NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Alumina ( AWC), Platinum Group Metals ( PLG) and AK Steel ( AKS) were among the top gainers last week, while International Coal Group ( ICO), Great Northern Iron Ore Properties ( GNI), and Cloud Peak Energy ( CLD) 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) and North American Palladium ( PAL) zoomed around 121% and 81% year to date, respectively. On Thursday, Nucor ( NUE), 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), Steel Dynamics ( STLD), and Schnitzer Steel Industries ( SCHN) 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), ArcelorMittal ( MT), and Mechel ( MTL) advanced 9.6%, 6.8%, and 4.7%, respectively. Meanwhile, Allegheny Technologies ( ATI) 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.
Among other winners, Metalico ( MEA), Carpenter Technology ( CRS), and Cliffs Natural Resources ( CLF) rose around 5.1%, 4.5%, and 2.4%, respectively. Among losers, International Coal Group plunged 17.2% from its 52-week highs of $8.46 recorded on Dec. 10 to $7 on Friday. On Tuesday, the stock closed 13.1% lower, following a late-Monday announcement that the company plans to sell around 35 million shares. An upgrade of the stock to buy from hold at Brean Murray did not lead to any gains in the stock on Wednesday. The stock didn't respond either to the news that Massey Energy ( MEE) is considering a takeover of International Coal. Meanwhile, Great Northern Iron Ore Properties and Cloud Peak Energy ( CLD) plunged on profit-booking after the stocks reached respective 52-week highs last week. On Thursday, Rio Tinto ( RIO) announced the sale of its remaining stake in Cloud Peak Energy, estimated to raise around $500 million. Other coal stocks, Penn Virginia Resource Partners ( PVR), Patriot Coal ( PCX), and Natural Resource Partners ( NRP) dropped around 5.9%, 5.5%, and 4.2%, respectively. Gold and silver for spot delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange declined around 0.6% and 0.7%, respectively, weighing on the respective stocks. Gold giants Barrick Gold ( ABX), Goldcorp ( GG), and Newmont Mining ( NEM) dipped around 3.1%, 3.5%, and 3.3%, respectively. Among other gold producers, Agnico-Eagle Mines ( AEM), Gold Reserve ( GRZ), New Gold ( NGD), U.S. Gold ( UXG), Randgold Resources ( GOLD), and Tanzanian Royalty Exploration ( TRE) declined around 8.8%, 3.5%, 3.4%, 3.2%, 2.6%, and 2.5%, respectively. Most of these stocks touched respective 52-week highs in the penultimate week. Silver Standard Resources ( SSRI), Compania de Minas Buenaventura's ( BVN), and Silver Wheaton ( SLW) led the pack of silver decliners, down 6.2%, 5.2%, and 4.7%, respectively.