Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Mining and natural resources company Cliffs Natural Resources Inc (NYSE:CLF) stock jumped more than 11% in afternoon trading on Monday. Even after the nice pop, the stock is still down 32% for the year, and more than 80% from the 2014 peak.
So what: The market is responding favorably to news that Cliffs is selling its chromium assets in northern Ontario's so-called "Ring of Fire" region to small Canadian miner Noront Resources Ltd for $20 million. This is a region that miners have touted for its potential for years, but Cliffs suspended its operations there in 2013 due to a number of factors, including weakness in the steel market.
Now what: It looks like Cliffs is losing a chunk of change on this asset sale, having paid more than $90 million U.S. for it in 2009, however the market's positive reaction is based on the company's commitment to focus on its core iron mining operations. However, before getting too excited about this move, investors should take a closer look at the steel market in the U.S., which remains very challenged, by slow demand in commercial and industrial construction -- a massive source of demand -- and imports from Asia continue to put pressure on U.S. steelmakers, which are Cliffs' main customers.
This could turn out to be a good time to invest in Cliffs Natural Resources, just remember that things are likely to remain bumpy for the next year, maybe longer, as the steel market finds equilibrium.