US steel stocks were rallying on Monday following reports that President Donald Trump wants to impose the harshest tariffs on imports of aluminium and steel.
Mr Trump wants to impose a 24 per cent tariff on imports of steel, according to a Bloomberg report published late on Friday.
The remarks helped spark a rally in shares of US steelmakers before the market open.
Mr Trump appeared to reinforce the recommendations of US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross who, - following the probe, known as a ‘Section 232’ investigation of the effect of steel imports on national security - had recommended options to the president, including imposing a global tariff of “at least” 24 per cent on imports of steel and 7.7 per cent on aluminium.
When Mr Trump first ordered the probe last year he argued it had noting to do with China arguing rather that steel is critical to the economy and military and that the US could not be dependent on foreign countries for the commodity.
However, China has already threatened retaliation, with an official at China’s commerce ministry saying earlier this month that “the spectrum of national security is very broad and without a clear definition it could easily be abused” and that if the decision were to hurt China’s interests, the country would “take necessary measures to protect our legitimate rights”.
The tough rhetoric comes as President Trump has made reforging America’s trade relationship with the world a key part of his agenda and sparked concerns on US protectionism.