U.S. Steel, Nucor, AK Steel: Steel Winners

Steel stocks -- including those of U.S. Steel, Nucor and AK Steel -- gain ground again Monday on rebound optimism.
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(Steel industry item update for closing stock prices.)

NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- Steel-industry stocks rose sharply Monday as optimism appeared to push investors toward a sector leveraged heavily to any rebound in economic activity.

U.S. equities in general moved higher during the session, with the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

bumping against the 11,000 level

, after several economic indicators added to evidence in bullish investors' minds that a recovery isn't a chimera. On Monday, the data included an increase in home sales and improving service sector business.

Shares of

U.S. Steel

(X) - Get Report

finished Monday at $68.96, up nearly 5%, albeit on ligher-than-average volume. American depositary receipts of

ArcelorMittal

(MT) - Get Report

, the big European steelmaker with a significant Stateside presence, added 1.7% to $46.25.

Cramer: Nucor's Ready to Heat Up

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Both companies own captive iron-ore mines, an integrated structure that gives them competitive advantage globally

when the cost of seaborne iron ore rises

, as it has been doing since last year amid a revolution in the way in which the raw material is priced. Trade groups representing both Chinese and European steelmakers have

registered their displeasure at the brave new iron ore world

.

As investors prepared for the upcoming first-quarter earnings report season, producers of steel in the U.S., from scrap recyclers to integrated steelmakers to specialty-alloy manufacturers, saw their stocks move into the green.

In the second trading session after releasing quarterly results that disappointed analysts and investors,

Worthington Industries

(WOR) - Get Report

saw its shares trade in the red for most of the session before reversing course, ending the day up 0.5% to $16.22. The stock lost 6.6% on Thursday, when the company's results demonstrated how it continues to reel from a battered construction industry.

Worthington,

which did a much better job of managing expectations in the previous quarter

, had been experiencing a rebound in its auto-steel business.

Elsewhere, scrap-metal recycler and mini-mill operator

Nucor

(NUE) - Get Report

saw its stock rise 3.4% to $47.53 Monday afternoon. The company, known for the highly cautious outlook favored by its CEO, Dan DiMicco, is scheduled to report earnings on April 27.

In mid-March,

Nucor offered guidance on the quarter

, tamping down profit expectations but, at the same time, indicating that capacity, orders and shipments all likely grew by more than 20% during the quarter.

Shares of

AK Steel

(AKS) - Get Report

, meanwhile rose 4.9% to $24.20. Chief Executive James Wainscott rang the opening bell at the

New York Stock Exchange

Monday in celebration of the company's 15th anniversary as a Big Board-listed stock.

Pacing the gainers Monday were shares of

Reliance Steel & Aluminum

(RS) - Get Report

, helped by a

bullish article in Barron's

over the weekend, which argued that the metal warehouser stood in a uniquely strong position in the steel supply chain to take advantage of an economic recovery.

The company's shares spiked 7.8% to end the session at $54.96.

Among other names,

Steel Dynamics

(STLD) - Get Report

stock gained 4.1% to $18.43 and

Schnitzer Steel

(SCHN) - Get Report

advanced 3.6% to $55.22. The big South Korean producer,

Posco

(PKX) - Get Report

, saw its New York-listed issues rise 4.2% to $124.83.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

RELATED STORIES:

>>China Steel Group Urges Iron-Ore Boycott

>>Iron Ore Upheaval Reaches U.S.

>>BHP, Vale Blow Up Iron Ore Pricing

>>Euro Steel Group Protests Iron Ore Miners

Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.