US magnesium die casting shipments rise in 2014

OREANDA-NEWS.  Shipments in the US magnesium die casting industry rose by 10.2pc year on year as the burgeoning automotive sector underpinned order books, according to figures from the North American Die Casting Association (Nadca).

But Nadca said overall magnesium shipments came in below its previous forecast of a 11.4pc rise in 2014 as deliveries into the non-auto sector were lower than expected.

The growth in magnesium die casting comes as car makers continue to drive down the weight of vehicles to meet tough new emission standards, while a large proportion of die casting capacity has migrated to Mexico in the wake of US anti-dumping duties on imports of magnesium metal.

"The rise in magnesium is driven by the increase in usage in cars, which at this stage is still relatively small. So the percentages go up and down fairly rapidly because there is not a lot of content," Nadca president Daniel Twarog said on the sidelines of the Die Casting Executive Conference 2015.

"We attribute the strength in automotive to the fact that consumers are not spending as much money on housing because the market is upside down at the moment and people are underwater with their mortgages. So consumers who have cash to spend are putting their money towards the next big ticket items like cars."

He added that lower crude prices are also helping to further spur the car market and this is expected to help make the first quarter stronger than originally forecast for die casters.

The additional consumer income freed up by lower crude prices could also help underpin the household appliance market this year, particularly for items such as "smart" refrigerators, Twarog noted.

Nadca figures show that shipments in the US aluminium die casting industry were up by 6.05pc in 2014 compared with the year prior, including a 7.3pc rise in the auto side of the industry and a 5.3pc increase in the non-auto side.

But the total was also below Nadca's previous forecast of 6.8pc shipment growth in 2014.

The automotive industry continues to be a driving force behind the US economy and figures show that sales in December jumped to more than 1.5mn vehicles and full-year sales for 2014 finished just above 16.5mn vehicles, matching sales in 2006 and increasing by nearly 1mn from the previous year.

US automotive makers also continued to post solid gains in January as consumer conference grew on low petrol prices and low interest rates.

The industry sold more than 1mn vehicles in the US last month, a 13.7pc increase from the same month a year earlier.

Nadca figures also show that zinc die casting shipments surpassed the association's previous forecast of 5.1pc and posted a 8.53pc gain.

Twarog expects magnesium die casting to increase by about 8pc this year, while aluminium shipments are expected to increase by about 4.7pc.