AK Steel Holding Corp. and United States Steel Corp. paced gains by U.S. producers of the metal amid growing expectation that President Donald Trump is about to step up measures to block cheap imports.
West Chester, Ohio-based AK Steel jumped 6.7 percent at 12:26 p.m. in New York, while Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel rose 5.7 percent. They were the two best performers in the Bloomberg World Iron/Steel Index, which gained 0.4 percent.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump said his administration will take measures “very soon” to stop foreign firms from selling steel in the U.S. at artificially low prices. A day later, his Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that if an investigation finds imports represent a security risk, recommendations could include higher tariffs, quotas or a quota-tariff hybrid for “particular products from particular countries.”
The administration is looking into whether an influx of foreign steel and aluminum is damaging U.S. manufacturers severely enough to threaten national security. The Department of Commerce may release results sooner than expected and possibly before the end of this week, KeyBanc analyst Philip Gibbs wrote in a note to clients, citing trade contacts.
The intent of such policies is widely seen as addressing excess steel capacity from China. However, it has raised concern from other American trade partners, including Canada which exports aluminum to the U.S. Chicago-based Century Aluminum Co. surged 9.3 percent.
China has defended its growing presence in overseas steel markets, with Premier Li Keqiang saying overcapacity isn’t the fault of one single country. The nation — which has argued that volume of Chinese steel shipments to the U.S. has fallen since 2015 — will use the WTO’s dispute-settlement mechanism to protect its interests.