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By Taras Berezowsky

US hot-dipped galvanized (HDG) steel and shredded steel scrap prices tempered any movement in MetalMiner’s monthly automotive metals index, which reflected a sharp slowdown in US car sales in September.

Led by General Motors Co’s (NYSE:GM) 11-percent year-on-year drop, total auto sales in the US dropped to about 15.3 million units, which translates to a sharp 5.1 percent fall in September, following a 1.8 percent rise the month before, according to Bloomberg. Even though the annualized sales pace for September is up 3.4 percent on a year ago basis, other automakers were having trouble selling during the month as well.

Honda (NYSE:HMC), Toyota (OTCPK:TOYOF) and Nissan (OTCPK:NSANF) all posted lower US sales figures in September. The bright spots for the US industry included Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) and Chrysler – both automotive OEMs increased their year-on-year sales due to new products.

However, many are still bullish on sales outside the US, namely in Asia.

Provided China’s economy continues to grow, US auto OEMs’ bottom lines may have a sustainable underpinning into next year.

Materials Costs Rising

According to several sources, a number of US steel producers have announced that they are raising their flat-rolled steel prices, including AK Steel (NYSE:AKS), US Steel Corp. (NYSE:X), ArcelorMittal (OTCPK:AMSIY) and Severstal (OTC:STBWY). It will be interesting to see how these price increases will affect buyers in the automotive market – and next month’s Automotive MMI®.

Key Price Drivers of Automotive Metals Index

The US HDG steel price fell 2.0 percent. US shredded scrap was down 1.9 percent for the month.

At $7,290 per metric ton, the cash price of primary copper finished the month on the LME 2.8 percent higher. For the second month in a row, the copper 3-month price increased, rising 2.4 percent on the LME over the past month to $7,295 per metric ton. The price of US palladium bar dropped 1.8 percent after rising the previous month.

US platinum bar prices plummeted 7.5 percent after rising the previous month. Chinese primary lead prices fell 1.2 percent after rising the previous month.

Korean 5052 coil premium over 1050 sheet rose 3.8 percent – the third month in a row of increases.

The Automotive MMI® collects and weights 7 metal price points used in automotive production to provide a unique view into automotive metal trends over a 30-day period. For more information on the Automotive MMI®, how it’s calculated or how your company can use the index, please drop us a note at: info (at) agmetalminer (dot) com.