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U.S. Steel positive on auto; construction mart still lags

Keywords: Tags  U.S. Steel, John Surma, automotive, Pro-Tec Coating, construction, tinplate, appliance market, AHSS Thorsten Schier

NEW YORK — U.S. Steel Corp. continues to see solid demand in the automotive market, but the steelmaker says it has yet to see a significant uptick in the construction sector.

"I think our sentiment on (automotive) is still positive, and we’ve derived that sentiment from talking to our customers. We supply almost everybody, and they all seem to be optimistic," chairman and chief executive officer John P. Surma said during the company’s first-quarter earnings call April 30.

The Pittsburgh-based company is also making headway on introducing its advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) to the market.

"The auto market for us remains very positive, very favorable in terms of total volume, but also in terms of progress on the high-end products we like to supply (to) them to try to make sure ... steel stays a material (of) choice," Surma said.

The steelmaker recently completed a 500,000-ton-per-year continuous annealing line in Leipsic, Ohio, at its Pro-Tec Coating Co. joint venture with Japan’s Kobe Steel Ltd. Commissioning of the line, which is designed to supply AHSS to the automotive market, "went very well," Surma said.

In addition to automotive, the appliance and tinplate markets have also remained positive, he said, although construction has yet to pick up significantly despite positive headlines.

"I think it’s great that ... residential housing is moving in the right direction by everything we read, not that we’ve seen a whole lot of that. But nonresidential is going to take a while," Surma said, adding that "in our construction business, which starts in agricultural and roof panels and things like that, we’ve done OK but not great."

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