a year-over-year basis (down 0.1%), while its full-year sales fell 16.3%.

J.D. Power, LMC Automotive release December data

Per a jointly released forecast by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive, U.S. new-vehicle retail sales were forecast to rise in December on a year-over-year basis.

The uptick marked a positive end to what was a challenging year for the sector. The challenges were at their peak in Q2, when automakers suspended production for two months and the U.S. began its first round of coronavirus-related restrictions.

When adjusted for selling days, December sales were forecast to rise 1.0% year over year. Meanwhile, full-year new-vehicle retail sales were forecast to drop by 9.5%.

“December’s performance closes the year on multiple positive notes,” said Thomas King, president of the data and analytics division at J.D. Power. “Retail sales are up, transaction prices are at record levels and retailer profits are at all-time highs.”

General Motors announces U.S. plant investments

In other General Motors news, the automaker announced plans to invest $76 million in two of its U.S. manufacturing plants.

General Motors plans to invest $70 million into its Tonawanda, New York engine plant. In addition, it plans to invest more than $6 million into its metal stamping plant in Parma, Ohio.

“The Tonawanda investment will be used to increase capacity on the engine block machining line and the Parma investment will be used to construct four new metal assembly cells to support increased truck production volumes,” the company said in its announcement.

Actual metals price and trends

The U.S. HDG price rose 13.7% month over month to $1,167 per short ton as of Jan. 1.

The LME three-month copper price rose 1.0% to $7,757 per metric ton. U.S. shredded scrap surged 38.3% to $401 per short ton.

The Korean 5052 aluminum coil premium rose 4.8% to $3.49 per kilogram.

Cut-to-length adders. Width and gauge adders. Coatings. Feel confident in knowing what you should be paying for metal with MetalMiner should-cost models.

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