Chart of the Week: Strong as Steel

Economic growth in Asia is the key driver for the big upswing in steel prices around the world, along with capacity utilization exceeding 85 percent.

The rollercoaster-shaped chart below from Macquarie Research shows the steel price trend since 2007 in the U.S. China, Europe and the world overall.

Starting in late 2007, there was a near-vertical climb to a peak in mid-2008, followed by (as the global financial crisis and deep recession took shape) a near-vertical plummet through early 2009. The broadening economic recovery has been accompanied by a bounce-back in steel to price levels not seen in more than a year – up nearly $200 per metric ton in the U.S. since the bottom.

In the past month fabricated steel prices have been matching or even exceeding the prices for iron ore and nickel (for stainless steel) after lagging these raw materials for the past year.

Macquarie believes that steel prices will continue to increase at least through the second quarter of 2010, with a strengthening of economic recovery in the world outside China being a driver, before growth slows in the second half of the year.

About Frank Holmes 263 Articles

Affiliation: U.S. Global Investors

Frank Holmes is CEO and chief investment officer of U.S. Global Investors, Inc., which manages a diversified family of mutual funds and hedge funds specializing in natural resources, emerging markets and infrastructure.

The company’s funds have earned more than two dozen Lipper Fund Awards and certificates since 2000. The Global Resources Fund (PSPFX) was Lipper’s top-performing global natural resources fund in 2010. In 2009, the World Precious Minerals Fund (UNWPX) was Lipper’s top-performing gold fund, the second time in four years for that achievement. In addition, both funds received 2007 and 2008 Lipper Fund Awards as the best overall funds in their respective categories.

Mr. Holmes was 2006 mining fund manager of the year for Mining Journal, a leading publication for the global resources industry, and he is co-author of “The Goldwatcher: Demystifying Gold Investing.”

He is also an advisor to the International Crisis Group, which works to resolve global conflict, and the William J. Clinton Foundation on sustainable development in nations with resource-based economies.

Mr. Holmes is a much-sought-after conference speaker and a regular commentator on financial television. He has been profiled by Fortune, Barron’s, The Financial Times and other publications.

Visit: U.S. Global Investors

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