Meanwhile, market observers believe we are in for another year of subdued output, with production rising only 0.9% in 2017 globally, which could help support higher prices.
“The steel price is moving to a position where it will give producers a better margin come the second quarter. The second, third and fourth quarter of 2017 will be better compared to this year,” Mike Shillaker, analyst at Credit Suisse, told FT.
Nevertheless, investors will have to keep a close watch over China, the largest producer of steel, which made up half of the 1.6 billion metric tons produced last year. Beijing has cut back production after the international community accused Chinese producers of dumping excess products on the global market.
Investors who are interested in gaining exposure to the strengthening steel industry can look to the targeted VanEck Vectors Steel ETF (NYSEArca: SLX) and the broader SPDR Metals & Mining ETF (NYSEArca: XME).
SLX tries to reflect the performance of the NYSE Arca Steel Index, which follows global companies involved in the steel industry. Top holdings include prominent names like Rio Tinto 12.2% and Vale SA 13.0%. Country weights include U.S. 38.8%, Brazil 22.6%, U.K. 12.2%, Netherlands 9.9%, Luxembourg 6.8% and South Korea 5.4%.
Investors who want to focus on U.S. steel may turn to XME, which includes a hefty 49.1% tilt toward steel producers, along with 12.9% gold, 10.7% aluminum, 8.7% silver and other positions in various metal miners. XME also limits its top exposures so its portfolio follows a more equal weight methodology, with top position AK Steel Holding (NYSE: AKS) at 5.1%.
For more information on the steel industry, visit our steel category.