U.S. steel stocks gain after report on import tariffs

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Shares of U.S. steel companies climbed on Friday after a news report that President Trump is leaning toward imposing tariffs as high as 20 percent on imports of the metal.

Trump and a small group of his advisers made clear at a meeting of top officials at the White House on Monday that they want to impose tariffs on steel and likely other imports, according to a report from news website Axios that cites anonymous sources. The report cautioned that no decision has been made.

Steel stocks, which have been jolted periodically since Trump’s election by news of potential protectionist measures, were mostly higher. U.S. Steel Corp and Nucor Corp rose about 1 percent each, while AK Steel Holding edged up 0.2 percent.

The report comes as the Trump administration said on Thursday that the president would use a national security review of the domestic steel industry to demand action by the Group of 20 leaders to reduce excess capacity and other distortions in the global market.

The White House expects to delay the release of the highly anticipated “Section 232” study until after Trump has spoken with G20 leaders at the summit in Germany next week, an administration official said on Thursday, requesting anonymity.

At a recent steel conference in New York, an official from the U.S. Commerce Department said that if there are tariffs, the goal would be to have them be larger than potential currency swings, according to a research note on Thursday from Cowen & Co analysts.

Trump’s election initially boosted steel stocks, with the S&P 1500 steel index surging 36 percent in the month after the Nov. 8 vote. But since then, the industry has given up most of those gains. The index is now up about 14 percent since the election, including a 1.1 percent gain on Friday.

Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn