What: Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF), a frequent member of the 10%-daily-mover club lately, saw shares gain 10% today as iron ore and steel prices have seen a slight uptick.
So what: If there is anything that Cliffs could use right now, higher iron ore prices is at the top of the list. The company has been slashing spending, cutting costs, and suspending operations at mines as fast as it can to handle the downturn in the iron ore market.
There are two things that appear to be supporting this slight uptick in iron ore prices. The first is that spot prices and one-month futures prices for iron ore delivered to China climbed 25% and 12%, respectively. The prices stated are in no means going to drag Cliffs out of its current funk, but any little bit helps.
The other element that could work in Cliffs' favor is anti-dumping tariffs that could get levied on steel imports. According to a research report from Morgan Stanley, several cases have been brought to the Department of Commerce in the past couple of months related to the dumping of cold-rolled coil and hot-rolled coil steel on the U.S. market. If tariffs are imposed on steel imports, it could push up the price of steel and in turn increase domestic demand for iron ore in the U.S. Since Cliffs owns more than half of the U.S.'s iron ore production, it's pretty easy to connect the dots between this case and the outlook for Cliffs.
Now what: These items do sound promising for Cliffs, but they are still merely speculation at this point. Until we have some firm decisions that actually impose tariffs on imported steel, or until we see some fundamental changes in the supply-and-demand dynamic for iron ore and steel in general, then all of this price movement for Cliffs doesn't mean much and doesn't really change the investment thesis for this company long term.
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