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Steel, coal optimism fueled by Trump dynamic after speech to Congress

New York (Platts)--1 Mar 2017 105 pm EST/1805 GMT


The Dow Jones industrial average surpassed 21,000 in trading as of noon EST Wednesday after President Donald Trump's pro-business/America-first speech before Congress, up about 1.3%, as the S&P 500 also gained 1.3% -- and share prices of a dozen New York Stock Exchange-traded steel companies tripled that performance,up nearly 4%, as were a number of coal stocks.

Trump's first speech before a joint session of Congress Tuesday night gave early shoutouts to steel and coal, each industry mentioned once, but oil and natural gas got short shrift -- with nary a mention.

Related: Find more content about Trump's administration in our news and analysis feature.

Policy issues that have resonated especially with steel producers--but to a lesser extent with steel consumers -- were addressed by the president. Infrastructure was mentioned six times, trade was mentioned four times, jobs nine times.

"We have undertaken a historic effort to massively reduce job-crushing regulations, creating a deregulation task force inside of every Government agency, imposing a new rule which mandates that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated; and stopping a regulation that threatens the future and livelihoods of our great coal miners," Trump said.

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"We have cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines -- thereby creating tens of thousands of jobs -- and I've issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel," he added.

Trump reiterated that he believes in free trade, "but it also has to be fair trade." Citing President Abraham Lincoln who warned against abandoning protective policies by the US government, Trump added: "I am not going to let America and its great companies and workers, be taken advantage of anymore."

STEEL PRODUCERS LIKE WHAT THEY HEAR

Steel industry reaction was swift and upbeat. The Washington-based American Iron and Steel Institute issued a statement less than 30 minutes after Trump's speech declaring it "positive" for steel.

"AISI's public policy agenda reflects a number of the goals the president referenced this evening -- especially with regard to combating unfair foreign trade, providing robust infrastructure and ensuring tax reform encourages investment," Thomas Gibson AISI president and CEO said.

Regarding infrastructure, Gibson added: "The president's plan to connect private investors with federal, state and local governments for funding, and his commitment to ensuring that steel made in the US will continue to be used in federally funded infrastructure projects, will go a long way toward revitalizing our infrastructure and rebuilding our roads and bridges."

Robert Weidner, president and CEO of the Illinois-based Metals Service Center Institute said in a statement that a resurgence of economic growth will be achieved -- if the president works with Congress to act on his agenda of infrastructure and energy investment, education and comprehensive tax reform, and stronger trade enforcement.

--Joe Innace, joseph.innace@spglobal.com

--Edited by Richard Rubin, richard.rubin@spglobal.com

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