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TheStreet Open House

Metals and Mining: Winners and Losers

Stocks in this article: AWC PLG AKS

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Alumina (AWC), Platinum Group Metals (PLG) and AK Steel (AKS - Get Report) were among the top gainers last week, while International Coal Group (ICO), Great Northern Iron Ore Properties (GNI), and Cloud Peak Energy (CLD - Get Report) topped the losers' list.

Alumina surged about 17.2% last week on bargaining opportunities and after analysts at Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to overweight from equal-weight. Platinum Group Metals advanced 15.1% after the company approved $10 million for the development of platinum mines in South Africa. The company has gained only 15.1% year to date, attracting investment opportunities. In comparison, competitors Stillwater Mining (SWC - Get Report) and North American Palladium (PAL - Get Report) zoomed around 121% and 81% year to date, respectively.

On Thursday, Nucor (NUE - Get Report), the largest U.S. steelmaker, said it is optimistic about first-quarter sales volumes and prices after raising tariffs for all its steel-mill products over the last 30 to 45 days.

"There have been a number of successful price increase announcements and Nucor's statement is confirming that the market is moving in the right direction," said an analyst at KeyBanc Capital in an interview with Bloomberg. Nucor added around 6.4% last week.

AK Steel, with a high-beta value, gained around 11.7% last week, leading the pack of steel producers. Meanwhile U.S. Steel (X - Get Report), Steel Dynamics (STLD - Get Report), and Schnitzer Steel Industries (SCHN - Get Report) rose 9.9%, 8.3%, and 7.5%, respectively.

These gains came despite the 0.8% drop in U.S. raw steel production to 1.683 million tons from 1.607 tons a week earlier, according to data from the American Iron and Steel Institute. Meanwhile, utilization rates reported last week declined to 69.6% from 70.2% in the prior week.

Among international steel majors, Ternium (TX - Get Report), ArcelorMittal (MT - Get Report), and Mechel (MTL) advanced 9.6%, 6.8%, and 4.7%, respectively.

Meanwhile, Allegheny Technologies (ATI - Get Report) surged 7.9% after the company's joint venture with Russia's Verkhnaya Salda Metallurgical Production Association received a supply order for titanium for a desalination plant in Saudi Arabia. Korea-based Doosan Heavy Industries is building the plant, which is expected to be the world's largest desalination plant, requiring around 6 million pounds of titanium.

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