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AK Steel calls commodity stainless market ‘brutal’

Keywords: Tags  AK Steel, stainless steel, electrical steel, commodity stainless, 300 series stainless, automotive stainless, James Wainscott, Daniel Fitzgerald

NEW YORK — AK Steel Corp. said the commodity stainless market is "brutal," while overcapacity in the global electrical steel market is driving more imports into the United States.

With AK Steel reporting increasing shipments to the automotive end-market in the second quarter of 2013 (, July 23), the company is keeping the majority of its focus on servicing demand for 400-series stainless.

"In the 300-series commodity stainless market, conditions remain brutal. A market already characterized by overcapacity was not helped by the arrival of Outokumpu and new capacity in Alabama. Declining nickel markets haven’t helped either," AK chairman, president and chief executive officer James L. Wainscott said during an earnings conference call.

The West Chester, Ohio-based company’s electrical steel division enjoyed a 10-percent increase in sales compared with the first three months of this year, with the North American market exhibiting more strength than other parts of the world.

"The Nafta (North American Free Trade Agreement) market is OK if not pretty good, relatively speaking, vs. international, which is not good at all," Wainscott said. "There’s too much steel internationally chasing too few orders. Asian producers, in particular, seem to have contributed to the overcapacity problem. That, in turn, caused us to reduce exports. And that has caused foreigners to look to America, so we’re seeing increases in imports into our country."

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