This page is archived news covering the period of February 2009
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Stainless Steel News and Nickel Prices

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Friday, February 27

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 36 to 1,986. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Asian Stocks Rise, Paring Benchmark Index's Worst Start to Year Since 1990 // Asia's Economies Stumble as Global Recession Pummels Exports Across Region // Euro zone's unemployment up 8.2% // European Shares Drop, Led by Banks; Lloyds, Rio Tinto, Norsk Hydro Decline // U.S. Economy Shrank 6.2% in Fourth Quarter, Worst Performance Since 1982 // Stocks in U.S. Slide a Third Day on Citigroup Rescue, Shrinking Economy
  • The Dollar continues to trade higher against the Euro, but by only 1/3 of 1%, while NYMEX crude is back over the $44/barrel line, up nearly 2-1/2%. Silver is flat, while gold is down1/2 of 1%. Base metals crawled back from earlier losses, although lead was the only one that mentioned to sneak a peek into the green. Indicator charts show nickel started the session lower, fell hard, then climbed its way back. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month ended the day, week and month at $4.54/lb , slightly lower than yesterday. In reports today, consumer confidence fell and the ISM Chicago PMI report edged up to 34.2 in Feb vs 33.3 in Jan. The Dow opened ni the tank, but has been gradually rising all day and if it persists, could go green at anytime.
  • Have a safe and relaxing weekend!!

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  Demand for stainless steel has steadied after tumbling last year, Spanish manufacturer Acerinox said on Friday, after posting its first loss since 1977 and describing 2008 as the worst year in its history. - more

  2009 outlook for construction steel dim despite US stimulus - With the $787 billion economic stimulus package now approved by the US Congress, the focus has shifted from Washington to US construction firms and domestic suppliers of steel, concrete, heavy equipment and other related products and services, who are hoping for a major lift from the legislation. - more

  World’s Biggest Mining Event Attendance May Drop Amid Slump - Organizers of the world’s largest annual mining convention are expecting attendance at the 2009 event will slump next week, mirroring the fortunes of the global industry. - more

  Canada concluded its antidumping and countervailing re-investigation on certain carbon steel and stainless steel fasteners from China - On February 23, 2009, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) concluded its re-investigation of the normal values, export prices and amounts of subsidy of certain carbon steel and stainless steel screws originating in or exported from the People's Republic of China (China), and the normal values, export prices of certain carbon steel and stainless steel fasteners originating in or exported from Chinese Taipei.  - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.13/lb lower, with all base metals lower this morning. The US Dollar is trading nearly a full percentage point higher against the Euro on month-end flows. Gold and silver are both higher, both around 1-1/3%. NYMEX crude is down nearly 4% to well under $44/barrel. In overnight trading, Asian markets were slightly higher, while this morning European markets are much lower. US futures show Wall Street opening in a sour mood, as the revised GDP figures show the 4th quarter ended much worse than expected, down 6.2% from an earlier estimate of 3.8%. Analysts had expected a decline of 5.5%. Citigroup accepted its third government rescue attempt overnight, and GM is planning to tell the EU that it needs a bailout to save the Adam Opel GmbH unit. Hungary si asking for a $230 million aid package from the EU and Japanese industrial output plunged 10% last month from December. And Standard & Poor’s said it may cut India’s credit rating to junk. And we still have Consumer Sentiment and the NAPM-Chicago purchasing managers' index reports to be issued. In the positive news department, the BDI is up slightly and LME nickel inventories "did not" reach 100,000 tonnes in February. Shaping up to be just another lovely day in the neighborhood ... for the shorts.
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - "The commodity rally this week-- both in metals and energy -- is taking place against a backdrop of US macroeconomic numbers that continue to deteriorate, and this makes the recent move higher somewhat suspect in our view.  .. This morning, extremely poor industrial production data out overnight from Japan has succeeded in turning back some of the recent upside momentum we have been seeing in metals.  .. Out of China, a high-ranking government official said that China's economy would not hit bottom until after the first quarter, going against the grain of recent optimism that the economy has turned the corner. .. We are currently at $9,800 on nickel, down $255, as prices continue to bounce on either side of $10,000. We are trading close to the bottom end of the trading range, with good support evident at the $9000-$9300 area, but the upside remains sticky." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (China) According to China Customs statistics, ferroalloy exports fell to 673.52 million tons in January, down 76% YOY. The export of ferrochrome dropped by 72%.
  • Brilliant Mining Corp.announced today that it has entered into an agreement to sell all of the outstanding shares of Brilliant's wholly-owned subsidiary, Donegal Resources Pty Ltd to Panoramic Resources Ltd. an Australian based nickel sulphide producer
  • Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at the IHS Global Insight consulting firm - "We have been looking for signs that the economy's rate of decline might be slowing, but can't find any."
  • Harvard author and financial crisis guru Niall Ferguson - "Here is the world's biggest economy, which gave us subprime mortgages, rampant securitization, the collateralized debt obligation, Lehmann Brothers, Merrill Lynch. It is, in a sense, the fons et origo of this crisis. And yet, because it retains safe-haven status, in a global crisis, investors want to increase their exposure to the U.S. Hence, the dollar rally. Hence 10-year Treasuries down below 3 per cent yields. It's almost paradoxical that an American crisis ... reinforces the status of the United States as a safe haven.”
  • (SBB) US sentiment turns more negative, says The Steel Index
  • Dangerous Loans - fascinating graph showing the number of risky house loans taken out between 2000 and 2007 (make sure to move the cursor) here
  • India Rupee Falls to Record on Junk Rating Risk, Slowing Growth - more
  • Tenaris May Cut 2009 Spending by 50% on Lower Prices - more
  • Global M&A Activity Falls 38.7% in January - more

  Many EU Stainless Mills Temporarily Abandon Alloy Surcharge Link - Over the years, the EU stainless steelmakers have gained from the linkage of the LME nickel price and the alloy surcharge mechanism. - more

 POSCO plans to cut steel output for 4th consecutive month in Mar - South Korea's top steelmaker POSCO plans to cut steel production by up to 230,000 mt, or 8.4%, in March, which will be its fourth consecutive monthly output cut, the steelmaker's new chief executive said Friday. - more

  • Posco May Cut Output 6% on Demand; Mulls Acquisitions - Posco, Asia’s third-largest steelmaker, may cut production by 6 percent this year should the demand slump from carmakers and builders continue until June, new Chief Executive Officer Chung Joon Yang said. - more

  The Ship Comes In For Norilsk Nickel - Moscow has been having much the same week for the past four months – everyone down at the pier tossing streamers, and waving goodbye, as the flagship investment funds toot their horns and pull away, to sail swiftly over the horizon. - more

  • Kremlin shuns Russia metals merger plan - The Kremlin has opposed plans to create a Russian metals giant by merging indebted miners with Norilsk Nickel , a source close to negotiations between metal company owners and President Dmitry Medvedev told Reuters. - more

  Gerdau’s Credit Rating May Be Cut to Junk by S&P  - Gerdau SA, Latin America’s biggest steelmaker, may have its BBB- credit rating cut below investment grade by Standard & Poor’s, which cited a possible slowdown in profitability and cash generation. - more

  Downturn puts US ferroalloys payment terms under closer scrutiny - Payment terms in the US ferroalloys trade are coming under closer scrutiny, with some suppliers and traders expecting a deterioration in payment performance by steel mills during the course of 2009, market participants said. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Feb 27 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Thursday, February 26

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 10 to 1,950. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Japan Faces Deeper Recession as Consumer-Spending Collapse Pummels Exports // Asian Stocks Fall as Telstra, Origin Fuel Profit Concern; Steelmakers Gain // Darling Takes Step Closer to Nationalizing Banks, Boosts Control Over RBS // RBS Plans to Insure $462 Billion of Assets With State-Guarantee Program // Russian stocks get boost from rising crude, positive trends in Europe // European Stocks Climb for First Time This Week, Rebound From Six-Year Low // Obama Seeks $1 Trillion Tax Increase on Highest-Paid Americans, Companies // U.S. Stocks Gain on Obama's Budget; JPMorgan, Citigroup, Wells Fargo Rise (Globe & Mail) U.S. new home sales fall to 1963 levels (Market Watch) Initial jobless claims rise; ongoing claims at record high // FDIC sells toxic assets in public-private partnership // Obama's $3.6 trillion budget
  • Gold is trading lower by a little over 1%, but off session lows, while silver is down 5%. The Euro continues to trade higher against the US Dollar, but only by 1/4 of 1%. And NYMEX crude is trading over $44/bbl, up over 4%. Base metals ended mostly higher, but nickel bucked the trend. It jumped up by nearly $400/tonne in early morning trading, but spent the rest of the day losing all of its gains. It ended the day, according to Dow Jones, at $4.56/lb , right where it ended yesterday. While inventories of nickel grew overnight, it was a small gain in comparison to the last few weeks, and totals remain under 98,000 tonnes. Looking at Sucden's day old chart (here), we can see that while today's trading ended flat (not shown), it did hold above the TL4 line. The market opened the day seriously over bought according the RSI and SStoch, so one could argue for a pull back. But as Barclays Capital analyst Gayle Berry stated today, "These are sentiment driven markets.  Positive statements out of the U.S. this week were enough to get metal shorts to cover." Edward Meir of MF Global says "Nevertheless, the $9000-$9300 band has held, and we now seem to be seeing a slow recovery back into the range." As one trader stated "Forget the economy, look at the technicals." The Baltic Dry Index only slipped 10 points overnight. Apparently the market is growing numb to unemployment numbers, with very little attention being paid to today's release. Last week, 667,000 people lost their jobs. Here is what MarketWatch said "The level of initial claims is the highest since October 1982 and up 86% from the same period in the prior year.....the number of people collecting benefits reached a record high, rising 114,000 to 5.11 million". All of the reports that were issued today came out worse than expected by analysts but the Dow is holding its own, so far.  And finally, IHS Global Insight, a respected economic forecasting and research firm, reported today that things are going to get much worse than they previously forecast. Let's hope they are wrong.  

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (SBB) China’s refined nickel imports fell 41% year-on-year to 7622 tonnes in January
  • (Dow Jones) Russia's mining giant OAO Norilsk Nickel said Thursday it has finished building its own Arctic fleet as its fifth electric vessel Nadezhda delivered its first cargo to the port of Dudinka.
  • Unicredit - "Despite the lack of positive newsflow, a softer tone in the gold price for the fourth consecutive day indicates less demand for safe-haven assets, while a firmer oil price should also be slightly positive for risk appetite."
  • Deutsche Bank analyst Peter Hooper - "Rising government budget deficits may put some pressure on yields, but they are unlikely to cause a material sell-off in bonds while nominal short rates are low and inflation expectations are anchored."

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:40am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.07/lb higher but showing signs it may have peaked for the day. Other base metals are trading mixed, but mostly higher. The Euro is trading higher against the Dollar this morning, by a little over 1/2 of 1%. NYMEX crude is over 2% higher, while gold and silver are down at or near the 1% range. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower. European equity markets are higher this morning after the Royal Bank of Scotland accepted government insurance money. What happens with the banking industry is of the utmost importance to investors and traders these days because, quite frankly, they recognize that until the banking system is stabilized, the world economies simply can not recover properly. US futures also show a higher opening, but this could change. It has just been reported that first time jobless claims in the U.S. rose to 667,000 last week, and continuing claims rose over 5 million. Durable goods orders have also reportedly fallen harder than expected, down 5.2% in January. Could be an interesting day.
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  'Iron ore contract prices will fall 30 percent' - Vale, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, the top iron ore producers, may get 30 percent less for the commodity this year under annual contracts after a slump in steel demand. - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  "Metal prices continue to rise Wednesday, feeding off the positive close from the previous day. The weaker dollar also contributed to the firming, as did relatively constructive remarks by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke distancing the administration from the notion of nationalizing the banks. ... We are currently at $10,241 on nickel, up $166, with prices bouncing on either side of $10,000 for the past few days. Nevertheless, the $9000-$9300 band has held, and we now seem to be seeing a slow recovery back into the range." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • Shi Wenzhu, Great Wall Futures  analyst - "A major consolidation for metals companies (in China) could easily bring monopoly, and thus is detrimental to the health of domestic metals market."
  • Barclays Capital - "We do not think that SRB (China's State Reserve Bureau) purchases of metals in surplus are good for the health of these markets. Instead, we believe it can lead to price distortions and market dislocations."
  • PT INco appoints Martins to replace Ferreira - pdf here
  • How much the bail-outs will cost your family - here

  New Caledonia urges nickel workers to help keep SLN open - The New Caledonian government is urging unions representing workers at the country's largest nickel mining firm to accept reduced working hours in order to stave off job losses. - more

  China mills push steel output above 2008 levels - A blind rush back to production by Chinese steel mills has pushed China's crude steel output back up above the 2008 average, threatening to worsen oversupply and ruin profitability, a top industry official has warned. - more

  • China's steel consumption to drop to 430 million mt in 2009: CISA - Thanks to the promised Yuan 4 trillion ($584.33 billion) macro-economic investments, the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) revised China's steel consumption to around 430 million mt in 2009, up from the original estimate of around 390 million mt, according to a CISA report quoted by China Securities Journal. - more

  Holes in the ground’--the end of the commodity super - The commodity boom was aided and abetted by investors, especially leveraged investors, such as hedge funds - more

  Gloomy outlook for global mining industry; at least 30 percent of exploration companies expected to shut down - The global economic slowdown has cast a pall over the mining industry with the vast majority of mining executives saying they expect a severe pull back in exploration activity and at least 30 percent of exploration companies going out of business, according to the Survey of Mining Companies 2008/2009, released today by independent research organization the Fraser Institute. - more

  Bernanke's no to bank nationalization boosts base metals prices, says analyst - Confirmation by US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke that the country would not nationalize its banking system sent a surge of optimism throughout markets that caused rises in all base metal prices Wednesday, analyst Gayle Berry with Barclays Capital told BNamericas. - more

  More Steel Price Weakness in Industrialized Nations in February - There is still downward pressure on US transaction prices, although the rate of decrease has decelerated. - more

  Gold miners see growth, base metals seek rebound - Soaring gold prices and rock-bottom base metals have split the mining sector into camps of haves and have-nots, with the contrast clearly evident at the BMO Capital Markets Metals and Mining conference, which wrapped up on Wednesday. - more

  Cyclone brews off Australian oil, mining region - A tropical low has formed off the remote west Australian coast and may develop into a cyclone this weekend, the country's weather bureau said on Thursday, threatening iron ore mines and offshore oil and gas production. - more

  Soaring costs sideswipe Sherritt in Madagascar - Madagascar was supposed to represent the future for Sherritt International Corp., [S-T] providing mineral riches and diversification away from its politically risky operations in Cuba. But the company's initial plans are in tatters now as its foray into the African island country has proven far more difficult than doing business with Fidel Castro. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Feb 26 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Wednesday, February 25

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 50 to 1,960. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Hong Kong Cuts Taxes, Widens Spending as Economy Shrinks Most Since 1998 // Asian Stocks Climb From 5-Year Low on Weaker Yen, U.S. Assurances on Banks // Dollar Climbs Versus Euro as U.S. Home Resale Drop Spurs Demand for Haven // Blanchflower of BOE Says Britain's Recession May Intensify `Significantly' // European Stocks Drop for Fourth Day; Novartis Falls, Deutsche Boerse Gains // Home Resales Fall to 4.49 Million Rate as Buyers See More Price Declines // Stocks in U.S. Retreat as Insurers Slash Dividends, Home Resales Decline
  • The US Dollar continues to trade higher against the Euro, up by nearly 8/10th's of 1%. NYMEX crude is up 5% and nearing $42/bbl on news the crude oil inventories grew less than expected, while stockpiles of gasoline fell sharply. Silver traded up by 1-1/4% while gold is only slightly higher. Base metals ended higher on news China may be buying more metals for their strategic stockpiles, with some metals registering higher cancelled warrants. Indicator charts show nickel was in trouble early, but then spent most of the rest of the day in a up and down pattern, appearing to go nowhere. That was until late kerb trading. Then it took off on a tear. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $4.56/lb , and jumping back over the $10,000/tonne level. So what happened? Yesterday nickel rose because the Dollar was diving and the equity markets were on the rise, giving traders a warm and fuzzy feeling. Today, those figures flip-flopped, so we should have seen nickel go down. Right? Well, we would love to tell you why the market does what it does on a day to day basis, but we are safer sticking with the what and leaving the why to those with an updated copy of "How to Explain the Unexplainable". If we were guessing, it has to do with a market that is desperate to go up, and highly speculative prayers that something might be getting ready to happen in China. As to the first, Sucden's day old chart showed a market opening in an overbought situation (chart) but one that had broken thru the TL1 trendline. Next stop was resistance, which was set at $10,100/tonne, which was also broken today. That explains a possible computer generated technical reason. On the fundamental side, we mention the following story. Xinhua News Agency is reporting today that the China "State Reserve Bureau (SRB) will start a new round of national purchase on nonferrous metals for reserve. Nickel is said to be on the list." When in a desert, one does not know if a cup of water is a mirage until one attempts to pick it up. But one will assuredly make the attempt, no matter how many times the water turns out to be fictitious. The mere possibility that China might actually buy some nickel is seen as positive news to traders, although it may turn out to be no more than a rumor. As can be seen below, the price of steel continues to decline in China on lower demand. So??? Lot of talk among analysts about cancelled warrants jumping in certain metals. Cancelled warrants for nickel crawled over the 1% level last Friday, and today, stand less than 1-1/2%. In the mean time, inventories of nickel stored in LME warehouse have risen to well over the 97,000 tonne level. And yes, two more days of gains like today's and we will see 100,000 tonnes by Friday. So from a fundamental point of view, we would call today's move based on a wing and a prayer'. The Baltic Dry Index slipped below 2000, with partial blame being placed on Australian floods stopping iron ore shipments. Tinto announced it was resuming production today, so if this is true, we should see a reversal in a few days. President Obama spoke to the nation last evening, and the markets have so far responded negatively. The downward move was exaggerated when existing home sales, which were expected to go up for a second month, fell hard. We noted below a statement made by the NAR that nearly 1/2 of the existing homes that were sold in January, were distressed sales, meaning both parties in the sale ended up owing someone money. Bernanke is back before Congress today, but so far does not appear to be having the positive effect on the market that he did yesterday. But there is still a few hours of trading yet, and anything can happen.   

  Reports

  • China Commodities Weekly for the Week of February 16-20, 2009 - here
  • Finished Steel Imports Increase by 15% in January - pdf here

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Sherritt International reported a fourth-quarter loss on Wednesday on a big impairment charge for its Ambatovy nickel joint venture in Madagascar and sharp declines in nickel, cobalt and oil markets.. - more
  • Thompson Creek Metals Co Chief Executive Officer Kevin Loughrey to Bloomberg - “We’d like to go out there and do an acquisition, but we don’t feel an immediate sense of urgency because there may be some more pain to be felt in the marketplace.”
  • Doug Casey: What to Do in 'The Greater Depression' - more
  • (MarketWatch) "Sales of pre-owned homes dropped 5.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.49 million in January, the lowest sales pace in 12 years, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. ... About 45% of sales in January involved so-called distressed sales of homes in foreclosure or short sales by homeowners who sell for less than what they owe their lenders, Yun said." (source)
  • Yasuhide Yajima, a senior economist at NLI Research Institute in Tokyo - (ref news that Japan’s exports plunged 45.7 percent in January) “The drop in exports is unbelievably bad.” (chart from EconomPic - here)
  • The reverse industrial revolution - more

  Vale, Rio, BHP May Get 30% Iron Ore Price Cut After Steel Slump - Cia. Vale do Rio Doce, Rio Tinto Group and BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest iron ore producers, may get 30 percent less for the raw material this year under annual contracts after a slump in steel demand. - more

  EU Urged To Use Steel Trade Laws Against China-Assoc - The European Commission and European Union member states should take steps to enforce trade laws against China, based on evidence from a report by the European federation of steelmakers that shows Chinese government actions are distorting the global steel market. - more

  Steelmakers must shelve all growth capex plans: Credit Suisse - Steel companies must consider shelving all growth capex plans as soon as possible if the global steel industry is to have a sustainable future, Credit Suisse warned in a report Wednesday. - more

  Shanghai, China construction steel prices thru today

  Commerce Finds Unfair Dumping of Steel Threaded Rod from China - On February 23, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) announced its affirmative final determination in the antidumping duty investigation on imports of steel threaded rod from the People’s Republic of China (China). - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:30 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.04/lb higher, but erratic in trading so far. Base metals in general are up slightly, while the Euro is lower against the US Dollar by 1/4 of 1%. Crude oil is trading nearly 1% higher, while gold and silver are quiet. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, and this morning, European markets are slightly higher. Futures show Wall Street may open in a negative mood early, as the market reacts to President Obama's speech. Yesterday, U.S. markets ended higher on Bernanke's testimony before Congress, which was a surprise to us after some of what he said. Last evening, listening to analysts from different news sources, it became clear, that it wasn't necessarily "what" Bernanke was saying that impressed the market so much, it was "how" he was saying it. He came across as calm, cool and collected in a town full of individuals who don't seem to be so these days. Bernanke will be back in Congress today, and we will have existing home sales report issued in about an hour. Will the Bernanke Bounce continue? There seems to be a whiff of "feel good" air floating around all of a sudden. But we will have to see if the smell sticks when the market opens. Stay tuned.     
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  "Metal prices had an impressive bounce yesterday, as a strong reversal on Wall Street managed to lift most commodity complexes higher. Gold was the notable exception and lost ground for a change, as buy-side money flowed back into traditional markets.  ... With equity markets severely oversold after six days of steady declines, we only needed a trigger to set off a short-covering rally yesterday; that came in the form of Chairman Ben Bernanke’s biannual testimony to Congress. ... We are currently at $9,850 on nickel, up $50, and generally not participating in the buying we are seeing today. We are neutral on the complex for the moment." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (JMB) Japanese rolled copper production decreased by 45% to 43,390 tonnes in January from a year earlier, announced by Japan Copper and Brass Association on Tuesday.
  • (Reuters) Japan's steel imports in January slid 31.5 per cent from a year earlier for the third straight month of decline, sharply widening their drop due to slack demand, preliminary Ministry of Finance data showed on Wednesday.
  • London-based Rio Tinto Group announced that development of the Kennecott Eagle project in Marquette County was being “deferred.”
  • (Interfax) Baoshan Iron and Steel Co. Ltd. (Baosteel), the Shanghai-listed subsidiary of China's top steel mill Baosteel Group, is expected to announce reductions to its ex-works steel product prices for April due to slack market demand, an industry analyst told Interfax on Feb. 25.
  • (Interfax) Liaoning Province-based Xiyang Group plans to invest RMB 7 billion ($1.02 billion) to build a 500,000-ton hot-rolled stainless steel coil facility in the Changjiang Li autonomous county in Hainan Province, an official from the Changjiang government told Interfax on Feb. 25.

  Vale Halts Output at Canadian Nickel Mine After Worker Dies - Cia. Vale do Rio Doce, the world’s largest iron-ore producer, halted output at a nickel mine in northern Manitoba province after the death of a worker. - more

  China extends help for nonferrous, logistics - China on Wednesday unveiled plans to offer support to the nonferrous metals and logistics industries, its latest effort to shore up the economy in the face of slowing global growth. - more

  • China's Baosteel still sees pressure on prices - China's Baoshan Iron & Steel Co (Baosteel) expects the Chinese steel market to remain under relatively heavy pressure with no fundamental turnaround in demand from key steel-using sectors. - more
  • Analyst: China's steel exports to decline by a quarter - China's steel exports are likely to fall by up to 25 percent year-on-year to 45 million tons this year, according to Guosen Securities analyst Zheng Dong. - more
  • China's steel exports, output to drop in 2009: CMIPRI - China's steel exports in 2009 are expected to drop by 20 million mt year on year and crude steel output is also expected to drop slightly, Li Xinchuang, vice president of China Metallurgical Industry Planning and Research Institute, or CMIPRI, told Platts Tuesday.  - more
  • Output Of Stainless Steel In China For CY 2008 With Increased 200 Series Production - = Produced 6.94 Million Tons In Total, Having Decreased From That In 2007 - more

  SLN cuts criticised by New Caledonia politicians - New Caledonia’s anti-independence Rassemblement-UMP Party has criticised the plans of the SLN nickel company to cut working hours in the face of the global economic crisis. - more

  Report shows Chinese state-business relations provoke severe market distortions in the international steel market - Basis for future EU action / EUROFER asks Commission for strict enforcement of EU trade laws - more

  A leading economic forecaster has warned that Western Australia is facing economic "disaster" as the resources industry faces a severe downturn. - more

  • Ship Rates Slump Most in 3 Months on Possible Rio Tinto Delays - The cost of shipping commodities such as iron ore and coal tumbled the most in three months as Rio Tinto Group said it may delay deliveries from Western Australia, increasing the supply of vessels seeking cargoes.  - more

  Nippon Steel Production Level Has Probably Bottomed  - Nippon Steel Corp., the world’s second-largest producer of the metal, said production has probably bottomed as customers including automakers and machinery makers shed excess inventories. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Feb 25 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Tuesday, February 24

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 74 to 2,010. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders -  (Bloomberg) China's Wealth Fund Said to Be Planning $3 Billion Investment in Fortescue // India Credit Rating May Be Cut to Junk by S&P on Government Spending Plan // Goldman Sachs Said to Plan Cuts to Japan Equity Research as Markets Slump // Asian Stocks Drop to Five-Year Low, Led by Nomura on Share Sale; BHP Falls // German Business Confidence Falls to Lowest in 26 Years as Economy Sputters // European Stocks Fall as German Confidence Drops; Basilea, Novartis Decline // U.S. Economy: Consumer Confidence, Home Prices in Record Slump // Bernanke Sees 2010 Recovery ‘Only If’ Banks Stabilize //  Stocks in U.S. Gain on Cheaper Valuations; Home Depot, Macy's Shares Climb
  • Euro continues to trade higher against the US Dollar, now up 8/10 of 1% after slumping earlier. NYMEX crude is trading flat, while gold and silver are down 2.5% and 3-1/3% respectively. Except for lead, base metals ended the day higher. Indicator charts show nickel slumped early, but went green right before our morning update and never looked back ending the day near it session high. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $4.45/lb . So what happened to nickel today? As we mentioned yesterday, the market was technically deeply oversold and due for a rally. With the U.S. dollar down on the day and US equities trading solidly higher, traders took advantage, which forced some short covering. It sure wasn't because of any change in the fundamentals. Last week, we said if nickel kept arriving at its current pace, we could easily see inventories stored in LME warehouses roll over the 100,000 tonne mark in March. In fact, if nickel keeps arriving at the pace it has the first two days of this week, we will roll over this mark on Friday. Doubtful it will happen this week, but inventories today stand a little over 96,000 tonnes, after more large shipments were received overnight. The Baltic Dry Index fell back again, but maintains above the 2000 line. And here is a by-line for you from Market Watch "The official FOMC forecast calls for healthy growth next year and robust growth in 2011, but the chairman of the Federal Reserve has his doubts that a depression can be averted." Now, to be sure, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke did not utter the politically taboo "D" word. The author based his byline off remarks Bernanke made today. "The downside risks probably outweigh those on the upside" and "the destructive power of the so-called adverse feedback loop, in which worsening economic and financial conditions become mutually reinforcing." The author notes "There is no official definition of a depression, but that is as close as any: An economy that is not self-healing but is instead self-destructing." (more) Reading Mr Bernanke's remarks today are rather depressing (here) although the market is not apparently reading it as negatively as we are. While Ben is trying to spin some hope into this mess, which is positive on a day where reports show consumer's confidence has nose dived, he also strikes us as someone who is trying to warn lawmakers of a more likely scenario. We are probably reading something into it because so far, the market isn't reading it that way.    

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Standard Bank analyst Leon Westgate - "After pricing-in a downturn, the metals are back to looking at the dollar, stock markets and technical signals...."Metals in general are looking to other markets for direction with fundamentals widely irrelevant right now."
  • Alex Heath, RBC Capital Markets - "Everyone appears to be panicking at the moment -- I think things will be pretty horrible through Easter at least ... Business is very sporadic at the moment, and while most of the bad news is already in the price, metals continue to follow the ebb and flow of the macroeconomic outlook."
  • BMO Metals and Mining Conference - live audio webcast - here
  • Laymen's guide to investing/speculating in junior miners - more
  • Interesting graph by Financial Art - thru last Friday - here

  China's steel exports, output to drop in 2009: CMIPRI - China's steel exports in 2009 are expected to drop by 20 million mt year on year and crude steel output is also expected to drop slightly, Li Xinchuang, vice president of China Metallurgical Industry Planning and Research Institute, or CMIPRI, told Platts Tuesday. - more

  • Prospects dim for China's steel market amid shrinking demand and idle capacity - Recovery for China's steel market was not yet in sight as declining exports and excessive production capacity continued to haunt the industry, said officials from the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA). - more
  • DJ China Jan Crude Steel Output 41.52M Tons, +2.4% On Yr -Assoc -China produced 41.52 million metric tons of crude steel in January, up 2.4% on year, and accounted for 48% of the world's total output of the metal, according to World Steel Association data. - more

  China, India show interest in Aussie mining assets - The current alarming rise in the stockpiles of major commodities in the world has not deterred merger and acquisition (M&A) interest, especially from China and India, in the huge mining assets in Australia, Africa and Latin America. - more

  SWFs eye move into commodities, oil - the investment arms of cash-rich nations -- are poised to raise their holdings of commodities and oil in a move that could have a huge impact on financial markets. - more

  Norilsk Nickel to use credit line - .Norilsk Nickel plans to borrow the first $50m from Vnesheconombank as part of the credit line extended by the bank, one of the Russian nickel company's main shareholders Vladimir Potanin told journalists in Moscow today. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:40 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.02/lb higher, having just broken its head above water in the last half hour. Other base metals are mixed, while gold is slightly down and silver is even more slightly higher. NYMEX crude is 1/5 of 1% higher. The Euro is adding support to commodities this morning, trading 0.57% higher against the US Dollar. In overnight trading, Asian markets fell, the S & P Asia 50 ending down over 3%. European markets are also trading lower this morning, while futures show US markets will open higher. Keep in mind the Dow opened higher yesterday and then ended the day at levels not seen since 1997. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke will be testifying before Congress today and later this morning, we get the Consumer Confidence report. Looks like it will be another interesting day, but the market seriously needs a trading day to end in the positive.  
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - "We had a mixed showing in metals yesterday, with copper prices rallying nearly 5% on the day on the back of the Chinese import data and a slightly weaker dollar. However, other metals did not fare as well, with ali prices falling to lows not seen since 2001. There was no escaping the melt-down on Wall Street, where another sharp sell-off in US stocks on Monday undermined the mood in commodity markets. Equity participants are not only rightly concerned about the macro situation and its adverse impact on earnings, but also seem to be concluding that Washington could possibly be out of its depth in dealing with the full-blown economic crisis on its hands. Metals are off to a weaker start as of this writing ... We are currently at $9,450, down $55. There is modest support at the $9350 mark, and major support at the lows of the trading range between $8830-$9000." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Xinhua) A number of small and midsize steel plants in China recently started a new round of production cuts or suspension, amid price slide in recent two weeks.
  • (Interfax) China's imports of both refined lead and zinc expanded on an annual basis in January, while the country's exports of refined lead, zinc, nickel and tin over the same period tumbled, according to figures released by the General Administration of Customs on Feb. 23.
  • (Dow Jones) Crude steel output across the 27-nation bloc was 9.55 million tonnes, almost half the 17.65 million tonnes made in January 2008, according to figures from the World Steel Association.
  • (New Caledonia) Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes newspaper reports there has been a recent surge in land prices in the north as the multi-billion dollar Koniambo nickel project gets under way.
  • (MarketwAtch) Maybe the meltdown wasn't what you think - Everyone knows the crash of 2008 was caused by financial deregulation except Thomas E. Woods, who blames financial regulation, in the shape of the Federal Reserve. - Recovery from even serious business cycle downturns can be swift, says Woods, citing the almost-forgotten 1920-1921 slump. But that's because the federal government did not step in. It allowed excesses to correct themselves. In contrast, the federal government did step in after 1929, as Japan's government did in a similar downturn after 1990. Result, according to Woods: the Great Depression in the U.S.; 18 years of stagnation in Japan. - more
  • How far have we fallen (thru Friday) - chart here

  Rio Tinto says committed to Indonesia nickel project - The Indonesian unit of Rio Tinto Ltd/Plc remains committed to a $2 billion nickel project in Indonesia's Sulawesi island, although is waiting for more clarity under a new mining law, an executive said on Tuesday. - more

  • Indonesian exporters oppose stricter trade rule -official - Indonesian exporters of key commodities have rejected a government plan making it mandatory to use letters of credit for export payments, a deputy to the chief economic minister said on Monday. - more

  China Reassures PNG That Nickel Project On Track – Chinese metals giant MCC has assured Papua New Guinea there will be no let-up in the push to bring the Ramu nickel project into full production, despite the world downturn in metal demand and prices. - more

  Clement, Gravelle meet over Xstrata cuts - Nickel Belt MP Claude Gravelle will meet with Industry Minister Tony Clement today to discuss the future of the Northern Ontario mining industry. - more

  • CEO's comments about possible nickel production cuts 'nothing new' - New production cuts may be coming to Vale Inco, if market conditions continue to deteriorate. - more

  DJ Philippine Jan Nickel Ore Shipments At 351,000 Tons - Agency - The Philippines shipped a total of 351,000 metric tons of nickel ore in January, mostly to China, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau said Tuesday. It didn't provide comparative figures. - more

  Implementation of CISA's steel discipline pact in doubt: Eurofer - The director general of European steelmakers' lobby Eurofer Monday expressed doubt that Chinese counterpart CISA will be able to implement a set of production and price discipline rules which its members imposed on themselves recently. - more

  Steel declines as too much output threatens prices - Shares of ArcelorMittal and other steel makers fell hard Monday after an analyst warned that prices are falling and inventories are building. - more

  Steel trade faces stiff challenges - China's steel exports are expected to further decrease this year while the total output may fall marginally, a senior official with the China Iron and Steel Association said yesterday. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending February 21, 2009, domestic raw steel production was 998,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 41.8 percent. Production was 2,186,000 tons in the week ending February 21, 2008, while the capability utilization then was 91.6 percent. The current week production represents a 54.4 percent decrease from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending February 21, 2009 is down 7.9 percent from the previous week ending February 14, 2009 when production was 1,083,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 45.4 percent.

  Australians' influence on Rio Tinto vote wanes - One of only two Australians on the board of Rio Tinto, Rod Eddington, has chosen to stand aside from voting on the mining giant's planned $US19.5billion ($30billion) alliance with Chinalco because of a perceived conflict of interest. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Feb 24 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Monday, February 23

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 15 to 2,084. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Asian Stocks, U.S. Futures Gain on Citigroup Report; KB Financial Advances // Asia Agrees on $120 Billion Pool of Currency Reserves as Crisis Worsens // European Stocks Drop, Led by Automakers, Banks; Renault Falls on Downgrade // Krugerrand Demand Pushes South African Gold Coin Output to 23-Year High // U.S. Regulators Pledge More Money for Banks as Stress Tests Set to Begin // Stocks in U.S. Retreat, Sending Dow Average Below Lowest Close Since 1997 // Obama Nationalization of Banks Becomes Focus of Growing Market Speculation
  • The Euro continued its morning slide, down 0.65% against the US Dollar, while NYMEX crude is now over 1% lower. Gold and silver have turned positive, but just barely. Base metals turned sour when American equity markets opened and fell, which helped pull European equity markets lower. Nickel did fairly well in overnight Asian trading, but when the London market opened, it struggled to hold onto earlier gains for much of the day, before slumping late. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $4.31/lb , unchanged from Friday's close. Copper ended higher, but the rest of metals ended flat or slightly lower. Sucden's day old chart (here) reflects Friday's slump. The RSI and SStoch readings reflect the traded price of nickel is a market seriously oversold, so any news, from a mine closure, to a stainless steel mill firing up a furnace, to a strengthening Euro could easily give traders the ammo to drive the market higher. At this point they may not even need a trigger to start a sucker's rally. Edward Meir of MF Global has support at $4.08/lb and Sucden has minor support at $4.25/lb. The Baltic Dry Index slumped 15 points overnight, and nickel inventories stock in LME warehouses, is now sitting half way between the 94 and 95,000/tonne mark, after another huge gain. Wall Street opened higher this morning, but any weekend enthusiasm petered out quickly, and the Dow is currently down by around 140 points. The volatility index has crept over 50 for a second consecutive day. In our opinion, the trading rubber band is growing increasingly stretched on Wall Street, and we could potentially see a major move in either direction, depending on whether the rubber band breaks or snaps back.  

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Dahlman Rose & Co - (ref BDI) Says although freight rates have been steadier in the last few months, shipowners remain cautious; points to Diana Shipping (DSX) indicating the recent stabilization of asset prices is likely a market "blip," with further downside possible.
  • (Xinhua) The China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) said Monday that the aggregate net profit of 71 medium-sized and large steel producers fell 43 percent in 2008 as weak demand drove down prices.
  • (CNN) A new national poll indicates that nearly three out of four Americans are scared about the way things are going in the country today. Seventy-three percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday say they're very or somewhat scared about the way things are going in the United States. That's six points higher than in an October poll. Nearly eight in 10 say things are going badly in the country, with just 21 percent suggesting that things are going well. The survey also says that three out of four Americans are angry about the way things are going in the country. But three out of four questioned say that things are going well for them personally. - more
  • Families of Chinese miners angered by lack of info - more
  • Is anything made in the U.S.A. anymore? You'd be surprised - more

  Molybdenum prices seen at $11/lb in '09-Cochilco - The Chilean government copper commission Cochilco said on Monday it saw prices for molybdenum, the metal used to add strength and shine to specialty steels, at $11 per pound in 2009, down from $30/lb for most of last year. - more

  Intl Ferro Metals losses widen in H1 - International Ferro Metals Ltd said on Monday interim pretax losses widened as prices for ferrochrome - an essential ingredient in stainless steel - declined, and that it has no plans to pay a dividend. - more

  Updated chart Shanghai construction steel prices trend

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:40 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.07/lb higher, although off Asian market high's. Metals are either subdued or slightly up this morning, but not getting the boost from the dollar dipping late Friday that we would have expected. Presently the Euro has backed off a tad, trading 0.12% lower against the US Dollar. Gold and silver have both backed off a little this morning also, but both trading lower by less than 1%. NYMEX crude is 1.4% higher. In overseas trading, Asian markets were up much higher, the S & P Asia 50 up nearly 4%. European markets are also trading higher, although with far less enthusiasm as the Asian markets. And US futures reflect Wall Street may open in a better mood than it ended last week, up 61 at press time. Bank nationalization fears are lower this morning as Uncle Sam takes larger stake in Citigroup, but refuses to seize the bank. The media is calling today's market a reflex rally, even before it begins. We will see.
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  "Friday was among one of the uglier days we have seen in some time, as the confused policy signals coming out of Washington blindsided the US equity markets.  ... We are seeing a slighter steadier tone in most commodity markets today in light of the weaker dollar, especially against the yen, where we are trading at just under 95. The greenback has eased on reports (from the Wall Street Journal) that the U.S. government is discussing a scenario in which a substantial portion of the $45 billion in preferred shares it now holds (currently a 7.8% stake), would convert into common stock. ... We are currently at $9,600, up $100, with prices apparently pushing towards key support at the $9000 mark, which held twice going back to November. The $11,000 mark marks resistance, lying against the top side of the downchannel. " (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) Last week, European molybdenum price slid below US$9/lb for the first time in five years, staying at US$8.9-9.4/lb. While ferromolybdenum price also dropped to US$21~23/kg from three weeks’ earlier level of US$24.5-26.25/kg.
  • (SBB) BNG Steel Company of Korea is planning to reduce the prices of cold-roll stainless steel 300 series. ... The reason - a decrease in prices in Posco, the key supplier of BNG Steel. lowering the prices of cold-stainless products made and Hyundai Steel..
  • (SBB) US mills and scrap merchants are apparently bracing for another drop in ferrous pricing this week as it is the general consensus at this point that prices will fall.
  • (JMB) JFE Steel announced on Friday the firm stops no.3 blast furnace at Fukuyama area of West Japan works by end of February.
  • Toyota's Global Output to Decline 20% in 2009, Nikkei Reports - more
  • Intl Ferro Metals losses widen in H1 - more
  • Is a bottom anywhere in sight? A US perspective. - pdf report here
  • Why it all went wrong - Donald Coxe put his money on commodities just as they went bust. Now, he's betting on inflation, China and India - more

  Nickel price drop pressures New Caledonia’s SLN company - A business analyst says New Caledonia’s nickel industry is also facing pressures to adjust to the economic crisis. - more

  Vale says further cuts to nickel output possible - Vale Inco's chief executive officer Roger Agnelli said the company may need additional cuts in nickel production after metal demand slumped, according to the Feb. 21 edition of the Globe and Mail. - more

  Bonwick Expects Nickel Production Cuts on Flat Prices: NewsClip - Chris Bonwick, managing director of Independence Group NL, talks with Bloomberg Television about the outlook for nickel prices and production. - more

  World Jan steel output drops 24 pct, EU off 46 pct - Global steel output plunged 24 percent in January, year on year, as the worldwide economic downturn forced a cutback in nearly all major steel producing countries, official data showed on Friday. - more

  China's severe steel over-capacity to persist - China's crude steel capacity reached 660 million tonnes at the end of 2008, vastly exceeding this year's expected output of 490 million to 500 million tonnes, senior officials from the China Iron and Steel Association said. - more

  • China Jan Base Metals Table Of Trade Data - The following are tables of import and export data for metals for January, with the data provided by China's General Administration of Customs. (All figures in metric tons unless otherwise stated.) - more
  • China’s steel meltdown: reasons to be scared - What the steel industry feared the most seems to be happening now. China's steel demand has weakened and the prices have dropped, quite significantly, in the past two weeks. - more

  The worst may happen in 2009, fears steel industry - Rising raw material prices and persistent slump in demand have brought the worst fears of the domestic steel industry to the fore. - more

  Russian boom ends as resource wealth vanishes - The reversal of Russia's fortunes is nothing short of a Chekhov drama. A seven-year economic boom fueled by cheap credit and soaring commodity prices has come to an abrupt end, plunging the country into the worst financial crisis since its 1998 debt default. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Friday, February 20

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 42 to 2,099. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Australia's Record Rate Cuts, Stimulus Plan to Stoke Economy, Stevens Says // Asian Stocks Decline on Profit Concern; Japan's Topix Drops to 25-Year Low // Stocks Drop Worldwide; European Index Lowest Since 2003 as Treasuries Gain // Anglo Suspends Dividend for First Time Since WWII, Eliminates 19,000 Jobs // Roubini Says Financial Risks Among Europe's Banks Are Growing More Sever // Europe's Stoxx 600 Index Falls to Six-Year Low; Anglo American, UBS Drop // Jumbo-Loan Defaults Surge in U.S. as Recession Reaches Wealthy Homeowners // Stocks Drop on Concern Recession Is Worsening; Citigroup, Hartford Decline
  • Since this morning, the Euro has done a flip flop and is now trading higher against the US Dollar, up nearly 1%. New York spot gold has gone over the $1000/ounce mark, up nearly 3%. Silver is up 3-1/2%. NYMEX crude is down by 1.6%. The Euro's about face came too late for base metals today, and they all ended London trading in the red. Indicator charts show nickel spent the day on the slide, before finding some footing in late kerb trading. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day and week at $4.31/lb . That is nickel's lowest close since early December. If the Euro holds on to its gains thru Monday, we could see nickel rebound some early next week. Sucden's nickel trend chart has not been updated since Wednesday so we won't link to it today. The Baltic Dry Index rose 42 points overnight, but there is some evidence that it could drop again next week. If bookings pick up, the evidence will disappear quickly. Nickel inventories stored in LME warehouses rose past the 93,000 tonne total overnight. That's a gain of 3,696 tonnes just this week, after a gain of 3,876 tonnes last week. If you don't think that is a lot, on May 9th, 2007, when 3 month nickel reached a record high of $23.50/lb, there was only 4,458 tonnes total in LME warehouses. Now there is nearly 21 times that amount. If inventories continue to gain at this pace, we could easily see the 100,000 tonne mark breached in March. Anglo American announced it was cutting 19,000 jobs this morning, just the latest in a string of mine closures and cut back's. Vale announced profit's were way down on lower prices and demand, and took nearly a $1 billion write down on its purchase of Inco. We have to admit, we were a little surprised no new mine closures were announced by Vale, but relieved for the miners.
  • Markets worldwide were/are dismal today. The Dow is down nearly 200 points as we pin this, which is bad enough, but not as bad as we feared it might be this morning. In a continuation of a personal comment yesterday, Glenn Beck wrote last evening, "Forty-five million Americans have a mortgage and about 93% of them pay that mortgage on time." MSNBC's Rick Santelli's outburst that we linked to yesterday (here), made national headlines, as the mortgage relief stimulus announced by President Obama earlier this week, has rankled many American's from both political parties.
  • That's it - another week. We hope each of you have a safe and restful weekend, and look forward to seeing you next week, when we start it all over again.   

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (China Daily) Iron ore price negotiations between Rio Tinto Ltd/ Plc and Chinese steel mills were ongoing and hadn't been interrupted, a Rio spokesman said on Friday, following a report in a Chinese magazine that Rio had walked away.
  • Deputy Director of Norilsk Nickel, Oleg Pivovarchuk told journalists that nickel produced at its African operations (Tati Nickel in Botswana and Nkomati in South Africa) remain profitable at $10,000/tonne.
  • Standard Bank analyst Leon Westgate - “Metals are still finding their feet after the catastrophic falls of last year... It’s stagnation, and metal will trade sideways until the fundamentals reassert themselves.”
  • Anglo American PLC Chief Executive Cynthia Carroll - "The breadth and severity of the global economic downturn and its impact on growth rates in key sectors and economies are difficult to overstate."
  • Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (Vale) reports it shipped a record 276,000 metric tons of nickel in 2008.
  • China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) has approved the launch of wire and screw steel futures on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE) and will soon authorize SHFE to list related contracts, according to a CSRC website report.
  • Vale CEO Roger Agnelli - "Chinese per capita steel consumption is very far below other developing countries. China may grow less, but will continue to grow at a very fast rate."
  • Global crude steel output falls 24 pct in Jan -WSA - more
  • The Crisis of Credit Visualized - college student's thesis video here

  Atienza warns Billiton, mining partner - The Environment Department may take over the operations of the Pujada nickel project in Davao Oriental if BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, and its local partner fail to resolve their differences. - more

  • Church Effort Slows Philippines Mining - The Philippines' ambition to become a world leader in mineral production isn't just running up against the global credit crunch. Mining in this Southeast Asian nation also is being hamstrung by the Roman Catholic Church. - more
  • DJ Japan's Sumitomo Reviews Output Of Philippine Nickel Facility - Japan's Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. (5713.TO) is currently reviewing production schedule of its second nickel-cobalt processing plant in central Philippines amid lower prices of nickel, a senior official of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau said Friday. - more

  China head quits BHP Billiton - Clinton Dines, BHP Billiton's China president, will leave the world's top mining company at the end of July, a company spokeswoman said on Friday. - more

  Vale profits plummet on poor nickel sales - Bloomberg.com reported Thursday that Cia. Vale do Rio Doce, the world's largest iron-ore producer, said fourth-quarter profit fell 47 per cent because of a $950-million charge to write down the value of the Inco acquisition and lower nickel and copper sales.Net income fell to $1.37 - more

  Kremlin not yet sold on Russian metals merger - Russia's metals elite, with debts in billions of dollars, will have trouble convincing the state to join in forming a national mining champion when the government has to plug holes in a budget deficit. - more

  In Texas, a king of the Asian commodities market - It's late on a Sunday evening in October, and Salem Abraham is the last diner at the Cattle Exchange steakhouse. - more

  Indonesia clamps down on steel imports to protect local market - Indonesia has issued a regulation to protect its domestic steel industry from illegal steel imports, officials said on Friday, at a time when the government it promoting local goods to drive economic growth. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:45am CST show 3 month nickel trading around  $.11/lb lower, possibly bottoming out, but base metals are trading lower across the board this morning. The Euro is giving up some of yesterday's gains, trading 2/3 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is lower by over 5% this morning, and gold and silver are back as investors seek refuge, gold up over 2% but down from an earlier $998.50/ounce, and silver is up over 3%. In overnight trading, Asian markets took a thrashing and ended lower, while European markets are trading quite a bit lower. US futures show Wall Street will be in an equally foul mood. The S& P hit a record high on Oct 9, 2007 of 1565.15 and yesterday, fell thru the 50% mark when it closed at 778.94. The Dow closed below the psychologically important 7500 mark at 7465.95, its lowest close in 6-1/2 years. As technical traders will tell you, breaking thru a long standing support line can sometimes signal the potential for significant drops. Keep an eye on the VIX today (here). We have an very uneasy feeling about today's trading. Stay tuned.
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - "Metals were broadly higher on Thursday, as were energy prices, with both diverging from a struggling US equity market, which is a rather impressive feat these days. There were no major reasons behind the sector-wide advances, except for a weaker dollar and the fact that in energy’s case, participants bid up prices on account of bullish EIA inventory data. ... Today’s action is more representative of the recent norm, as another wave of selling in the international equity markets has proven too much for commodities. ... We are currently at $9,830, down $70. There is not much clarity on the charts, with a slow drift lower within the trading band still apparent." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • Jinchuan Nickel produced 90,000 tons of nickel in 2007, 104,600 tons in 2008, and is projected to produce 125,000 tons in 2009.
  • (China media) Numerous ports in China are reportedly running out of room for storing empty shipping containers as the economic slowdown grows
  • (JMB) Dropping Stainless Cold Rolled Flat Steel in Tokyo - Market price of stainless cold rolled flat steel keeps decreasing around Tokyo. The price is around 320,000 yen per tonne for SUS304 with 2 millimeters thick, which is around 20,000 yen lower than January level.
  • (Interfax) China's iron ore stockpiles rise to 59.41 mln tons by February 20
  • (SG) According to Korea Iron & Steel Association, import volume for HR stainless steel in January 2009 accumulated at 9,144 tonnes, up by 137.4% MoM as against 3,852 tonnes in December 2008.
  • JSW in talks for 66% lower coking coal price - more
  • (Market Watch) Money supply, in vogue again? - (quote) "The rise in the M2 measurement of money supply is saying "monetary policy is pretty easy and the economy may pick up before the consensus expects it," said Paul Kasriel, chief economist for the Northern Trust. Kasriel, for years one of the gloomier private-sector prognosticators thanks to his early forecast that the U.S. housing market was on the path to meltdown, now has a sunnier outlook. He expects the economy to start recovering by the fourth quarter and that it will avoid a prolonged, debilitating bout of deflation." - more
  • Commentary: Growth in money supply doesn't equal growth in real economy - more
  • China Invests $35 Billion in Energy to Boost Growth - more
  • ‘Cash Burn’ Risks Japan Manufacturers, Goldman Says - more
  • China questions Russia on sea attack that sank cargo vessel - more
  • U.S.-China Trade Ties Erode Amid Accusations - more

  Nickel, Titanium Users ‘Running Off the Cliff’  - Despite serving some of the stronger end-use markets, suppliers of high-performance metals are feeling the effects of the recession, too. - more

  • Service Centers Give Year Ahead a Big Thumbs- Down - At just 3.5, this year’s MCN Optimism Index shows a dramatic decline from years past. - more

  Vow not to profit from ore sales - China's major steel makers and trading firms yesterday agreed not to profit from iron ore sales as the industry seeks to further regulate trading of the metal. - more

  • The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) today determined that a U.S. industry is materially injured by reason of imports of welded stainless steel pressure pipe from China that the U.S. Department of Commerce has determined are subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value. - more

  Speculation mounts on Chile's commitment to Asia moly market - Molybdenum oxide and ferromolybdenum producers in South America are increasing warehouse facilities in Asia to cope with China's import demand, stirring market talk that these producers may be making long-term commitments to the Asian market, trade sources said Thursday. - more

  U.S. Steel to lay off another 390 people from Granite City Works - Another round of layoffs is coming to the remaining workers at United States Steel Corp.’s Granite City Works. - more

  • Several thousand more US jobs expected as ThyssenKrupp continues building Alabama steel mill - German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp AG is expected to create several thousand more U.S. construction jobs this year as its $4 billion steel mill in Alabama remains on schedule for completion, Gov. Bob Riley said Thursday. - more
  • AK Steel CEO says more layoffs loom - Industry operating at about 50%, he says - more

  China Steel cuts prices, shifts to bimonthly change - China Steel Corp, the nation’s largest steelmaker, yesterday lowered its domestic steel prices by an average of 14.03 percent, or NT$3,353 (US$96.85) per tonne, moving closer to market pricing levels. - more

  Anglo American says will axe 19,000 jobs after profits slide - British mining group Anglo American said Friday it would cut 19,000 jobs this year after reporting a 29-percent fall in 2008 net earnings to 5.2 billion dollars (4.1 billion euros) because of the global downturn. - more

  Vale Quarterly Profit Falls on $950 Million Nickel Asset Charge - Cia. Vale do Rio Doce, the world’s largest iron-ore producer, said fourth-quarter profit slumped 47 percent because of a $950 million charge to write down the value of the acquisition of Canadian nickel miner Inco Ltd. - more

  • Are layoffs at Vale Inco next? -- Workers worried - John Fera, president of United Steelworkers Local 6500, has heard the same rumours everyone else has -- the other shoe is about to drop and Vale Inco will announce hundreds of layoffs at its Sudbury operations. - more

  Indonesia Inco reports 69.4 pct drop in '08 net profit -PT International Nickel Indonesia Tbk , one of the world's top nickel producers, said on Friday its 2008 net profit fell 69.4 percent to $359.3 million because of the sharp decline in nickel prices. - more

  Minara posts $19.8m net loss for 2008 - A sharp fall in the nickel price, the Varanus Island gas explosion and write downs have all contributed to a red calendar year for Minara Resources, which reported a net loss of $19.8 million, down from the previous year's $270.5 million net profit. - more

  Russian steel mills must curb debt in crisis -analyst - Russian steel producers whose debt level exceeds three times core earnings will be seriously threatened by the current crisis, Credit Suisse analyst Semyon Mironov said on Thursday. - more

  • Norilsk Nickel May Need to Post $2.8 Billion Charge, ING Says - OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, the largest producer of the metal, may need to post a $2.8 billion charge in its 2008 earnings after closing mines, and following a slump in the shares of power utility OAO OGK-3, ING Groep said. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Feb 20 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Thursday, February 19

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 71 to 2,057. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Bank of Japan to Buy $11 Billion in Corporate Bonds to Ease Credit Squeeze // Asian Stocks Rise as Yen Weakens, Chinese Government Widens Stimulus Plans // Turkey Lowers Key Interest Rate to 11.5% as Industrial Production Plunges // European Stocks Rise for First Time This Week; Nestle Gains, Nokia Drops // UBS Sued by U.S. to Disclose Names of Up to 52,000 Holding Secret Accounts (Market Watch) Philly Fed index plunges to 18-year low in February // U.S. producer prices rise 0.8% in January
  • The Euro continues to trade higher against the US Dollar, as traders worry less about a potential meltdown of Eastern European banking system. Gold and silver are trading lower as traders book profits, and NYMEX crude is trading 8% higher after a surprise decline in US oil inventories was reported. Base metals ended flat to higher on the falling Dollar, with indicator charts showing an early morning rise by nickel, for the most part held thru the day, although in choppy trading, before settling a little at the close. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $4.49/lb . Nothing about today's trading will disrupt Sucden's day old chart (here) or his downward trendline's. The Baltic Dry Index jumped back above 2,000, and nickel inventories held in LME approved warehouses, leaped well past the 92,000 tonne mark. The Chinese and Japanese are starting to spread some serious money around for global mineral assets, and nickel got some nice bites today.  
  • Rick Santelli express' the frustration of a lot of frustrated U.S. taxpayers on MSNBC - here

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Federal Reserve (yesterday) - "The factory operating rate moved down 1.7 percentage points, to 68.0 percent, the lowest rate of utilization since this series began in 1948."
  • Gregory Miller, chief economist at SunTrust Banks Inc., Atlanta - “I suspect the Fed would choose to err on the inflationary side, at least in the short run, and accept a bit of inflation above their stated targets. They will risk leaving the policy rate too low for too long and let inflation move higher.”
  • Why the experts missed the crash - more
  • US Single Unit  Housing Starts (courtesy The Big Picture) - chart here

  Base metals supply surplus to shrink in 2009 - Despite overstock, nonferrous metals prices will decline 44%. - more

  • Buying now, China may prevent next commodities spike - China, which triggered the biggest commodity price spike in a generation, is now making deals that could prevent another surge in the coming decade by helping finance new production during the low ebb of the cycle. - more
  • Downlink sub-iron and steel industry steel prices to recover or the end of the year - Starting from December last year, has experienced 9 consecutive weeks of gains, the domestic steel prices last week (February 7 ~ February 13) further into the overall downlink channel, the maximum rate per ton fell by nearly 200. - poorly translated version here

  South Africa: Ferrochrome Market Hard to Call  - Signs of movement in chrome ore and manganese shipments are starting to emerge, but the ferrochrome market remained depressed and difficult to predict, Metmar MD David Ellwood said on Tuesday. - more

  FNX ships 1.26 million tons of ore from Sudbury operations in 2008 - FNX Mining Co. Inc. said Thursday it shipped 1.26 million tons of ore from its operations in Sudbury, Ont. in 2008, lower than forecast as falling metals prices led the miner to suspend operations last fall and cut more than 300 jobs. - more

  Unions demand export licences to be reintroduced - The Rudd Government is under pressure from Australia's two biggest mining unions to reintroduce export licences that could stop Chinese and other foreign interests forcing down export prices. - more

  China Laterite Nickel Ore Prices

  • (Today) Indonesia 0.9-1.1% - $26-28/wt (1 year ago) $47-50/wt (2 years ago) $55-60/wt
  • (Today) Philippines 1.9-1.1% - $25-27/wt (1 year ago) $45-48/wt (2 years ago) $55-60/wt

  Mine near Questa laying off 230 people - A mine near Questa in northern New Mexico is laying off 230 people. - more

  Analysis on 2008 Jiaxing fasteners imports and exports and 2009 forecast (Part 1) (Part 2)

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.11/lb  higher, and indicator charts imply nickel is showing signs of peaking out for the day. Base metals are all higher this morning, as the Euro trades higher by over 1-1/3% against the US Dollar. Gold and silver are trading lower, while NYMEX crude shows up 4%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended slightly lower, while European markets are currently trading slightly higher. US futures forecast a positive opening on Wall Street. US weekly jobless claims remained the same at 627,000 while continuing claims rose by 170,000 to 4.98 million in the week ending Feb. 7, a 27-year high. For the first time since July, US producer prices rose by 0.8% in January, higher than expected. The minutes from the FOMC meeting held on January 27th and 28th were released late yesterday and painted a dismal picture of the economy. While in their last meeting the committee had discussed a 1.1% growth potential in the US economy during 2009, in this meeting it was forecasted the economy would likely shrink 1.3% and 0.5% this year, then possibly grow about 2.5% to 3.3% in 2010. Unemployment was forecast to rise to 8.5 to 8.8%. These notes overshadowed an earlier announcement by President Obama on a mortgage relief plan and the Dow ended the day flat. After a couple of days with the doom and gloomers getting much of the attention, traders appear to be finding the markets oversold, or open for some profit taking today, and we are seeing some directional shifts on all fronts. The BDI rose overnight, as did nickel inventories. Lots of news out today about nickel mines, and instead of more closure news, we are starting to see the Chinese and Japanese on a buying spree in search of foreign resources of nickel. Apparently there are a few nations out there that haven't yet given up on civilisation.
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  "We had a mixed session in metals on Wednesday, with copper, ali, and zinc all pushing modestly higher, while the rest of the group saw slight declines, except for lead, which was significantly weaker. We expected to see a lot more volatility in practically all the markets yesterday, and were rather surprised that most of them, particularly the US stock market, ended the day on such a subdued note, ... Most markets, including metals, are higher today in what seems to be a bounce from oversold conditions. In addition, several metals tested key support levels yesterday, but did not crash through them, a technically constructive sign as well.  ... We are currently at $10,025, up $325, and fairly choppy today, with a $600 trading range in place. We remain neutral on the complex pending clearer definition on the charts." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Bloomberg) “The nickel market is still pretty dire,” European Nickel Plc Managing Director Simon Purkiss said by phone. “We’ve seen no uptick in demand yet. It all depends on when the stainless steel market comes back.”
  • (Yieh) The statistical data shows that Chile's ferro-molybdenum output has decreased 25 percent to 33,304 ton in 2008.
  • Russian Federal State Statistics Service reports nickel production fell 11% in January compared to Dec 2008. Molybdenum production was down by 72.7%.
  • Global investors see Chinese green shoots - more
  • Buy American Act—Construction Materials here (we could not find a comprehensive list of countries qualifying under this act but did find one the military uses as part of Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement DFARS 252.225-7014 - Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Federal Republic of Germany, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Austria & Finland can apply for an exclusion on a case by case basis. This list may or may not be applicable to the Congressional Buy America Act.)
  • (From the group that forecast in March 2008 that the U.S. was headed for the 'Very Great U.S. Depression', another cheerful forecast) Beginning of Phase 5 of the global systemic crisis: phase of global geopolitical dislocation - more

  World Nickel Mkt In 54,100 Ton Surplus In 2008 - WBMS - The world nickel market was in 54,100 metric ton surplus in 2008, the World Bureau of Metal Statistics said Wednesday. - more

  Market Tendency On Imports Of Ferro-Alloys At 13th February 2009 = After Lunar New Year Was Over, Prices Of Chinese Ferro-Alloys Have Been Maintained On Firm Tone - The market tendency by item on imports of ferro-alloys into Japan at the 13th February of 2009 is as follows - more

  Talvivaara Mining Company Plc is pleased to announce that a first shipment of approximately 100 tonnes of nickel product was sent today from the Talvivaara mine in Sotkamo to the Norilsk Nickel Harjavalta refinery. - more

  Eramet slashes 2009 spending as markets stay tough - Eramet has decided to slash planned spending for this year by over half as it sees market conditions remaining "very difficult" in the early part of 2009, the French nickel and manganese group said on Thursday. - more

  • M'bishi to pay $145 mln to Eramet for nickel project - Mitsubishi Corp (8058.T), Japan's biggest trading house, said it would take a 33.4 percent stake in Indonesian nickel developer Strant Minerals (Indonesia) Pte from French nickel and manganese group Eramet SA (ERMT.PA) for $145 million. - more

  Geograce signs deal to mine nickel in Isabela - Geograce Resources Philippines, Inc. signed on Tuesday a deal with Tanco-led Geogen Corp. to extract nickel from a mine site in northern Luzon, the company told the stock exchange yesterday.  - more

  European Nickel signs up Chinese partners for Caldag mine development - European Nickel has signed a financing framework agreement with two Chinese partners that includes the provision of a guaranteed US$350 million debt facility to develop its Caldag mine in western Turkey - more

  China steel prices fall for 2nd week on poor demand - Chinese spot steel prices fell 4.7 percent in a second consecutive weekly drop, ending a two-month rally, as increased production in the absence of a strong demand recovery depressed prices. - more

  • Buying now, China may prevent next commodities spike - China, which triggered the biggest commodity price spike in a generation, is now making deals that could prevent another surge in the coming decade by helping finance new production during the low ebb of the cycle. - more

  Steel import duty can be raised: Paswan - The Minister for Steel, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, said here that the import duty on steel could still be increased through a notification. - more

  • Visa Steel hikes stake in JV with Chinese Bao - Domestic steel producer Visa Steel has raised its stake to 65 per cent in Visa Bao, the joint venture with Chinese steel major Bao Steel, by way of realigning its corporate structure. - more
  • No plans to abolish import duty on ferro-nickel, says Govt - The government does not propose to abolish the import duty on ferro-nickel, a key input for producing alloy and stainless steel, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Thursday. - more

  Australian Workers Union claims Rio Tinto is 'blackmailing' Kevin Rudd on Chinalco - The Australian Workers Union has attacked mining giant Rio Tinto as a blackmailer threatening mass sackings to pressure the Rudd Government into backing its plans to sell up to China. - more

  • China eyes off Fortescue - The recent wave of Chinese interest in Australian mining has continued, as Fortescue Metals has confirmed that it has met with China Investment Corp (CIC) over investment opportunities. - more
  • Australia May Hold Inquiry Into Chinese Investments  - Australia’s Senate may hold an inquiry as early as next week to scrutinize investments by Chinese state-owned companies after Aluminum Corp. of China’s bid for a stake in Rio Tinto Group. - more

  Online Information Centre for Stainless Steel in Construction - here

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Feb 19 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Wednesday, February 18

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 91 to 1,986. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Asian Stocks Decline for Third Day as Global Recession Deepens; BHP Drops // Taiwan Cuts Rate to Record Low After Economy Shrinks Unprecedented 8.36% // China Urges U.S., Europe to Protect Value of Debt Holdings in Its Reserves // EU Says It Can't Support Economies of All East European `Fringe' Countries // Merkel, Sarkozy May Have to Rescue Euro Nations to Avert Regional Crisis // European Stocks Drop for Third Day; Safran, Puma Lead Declines on Earnings (MarketWatch) Fed not stoking inflation, Bernanke says  // U.S. Jan. industrial production down 1.8%, led by autos //  U.S. import prices down record 12.5% in past year // Housing starts plunge nearly 17% to record-low 466,000 rate
  • The US Dollar is now trading a little over 1/5 of 1% higher against the Euro, while NYMEX crude oil is flat. Gold is up nearly 1/2 of 1%, while silver is up over 1-1/4%. Base metals ended the day mixed. Indicator charts show nickel amongst the losers, although it did make it into the green once during afternoon trading, before slumping again. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $4.40/lb . The Baltic Dry Index gained for its second consecutive day, with a 91 point jump. Nickel inventories stored in LME approved warehouses also gained, for their tenth consecutive day. During the last last ten days alone, LME inventory totals have risen by over 7,500 tonnes. Sucden's day old chart (here) shows yesterday's retreat broke a market in a seeming stalemate, and today's loss will continue this downtrend. RSI and SStoch numbers reflect a market heavily oversold. President Obama announced his mortgage relief package earlier, and so far, the stock market's reception has been cool.  
  • (Comment) Wikipedia defines "Moral hazard is the prospect that a party insulated from risk may behave differently from the way it would behave if it were fully exposed to the risk. Moral hazard arises because an individual or institution does not bear the full consequences of its actions, and therefore has a tendency to act less carefully than it otherwise would, leaving another party to bear some responsibility for the consequences of those actions." Our description would be - "See taxpayer funded mulligan.

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Jones)--India's Visa Steel Ltd. expects to resume full ferrochrome production of 50,000 tons per year by end-March as overseas demand improves, its chairman said Wednesday.
  • (Dow Jones) The world nickel market was in 54,100 metric ton surplus in 2008, the World Bureau of Metal Statistics said Wednesday. Mine production was down 1.3% at 1.54 million tons in 2008 while refined production fell 5.9% to 1.37 million tons due to lower mining output in China and Japan. Refined production in 2008 was 1.37 million tons and demand was 1.32 million tons. World demand fell 2.8% in 2008.

  The Chinese Wizards Seek Out Technology Metals In The Land of Oz - China's bid for Rio Tinto could be a game changing development, and it's only the beginning. - more

  Molybdenum miner Thompson Creek cuts production - Thompson Creek Metals Co Inc a producer of molybdenum, which is used in steelmaking, said on Wednesday it is cutting mill capacity by 30 percent and will temporarily idle two mines this year because of the current poor market. - more

  ArcelorMittal South Africa Says Profit to Decline - ArcelorMittal South Africa Ltd., Africa’s largest steelmaker, said first-quarter profit will “fall substantially” after domestic steel demand plunged and ferrochrome producers idled their plants. - more

  Taiwan's China Steel to cut prices by 14 pct in Q2 - China Steel, Taiwan's top steelmaker, said on Tuesday it will slash domestic prices in April and May on weak demand during the global downturn, but it expects a pickup on stronger demand from China. - more

  Shanghai construction steel price

  Chance of Australian recession rises as China seeks 30-50% price cuts to iron ore, coal - China could push Australia into cutting iron ore and coal prices by 30-50 per cent, increasing the likelihood of an Australian recession, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:40 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.04/lb lower but recovering from earlier lows. Except for copper, all base metals are trading lower, but quietly. Gold and silver are also trading lower, and NYMEX crude is flat. The Euro is trading about 1/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended slightly lower in overnight trading, while European markets are lower this morning. Dow futures show a slightly better opening for Wall Street, after another dismal trading day yesterday. The day is not getting off to a good start though, as US housing starts plunged deeper than expected,  down 16.8% in January. President Obama is scheduled to announce details of his mortgage relief plan in Arizona today. If you missed it last night, PBS Frontline carried "Inside the Meltdown" last night. Very interesting and very shocking just how close our economy came to a complete meltdown - video and story here 
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more
  • Opinion - You might get a kick out of the 'Top 30 Innovations of the Last 30 Years Slide Show' by NPR. Remember back when we used to think the "old days" was a time before the light bulb, tv and the telephone had been invented. Your kids think the same thing about the days before the internet, laptop and cell phones. (here)

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  "Screens were red across the board yesterday, as metals joined a variety of other markets in beating a hasty retreat. ... The uncertain situation surrounding the big-three automakers was arguably the main catalyst behind the weakness yesterday, particularly in the US stock market, which in turn led to spillover selling in commodities. The Dow Jones Industrial average closed down almost 300 points at a post-recession low of 7552, although significantly, it did not take out, (or test), its intraday low of 7450 reached last November. Look for increased volatility in all the markets in today's session, as in addition to reaction coming out of Washington with respect to the big-3 proposals, markets are also set to discount a housing plan to be proposed by President Obama. ... As we wait for pending developments, markets are in a somewhat calmer mode as of this writing, with copper up a bit, while the rest of the metals are down only slightly, with the exception of lead, which is very weak. ... We are currently at $9,725, down $175, and seemingly on track to test $9300 support." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Bloomberg) BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest mining company, agreed to cut the price of coking-coal supplied to Steel Authority of India Ltd. by 50 percent, CNBC-TV18 news channel reported today, citing Metal Bulletin.
  • (Bloomberg) Goldman Sachs JBWere cut its forecast .... for nickel was cut by 3.5 percent to $5.47 a pound in 2009, with a call of $6 in 2010, $6.38 in 2011, and $7.15 in 2012.
  • (Yieh) America exported 21.712 million tons of scrap in 2008, increased by 4.9 percent compared to the same period of last year.

  Govt to merge public mining companies by third quarter 2009 - The government has vowed to establish a holding company of state mining firms before the Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono administration ends its term on Oct. 20. - more

  Steel, Aluminum Shipment Decline Accelerates in U.S., Canada – Shipments of steel and aluminum products from U.S. and Canadian metals service centers, down sharply the last two months, fell at unprecedented rates in January, the Metals Activity Report from the Metals Service Center Institute shows. - more

  China firm on uniform iron ore cost - China won't accept different prices for Brazilian and Australian iron ore as it did last year based on freight rates. - more

  • China may cap steel output at 500 mln T -source - China will restrict steel production, force mills to move to coastal regions and ditch inefficient equipment under a draft proposal being discussed by the government, an industry source said on Wednesday. - more
  • China Feasts on Miners as ‘Bank of Last Resort’ - Wuhan Iron & Steel Group and Jiangsu Shagang Group Co., China’s third- and fifth-largest steelmakers, are shopping for iron ore mining stakes in Australia and Brazil, executives said in interviews. - more
  • China's top steel producers in 2008 - China is considering raising industry standards to force its mammoth steel sector to slim down and consolidate, leaving China -- the top producer and consumer -- with a few globally competitive steelmakers. - more

  EU Steel Prices Nearing The Bottom But Further Decreases Likely - Market sentiment remains depressed. The slightly more positive attitude witnessed at the start of 2009 has evaporated a month later. - more

  Japan Jan crude steel output falls by record 37.8 pct - Japan's crude steel production slid by a record 37.8 percent in January from a year earlier as the deepening global economic slump sapped demand for cars and other products. - more

  Jindal Steel Sees Demand Revival on Higher Spending  - Jindal Steel & Power Ltd., India’s second-biggest steelmaker by market value, forecast domestic metal demand may start recovering this quarter, aided by government infrastructure spending to spur economic growth. - more

  Steel chief sounds jobs alarm over carbon scheme -  Australia's second-biggest steelmaker says the Rudd Government's emissions trading scheme is likely to cause job losses and force new investments offshore. - more

  Takeover Rumors Fuel AK Steel Bullish Options Activity - Bullish options activity has spiked for AK Steel on rumors that it might be taken over by U.S. Steel. - more

  Forestry Permit Approved for European Nickel's Caldag Project - European Nickel PLC is pleased to announce the approval of the forestry permit (the "Permit") for its Caldag nickel laterite project in Turkey ("Caldag"). - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Feb 18 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Tuesday, February 17

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 49 to 1,895. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Asian Benchmark Stock Index Falls Most in Three Weeks on Economy Concern // Japanese Finance Minister Nakagawa Resigns in Fresh Blow to Aso Government // Bank of East Asia Has First Loss in at Least Four Decades on CDO Writedown // European Stocks Decline; Swedbank, UniCredit, Daimler, Raiffeisen Retreat // East Europe Banks Tumble, Leading Biggest Emerging-Market Drop in 3 Months // U.S. Stocks Drop on Concern Recession Deepening; Citigroup, JPMorgan Fall
  • The Euro is trading nearly 1-3/4% lower against the US Dollar, as fears of a deepening banking crisis sweep the European continent. NYMEX crude is trading under $35/bbl, down over 7%. On the other hand, gold and silver are up nearly 3%. Base metals trading in London got whacked today, some worse than others. Indicator charts show nickel traded at a new 2009 low, and spent the entire day in a stair-step decline. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $4.49/lb , still higher than its October 2008 trading low of $3.99/lb. An opinion piece out by CRU published by Reuters didn't help. The CRU author claimed current inventories of nickel are at 18 weeks of supply, and even though roughly 18% of the world's production of nickel has been cut, more will be necessary to bring the market to a more comfortable 10 week supply. Known nickel inventories are their highest since 1994, and today's Metal Bulletin headline "Hidden stockpiles may put further pressure on nickel price" probably raised a few eyebrows. CRU forecasts, without further production cuts, the price of nickel will average $6.12/lb thru 2009 and 2010, which in our opinion, is a fairly generous forecast. Overnight, LME stored inventories rose to within a stone's throw of 91,000 tonnes. Sucden's day old chart (here) shows a sleepy market for the last three days, but today's activities will show Mr Khamar probably should have left his downtrend line on the chart.  Edward Meir of MF Global has next support at $4.22/lb, and Mr Khamar of Sucden shows his next support at $4.35/lb. In the good news department, the Baltic Dry Index rose 49 points, erasing a three day decline. Asian and European markets ended lower, the US Dow is testing November 2008 lows, while the S&P has slipped under the important support level of 800.  Brutal day for many investors.

  Reports

  • Weekly Commodity Price Report - pdf here

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.11/lb  lower, off session lows, but struggling. Base metals are all trading lower this morning, while gold and silver are higher, gold up over 2%. The US Dollar is trading over 1-1/3% higher against the Euro as a Moody's report warned that Eastern European economic problems could have a negative effect on Western European banks. NYMEX crude is trading lower by nearly 2%, and under $37/bbl. In overnight trading, Asian markets fell sharply, and today European markets are lower. US futures forecast the Dow will open around 100 points lower after the Empire State Mfg Survey reading came in lower than expected. If you are looking for something besides gold that is up, look no further than the nickel inventories, which gained again overnight, and the Baltic Dry Index, that shrugged off the last three days of declines, and registered a gain. After yesterday's announcement of two more nickel mines closures in Australia operated by Norilsk, nickel related news is rather quiet today.
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  "Copper prices fell to their lowest level in more than a week on Monday, dragging many of the other metals down with it. The negative mood was set early on in the session after the rather miserable GDP numbers came out of Japan, which we referenced in yesterday’s note. Not helping matters either, was the fact that banking stocks were once again pummeled in the UK on renewed nationalization fears. In addition, recession fears continue to mount in countries outside of the West. In South Korea, for example, we had reports that January exports dropped by a record 33.8% from a year earlier, even worse than already lowered forecasts, while Russian industrial production slumped more than expected in January, plunging by an annual rate of 16% in December. ... We are currently at $10,100, down $195, and basically where we were at this time yesterday. Charts do not look that inspiring, suggesting that we are likely to push lower from here. We see next support at the $9300 mark." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) Taiwan’s China Steel Corp. (CSC) announced its domestic prices this afternoon. In reaction to opinions from downstream and the actual market situation, CSC has decided to reduce prices by 14 percent (NT$3,000/ton) on average. In addition, CSC’s new price list will be applied for April and May shipments, instead of the whole second quarter.
  • (Dow Jones) China imported 32.65 million metric tons of iron ore in January, down 5.4% from 34.53 million tons in December, preliminary data provided Wednesday by the General Administration of Customs showed.
  • from article 'This Just in: The Market Is Still Dead' by NY Times reporter David Carr - "The whole tidy ecosystem of cause and effect - the belief that there is something rational and meritocratic about high finance - has burned away along with the billions of dollars spent to bail out its chief practitioners. When the reporter on the radio says, “Stocks were down 2 percent on news that the jobless figures were worse than expected,” is there any reason to believe him?" - more
  • Three Top Economists Agree 2009 Worst Financial Crisis Since Great Depression; Risks Increase if Right Steps are Not Taken - more

  Realities Of Supply / Demand In Q4 / 08 Panicked Moly Oxide Price= Moly Surplus In Oct. - Dec. / 08 Is Thought To Be 17.5 Million Lbs. - The market price of molybdenum oxide in the fourth quarter (October - December) of 2008 had suddenly fallen steeply from US$30 per lb. of Mo at the end September of 2008 to US$8.75 per lb. of Mo at the end December of the same year, having broken the level of US$10. - more

  Steel and iron sector: "from scale to strength" - In 2008, China's steel and iron production growth experienced a course from increase to decrease. - more

  • World steel industry striving to pick up - Global steel output in 2008 was 1.3297 billion tons, a drop of 1.2 percent over 2007 and the first-ever decline in the past two decades since 1998, according to statistics released by the World Steel Association (worldsteel) recently. - more

  Iron ore prices set to double on demand from dragon land - How does one explain the more than doubling of the Baltic Dry Index, which measures dry bulk shipping rates on 40 global maritime routes, in the last five weeks? - more

  • DJ China Won't Accept Different Iron Ore Prices This Year-Assoc - China won't accept different prices for Brazilian and Australian iron ore as it did last year based on freight rates, a top China Iron & Steel Association official said Tuesday. - more

  Altos Hornos Profit May Fall 75% on Falling Demand  - Altos Hornos de Mexico SA, the largest steel maker in Mexico, said net income may fall by 75 percent this year as demand for steel “disappeared” domestically and abroad. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending February 14, 2009, domestic raw steel production was 1,083,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 45.4 percent. Production was 2,186,000 tons in the week ending February 14, 2008, while the capability utilization then was 91.6 percent. The current week production represents a 50.5 percent decrease from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending February 14, 2009 is up 0.3 percent from the previous week ending February 7, 2009 when production was 1,080,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 45.3 percent.

  Mining union leader warns of up to 50,000 job losses in S Africa - The head of South Africa's most powerful union has warned that up to 50,000 jobs could be lost in the country's mines this year through the financial crisis. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Monday, February 16

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 62 to 1,846. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) G-7 Says ‘Severe’ Downturn to Persist, Vows to Reverse Slump // Japan's Economy Shrinks at Annual 12.7% Pace, Most Since 1974 Oil Shocks // Asian Stocks Fall as Japan's Economy Contracts; Brambles Slides on Profit // Stocks in Europe, Asia Retreat; Lloyds Banking, Legal & General Lead Drop // U.K. Economy May Shrink 3.3% in 2009 in Worst Recession Since Early 1980s // Summers, Geithner to Oversee Auto Aid as Obama Decides Against `Car Czar' // GM Pushes Labor, Creditors as It Readies Request for Additional U.S. Aid // Consumer Prices May Post First Annual Drop Since '55: U.S. Economy Preview
  • The US Dollar traded higher against the Euro today, still around 3/4 of 1%. Electronic trading show NYMEX crude futures lower by 1-1/2%. Base metals ended lower, but off session lows. Indicator charts show nickel spent the session see-sawing up and down, after an early morning fall. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the session on the rise , but for the third day straight at $4.67/lb . The Baltic Dry Index slipped again, down 62 points and now 10% off its 2,055 high of last Wednesday. Inventories fo nickel stored in LME warehouses is quite a different story. With an additional 1000+ tonne Friday, figures jumped above the 90,400 tonne mark today. During the last 7 reporting days, LME warehouses have taken in 500+ tonne shipments each day, with 3 of these days being over 1000+ tonne receipts. This has brought nickel inventories up from approximately 84,000 tonnes, to just over 90,400 tonnes since the 5th of this month. Sucden's day old nickel chart has not been updated since Friday. And Norilsk Nickel announced today it was shutting down its remaining two nickel mines in Australia. The directors of SLN were supposed to make an announcement Friday evening in Paris about what, if any, changes in production they might be making in their New Caledonia operation, but so far, nothing has hit the wires or their website.      
  • Week ahead - Big week for US reports, and considering all the dire forecasts being published, it could be either a gloomy week on Wall Street, or much less so, if the analysts have gone too pessimistic. The market is ravenous for some good news and any evidence the economic decline is slowing. On Tuesday, we get the Empire State Mfg Survey, followed by a bombardment of reports starting on Wednesday. On that day, we get Housing Starts, Import and Export Prices, and Industrial Production numbers. On Thursday, we get the Producer Price Index, Jobless Claims, Leading Indicators, and the Philly Fed Survey. And the Consumer Price index report rounds out the week on Friday. President Obama will sign the $787 billion federal stimulus package into law in Denver on Tuesday. If you want to read it, we posted a link under reports. President Obama is supposed to announce the details of a foreclosure-prevention program on Wednesday. The market will also be looking for more details on the bank rescue plan that US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner vaguely announced last week.

  Reports

  • CBS Special - Could "Buy American" Rule Spark Trade War? - with video and story - here
  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 - final version here
  • A Forecasting Model That Integrates Multiple Business and Stock-Market Cycles - pdf here (final chart - here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (MF) According to General Administration of Customs, China has imported 3,973.81 mt molybdenum concentrates in 2008, falling 63.11% y-o-y, and import volume of concentrates contracted 40.94% to 218.21 mt in December.
  • China's Jinduicheng Molybdenum Group Co, China's largest producer of molybdenum and producer of approximately 7% of the world's supply, reported full-year net profit fell 13 % YOY, due to the falling price of molybdenum.
  • (Reuters) The International Business Daily, a Chinese-language newspaper run by the country's Ministry of Commerce, said the "Buy American" provisions of the law had aroused strong international opposition. "Before Obama picks up his pen to sign this, he must seriously weigh that 'buying national goods' may 'bring a national calamity'," it said.
  • Politically expedient, economically disastrous - more
  • Federal obligations exceed world GDP - Does $65.5 trillion terrify anyone yet? - more
  • The Electric Car Battery War - more
  • Low oil prices are not translating into low gas prices - more
  • Olympics-Vancouver hits button on 2010 Games - more
  • Super-rich yet super-losers - more

  Table - Steel output set for first annual fall in over a decade - The world steel industry is this year braced for the first output fall in more than a decade as capacity usage remains in the doldrums and consumers stay away from the market, a Reuters survey showed. - more

  We got a few responses from last week's posting of the Shanghai construction steel index, so we will periodically post an update. Thru today (will be interesting to see if this continues to correlate with the BDI figures)

  China blocks subsidy challenge from SA - SA’s first legal bid to protect itself against unfairly subsidised imports from China has been thwarted, under what appears to have been undue pressure from the Chinese government. - more

  Germany probes radioactive steel exported by India - Germany is investigating 150 tonnes of steel items imported from India which were contaminated with radioactivity, the Der Spiegel news magazine said in a report to be published in its Monday issue. - more

  Iron ore traders turn cautious on steel price weakness - The recent steel price weakness, particularly the Chinese domestic HRC, has taken its toll on the upstream raw material prices, traders said Monday. - more

  Rio Tinto says floods impede iron ore mining - Iron ore unloading and export operations by Rio Tinto Ltd in far west Australia's Pilbara region were being impeded by heavy rains and high winds, a company spokesman said on Monday. - more

  The sad saga of a mining venture gone east - And that, dear children, is the sorry story of Oz Minerals. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:40 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.12/lb lower, as are all base metals. US Dollar is trading much higher against the Euro, by 3/4 of 1%. US markets are closed today for a US holiday. In overnight trading, China markets ended nearly 3% higher, but the Asian market overall, fell in dismal economic news out of Japan. European markets are trading slightly lower. We expected news out of New Caledonia to be the headline story today, but so far, no news from Eramet on any change in their nickel operations there. Instead, Norilsk shut down its two remaining nickel mines in Australia, and nickel inventories stored in LME warehouse rose over the 90,000 tonne mark over the weekend. The BDI is down for the third consecutive day. We find it interesting that Norilsk has pretty well shut down all of its overseas operations, but still maintains its Russian operations. Miners might keep that in mind when Russian buyers come calling in the future.
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more
  • Metals Insider - $1 trillion? What else, Mr Geithner? - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - "It is a different story on Monday, where we are seeing sharp declines across the board, as dreary macroeconomic news continues to buffet prices. In this regard, the latest news to hit the markets came from Japan, which reported that fourth-quarter GDP fell by 3.3%, equivalent to a 12.7% drop on an annualized basis. This contraction is the largest since 1974, and succeeded in hitting the Shanghai markets fairly hard. A stronger dollar, now trading at four-month highs against the Euro at 1.2750, and rising LME stocks, are additional factors behind today’s weaker tone in metals. ... Things should be relatively quiet in the US today, as the Presidents’ Day holiday has shut the major exchanges, and no major releases are out either. ... We are currently at $10,100, down $325. Charts do not look that inspiring, with a short-term up channel (marked in red) evidently broken, and prices on track to push lower. We see next support at the $9300 mark, and do not expect to see prices to hold up at the psychologically significant, but technically inconsequential, $10,000 mark."(read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (JMB) Nisshin Steel Expands Stainless Production Cut - Nisshin Steel expands the production cut of stainless steel making at Shunan to averaged 60% from 50% before. The production cut is as much as 80% in temporally when the shop operates only 2-3 days a week
  • Japan Economy Shrinks 12.7%, Steepest Drop Since 1974 Oil Shock - more
  • Europe's industrial base may never recover from crisis - more

  Norilsk suspends Australian nickel production - Norilsk Nickel is suspending production at its last two active mines in Australia, the final victims of an economic crisis that has brought the Russian miner's entire Australian network to a halt. - more

  Baoshan Increases Stainless-Steel Production as Demand Recovers - Baoshan Iron & Steel Co., China’s second-biggest stainless steel producer, is increasing output as building demand improves because of China’s 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) stimulus plan. - more

  Anglo’s Kumba Says Iron Ore Prices to Fall 20 Percent - Anglo American Plc’s Kumba Iron Ore Ltd. unit said prices of the steelmaking ingredient may fall 20 percent this year, less than forecast by analysts, as the global financial crisis curbs demand. - more

  Crisis affects nickel plants in Iligan City, Misamis town - More than 200 workers could lose their jobs after the Platinum Group Metals Corporation (PGMC) announced the impending closure of two of its plants in Iligan City in Lanao del Norte and Manticao town in Misamis Oriental. - more

  China’s Minmetals to Buy OZ Minerals for $1.7 Billion  - China agreed to buy Australia’s debt- laden OZ Minerals Ltd. for A$2.6 billion ($1.7 billion), gaining copper, zinc and gold mines in Asia less than a week after acquiring assets from Rio Tinto Group. - more

  Inda: Govt to raise tariffs on steel products imports - Brazil - Brazil is about to raise tariffs on steel imports, according to steel distributors association Inda president Christiano Freire. - more

  Will Kremlin bail out an Oregon steel plant? - During their recent heyday, Russian billionaires bought far-flung companies, London mansions, massive yachts and private jets.- more

  Trillion dollars. So how much is a thousand billions, or a million millions? If you had opened a business on January 1st, 0001, and had lost a million dollars every day since, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, you wouldn't lose a trillion dollars until the year 2738. Sometime between your 31st and 32nd birthday, you will celebrate your 1 billionth second of being born. You would have to live till you were 31,500 years to celebrate your trillionth second. Consider this. Much of Christendom believes God created the world a mere 6,000 years ago.

And the US government. To date, they have put American's in debt ..... $10,799,270,000,000 as of this morning

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Weekend Briefing, February 14 & 15

  Photo of the Murmansk Shipping Company owned 'Monchegorsk' cargo ship (here) which Norilsk denies is the same ship as the 'Monchegorsk' now docked in Cyprus after its Iranian arms cargo was seized (here). (Opinion - While it seems most everyone except Norilsk thinks these two ships are one in the same, we are seeing the huge difference in the official American response today compared to what it would have likely been under the prior US administration. In what could have easily been headline news here in the U.S. just a  few months ago, this story has been mostly limited primarily to blog coverage and foreign press, with nearly non-existent media coverage here in the country.)   

  Mirabela Nickel Ltd owns 100% of the world class Santa Rita nickel sulphide project  (Brazil) .... Santa Rita is the largest nickel sulphide discovery world-wide in the last 12 years. Construction of a 6.4 mtpa nickel sulphide concentrator commenced in November 2007. Construction is now about 80% complete and the project remains on track to commence production mid 2009. The plant will produce 18,500 tpa of nickel in a sulphide concentrate from one open-cut mine starting from mid 2009 increasing to 27,000 tpa by mid 2010. At this rate of production the project will have a mine life of at least 20 years. (pdf drill results)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Australia - Townsville Bulletin reports production at BHP billiton’s Yabulu nickel refinery was partially shutdown last week due to heavy rains and that nickel ore processing had been suspended temporarily.

  • MySteel - Taiyuan Steel has decided yesterday to raise its high carbon ferrochrome purchase price from its January level by CNY 300 to 400 per base ton to CNY 6664 to CNY 6700 per base tonne for February.

  • What are the prospects for commodities in 2009? - more

  • There's a Better Way to Lay Off Employees - more

  Reports

  (Monday alert - This could be your big nickel news item for Monday - or not, depending on what was announced.)   SLN at the time of choice - Tonight in Paris, the board of directors of SLN reveal its anti-crisis measures. - translated version here  original French here

  Morowali residents demand compensation from PT Inco - Residents of Bahodopi district in Morowali, Central Sulawesi, have demanded that nickel producer PT Inco pay them compensation as part of a settlement for their confiscated community lands. - more

  Xstrata Nickel issues statement on deal with Local 598 - This statement from Xstrata Nickel was e-mailed to The Sudbury Star in response to the newspapers request for comment: - more

  Base metal stocks cheap, but no bargain- Rock-bottom valuations and a huge investment by China would seem to bode well for the future of Canadian base metals stocks, but market pros are still wary of wading into the hard-hit sector. - more

Friday, February 13

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 81 to 1,908. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Asian Stocks Gain on Speculation Governments Will Widen Stimulus Measures // Toyota Plans Wage Freeze, Buyouts in North America as Output Cuts Increase // French Economy Shrank Most Since at Least Three Decades in Fourth Quarter // Europe's Economy Shrinks Most Since 1995 as ECB Considers Deeper Rate Cuts // Stocks in Europe Advance for First Time in Four Days; ThyssenKrupp Gain // Home Prices in U.S. Slide 12%, Most on Record, as Foreclosures Drain Value // Consumer Confidence in U.S. Plunges as Job Losses Mount, Home Values Fall // U.S. Stocks Drop on Concern About Bank Losses; Wells Fargo Shares Retreat (TopNews) Euro-zone economy amid its deepest downturn; posts record 4Q contraction (Globe & Mail) Canada - Home sales fall by 41 per cent
  • NYMEX crude oil is trading 1-1/3% higher to near $34.50/bbl. The US Dollar is now trading lower 1/2% against the Euro. Both gold and silver are trading lower. Base metals ended mixed. Indicator charts show nickel fell early, then spent most fo the afternoon climbing, peaking at about $1.2/lb higher, when all the gains were erased in a kerb collapse. For the day, Dow Jones, reports three month nickel ended the day even at $4.67/lb , down $55/lb for the week, down $.21/lb for the month, and up $.03/lb on the year. The BDI fell for its second consecutive day, slipping 81 points to 1,908. For those who watch the BDI reading closely, its rise was welcomed like a breath of fresh air in an otherwise, foul smelling market. Now that it has fallen for two days straight, traders are looking at the bottoms of their shoes to see if they accidentally stepped in something. Much too early to give up on this reading, or say this change is anything more or less than a correction. Nickel inventories stored in LME warehouses, have now risen over the 89,000 tonne mark. Sucden's day old chart (here) shows a new TL1 line added, but the market's actions today will reflect the market stayed closer in line with the unnamed downtrend line.  
  • Have a safe and relaxing weekend!!

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Nickel prices may have reached a point of relative stability, barring another sudden global financial shock, says Deutsche Bank. Says stainless steel production was declining since the fourth quarter of 2006 therefore nickel producers had more time to address the supply surplus. Forecasts nickel to be in an 8,900 ton surplus in 2009, down from a forecast 58,200 ton surplus in 2008. Expects nickel to average $8,074/ton in 2009 down from an average of $21,263/ton in 2008.
  • (Dow Jones) South African miner Hernic Ferrochrome (Pty) Ltd Operations Director Jasper Pieters - "I've spoken to some stainless steel producers and they don't see their production going above 60% or 70% for the whole year" compared to around 50% currently, said Pieters. "I don't know where the push will come from for more sales. I'm very pessimistic about the outlook for ferrochrome," he added.
  • (CS) China Minmetals Corp, the country's largest metal trader, will pursue the overseas mergers and acquisitions route this year to shore up growth, its President Zhou Zhongshu said yesterday
  • (Dow Jones) German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp AG expects further steel and stainless steel production cuts in the second quarter after orders fell in the first quarter, Chief Financial Officer Ulrich Middelmann said Friday.
  • (China) In response to low operating rate from stainless steel mills, the ferrochrome market is quiet and is full of wait-and-see atmosphere. Limited demand forces low carbon ferrochrome to take a tumble.
  • Corporate executives overpaid, undertaxed - more

  Hernic to Keep Ferrochrome Furnaces Shut If Prices Fall Further - Mitsubishi Corp.’s Hernic Ferrochrome Ltd., which shut the last of its four furnaces in January, will keep the plants closed in the second quarter if the stainless- steel raw material’s price drops further. - more

  China's metals move a bright spot for sector - China's blockbuster deal to invest $19.5-billion (U.S.) in Rio Tinto Group bodes well for Canada's resource-driven economy as it shows the world's largest commodities consumer is betting on a faster-than-expected recovery in metals demand. - more

  S&P revises outlook on MMC Norilsk Nickel to negative - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services has revised its outlook on the Russian metals and mining company OJSC MMC Norilsk Nickel to negative from stable, the ratings agency said in a statement. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:35 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.07/lb   higher. US Dollar is trading slightly higher against the Euro, while NYMEX crude is virtually unchanged at $34.00/bbl.  Gold and silver are trading lower, and base metals are mixed, but mostly quiet and higher. Asian markets ended higher overnight, European markets are trading higher this morning, and US futures forecast a quiet opening on Wall Street. The Baltic Dry Index retreated again overnight, while nickel inventories continue to rise. Gross domestic product in the euro zone plunged 1.5% during the final quarter of 2008, the statistical agency Eurostat reported today.    

  Nickel Drops for a Fourth Day on Speculation Demand Will Weaken - Nickel declined for a fourth day in London on speculation demand will deteriorate as stainless-steel makers run down inventories of the metal until economic growth revives. Copper and aluminum also retreated. - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  The most important overriding negative, however, is the fact that practically all markets are trying to assess how effectively the recent bank rescue package proposed by the Treasury Secretary will take root given that its core component is a private-public partnership. No doubt, the markets were anticipating a much cleaner plan, hoping that the government would be more aggressive in buying toxic assets outright. Nevertheless, as we wrote yesterday, there are no clear win-win policy prescriptions here, as we are in many ways operating in the dark, needing the benefit of time and patience (as well as lots of trial and error) to see this crisis through. This is why we think most commodity markets will continue to drift within sideways trading ranges for much of the year, as getting out of this economic morass will be neither quick nor easy. Metal prices are mixed as of this writing in very quiet trading, with copper showing a modest bounce, while there are slight losses seen in the rest of the group. ... We are currently at $10,362, up $72, and quiet, but as we noted yesterday, the short-term up channel has been broken, and we expect to see a drift towards the bottom end of the trading range marked by $9,000 support." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • 2/5 - Mr. Kevin Ji, chief analyst at Ningbo, days after the Chinese returned from their week long holiday - "The global nickel industry seems to be pinning much hope on post vacation Chinese demand, yet we are feeling pretty desperate right here."
  • U.S. Steel said it will temporarily stop production at its East Texas tubular plant near Lone Star, because of a drop in demand and the cheaper imported steel product. 1200 production and salaried workers could be affected by the shutdown - more
  • (MB) French crude steel production down 46.7% in Jan
  • (Xinhua) 2008 Nickel Production Up 11.2%, Consumption Up 17.9%
  • (SBB) Market sentiment for ferrous scrap is bearish in Asia and most regional trading sources tell Steel Business Briefing that they expect scrap import prices to slip further because of weak international markets.
  • Nippon Steel Corp. said Thursday that it will slash the February wholesale price of H-beams by more than 30 per cent, its first price cut in three and a half years on this key steel product used in construction. - more
  • Seven years of wealth gains gone - more
  • 25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis - more
  • Laid-Off Foreigners Flee as Dubai Spirals Down - more
  • Global demand for oil faces biggest contraction since 1982 - more
  • Don't hope for discounts - more

  Scotia China Update - (quote) There are three intertwined trends for the Chinese economy – seasonal (the current and next few months), cyclical (the current and next few years), and secular (the current and next few decades). We are currently a seasonal bull, a cyclical bear, and a secular bull. - more

  • China’s Economy Shows Signs of Recovery on Stimulus - China’s economy is showing signs that a 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) stimulus package is taking effect. - more
  • China Wants Bigger Ore Price Cuts From BHP Than Vale - China, the world’s largest buyer of iron ore, will demand a bigger cut in prices from BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group than from Brazil’s Cia. Vale do Rio Doce after shipping costs plunged, the nation’s steel association said. - more

  Steelmaker ThyssenKrupp 1Q net profit falls 59 pct - Steelmaker ThyssenKrupp AG said Friday its net profit slid 59 percent in the last three months of 2008 because of a steep drop in orders amid the global financial crisis, and warned it may cut more jobs. - more

  Crowflight Ships First Concentrate From Bucko Lake Nickel Mine to Become Canada's Newest Nickel Producer - Crowflight Minerals Inc is pleased to announce that it has shipped its first nickel concentrate from the Bucko Lake Nickel Mine (Bucko) located near Wabowden, Manitoba. - more

  Bad economy delays construction of Michigan mine by Rio Tinto unit- An international mining company says it is delaying development of a proposed nickel and copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula because of the bad economy. - more

  Global Steel Recovery May Take Months, Fletcher Says  - Global steel demand may take at least six months to recover when the U.S. job market improves and people resume buying cars and home appliances, said Paul Zuckerman, head of New Zealand’s second-biggest steelmaker. - more

  Andritz receives major order for a new stainless steel plant in Malaysia - International technology Group Andritz received an order from Bahru Stainless SHN BHD in Malaysia, a joint venture between Acerinox S. A., Spain and Nisshin Steel, Japan for the supply of stainless steel strip processing equipment including acid regeneration. - more

  Norilsk Nickel Statement – According to the information published recently by a number of Russian and foreign mass media, the “Monchegorsk” container ship with the Russian crew was detained off the Cyprus coast. This Cyprus flag ship allegedly cruised between Iran and Syria with a doubtful cargo. - more (related story - here)

  • Russian Antitrust Authorities Oppose State Involvement in the Metals Industry Merger - As worldwide demand for metal plummets, Russia's top metals producers are finding that bailouts aren't enough. - more

  Electrolytic Chrome Metal Production In Western World May Become Nil = Production In USA Is Suspended By March 2009 - Eramet of France announced recently that, while Eramet Marietta Inc., a subsidiary of Eramet in the USA, has been producing electrolytic chrome metal at the US plant, this production will be suspended by March of 2009 for an indefinite period. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Feb 13 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Thursday, February 12

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 66 to 1,989. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Asian Stocks Decline on Doubts U.S. Stimulus Measures Will Revive Growth // Australia's $28 Billion Stimulus Package Defeated After Tied Senate Vote // Pioneer, Forecasting a Wider Loss, Will Cut 10,000 Jobs, Quit TV Business // South Korea Cuts Interest Rate to Record-Low 2% as Economy Nears Recession // European Stocks Slide for Third Day; EDF, Diageo, Rio Tinto Lead the Drop // Bini Smaghi Says Investor Mistrust of Banks May Spread to Government Bonds // Fixed-Rate 30-Year Mortgages Fall to 5.16% as Purchases Drop, Freddie Says // Obama Stimulus Not Enough to Avert Worst GDP Drop Since 1946, Analysts Say // Retail Sales in U.S. Unexpectedly Rise 1%; Unemployment Rolls Reach Record // U.S. Stocks Extend Global Drop on Jobs Data, Concern Stimulus Plan to Fail (MarketWatch) Jan. foreclosures climb 18%, but fall from December
  • The US Dollar continues to trade higher against the Euro, by abut 7/10th's of 1%, while NYMEX crude continues to trade lower, by 8/10th's of 1%. Gold is now trading 1% higher, while silver has crawled back up to even. Base metals, except for tin, ended lower in LME trading today. Indicator charts show three month nickel started sliding out of the gate, fell about $.15/lb, then bounced back in kerb trading. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $4.67/lb . The BDI took an unexpected turn south, while stocks of nickel stored in LME warehouses continue to head north. Based on Sucden's day old nickel chart (here), today's trading kept under the new TL1 line, yet broke the TL1 support of $10,350/tonne, that Mr Khamar notes. Sucden's RSI and SStoch readings still show nickel somewhat oversold, while Ed Meir's daily report, which resumed this morning, shows the metal only slightly oversold. Technical's and fundamental's aside, while there are positive signs out there, the negative signs seem to be getting darker, and its unnerving the markets. After weeks of hearing analysts and Congressmen telling the public that the country was nearing catastrophic conditions, new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's presentation on Tuesday unnerved the market with its lack of specific's. Now that the Obama stimulus package has passed and appears destined for the president's desk, those who say it will not make any difference, are starting to speak up. And no one apparently wants to talk about the budget deficit. The newswires picked up the Berong mine closure today, which we reported on Monday. We'd be curious to be in Vale's strategy meetings these days. They have watched BHP get massacred in the Australian media after closing the Ravensthorpe mine, and are now watching the bad media that Xstrata is getting in Canada. With two large very nickel operations set to come on line this year, Goro in New Caledonia and Onca Puma in Brazil, there has to be some worried members at the Vale headquarters. For the most part, considering it is the second largest producer of nickel in the world, Vale has been fairly quiet about their nickel operations, when compared to smaller operations. Last fall, they announced they would suspend Onca Puma's start up till July of this year, and in December they suspended production at the Copper Cliff mine. Besides announced pull back's on exploration, and a one month shut down at Voisey's Bay, they have been fairly quiet about their other worldwide nickel operations. Will be interesting to see if they can stick to their initial plans.   

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Reuters - Industrial output (in India) unexpectedly fell 2 percent in December from a year earlier, the second fall in three months and sharply below November's downwardly revised 1.7 percent, data showed on Thursday. The median forecast in a Reuters poll of economists was for industrial output to rise by 1.3 percent.
  • CDT - In China, exports have been hit by the biggest percentage decline since October 1998 with a 17.5% drop.
  • Russia - The Vologda Oblast is the worst-affected region in Russia. It is a classic example of a region where one production industry dominates all others. About 40% of the regional budget's tax revenue comes from OAO Severstal, whose parent company, the Cherepovets Iron and Steel Works (CISW), is located in Cherepovets, the economic centre of the oblast. The role of Severstal is not limited to paying taxes and providing jobs. In line with our old Soviet tradition, as well as Putin's principle of corporate social responsibility, Severstal supports social projects not only in Cherepovets but throughout the Oblast. As a result, the Vologda Oblast is one of the most economically and socially developed regions in the country. The crisis began in October. Falling prices on the international market and a drop in orders led the CISW to cut production by a quarter. According to the local media, by the end of 2008 the Cherepovets employment centre had learned that 7,000 people had been laid off. 5,600 of these were from the metallurgy industry. - source
  • US Budget Deficit courtesy EconpicData - chart  Treasury Budget - chart  (rather sobering)
  • Boomers – Your Crisis Has Arrived - more

  Industry sources say premium steel has maintained its market value - Steel's inflated price caused concern throughout the last two years, but with global economic growth slowing, Petrochemicals Middle East assesses the impact for downstream players. - more

  (AISI) In a letter to the Congressional Leadership and members of the Conference Committee working on reconciliation of Senate and House versions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), Committee on Pipe and Tube Imports (CPTI), Steel Manufacturers Association (SMA), and the Specialty Steel Industry of North America (SSINA) urged them to “maintain strong Buy America language” in the final stimulus bill “to ensure those funds stimulate our economy by putting our workers back to work.”

  • U.S.Legislators Reach Deal On "Buy American" - Congressional negotiators have reached a deal on controversial "Buy American" provisions of a huge economic stimulus bill that address concerns of some U.S. trade partners, a senior Democratic lawmaker said on Wednesday. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:35 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.05/lb  lower. Except for tin, other base metals are also trading lower.  Gold is slightly higher this morning, while silver has slipped. The US Dollar is trading 1/2 of 1% higher against the Euro, and NYMEX crude is down nearly 1% and under $36/bbl. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, although Australia and New Zealand pulled off gains.  Across the pond, European markets are lower this morning, and US futures predict a lower opening for Wall Street. The Baltic Dry Index dropped overnight , its first decline since Jan 19th, and slipped back under the 2000 mark. Nickel inventories stored in LME warehouses, however, continue to grow. The big story in the metals industry today is Chinalco's multi-billion dollar deal with Rio Tinto. We find it interesting that Rio Tinto's chairman designate Jim Leng and Chinalco's president Xiao Yaqing both resigned over this deal, which makes us wonder if there is a story here yet to be told.

  Nickel Drops for a Fourth Day on Speculation Demand Will Weaken - Nickel declined for a fourth day in London on speculation demand will deteriorate as stainless-steel makers run down inventories until economic growth revives. Copper and aluminum also retreated.- more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  "LME metals are lower as of this writing, as prices continue to retreat, led mainly by copper. ... Another reason metals have not been doing very much over the last few days, (while this writer was traveling), is attributable to the general disappointment markets have exhibited with respect to the bank rescue package. Certainly, the lack of specifics about how the core part of the package (the public-private partnership) is supposed to work unnerved the markets. Participants were clearly hoping for a simpler and more explicit government commitment to take toxic assets off bank balance sheets. Markets now find themselves in a position to fathom how long -- or if -- this more circuitous approach will work. Unfortunately, given the unique dimensions of this crisis, there are no historical signposts to guide us, and the government instead finds itself making up policy on the fly. Yesterday’s news that the U.S. House and Senate reached a quick tentative compromise on the stimulus bill did not do much for markets either, as this likelihood was fairly well discounted. ....We are currently at $10,250, down $155, as prices continue to take out the short-term up channel. We now seem to be drifting back towards the bottom end of the trading range marked by $9000 support. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Interfax) Chinese steel mills may not be able to negotiate the large drop in 2009 iron ore contract prices that they were hoping for with the world's top three suppliers due to a recent jump in consumption, industry insiders told Interfax on Feb. 12.
  • (CM) China imported 870,000 tons of steel products in January, down 38.7 percent year on year, and exported 1.91 million tons, down 53.8 percent on year, according to statistics from China Customs.
  • (SBB) Stainless steel maker Acerinox has yet to finalise plans for production stoppages in Spain due to diminishing demand
  • (Lloyds) Japanese steel mills JFE Steel and Nippon Steel Corp have offered South Korean Shipyard Hyundai Heavy Industries a 46% cut in the price of steel plate, writes Mike Grinter. The larger-than-expected price cut means that new supplies will cost about $700 per tonne, down from $1,310 per tonne.
  • (Reuters) Euro zone industrial production plunged by a record amount in December, data showed on Thursday, pointing to a deepening recession in the single currency area and adding to arguments for a deep ECB rate cut next month.
  • Australian Employers Unexpectedly Add 1,200 Workers - more
  • Surviving the Depression: True tales of the 1930s - more
  • New U.S. jobless claims drop - more

  Philippines' Berong halts nickel output, cuts 600 jobs - The Philippines' Berong Nickel Corp said on Thursday it has temporarily stopped nickel production amid poor demand and falling prices and has cut more than 600 jobs. - more

  HRB prices revisit the bottom - The bi-monthly SteelBenchmarker™ United States hot-rolled band (HRB) spot price for Feb. 9th dropped 3.5 percent to $554 per metric ton, FOB the mill, for the 13th consecutive decline. - more

  Chinese producers, traders receive more moly offers from overseas - Chinese steelmakers, ferromoly producers and trading houses continue to receive offers from Western traders this week on their interest to sell their molybdenum oxide to China, according to local sources Thursday. - more

  Mitsui OSK sees recovery signs in China steel market - Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd (9104.T), operator of the world's biggest fleet of bulk carriers for shipping iron ore and coal, said the sea freight rate for capesize bulkers had hit bottom in December. - more

  Chinalco to invest $19.5 billion in Rio Tinto - Chinese state-owned aluminum group Chinalco will invest $19.5 billion in miner Rio Tinto in a deal that will secure resource supplies for China and help cut Rio's debt but also raise regulatory scrutiny. - more

  • China deal top overseas investment in Australia miners - Debt-laden Australian miner Rio Tinto will sell $12.3 billion in asset stakes to Chinalco and raise a further $7.2 billion by issuing China's top aluminium maker convertible notes to cut debt, the global miner said. - more
  • Chinalco president steps down - The president of Chinese aluminium giant Chinalco has stepped down before the expected completion of a multi-billion dollar deal with Rio Tinto. - more
  • Miner Rio Tinto's strategy looks full of holes - Rio Tinto shareholders should dig deep into the details of its $20 billion refinancing on Thursday. If not satisfied, they should demand a different deal. - more

  Xstrata workers resigned to layoffs - They came by the hundreds to vent their anger, frustration and anxiety, but at the end of an intense meeting Wednesday, many laid-off Xstrata Nickel miners acknowledged their job losses appear irreversible. - more

  • What now of a merger? - On July 21, 2006, we said in this space that the Xstrata takeover of Falconbridge and what was then expected to be a Phelps Dodge takeover of Inco was a "merger poised for (the) worst case," with two foreign-owned companies taking over divided assets in Sudbury. - more
  • Remembering - Jim Tucker was an outdoors man and larger than life on the job site - James Tucker, a mining contractor, was quite a character. - more

  South African Mine Output Falls to Lowest Since 2000  - South African mining production fell to its lowest level since 2000 last year as power shortages, safety-related shutdowns and falling prices cut into output of gold, platinum group metals and diamonds. - more

  Norilsk CEO says no merger discussions, only ideas - Norilsk Nickel is not in "concrete discussions" about creating a Russian mining giant in which the Kremlin would own a stake, although ideas have been proposed by shareholders, the company's chief executive said. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Feb 12 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Wednesday, February 11

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 81 to 2,055. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China's January Exports Fall 17.5%, Most in Almost 13 Years, on Recession // Asian Stocks Decline on Concern Obama's Bank Plan Won't Ease Credit Crisis // Pound Declines, Gilts Surge as BOE's King Says U.K. Is in `Deep Recession'  // ECB Policy Makers Signal March Rate Reduction, Reluctance to Move to Zero // European Stocks Fall on Peugeot Loss, Bank Concern; Danone, Barclays Drop
  • NYMEX crude is trading nearly 1% higher, but still under $38/bbl. The US Dollar is now trading higher against the Euro, by about 1/2 of 1%. Gold and silver had big days, both gaining over 3%. Base metals ended mixed, with nickel's leading loss for the day not telling the whole story. Indicator charts show nickel opened in the cellar this morning, and climbed slowly thru much of the trading day, before slipping some at days end. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $4.72/lb , but the technicals are not as weak as the drop in price may reflect. Barclay's noted today "Further weighing on weakness was the release of Chinese preliminary trade numbers for January, which generally painted a picture of continuing weakness in external and domestic markets." The numbers out of China were disappointing, and with many looking to this country to be the most critical trigger in pulling the world out of recession, news they are suffering as deeply as the rest of us, hits especially hard. In the good news column, the Baltic Dry Index rose again and rolled over the 2000 mark. As we mentioned in our earlier report, nickel inventories rose overnight and now read more than 88,000 tonnes. Sucden's Nimit Khamar, on his day old nickel chart (here), finally gave up on all the trendline's he had yesterday, although we are not sure why he took off the downtrend TTL2, which seemed to be following the last few days fairly well. Both the RSI and SStoch readings at the middle of Sucden's chart, reflect the nickel market ended yesterday heavily oversold, and today's indicator chart, showing a recovery from a very low opening, indicates some traders are watching this.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (taken from report by unknown Chinese author) China stainless steel output in 2008 fell 3.56% to 6,943,000 tons. Self-sufficiency rate rose 5.64% to 81.24%. 300 series stainless steel output stood at 3,508,600 tons, down 7.6% YOY, and 50.53% of total stainless steel crude production. 400 series stainless output increase 1.3% YOY to 1,862,400 tons, and accounted for 26.82% of stainless production. 200 series stainless continues to gain market share, growing 6.29% YOY to capture 22.64%, at 1,862,400 tons. Apparent consumption in China of stainless fell 5.17% to 6,240,000 tons. Imports of stainless steel into China fell 28.59% to 1,212,500 tons, while exports from China fell 18.88% to 1,056,600 tons. Author made 4 points to findings of statistics. #1 The drop in imports and exports was dismissed as a indicative of the overall world economic slowdown.#2 Ferritic production continues to grow market share as Chinese producers develop new "super-ferritic stainless steel, duplex stainless steel, super duplex stainless steel, super austenitic stainless steel and corrosion resistant alloys" products. #3 Self suffiency rate increases respectively with goal to increase further. #4 Author is very concerned about growth rate of 200 series stainless and makes four points why. While China and India are the two primary producers of 200 series stainless, China is very concerned that the world's largest producer, India, has seen its market share of 200 series slip from 80%+ to 61% because of "serious problems" and revised India standards to deal with these corrosion problems. Author si concerned that while the so-called experts of 200 series stainless are cutting back on production, China's production continues to grow. Secondly, author is concerned about the use of some of the produced 200 stainless in China, specifically the ignorance of stainless surface standards. Author states "these surfaces do not look out of the wide plate is easy to use to industrial areas and public works areas, so users will have serious consequences and incalculable loss." Third, China canceled the new standard 200 sheet standard series. Fourth, with the collapse in nickel prices, 200 series has become far less price competitive, and in some cases, more expensive than 300 series.
  • National Bureau of Statistics released data showing that in December 2008, the consumer confidence index fell 2.9 points to 87.3, the fifth consecutive month it has dropped. (comment - it has dropped 5 months and it is still 87.3?!)
  • (Dow Jones) U.S. nickel imports rose 21.0% in December from last month, and/but was up 2.7% from the previous year, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
  • (Dow Jones) U.S. nickel exports rose 1.5% in December from the previous month, and was up 105.2% from the previous year, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
  • US Trade in Goods - graph here

  Metals Insider: Contrarians bet on LME minnow - Global manufacturing activity is imploding, stocks of surplus metal are rising and LME prices are languishing. Right ? Well, mostly right. - more

  • Markets glum on US crisis action, steel in distress - Financial markets recoiled on Wednesday after US economic rescue moves left investors bewildered and skeptical, and data revealed plunging demand for steel, cars, and oil in the global crisis. - more

  Severstal Q4 steel output drops 48 pct from Q3 - Severstal, Russia's largest steel maker, produced 48 percent less crude steel in the fourth quarter of 2008 than in the preceding three months after cutting output on lower demand, the company said on Wednesday. - more

  Xstrata Nickel is expected to disclose today if it will consider a job-sharing program to help lessen the blow of nearly 700 layoffs at its Sudbury operations. - more

  • Past to haunt base-metal producers - The fact that commodity prices were hit hard in the fourth quarter is no surprise to anyone. Molybdenum had it the worst, falling 53%. Oil followed with a 51% decline, copper was down 49%, nickel fell 43%, aluminum dipped 34% and zinc dropped 33%. - more
  • Xstrata Layoffs in Sudbury: Short-term Financial Gain and Long-term Hiring Pain - by Stan Sudol - Global commodity prices have fallen off the cliff. ThyssenKrupp AG, Germany’s largest steelmaker, recently stated that not since the end of the Second World War has the demand for steel fallen so rapidly. - more

  China Iron and Steel Association wary about Buy-American plan  - China's steel industry is keeping a wary eye on the Washington's Buy American plan, as it could see sales hurt if imported steel is excluded from infrastructure projects funded by a USD900 billion stimulus package. - more

  Mining companies just waiting for market to turn - Despite increasingly gloomy forecasts, the mining economy in Northwest B.C. is still active. - more

  • Deep Freeze for Canadian Commodities - One of the worst places for performing markets on the planet over the last year is the TSX Venture Exchange. - more

  New steel plants face the axe - The Viet Nam Steel Association (VSA) has asked the Government to halt steel projects that are not part of the Steel Development Plan over worries about oversupply. - more

  Last Friday we posted a graph showing construction steel prices in China over the last few years. Here is the same chart, but looking at this year changes only. Notice the decline in price this week.

  Poll results

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:40 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.10/lb lower, but rebounding from a low opening. Base metals are mostly lower in thin trading as traders liquidate positions after being disappointed by the stimulus package going thru the US Congress. Gold and silver are trading higher, NYMEX crude is slightly higher, and the Euro is trading 1/3 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, and this morning, European markets are trading mostly lower. US futures show a slightly more positive opening, suffering a 4-1/2% drop yesterday, after the announced bank rescue plan disappointed investors.  The volatility index rose to 48 yesterday, its highest so far reading this month. The Baltic Dry Index rose and rolled over the 2000 mark. Nickel traders must be scratching their heads these days wondering where all the nickel is coming from considering the number of mines that are shut down. Nickel inventories stored in LME warehouses rose over the 88,000 tonne mark overnight.      
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Nickel-Major market developments in January - Global nickel prices will weaken further unless more output cuts are made to offset falling demand and prevent the market from recording a supply surplus for the third consecutive year, analysts say. - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - From MF Global - "Our analyst Edward Meir is away at a commodity conference and will be unable to produce his report until Thursday."
  • (ACNB) Nickel sector weakens below Moving Average (MA), with 50-day MA trailing its 200-day MA
  • (Interfax) China exports 1.91 mln tons of steel products in January, down 40 pct month-on-month
  • (CM) China's output of the 10 main nonferrous metals hit 25.2028 million tons in 2008, up 8.2 percent year on year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
  • (AP) ArcelorMittal SA, the world's largest steel maker, reported Wednesday its first ever quarterly loss, at $2.6 billion, during the fourth quarter as it wrote down the value of assets amid collapsing demand.
  • (Yieh) According to China’s official customs data said on Wednesday, China’s steel exports in January dropped 40 percent on the month to 1.91 million tons, which reached the lowest in nearly 3 years. Exports were also down by 54 percent on year-on year basis.
  • (TASS) “Norilsk Nickel” is founding its own airlines “Taimyr” and is planning to invest $10 mln into its development in 2009, Yuriy Golovin, the Head of Transport Direction of the company announced at annual Adam Smith event in Moscow. - more
  • (China Daily) Analysts differ on recovery timing - more
  • (RIA Novosti) The global financial crisis has slashed the total wealth of Russia's top ten billionaires by 66% to $75.9 billion in the last 12 months, a leading Russian financial magazine said on Wednesday.
  • Rep. Kanjorski: $550 Billion Disappeared in “Electronic Run On the Banks” - video here

  Commodity Prices Likely Bottomed, West Australia Says - Commodity prices, down 62 percent from last year’s record, have probably bottomed as mining companies cut production and stockpiles decrease, said Colin Barnett, premier of Western Australia state. - more

  • Mining Indus May Start To Recover Near End-09 - There is likely to be recovery in the mining industry, which has been hit by falling demand and sharply lower metals prices, toward the end of this year, a partner at Ernst & Young said Wednesday. - more

  No silver lining for global metals CEOs says PricewaterhouseCoopers  - A difficult economic climate, plummeting demand and lack of access to credit are just some of the difficulties facing global metal CEOs today. - more

  Crisis spoils Carnival for Brazilian mining towns - Towns in mining-rich Minas Gerais state are cancelling plans for Brazil's most celebrated holiday, Carnival, as the global financial crisis takes a toll on public coffers and local employment. - more (in our opinion, while money is tight, Vale stepping in here to make sure these laid off miners and families get at least 'some' of their holiday festival, would be money well deserved and spent.) 

  DJ China Jan Steel Exports Lead Rout In On-Mo, On-Yr Metal Trade - Chinese steel exports fell 54% on year in January, leading a rout in on-month and on-year metal trade that saw sharply lower imports of steel, iron ore and copper, and shattering the growing hope the steel industry was poised to recover, after two months of registering surprise on-month increases in iron ore imports.  - more

  • China's steel industry benefits from stimulus, support plan - Excess capacity, low industrial concentration and a lack of access to natural resources have long plagued China's steel sector. - more

  Community furious about Xstrata layoffs - Many Sudbury residents are furious that Xstrata Nickel laid off 686 workers Feb. 9 given an anti-layoff agreement the Swiss company signed in 2006 when it took over Falconbridge Ltd. File photo. - more

  • Clement misled by mining firm, critics say - Industry minister Tony Clement is under fire for taking credit for a foreign mining giant's pledge to spend $290-million (U.S.) in Sudbury, Ont., to offset massive job cuts, because the company had already committed to spending the cash. - more

  Minara pulls out of WA nickel projects  - Minara Resources has pulled out of two Western Australian nickel joint ventures with Gryphon Minerals. - more

  • Premier: nickel and lead different - The export of nickel through the Esperance Port will cease if it poses a threat to public health, Premier Colin Barnett told some 200 concerned local people on Sunday. - more

  Russian Metals Surge on Signs of Chinese Demand - Russian metals and mining stocks climbed for a seventh day after Morgan Stanley upgraded steelmakers and metal prices climbed on signs demand is returning in China. - more

  Licence requirement for import of hot-rolled steel likely to go - The government may soon remove licensing restrictions on imports of steel hot-rolled (HR) coils, as the commerce ministry’s decision is being widely viewed as “an unfair, unnecessary deterrent” to trade, a senior steel ministry official said today. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending February 7, 2009, domestic raw steel production was 1,080,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 45.3 percent. Production was 2,186,000 tons in the week ending February 7, 2008, while the capability utilization then was 91.6 percent. The current week production represents a 50.6 percent decrease from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending February 7, 2009 is up 7.4 percent from the previous week ending January 31, 2009 when production was 1,006,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 42.2 percent.

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Feb 11 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Tuesday, February 10

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 159 to 1,974. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Chinalco Said to Be in Talks to Invest as Much as $20 Billion in Rio Tinto  // Asian Stocks Fall on Concern at Slowing Growth, Credit Risks; Orix Drops // European Stocks Fall on Economy Concerns; Kazakhmys, Commodity Shares Drop // GM Will Cut 10,000 Salaried Jobs Worldwide, Reduce Pay in Bid to Keep Aid // Geithner Offers Up to $2 Trillion in U.S. Programs to Unlock Credit Market // Stocks Drop, Treasuries Advance on Skepticism Over U.S. Bank-Rescue Plan //
  • US Dollar is trading 1/3 of 1% higher against the Euro, while NYMEX crude is trading lower by 1%, and back to $39/bbl. Gold and silver are trading higher after the new Bank Rescue Plan disappoints market. Base metals all ended lower with nickel taking the big hit of the day, down 6%. Indicator charts show three month nickel started falling ni pre-market trading, attempted an afternoon recovery, that failed late. Dow Jones reports nickel ended the day at $4.89/lb . Nickel inventories rolled over the 87,000 tonne mark overnight, and the Baltic Dry Index is quickly approaching the 2000 mark. Posted articles below both bullish, and bearish, on the BDI readings, so pick your poison. Sucden's day old chart (here) will show trading actually came closer to following the new TTL1 line that Mr Khamar added yesterday, and ended today between this line and the TL2 line. Official prices, which we are not allowed to post, show nickel moved out of contango and into backwardation, at least for a time (description of terms here). The Senate passed the Obama stimulus package as expected, and now it goes back so the Senate and House can work out their very large differences. The TALF plan to replace the TARP plan has not impressed the trading man, and markets worldwide reacted negatively. In fairness to the Obama administration, the market has reacted the same way the last 8 times the government announced a plan to curb this economic crisis. Might have something to do with any confidence in the government being somewhat shakened by this whole affair. Of course, it never helps when every Congressperson seems to be in front of a camera these days, either saying passage of the new plan will lead our country into disaster, or failure to pass the plan will cause the same scenario. The only thing they both seem to agree on, is they have our country situated on the edge of a very tall cliff. Not exactly the most comforting thing to hear from your national leaders.
  • Numerous video's on the web from onlookers around the CCTV tower fire in Beijing, but this one interested us. Video 1 shows the start of the fire on the roof of the building in the right foreground amongst the firework demonstration (here), video 2 shows the fire spreading quickly (here) and video 3 shows the building fully engulfed, which regretfully, took the life of a firefighter (here).  Raw video of brushfires in Australia that have taken over 200 lives. Firefighters were fighting in 118 degree temperatures on Sunday in one area. (here) Home video by one who stayed and fought (here)

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (ME Steel) Russia completed a safeguard investigation into imports of stainless steel pipes. It is proposed to impose a 28.1 import duty on stainless steel pipes from all sources, excluding Belarus and beneficiaries of the Russian GSP programs, but including China and Brazil.
  • South African Samancor forecast world demand for ferrochrome will shrink by 1 million tonnes in 2009, a decline of 4.5%.

  BHP ‘must not’ dismantle mine - The State Government would not allow the Ravensthorpe nickel plant to be dismantled, Colin Barnett warned yesterday after BHP Billiton admitted that closing the $2 billion operation was an option. - more

  • Ailing miner calls in the doctor - You have to applaud the gumption of the board of Global Nickel Investments — rumours of a radical switch in business plan have bubbled away for weeks, and now the details have emerged. - more

  Baltic Dry Index, Winning Streaks and China - The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) has been making news lately after its impressive performance over the last few weeks. - more

  • China and the Baltic Dry Index - What's Really Going On? - I'd like to write a comprehensive entry about the recent love for all things China and commodities in the past few days. - more

  INDABA '09: Commodities outlook - As expected, no one appears to be too convinced about the outlook for commodities. - more

  Interesting 2008 import figures from China. Top 3 exporting countries to China.

  • Ferrochrome - Kazakhstan (45.7%), South Africa (42.4%), India (7.9%)
  • Chrome Ore - South Africa (33.1%), Turkey (17.3%), Oman (8.7%)
  • Ferronickel - Columbia (42.8%), Japan (16.4%), New Caledonia (12%)
  • Ferromolybdenum - North Korea (97%)
  • (thru November) Nickel Ore - Indonesia (61%), Philippines (31.9%), New Caledonia (2.4%)

  Laterite ore price to China

  • Indonesian (.09-1.1% nickel content) ore to China  in USD - Today ($26-28/WT), Feb 2008 ($47.50/WT), Feb 2007 ($55-60/WT)

  Unions push for a 'Buy Canadian' policy - Union leaders were on Parliament Hill Tuesday pushing for the federal government to adopt a "Buy Canadian" policy before it rolls out its $40-billion economic stimulus package. - more  union statement here (the plot we commented on Feb 5th thickens)

  Norilsk Nickel Surges After Antitrust Agency Opposes Merger - OAO Norilsk Nickel, Russia’s biggest mining company, climbed the most in almost three months after Russia’s antitrust agency said it wouldn’t support a merger of Norilsk with other metals and mining companies. - more

  Poll

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:35 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.20/lb lower, but recovering from earlier losses. Other base metals are trading lower, as are gold and silver. NYMEX crude is up nearly 4% this morning and at $41/bbl. The US Dollar is trading higher against the Euro, by around 1/4 of 1%. So far, Tuesday has been quiet in world equity markets. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended slightly higher, while this morning, European markets are slightly lower. US futures imply a lower opening, but with Treasury chief Tim Geithner announcing a new financial system rescue plan, Congress voting on the Obama stimulus package, and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke testifying before the House Financial Services Committee, all today, the market could get interesting. According to a WTO report, China was unable to knock Germany from the top exporter spot last year. The BDI continues to climb, as do nickel inventories. Brushfires continue to ravage Australia, with the death toll now well over 200.  

  Copper, Aluminum, Nickel Fall as Lower Usage Boosts Inventories - Copper, aluminum and nickel declined in London as the global economic slowdown reduced demand for industrial metals used in buildings and cars. - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - From MF Global - "Our analyst Edward Meir is away at a commodity conference and will be unable to produce his report until Thursday."
  • (Interfax) Jinchuan Group, Asia's largest nickel producer, has raised its ex-works price for refined nickel by RMB 2,000 ($292.70) per ton, according to a company announcement on Feb. 10.
  • (Bloomberg) Senator Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, said on the Senate floor Feb. 3. “Nobody knows what went out of the Federal Reserve Board, to whom and for what purpose. How much from the FDIC? How much from TARP? When? Why?”
  • (FT) The US Mint sold 92,000 ounces of its popular American Eagle coin last month, almost four times that which it sold a year ago and more than it shipped during the whole of the first half of 2007.
  • (Yieh) It is reported that Xiyang Group, after accredited by the ministry of industry & information technology, plans to start the construction of its stainless steel project in Changxi recycling economy demonstration area in the 2nd half 2009.
  • (Interfax) China's producer price index (PPI) shrank by 3.3 percent on an annual basis in January this year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced on Feb. 10.
  • Job Losses in US #3 (putting yesterday's charts in perspective) - image here
  • Rush for ships feeds hope of revival in commodities - more
  • (Reuters) Germany was the world's biggest goods exporter for a sixth straight year in 2008, staying just ahead of China by shifting nearly $1.5 trillion worth of merchandise, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said on Monday. "Our estimate (of the amount of goods sold) for China is $1,428.5 billion, and for Germany, $1,463.2 billion," WTO chief economist Patrick Low told Reuters by telephone.
  • (Reuters) China's car sales in January fell 7.76 percent from a year earlier, official data showed on Tuesday, as the country's economy slowed, but month-on-month sales improved bolstered by the government's policy incentives.

  Xstrata Nickel layoffs break agreement: CAW president - Xstrata Nickel's announcement of 578 permanent layoffs of CAW Local 598 members at its Sudbury operations is devastating news for workers, their families and the greater Sudbury area, CAW president Ken Lewenza said Monday. - more

  Nickel mine closes on low metals prices - A mining company has filed for a notice of temporary closure and retrenchment before the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). - more

  Steel prices continue upward march - Domestic steel prices have increased for 12 consecutive weeks since mid-November 2008, according to statistics from steel consultancy website mysteel.com. - more

  • Asian Average Carbon Steel Prices - Latest Forecast From MEPS - Asian average flat products transaction values are expected to show only modest increases during February. - more
  • China’s Iron Ore Stockpiles Gain at Ports as Demand Increase - Stockpiles of iron ore at major ports in China, the world’s largest buyer of the steelmaking material, have gained 7 percent since the end of the Lunar New Year holiday as mills boost imports. - more

  Russia's Mechel gets $1 bln Gazprombank credit line - Russian miner Mechel has received a $1 billion credit line from Gazprombank to help it repay short-term debt, Mechel said on Monday. - more

  • Russia Regulator Opposes Mining Merger, Official Says  - A proposed merger between OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, OAO Metalloinvest, Evraz Group SA and three other metal and mining companies would be opposed by Russia’s antitrust regulator, a senior official at the watchdog said. - more

  Continental Nickel sees Tanzania exports from 2014 - Canada's Continental Nickel Ltd sees its new nickel mine in Tanzania starting to export its output by 2014, the company's chief executive said on Monday. - more

  EU slaps 25 pct dumping duty on Chinese wire rods - The European Union has imposed temporary antidumping duties of up to 25 percent on imports of Chinese-made steel wire rods, but will not put extra tariffs on other Chinese steel products, the EU's Official Journal said. - more

  Indian Iron-Ore Prices May Double on China Revival - India’s iron-ore export prices are expected to double from last year’s low as China, the world’s biggest steel producer, raises purchases, an industry group said. - more

  Iron-Ore Price May Fall Less Than Previously Forecast - Brazilian and Australian iron-ore prices will likely fall less than previously forecast this year as China continues “propping up” demand, Credit Suisse Group AG said - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Feb 10 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Monday, February 9

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 173 to 1,815. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Nissan to Cut 20,000 Jobs, Forecasts $2.9 Billion Loss as Car Sales Slump // Asian Stocks Fall as Share Sales Fuel Funding Concerns; Suncorp Plunges // China's Worst Drought in Five Decades May Persist Into March, Center Says // European Stocks Rise for Second Day; Shares of Hammerson, Barclays Advance // Europe Finance Chiefs Concerned as Spain, Italy, Greece Pay More to Borrow // General Motors, Chrysler May Be Placed in Bankruptcy to Protect U.S. Loans // U.S. Stocks Fluctuate as Insurers, Energy Companies Rise; Hartford Climbs // Australian Bushfire Death Toll Rises to 166 as Police Probe Possible Arson
  • The US Dollar continues to lose ground against the Euro, trading down 8/10 of 1%+. NYMEX crude rose earlier, but has returned to nearly flat territory. Gold and silver are off 2% and 1-1/2% respectively. Base metals were - well, base metals for all practical purposes could have gone untraded today from Friday's close, and the results after today's trading would have been nearly the same. Nickel started higher in pre-market trading, thanks to overnight China trading, but fell back into line with Friday's close fairly quickly. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $5.22/lb . Nickel inventories stored in LME warehouses rose dramatically over the weekend, now nearly 87,000 tonnes. Ed Meir from MF Global is at a conference all week, so no morning updates until Thursday. The Baltic Dry Index continues to rise. Sucden finally updated their day old nickel trading chart (here) which verify's our statement last Thursday that trading had fallen below their TL1 line. They have since added a downtrend TTL1 line, but we feel this line will mean much over the next week. Xstrata announced two major mine closures in Canada, and Toledo advises its laterite nickel Berong Mine in the Philippines has halted production. Mine closures are a single edged sword to the miners that worked there, and the closure means they have lost their livelihood. To the trader, they are a double edged sword. Mine closures are as clear a supply disruption as you can get, which can give a boost to commodity fundamentals. On the other hand, there is a reason they close, and when supply far exceeds demand, as it is these days, it signifies a belief on the part of mine management that the near term outlook does not look favorable. This can easily add downward pressure on those traders who do not trade by the day, but look to the future for profits. Large fires are in today's headlines, with a spectacular 44 story fire burning down a brand new Beijing, China luxury hotel (here) with no reports of casualties, to a horrific string of wild brushfires (at least 24) that have now claimed over 166 lives , and destroyed over 700 homes in southeast Australia.  (more) This country has had more than its fair share of bad news lately. Entire towns devastated economically by mine closures. Now entire towns being devastated by fire. Our hearts go out to you Australia.   

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Dow Jones) JP Morgan analyst Michael Jansen - "Investors and traders are desperate for a bullish move to cling onto..... Unless the economic environment returns to a form of synchronized global growth then restocking will peter out relatively promptly - March-April perhaps."
  • (Business News) Initial study results into Heron Resources' Kalgoorlie nickel project has estimated capital costs at $US1.5 billion ($A2.2 billion) and a projected mine life of 34 years. A prefeasibility study conducted by earn-in partner Vale Inco, a wholly owned subsidiary of Brazil's Vale, indicated a project producing 36,000 tonnes of mixed nickel cobalt hydroxide product, through a high pressure acid leach process. Using that processing method, operating costs have been pegged at $US4.42 per pound using an exchange rate of US75 cents.
  • (Beijing News) A strange phenomenon occurred with electrical poles being used in in the city of Kaili, in Guizhou Province, during this year’s snowstorm disaster. While older poles have remained standing, as many as 90% of new poles put in place during a recent reconstruction of the rural power grid failed. It was discovered that more than 10,000 of the broken poles were lacking steel reinforcement. High-level officials at the Southern Power Grid Co., furious at the news, have ordered an investigation.
  • (Reuters) Canada's Continental Nickel Ltd sees its new nickel mine in Tanzania starting to export its output by 2014, the company's chief executive said on Monday.
  • China ‘Seriously Concerned’ That India Is Blocking Its Exports - more
  • A Looming Battle for the Arctic? - more
  • Why Analysts Keep Telling Investors to Buy - more
  • Job Loss Comparison to past recessions Part 2 - image here

  China steel prices at nine-week high, iron-ore demand congests ports - China stocks rose, led by metal shares. The Shanghai Comprehensive Index advanced 1.99 percent to 2224.71. - more

  Baltic dry freight up 10.5 pct, new 3-month high  - The London-based index, which gauges prices to ship resources like iron ore, cement, grain, coal and fertilizer on major export routes, rose to 1815 points from 1642 on Friday. - more

  Metals to stage mid-term surge - The drastic decline in commodity prices was only a temporary setback in a long-term bull market, said Kevin Norrish, director of commodities research at Barclays Capital. - more

  • Iron ore contract prices may dip up to 30 pct in 2009 - Iron ore contract prices are likely to fall by as much as 30 percent this year and be flat next year after the financial crisis led to a decline in demand from steel makers, a consultant said on Monday. - more
  • Metal prices to remain weak in 2009, could rebound in Q4: Calyon - Metals prices are seen remaining weak in 2009, but are likely to rebound by Q4 2009 as financial markets anticipate strengthening growth in 2010, Calyon said in a Commodities 2009 Outlook report Monday. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around even , and while the other base metals are mixed, they appear to be trading very quietly. Gold and silver are lower, while NYMEX crude is trading less than a penny higher. The Euro is trading 2/3 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. Asian markets ended slightly lower overall in overnight trading, with China and India gains overshadowed by a fall in Japan. European markets are slightly lower, and US futures show a slightly lower opening. BDI is up again, as are LME nickel inventories. More nickel miners are losing their jobs in Canada and the Philippines, and Australia, already hard hit by lay-off's, has lost 135 people killed in wildfires that are ravaging the state of Victoria. Nissan announced it was slashing 20,000 jobs, and all eyes are on the US Senate and  any progress on Obama's stimulus package.     
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  From MF Global - "Our analyst Edward Meir is away at a commodity conference and will be unable to produce his report until Thursday."
  • (Asia Pulse) POSCO, the world's fourth-largest steelmaker, said Saturday that it will cut the price of stainless steel beginning this month, reflecting a fall in nickel prices. The price of hot-rolled stainless steel 300 series, which is used to make kitchen utensils, will be lowered to 3.15 million won (US$2,288) per ton, while that of cold-rolled stainless steel 300 series will be reduced to 34.2 million won per ton, it said.
  • (Interfax) Baoshan Iron and Steel Group (Baosteel Group) was China's largest steelmaker in 2008, despite a drop in crude steel production by 1 percent year-on-year to 35.44 million tons, which accounted for 7.08 percent of the total national crude steel output, according to figures released by Mysteel on Feb. 9.
  • (Hurriyet) The Chinese-owned mining company Shougang Hierro Peru is to invest $1 billion to expand production at its plant in southern Peru by 10 million tons per year, the company's chairman said Saturday.
  • Industrial commodities to recover in 2010: EIU - more
  • China’s Exports May Fall by Most in Decade as Demand Dries Up - more
  • Job Loss Comparison to past recessions - here   (source)
  • Stimulus will lead to 'disaster,' Republican warns - more
  • The new Travelodge hotel made out of shipping containers - more
  • China - Autos: Small car sales boom in Jan on tax cut - more
  • Economists: Rising unemployment a key challenge for China - more

  Xstrata restructures Sudbury ops, cuts jobs - Mining group Xstrata Plc will restructure its Sudbury nickel operations in Canada and cut 686 permanent jobs there after a collapse in metals prices, the firm said on Monday. - more

  • Xstrata Sheds Jobs as Canadian Nickel Mines Shut Down - Xstrata Plc, the largest exporter of coal used by power plants, will shed 686 jobs as it shuts two Canadian nickel mines following a slump in demand and stops developing a new property. - more
  • FNX Canceled $100 Million Credit on Higher Interest  - FNX Mining Co., the Canadian miner that sells nickel and copper ore to Cia. Vale do Rio Doce, said it canceled a $100 million line of credit because the borrowing cost has risen too much. - more

  Barnett in Esperance over nickel export concerns - The Premier Colin Barnett has met about 200 Esperance residents to discuss their concerns about his government's plan to continue the bulk handling of nickel at the local port. - more

  • Rescuers brace for more bushfire horror - more
  • Fire threatens coal mines - more

  DJ Toledo Mining Corp: Berong Nickel Mine Production Reduced - Toledo Mining Corporation said Monday that for the quarter ended December 31, 2008, at the Berong Nickel Mine only 16,279 tonnes of ore was mined and hauled to the coast. - more

  • Toledo Mining slashes nickel output, cuts jobs - Toledo Mining responded to falling nickel prices by slashing production of the metal at its Berong mine in the Philippines. - more

  Chinese get resources green light - Significant deals have been given the green light and mining giant Rio Tinto has confirmed it is in strategic talks with a Chinese major. - more

  • Iron Ore Rebounding as Vale, BHP Face Cuts From China - Iron ore is recovering from a three- year low just as Cia. Vale do Rio Doce, Rio Tinto Group and BHP Billiton Ltd. start talks with Asian steelmakers to set prices for annual supply contracts. - more

  LME chases the dragon  - U.S. unemployment is rising fast, German manufacturing orders are sinking equally fast and the cries of pain from the global automotive industry are becoming  ever louder. - more

  • Rio reveals shock exit - Jim Leng, the chairman designate of Rio Tinto, has confirmed that his shock resignation from the board of the mining giant just weeks after his appointment is over his opposition to the sale of assets to China as part of its debt reduction strategy. - more

  And Then There Were None - Norilsk Nickel Loses Value As Takeover Pressure Mounts - The Agatha Christie story of 1939 started with a title and a children’s rhyme that are no longer printable for their racist connotations. But the LME markets last week shrugged off these signs of what the Bank of England called "a severe and synchronized downturn" in the global economy to focus on just one country, China.  - more

  ThyssenKrupp May Say Net Fell on Weaker Steel Demand: Outlook - ThyssenKrupp AG, Germany’s largest steelmaker, may say this week first-quarter profit plummeted 69 percent as demand for the metal slumped at the fastest rate since World War II. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Feb 9 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Friday, February 6

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 144 to 1,642. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Asian Stocks Gain on Government Policy Optimism; Westpac, Mizuho Advance // Hong Kong January Luxury Home Sales Surge 31% as Lower Prices Lure Buyers // Sharp Will Post First Loss in Five Decades, Eliminate 1,500 Temporary Jobs // Stocks in Europe Rise as Stoxx 600 Erases Its 2009 Decline; BNP, LVHM Gain // Bank of England May Start Buying Commercial Paper Next Week to Lift Credit // U.S. Jobless Rate Rises to 16-Year High of 7.6%; Payrolls Fall by 598,000 // Stocks in U.S. Climb on Speculation Job Losses to Spur Action on Stimulus // Brazilian Stocks Advance on Bank Speculation, Commodities; Bolsa Climbs // Australian Central Bank Cuts GDP, Inflation Forecasts, Says Rates to Help
  • The Euro continues to trade higher against the US Dollar, up 8/10 of 1%, while NYMEX crude is trading lower by nearly 4%. Gold is down a tad, while silver is up over 1%. Base metals, helped by the falling dollar, all end higher on the day. Indicator charts show three month nickel opened higher and spent the day trading within a very thin range. Dow Jones reports nickel ended the day at $5.22/lb . The Baltic Dry Index had another good day, up 144 points. We posted a few articles below giving two perspectives on why. Nickel inventories, after spending a rather quiet week, suddenly jumped overnight, and now total well over 85,000 tonnes.
  • Thanks to all the Canadian readers who wrote yesterday and appreciated our feeble attempt at humor. Yes, there are truckloads of famous American's who hail from Canada, but we could only list a few. Canada is a great nation and we are very proud to call ourselves neighbors. We especially appreciated the photo of Pamela that someone had taken and superimposed a miner's helmet and very small Canadian flag tattoo on. We would post it for our readers, but would rather keep our "safe for work" rating. Speaking of safe for work, but not much more than that, is it just us or does the the banner on the top of this anti-Russian page show some of the prettiest faces you ever saw? (here) Can you imagine your daughter bringing home one of these guys for dinner? Well she didn't, yet, so relax, and have a safe weekend!!
  • Amazing audio tape of a very calm pilot in a life and death emergency situation - audio
  • We could vote for this NY Congressman just to watch him grill government agencies (watch the video) - here

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • China Commodities Weekly for the Week of February 1-4, 2009 - more
  • Renaissance Capital - 'An increase in dry freight rates has suggested to investors that demand for iron ore, and as a consequence, steel, is improving as China restocks following production cuts.'
  • U.S. Steel lays off another 159 workers at Lone Star facility - Plant has cut about 240 jobs this year
  • AK Steel has called back 525 hourly workers at its Ashland Works as the company prepares to restart the blast furnace there.

   Dry-Bulk Shipping Demand Is ‘Meaningful,’ Baltic Says - Costs to ship dry-bulk commodities, after doubling this year, are climbing on “meaningful” demand, the Baltic Exchange’s top executive said, cautioning that new vessels may cap gains in the year ahead. - more

  • Shortlived cheer? - News that the Baltic Dry Index enjoyed its biggest rise in 24 years with a hefty 14% rise on Thursday has brought much cheer to beleaguered dry bulk shipping stocks. - more

  BHP mine mire uncovered as Ravensthorpe post-mortem continues - A town's hope is gutted while the blame game continues. It was towards the end of a long and traumatic day on January 21 that Brenda Tilbrook remembers top BHP Billiton executive Jimmy Wilson approaching her as he was about to leave the small West Australian town of Ravensthorpe. - more

  China Construction Steel Prices from January 1, 2007 to today

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.07/lb higher, with all base metals trading higher at the moment, along with gold and silver.  The Euro is helping metals, trading 1/5 of 1% higher against the US Dollar, while NYMEX crude is adding downward pressure, trading over 3% lower. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended solidly higher, and European markets are trading a little higher this morning. US futures show a potential higher opening, albeit slight, after the US unemployment figure jumped to 7.6% this morning. MarketWatch reports "Nonfarm payrolls fell by a seasonally adjusted 598,000 in January after a revised loss of 577,000 in December, the government said. It's the largest payroll loss since December 1974, according to a survey of workplaces. Payrolls fell by 597,000 in November."
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - "LME metals lost ground again yesterday, as gloomy macroeconomic data out of the US, coupled with the inability of several metals to push above key resistance points, set off a round of selling by midsession. ... All this seems to be forgotten only 24 hours later, as metal prices have staged an about-face, and are barreling higher, this despite weaker energy prices, an unchanged dollar, and gloomy macro statistics. ... Against such a backdrop, we find it difficult to explain today’s strength in metals. The good showing in the Chinese markets overnight may have something to do with it, where perceptions are jelling that copper imports will remain strong again this month on the back of government buying programs. More likely, is the fact that metals may be discounting an imminent passage of the stimulus bill by the Senate. The Senate is expected to pass the measure later today after some procedural issues put the vote off last night. ... We are currently at $11,600, up $150, and surprisingly quiet so far today; prices remain mired in the middle of the trading range." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Reuters) - “There are obviously some signs of life,” an LME trader said of the economic picture. “But that's like saying there are some signs of life when the patient is dying of cancer - we don't know whether this is sustainable or a normal restocking exercise.”
  • (Financial Times) Shipping brokers said the recovery (in the BDI) was more a correction from the extreme fall between October and December of last year, helped by a pick up in Chinese demand for iron ore, than a sign that the world has emerged from the financial and economic crisis.
  • (Imarex) Omar Nokta at Dahlman Rose weighs in on dry bulk: Rising steel prices this week are the culprit in our view. Since the end of the Chinese New Year holidays earlier this week, Chinese rebar and hot-rolled coil have gained roughly $30/ton to reach $580/ton and $610/ton respectively—their highest levels since October. This morning however steel prices are up modestly compared to the larger gains seen on Tuesday and Wednesday. Sustainability in the steel price rally remains to be seen beyond the next few days. Thus far it appears the steel price firmness comes as a result of reduced stockpiles and heavy buying volume as traders return to work following the New Year break. Chinese steel output had begun to increase in December, although other consumption figures, including auto production, remain on a downtrend.
  • (Tass) Customs: Russia’s nickel exports down 1.02% on year in 2008
  • (Interfax) Iron ore stockpiles at China's 22 major ports stood at 59.1 million tons on Friday, Feb. 6, up 1.3 percent from Jan. 23, while Indian iron ore stockpiles increased by 6.16 percent to 13.44 million tons, according to figures released by Shanghai-based Mysteel.
  • China's economy set to power up in 3rd quarter - more
  • Stimulus won't bail out metals - more
  • Can hybrid or electric cars explode? - more
  • Industrial commodity prices to fall further - more

  POSCO cuts stainless steel prices by 14 pct - South Korea's POSCO, the world's No. 4 steelmaker, said on Friday it had cut stainless steel prices by up to 14 percent in its second price reduction in six months to reflect falling input costs and weak demand. - more

  China's Imports Of Stainless Steel Scrap In CY 2008 Decreased= Reflecting Reduced Production Of Stainless Steel And Oversupply Of Nickel - According to the customs-statistics released in last week in China, this country imported 308,986 tons of stainless steel scrap in the calendar year (January - December) of 2008, having decreased by 19.2% compared with that (381,672 tons) in the preceding calendar year of 2007. - more

  German Steel Industry With Deepest Order Decline Since WWII  - The German steel market suffered the deepest downturn since World War II in the fourth quarter of 2008, industry association Wirtschaftsvereinigung Stahl said Friday. - more

  Isabela mine shuts down, lays off workers due to nickel price plunge - Plunging prices of nickel have forced a mining company in Isabela province to discontinue operations. - more

  Nickel refinery's still well on track - Times might be considered tough and likely to get tougher, but for the men behind Gladstone Pacific Nickel business keeps rolling on. - more

  EUROFER warns: US Senate’s amendment on Buy American Bill does little to remove the negative effects on EU industry - The vote in the US Senate simply recognizes that the USA is a signatory to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), a plurilateral agreement at the WTO, and as such it has an obligation to keep its government procurement programmes open to the other signatories. - more

  BHP still in cutback mode as losses mount - BHP Billiton's diversified portfolio is likely to take another hit if commodity markets continue to weaken. - more

  Trouble for mining equipment makers just begun - Companies that supply heavy equipment to the mining and energy industry are slashing production, slashing jobs and slashing forecasts as weak metal and energy prices put the brakes on new machine orders. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Feb 6 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Thursday, February 5

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index -  plus 182 to 1,498.  (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Asian Stocks Fall on Renewed Recession Concern; Qantas Tumbles, BHP Gains // Bank of England Reduces Benchmark Rate to Lowest Since Foundation in 1694 // European Stocks Drop, Paced by Swiss Re, Unilever, Porsche, Deutsche Bank // Jobless Claims in U.S. Soar, Productivity Rises as Companies Slash Workers // Stocks in U.S. Gain, Led by Tech Companies, Regional Banks; Akamai Climbs
  • NYMEX crude is trading quietly today, and in the green but just barely. The Euro is now trading higher against the US Dollar, but by around 1/10th of 1%. Gold and silver are still trading higher, gold up 1/2 of 1% to $910.90, silver up nearly 2%. Base metals all ended lower. Indicator charts show three month nickel fell before the opening bell, climbed into the green in early trading, then collapsed during the afternoon, before a late rally limited losses. Trading was limited to around $400 tonne, from the daily high to low. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $5.18/lb ($11,425/tonne). The BDI had another big day, and nickel inventories stored in LME warehouses rose slightly. Sucden's day old chart (here) show the TL1 uptrend line, which today's trading, saw nickel fall thru. MF Global's Ed Meir has support at $9300 and resistance at $13,900, while Sucden has minor resistance at $12,001 and support at around $11,050.
  • Comment - In testimony before Congress on Wednesday, United Steel Workers president Leo W. Gerard stated the following  in support of the Buy America clause of the Obama economic stimulus package - "The country is in the midst of the fastest, most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression. In 2008, the United States lost 2.6 million jobs -- the largest loss in over 60 years -- and so far this year isn't any better. This is a time for economic patriots." Among the countries fuming over this clause is our neighbor to the north, Canada. According to Canada's International Trade Minister Stockwell Day, Canadian "Prime Minister Harper was the first world leader to raise this issue and speak against it." And we understand their frustration. To many American's, Canada is not only a neighbor, but the closest of friends. Except for Quebec, of course, where they still haven't learned to speak English. So, it is understandable that our friends to the north would be a little miffed when America stabbed them in the back and told them their steel wasn't good enough for future tax payer funded septic systems. And yet, many are sighing in relief this morning, after the US Senate passed an amended version last night, that offers exemption to Canada, Mexico, the European Union and certain other major US trading partners. As Paul Frazer, a former Canadian diplomat told the readers of the Toronto Star today, "Canadians should be able to take a deep breath." Many of our site readers are from Canada, and our readership has come to count on us for our exhaustive (uh-hum) research and expose's on the lesser known side of this industry we all like to call a 'paycheck'. And we have a head scratcher for you today. Remember that guy we quoted saying "This is a time for economic patriots"? The guy who has been pushing harder than anyone to get this bill passed thru the House without any amendments? The president of the United Steel Workers International - note we did not say United States Steel Workers. (Some of our readers are members of the USW. And are Canadians. And dig nickel.) Well according to a report  in the Globe and Mail yesterday, this whole "Buy America Bill" was started by none other than - a Canadian!! Yep, you heard that right. And no, we aren't talking about a Canadian turned US citizen like Alex Trebek, Michael J Fox or our personal favorite, "God bless the Canadian gene pool" Pamela Denise Anderson. Mr "economic patriot" Gerard is none other than a former Inco nickel smelter employee, son of an Ontario rock miner, English and French speaking, 100% "proud-to-be north of American's", Canadian? Here is the article that goes into this in further detail (here). Now is that not just a 'jaw dropping' tidbit of information? Jaw dropping as in watching the aforementioned Canada-turned-Yank Pamela Anderson, running in slow motion down the beach, bouncing up and down in her tight, bright red, please-save-me-I- suddenly-forgot- how-to-swim bathing suit, from the most watched TV series show in history, while wondering why oh why in 1999, that someone, anyone had not invented high definition tv yet!!! Sorry we got carried away. Yes, we are stunned and bewildered by this revelation. And we can not help but remember that song from Southpark in confusing times like these - video here.  

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Exports of chrome ore from Turkey fell by 37.43% in January, compared to January 2008. China remained the primary destination, with a market share growing from 57% to 88%, but saw its own imports from Turkey slip by 2.68%.
  • China's Appetite For Construction - China is a ravenous buyer of commodities. Here are some ways to play it. - more
  • Buffett's metric says it's time to buy - more

  Baltic dry freight highest since October - The Baltic Exchange's chief sea freight index .BDI, which tracks prices to ship key dry commodities, rose on Thursday to the highest level since end October last year - more

  EU steel market: facing an unprecedented downturn in 2009 - Due to the intensifying impact of the global credit crisis, spreading from the financial sectors into other parts of the economy, the EU economy has been pushed into a severe recession at the start of 2009. - more

  Eurofer unhappy with "Buy American" despite changes - European steel confederation Eurofer said on Thursday a U.S. Senate vote to soften a "Buy American" steel provision included in a $900 billion stimulus package did not go far enough to meet its objections. - more  

  Mining industry downturn an ill wind for ailing MacAir - In the opening scene of Crocodile Dundee, Paul Hogan makes merry in an Australian outback pub called the Walkabout. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.07/lb lower , and declining but still off earlier lows. Other base metals are mixed and quiet. Gold and silver are trading at nearly 2% and 3% higher, respectively. NYMEX crude is down by 1/3 of 1%, and the Euro is trading less than 1/4 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. Overnight, Asian markets ended mostly lower, and European markets are following suit this morning. And based on futures, Wall Street is likely to parrot the others with a slightly lower opening. The Baltic Dry Index published another large gain this morning, up 182 points. The Bank of England cut its key lending rate by 1/2% to 1%, its lowest since being founded in 1694, while the ECB decided to stay at 2%. The US Senate voted to water down the Buy American clause in the stimulus package, after many countries raised a ruckus. We will have more on this during our afternoon update, and who we blame for starting this rift in the first place.   
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - "The tone in metals (yesterday) was steady pretty much all day after macroeconomic data surfaced from Asia, Europe, and then from the United States, indicating that the rate of decline in economic activity seems to be leveling off. ... With respect to metals, we suspect that technicals will dominate in the short-term, and with the chart patterns looking more constructive in a number of metals, we could move slightly higher from here.  ... We are currently at $11,700, down $50 dollars, and quiet with only a $300 trading range seen thus far." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Xinhua) The 71 large and midsize steel enterprises in China incurred an aggregate 29.1 billion yuan of loss in December 2008, up 129 percent on month, which is mainly due to the devaluation of raw material inventories.
  • (JMB) Japanese major 5 steel makers expect quarterly consolidated recurring loss for January-March when they plan major production cut to meet very slow steel demand under worldwide slow economy.
  • Technical Analysis: Commodities remain weak - more
  • Steven Grasso, managing director at Stuart Frankel & Co. - "We have something that's distracting the market, which is that Wall Street in the past has led Washington and now Washington is leading Wall Street ... The market has gone to a trading range, distracted by politics."

  Steel ministry favours cut in import duty on ferro-nickel -  New Delhi: In a boost to the stainless steel industry, dominated by Jindal Stainless, the steel ministry has recommended lowering import duty on ferro-nickel, a key input for producing the alloy, to 2% from the present 5%. - more

  Kloppers has faith in iron ore sales - If there was a bright spot in a dour outlook from the world's biggest miner yesterday, it was its view of the iron ore market and prospects for Chinese demand. - more

  • Anger rising over Ravensthorpe as BHP departs - Two weeks after BHP Billiton announced it would close its Ravensthorpe nickel mine, shock has turned to despair and anger. - more
  • Hopetoun loses hope as nickel mine shuts - The global recession struck the remote town of Ravensthorpe in Western Australia two weeks ago with the kind of venomous lightning attack normally associated with the region's deadly Tiger snake. - more
  • Kagara and Panoramic Resources cut 230 to save on costs - Base metals miners Kagara and Panoramic Resources have revealed more than 230 additional job losses. - more

  Firm China steel prices see Baltic Dry rise 15%, shipping stocks surge - Tokyo: The Baltic Dry Index is roaring back hot on the firming prices for Chinese steel. - more

  Market Tendency On Imports Of Ferro-Alloys At 30th January 2009 = Information Of Recovering Domestic Demand For Ferro-Alloys In China Is True ? - The market tendency by item on imports of ferro-alloys into Japan at the 30th January of 2009 is as follows - more

  Nanjing Iron, Chinese Steelmakers Gain on Demand  - Nanjing Iron & Steel Co. rose to a more than five-month high in Shanghai trading, leading a rally in Chinese steelmakers, on speculation demand for the construction material will increase. - more

  Balasore Alloys expansion set to be delayed - The Rs 400-crore phase-I expansion of Balasore Alloys Limited, part of Ispat group of companies, may be delayed by about a year due to delayed financial closure for the plan. - more

  Sponsor's Surplus Item - Our sponsor has asked us for help in moving a few overstocked items, and since they are helping us pay the bills, we have agreed to post some items here occasionally. Our first one might be of interest to anyone in Canada, where the square drive is better known as the Robertson drive, and much more popular than here in the lower 48. Our sponsor has skids of a 6 X 1/2 Square Drive Pan Head Sheet Metal Screw Type A Painted Black with a nylon patch. If you are interested in taking at least a million of them (or more), they will beat any price you can get for their plain finish, unpatched, unpainted counter part.

  • Item #2 is a metric stainless steel bolt, which would be more popular to our overseas readers. It is a M6 - 1.0 pitch X 25 mm long Hex Head Cap Screw Full Thread in A2 (18-8 Stainless). Sponsor has about 1/2 million and wants to sell them.  
  • If you are interested, or know of anyone that might be, please contact us and we will pass the info onto our sponsor (email)

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Feb 5 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Wednesday, February 4

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 168 to 1,316. (chart) (article below)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Asian Stocks Gain as Governments Step Up Stimulus Efforts; Automakers Rise // Panasonic to Cut 15,000 Jobs, Forecasts First Loss in 6 Years on Recession // European Stocks Advance for Second Day on Earnings; Electrolux, Aviva Rise // U.S. Service Industries Shrink at Slower Pace as Drop in Orders Moderates // Brazil to Increase Infrastructure Spending in Bid to Spark Economic Growth
  • The US Dollar continues to trade higher against the Euro by nearly 1-1/2%, while NYMEX crude's gain for the day has fallen back to plus 1%. Gold and silver continue to trade higher, but just barely. Base metals once again ended in the green, with the strengthening dollar keeping gains in check. Indicator charts show nickel has a few peaks today, once early, and the other in late afternoon, but ended only slightly higher than yesterday. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $5.31/lb . The Baltic Dry Index was up today, and nickel inventories fell slightly. Sucden's day old chart (here) shows yesterday's trading broke clear of any squeeze the TL2 and TL3 trendline's were forming. Better than expected economic data in both the U.S. and China helped bolster metals today. China's official PMI rose to 45.3 from 41.2 in December. Anything below 50 means the market is contracting, so while not really good news, the fact it wasn't as bad as the prior month was taken positively. Did we mention the BDI was up today? Here in the States, the Institute of Supply Management non-manufacturing index rose to 42.9% from a record low of 37.4% in November. They reported the nations manufacturing sector also contracted at a slower pace in January, earlier this week. Both reports again reflect the market is in a severe contraction, but less so than before, and thus, taken as good news. Ok so the market is desperate for some good news, even creating some when they must. But the Baltic Dry Index soared, yes we will use that word, soared overnight. From 1148 to 1316 in one today, up 168 points, which Bloomberg reports is its biggest one day rise since 1985. Ships are moving again, and carrying iron ore. It remains to be seen if the BDI is giving us evidence the bottom is behind us, or is just movements in anticipation of a recovery that is still a long way off. Whatever it is, the BDI is floating the bulls boat and has become an annoying fly in the bear's daily buffet of bad news.

  Commodity Shipping Index Advances the Most Since at Least 1985 - The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of shipping costs for commodities, rose the most since at least 1985 in London as the number of idled capesizes fell to almost zero, indicating strengthening demand for iron ore. - more

  Reports

  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • January 2009 Non-Manufacturing ISM Report On Business - here  graph of report - here

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Imarex 2/3/09 - Up, up, and away. Capes at $18,000/day and Panamaxes at $7,000 are a far a cry from $2,000 and $3,000 seen just two months ago. There is definitely positive sentiment in the market, although it is worth noting today’s chartering activity has been mediocre at best. This tired freight options broker has a hunch that soon-to-be-released January steel production numbers will be a pleasant surprise, or at least on par with December’s 37.8 million ton total (which was 7.38% more than produced in a very dreadful November). While reports are surfacing of more Chinese being unemployed, additional reports suggest steel production is maintaining decent levels. In addition, the past few weeks have seen a healthy amount of iron ore fixtures - which certainly suggests China is increasing its appetite for steel. Freight-wise, it should be interesting to see how the rest of the week plays out. We are definitely living in interesting times.
  • (Bloomberg) PT Aneka Tambang, Indonesia’s second- largest metals .....produced 3,540 tons of ferronickel in the fourth quarter, 44 percent less than in the same period the previous year. It sold 4,409 tons of the metal used in steelmaking at $5.99 a pound in the quarter, compared with 8,269 tons at $12.92 a pound a year earlier.
  • TARP Recipients Paid Out $114 Million for Politicking Last Year - more

  China's ore lust is long term not near term - One of Australia's best known analysts and share market commentators, Keith Goode, of Sydney-based Eagle Advisory Service (ERA), reckons China is clearly on a quest now to control orebodies outside of China to achieve a goal not focused now on three years ahead but for the next 20 to 40 years. - more

  • The bubble has burst - For FOR BHP Billiton, the commodities bubble has burst. - more

  Steel buyers a bit more confident as 2009 gets under way: ISM - For the first time since last August, about one in eight steel end-use buyers in the US market now feel more confident about the general economy, according to an Institute for Supply Management report released to Platts Tuesday.  - more

  Thanks to those who participated in our poll about the forecast chromium price for 2009. Here are the results with only 135 visitors voting. Our last two polls have only received a tiny percent of daily visitors participation so we will try to broaden the next question. Our next poll will be on when you feel the stainless steel market will start a solid recovery.  

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around  $.08/lb  higher, but off earlier high's and low's. A climbing US dollar is keeping any metal rally potential in check, trading  higher against the Euro by nearly 1-1/2%. NYMEX crude is trading nearly 2% higher, while gold and silver trading just a smidge higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended noticeably higher,  and European markets are trading n the green this morning. Even US futures show an opening on the positive side at the moment, but they have been drifting in and out of the red all morning. ADP figure released this morning, estimate the US lost 522,000 jobs in January. One trader told Dow Jones this morning that he wouldn't be surprised to see nickel rallying to the low $6/lb range in the very near future.     

  Nickel Advances in London on Speculation About Curb of Surplus - Nickel rose for a third day in London on speculation production cuts are starting to curb a surplus of the metal used mostly in stainless steel.- more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - "Copper led metals sharply higher on Tuesday, as for the second day in a row, we got a US macro statistic that came in slightly better than expected. In this regard, U.S. pending home sales pushed higher this past month, as buyers waded back into the market lured by lower prices and more enticing mortgage rates. The sales index climbed by 6.3 to 87.7, the first increase since August, and is up from a revised 82.5 in November. More disappointing, was the fact that there were a record number of houses for sale this past month, and that prices continued to sink. ... Out of China, the Wall Street Journal reported in yesterday's issue that the global slowdown is hitting the Chinese labor market very hard, with about 20 million migrant workers estimated to have lost their jobs in recent months. That number is apparently the first official estimate on the labor market’s deterioration, and underscores the government's challenge in avoiding unrest caused by surging unemployment.  ... We are currently at $11,700, up $95 dollars, and fairly quiet on nickel today, with only a $450 trading range seen thus far." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • BNP Paribas report - "We believe that the immediate downward pressure on nickel prices has subsided after substantial production cuts by various producers has turned a potentially disastrously large surplus first into a small supply overhang and now into a balanced market."
  • BHP - “The unprecedented deceleration in the global economy has sharply reduced demand for commodities.... We expect that commodity price weakness and volatility will persist.... However in the long term, we expect continued strong growth in demand for commodities from China and other emerging economies.”
  • An Epic Battle in the Stock Market - more
  • The thin line between love and hate Commentary: Courting commodities for a sustainable relationship - more
  • Red Kite sees low commodity prices for years-paper - more
  • What are you sacrificing? - more

  China Alone Cannot Save Slumping Commodity Markets: BHP - BHP Billiton Ltd has warned that a resurgence in demand from China alone will not be enough to lift commodity markets after the company delivered a significant drop in first half profit. - more

  • (excerpt) BHP's underlying earnings from base metals for the half fell 103.3% on year due to falling prices, but earnings from iron ore were up 147.6% as the miner continued to benefit from strong contract prices. Oil earnings were up 35.9% on year. - more
  • Another nickel mine cuts back - A nickel mine in far north Western Australia has cut nearly ten per cent of its workforce, as it continues to battle poor nickel prices and rising production costs. - more

  Demand for metals likely to revive after June - The series of economic stimulus packages announced across the globe may bring in some relief for the battered base metal manufacturers in the second half of 2009. - more

  AK Steel Keeps Stainless Steel Surcharge Flat For March Sales - U.S.-based AK Steel Holding Corp. late Tuesday said it had advised customers that it's rolling over a $165-a-short-ton surcharge on invoices for electrical stainless steel products delivered in March after having applied the same charge on products delivered in February. - more

  Nickel mine closure delayed until March - Don't write the obituary for Thayer Lindsley Mine just yet. Due to procedural delays, the Xstrata Nickel mine, which had been scheduled to close in January, will not go into full-care and maintenance mode until about March 1. - more

  Chinese interest in miners surging: Forrest - Fortescue Metals Group chief executive Andrew Forrest said local Chinese entities are increasing their focus on Australian miners. - more

  India world's No. 2 in steel output by 2015: Paswan - Even as the steel companies have reduced their production to cope up with the shrinking demand, Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan today exuded confidence that India will become the world's second-largest steel maker after China by 2015. - more

  ENRC Says Reduced Production And Volume To Continue In 09 - Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC), the holding company of a leading diversified natural resources group based in Kazakhstan, said Wednesday that it saw production cutbacks in the last quarter and for 2009 it saw no immediate prospect of an improvement, at least for the first half of the year. - more

  Steel output in C(R falls twice as much as in EU in 2008 - Crude steel production in the Czech Republic decreased by 10 percent year-on-year to 6.4 million tonnes last year, the fall being twice deeper than within the entire EU, according to data from the World Steel Association. - more

  General Review Of Molybdenum In 2008 And Its Outlook For New Year - = New Projects To Develop Moly Mines Have Been Postponed For Difficulties To Foresee Its Future Market - more here

  • Ni-Based Stainless Prices Set To Recover In East Asia - Transaction prices of nickel-based stainless CR sheets look set to recover with a pronounced rebound in East Asia, where Japan's stainless steel producers find themselves in rising inquiries from southern China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong since mid-January. - more'

  China Manufacturing Shrinks for 4th Month on Exports  - China’s manufacturing shrank for a fourth month as exports fell because of the global recession and companies ran down stockpiles of steel, textiles and autos, a government-backed survey showed. - more

  Norilsk recommends 5 state reps to board - Russia's metals giant Norilsk Nickel said on Tuesday it had approved five state representatives as candidates to its new board, raising the prospect of the state increasing its role in the crisis-hit miner. - more

  'We have successfully turned the dump into an ecological area' - Paotaiwan (Emplacement) Wetland Park in Shanghai's northern Baoshan District, an ecological paradise, was built three years go where vast heaps of steel slag and junk were encroaching. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Feb 4 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Tuesday, February 3

  Poll - In 2007, chromium averaged $1.73/lb, after averaging less than $1/lb from the turn of the century. In January, first quarter contract prices were negotiated at $.79/lb.

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up

  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 49 to 1,148. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Asian Stocks Gain as Australia, Japan Step Up Stimulus Plans; Hynix Rises // European Stocks Rise; Vodafone, Hannover Re, Lufthansa, Aviva Shares Climb // BP Posts First Quarterly Loss in Seven Years as Recessions Weighs on Crude // Pending Home Resales in U.S. Unexpectedly Rise 6.3% as Prices, Rates Fall // Toxic-Asset U.S. Guarantee Gaining Momentum Over `Bad Bank,' Schumer Says // Brazil's Industrial Production Plunges 14.5% in December, Most in 17 Years
  • The Euro is trading nearly 1% higher against the US Dollar, and off session highs. NYMEX crude is trading nearly 2% higher, while gold and silver are lower in the 1% range. Base metals liked the falling dollar and traders desperate for some positive news, took advantage. Indicator charts show three month nickel fell early, but spent the afternoon on the rise. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $5.26/lb .  In their day old nickel graph (here), Sucden spread out the TL3 line that was forming with the TL1 line into the squeeze we mentioned yesterday. After today's trading, they may give up on the TL3 downtrend line for the time being. BDI continues to grow and if it grows a few more days like today, we could say with confidence its rate of growth is increasing. If you are new to the site, we follow the Baltic Dry Index as it is an important piece of evidence of raw material shipments being made around the world. After last years plummet, higher numbers tell us more shipments are being made, which implies increasing demand - somewhere. Nickel inventories were basically flat overnight. Two small inbound shipments were almost offset perfectly by 3 small outbound shipments from three continents. And thanks to a forum entry, we learned of what could become the next big story in the metals market. Bigger than the metals thefts stories of the last few years? Probably not. Juicier than news about how one night in France with one too many hookers changed the entire leadership of the world's largest nickel producer? Definitely not. No, in fact, we hope we never hear about this story again, because we fear, if the worldwide economy continues to go south, and it becomes tougher for people to survive, what this type of story could lead some to do. So here it is - for the first, and hopefully last time. A Reuters headline  - "Japan sewage yields more gold than top mines" (more) Hopefully this story turns out to be no more than a bunch of crap! 

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Outokumpu Chief Executive Juha Rantanen - "In late 2008, the global financial crisis hit the stainless steel markets with speed and power...Actions have been taken to decrease working capital, postpone investments and reduce costs..."
  • (Dow Jones) Finnish steel and engineering products company Rautaruukki Oyj said Tuesday that its metal division will temporarily lay off 340 workers at its Finnish steel service centers in response to a slump in steel demand.
  • Wind jobs outstrip coal mining - more
  • What Other Financial Crises Tell Us - more

  Province, Vale Inco reach deal print this article - World nickel giant Vale Inco and the province reached a deal late Thursday that will allow construction to start this spring on a $2.2-billion nickel processing plant in Long Harbour. - more

  Commodity prices set for rebound 2010-2012: John Kemp - Perhaps the most significant development in financial markets over the last month has been the steepening of the yield curve for U.S. Treasury debt. - more

Chinese Economy To Recover Soon - Australia's third biggest iron ore company Fortescue Metals Group Ltd, says a China recovery is just around the corner after predicting the market will bottom in 2009. - more

  Top Republican: Scrap 'buy American' stimulus clause - The US Senate should strip a "Buy American" clause from President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan, the chamber's top Republican said Monday amid anger at the restriction from US allies. - more

  • Buy American has locals on edge - Grand Central Station. Lincoln Center. The New York City Waterfalls installation. The structural steel made by Hamilton's Walters Group can be found in several high-profile buildings in the United States. - more

  Kobe Steel to give one more day off to employees to cut output - Kobe Steel Ltd. is planning to give one more day off to all employees every month to limit production in a bid to counter the decline in steel demand from its customer automakers, company officials said Tuesday. - more

  China to meet with iron ore giants over high prices - China is likely to kick off its negotiation with the world's iron ore giants on iron ore prices after the Spring Festival, market analysts think.  - more

  China’s Nickel Demand in ‘Desperate’ Straits, Ningbo Says - Ningbo Sunhu Chemical Products Co., China’s biggest nickel trader, said its post-Lunar New Year sales slumped as 90 percent of its customers remained closed because of a lack of demand. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.06/lb   higher and rebounding from earlier falls. Other base metals are mostly higher also. The Euro is trading 12 of 1% higher against the Dollar, NYMEX crude is trading nearly 1% higher, and gold and silver are trading slightly higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended mixed, but overall slightly higher thanks mostly to strong gains in China, Taiwan, and South Korea markets. European markets are trading slightly lower this morning, futures in the US show Wall Street could open with no clear direction. Market may be waiting for Pending Home Sales figures to be released at 10 AM EST to offer some guidance. Finnish stainless steel producer Outokumpu takes the metal headlines this morning, reporting a huge loss for the 4th quarter thanks to the collapse in stainless steel demand, and announced it was laying off temporarily more than 2,000 people and cut about 250 jobs. Outokumpu employs about 8,000 people. BHP is still taking a lot of heat in the Australian media over the closure of the mega mine Ravensthorpe.   
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  "Metals finished modestly higher on Monday, as participants continued to digest a slew of macro economic reports out of the US. Probably the most important of the several released yesterday, was the ISM manufacturing reading that showed January activity rising to 35.6% versus 32.9% in the prior month. The fact that we ticked higher on the month was the good news; the bad news was that a reading of 35.6% is still consistent with a contracting manufacturing sector (50.0% being the dividing line), and so the best that we can make of this data is that the contraction, while not exactly lifting, is not picking up pace either.  ... We are slightly higher as of this writing in most metals, with ali being the exceptions and off slightly. We don't expect much of a trend over the next week, as markets are in a wait-and-see mode with respect to what comes out of Washington on a banking and stimulus package.  ... We are currently at $11,300, down $5 dollars, and extremely quiet." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Business Day) Chamber of Mines chief economist Roger Baxter ... Material-intensive growth took place in Brazil, Russia, India and China at the same time as the developed economies were growing, the US dollar was weakening and urbanisation accelerated in various countries, especially India and China. But since July last year these factors have moved out of sync, resulting in price falls and costs moving above prices. He believes the next year for the mining sector is likely to be tough. A recovery will only take place once the reflationary effects of central banks’ injection of capital is able to overcome the deflationary effect of the subprime crisis. Then strong demand will resume because of urbanisation trends in developing economies.
  • (Yieh) According to the China Iron & Steel Association (CISA), following the adjustments that were made starting in October of last year, steel stocks of mills reached their lowest level in recent years. This situation will help to resolve the conflict between demand and supply, and to stabilize the price in the domestic market.
  • (Yieh) Bolstered by increased orders from foreign countries and January’s LME average nickel price being higher than December’s, Taiwan's Yieh United Steel Corp. (Yusco) decided to raise its export price for 300 series stainless steel by US$30~50/ton for February.
  • (Ros) Evraz Group companies manufactured 7.1 percent more steel in 2008, the steelmaker said in a statement. Output went up to 17.67m tonnes from 16.5m tonnes in 2007. In the fourth quarter of 2008, however, the company's output contracted 33.5 percent to 3.25m tonnes compared with the previous quarter.
  • (JMB) Japanese production of hot rolled special steel products decreases by 44.1% to 2.536 million tonnes in January-March from same period of 2008, according to Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
  • Commodity markets to bottom in 2009: Forrest - more
  • How Greedy Speculators Control Commodity Prices - more

  Vale to limit Voisey's Bay nickel to 55,000 T/yr - Brazilian mining firm Vale said on Monday it would limit nickel production at its Voisey's Bay mine in Eastern Canada to an average of 55,000 metric tonnes over the next four years. - more

  Loss-making Outokumpu sees grim Q1, to cut jobs - Finnish stainless steel maker Outokumpu Oyj reported a deeper-than-expected fourth-quarter loss on Tuesday, hit by weak demand and inventory writedowns, and warned losses would continue in early 2009. - more

  Chinese traders back to buy molybdenum from Japan, South Korea - Chinese traders are back in the market after the Lunar New Year holidays and are looking for molybdenum products from Japan and South Korea, market sources said Tuesday. - more

  Steel output rising on improved demand - Indian steel makers have increased production on the back of marginal recovery in supply orders from the construction and infrastructure sectors. - more

  BHP can buy out Philippine nickel mine partner -Min - BHP Billiton Ltd/Plc can buy out its local partner in a Philippine nickel mine if both firms fail to settle a dispute that has stalled the $2 billion venture, a top government official said on Tuesday. - more

  Don Argus seen to flag retirement from BHP mid-year - BHP Billiton Ltd/Plc chairman Don Argus will announce his intention to retire around mid-year, according to those familiar with the situation, reported The Australian Financial Review. - more

  • BHP has turned its back on Ravensthorpe: residents - Angry residents have accused BHP Billiton of turning its back on the mining centre it established, despite the company's expressions of concern for the community. - more

  Norilsk Committee to Assess Options for Metals Merger  - OAO Norilsk Nickel, Russia’s biggest mining company, will establish an independent committee to assess options for a merger with other metals producers as the state supports the creation of a global industry leader. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending January 31, 2009, domestic raw steel production was 1,006,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 42.2 percent. Production was 2,154,000 tons in the week ending January 31, 2008, while the capability utilization then was 90.3 percent. The current week production represents a 53.3 percent decrease from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending January 31, 2009 is down 1.9 percent from the previous week ending January 24, 2009 when production was 1,025,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 43.1 percent.

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Feb 3 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Monday, February 2

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 29 to 1099. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Asian Stocks Decline as Hitachi, Mizuho Losses Deepen Recession Concerns // Rio Tinto Climbs After Saying It's in Talks With Chinalco on Raising Money // South Korea's January Exports Fall by Record, China's Manufacturing Slumps // European Stocks Drop; Barclays Falls on Downgrade, BNP, Delhaize Decline // U.S. Manufacturing, Consumer Spending Decline Again as Recession Deepens // Obama Will Require Banks to Expand Lending as Condition of Government Aid // S&P 500 Index May Fall to 750 as U.S. Bank Bailout Stalls, Barclays Says
  • Euro has recovered and is now trading nearly 1/2 of 1% higher against the US Dollar, while NYMEX crude is trading a little over 1/2 of 1% lower. Gold and silver traded lower, while base metals ended mixed. Indicator charts show three month nickel  spent the morning stair stepping higher, and then falling into a waffling position in afternoon trading. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $5.13/lb . LME nickel inventories grew overnight, while the BDI continues to climb slowly. Looking at Sucden's day old chart (here), the price of nickel is moving into a 'squeeze' between the TL3 and TL2 lines. This may have been broken by todays trading, which was mostly above the TL3 line. Market started the day with an RSI and STochastic mostly balanced. London got a record snowfall overnight that has crippled transportation in the city, which could have been responsible for taking some of the traders enthusiasm away. Nothing like a little ice outside to put the freeze on a market. Besides the BDI, another positive today was the release of worldwide purchasing managers index, which we keep track of here, all rose slightly. While we would not claim its a sign of any turnaround in the near future, it has to be taken as a positive sign when an economic reading doesn't fall - again. Then again, maybe we are just trying to put lipstick on a pig. China is back to work and Chinalco looks to be buying a bigger piece of the cash strapped and debt ridden Rio Tinto pie. We have come across some figures from China that 'imply' Chinese producers saw overall stainless steel production in 2008, fall 10.26% from 2007. It shows 300 series fell 13.73%, while 400 series fell 5.24%. Heat resistant stainless show rising 39.84%. Since we are not good at translating Mandarin, and online translators are pitiful, we may be reading the article all wrong and this could be figures for one company. Until we get some verification, please take this tidbit of info as a rumor only. We will be taking another poll sometime this week asking where our readers think chrome prices are heading in 2009.     

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • A Corus of TARP denials? - more
  • Global Unemployment - graph here
  • Journal of Geology and Mining Research - here (submit your article)

  Base metal demand still sliding - Commodity prices staged a minor recovery in January but international demand for most base metals continued to slide, according to official data released yesterday. - more

  Drop in steel prices in wake of crisis decreases construction costs by 30 pct - Construction costs have dropped in the UAE by an average of a third this year compared to the last quarter of 2008, it was reported on Monday. - more

  Cardinal Lays off Workers Two Weeks After Obama Praises the Firm’s Hiring - Two weeks ago, then President-elect Obama visited Cardinal Fastener and Specialty Company in Bedford Heights, which makes parts for the fast-growing wind turbine industry. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 2 PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.06/lb higher, and has been quietly stair stepping higher all morning. Other base metals are mixed in subdued trading, with gold and silver trading lower. The Euro is trading nearly 1/2 of 1% lower against the US Dollar, and NYMEX crude is down nearly 2-3/4%. In overnight trading, China returned to the world of work but Asian markets closed lower. European markets are much lower this morning, and US futures show Wall Street will open in the red. Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning meaning 6 more weeks of winter. Here are some media clips from this morning. (Marketwatch) U.S. real consumer spending fell in December for the sixth time in seven months....With spending falling faster than incomes, the personal savings rate rose to 3.6% in December, the highest since May when savings were boosted by tax-rebate checks." (Bloomberg) Manufacturing in China shrank for a sixth month, the CLSA China Purchasing Managers’ Index showed ..... South Korea’s shipments fell 32.8 percent from a year earlier, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said (Reuters) Euro zone manufacturing business shrank at a slightly slower pace in January while factory prices tumbled at their fastest rate in at least six years, a survey showed on Monday, leaving scope for further ECB rate cuts. Looks like a chilly beginning for February, after a very tough January and horrible 2008.  
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - "Metals ended with modest losses on Friday, but the performance was rather disappointing for the bulls in light of the fact that US fourth-quarter GDP came in at -3.8%, somewhat better than the -5.4% consensus estimate. Although metals rallied after the number was first released, gains quickly faded after participants realized that were it not for an unsold inventory build, the GDP decline would have been 5.1%, closer to consensus. That aside, the number is still very disappointing, given that it is the largest percentage decline in over 25 years. More disconcerting, is the fact that we could see a similarly sharp drop this quarter, since there seems to be no indication that things are stabilizing. (In addition, some economists are pointing out that the beneficial impact of the inventory build prevalent last quarter may not be apparent this quarter). ... We are currently at $11,300, and trading within a very narrow range. We are neutral on the complex here, as we await more chart direction." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (ACNB) Nickel sector weakens below Moving Average (MA), with 50-day MA trailing its 200-day MA, closes unchanged
  • (Russia media) - Ufaleynikel resumed full production today with reduced staff. All 3 furnaces are operational.
  • (JMB) Japanese raw steel production decreases to 19.262 million tonnes in January-March, which is 27% lower than October-December and 37.5% lower than same period of 2008, according to steel makers report to Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced on Friday.
  • (Bloomberg) The CLSA China Purchasing Managers’ Index was a seasonally adjusted 42.2 last month and 41.2 in December, CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets said today. A reading below 50 reflects a contraction.
  • Commodities markets manipulated: Saxo Bank  - more
  • Business big shot: Tom Albanese - more
  • Chinese whispers give Rio a lift - more
  • Finding the Man Who Started the Global Recession - more
  • The Big Fix  - more
  • General Motors to Invest $1 Billion in Brazil Operations -- Money to Come from U.S. Rescue Program - more

  Barron's Commodities Corner: Nickel Market Still Soft - Despite a mini-rally at the start of the year, nickel prices are skidding and will likely plumb further depths as the global economy sputters. - more here

  EU Stainless Steel Prices Set to Fall Further in Next Few Months - Alloy surcharges charged by most stainless steel mills in the EU will decline over the March/April period. - more

  Domestic Price Of Ni-Based Stainless Scrap Is Rising Gradually To Level Of Yen 90,000 / Ton = After Lunar New Year Was Over, Movement To Purchase Stainless Scrap By China Is Marked - The movement of price for nickel-based stainless steel scrap (new clippings) in Japan for January of 2009 depends on rather overseas demand than domestic demand and this aspect means to develop on exports for China and South Korea. - rest

  Posco Cuts Steel Output for Third Straight Month  - Posco, Asia’s third-largest steelmaker, will cut production in February, bringing output lost since December to 2.3 percent of last year’s total as the global recession reduces demand. - more

  Experts see normal steel production by March - The demand in the steel sector appears to be crawling back and by March, production is expected to be restored to normal levels. The price fall in China has been arrested and raw material prices like those of scrap have moved up on demand. - more

  Mining firms review projects - Mining companies have decided to adopt a wait-and-see attitude, reviewing and repackaging their projects to reduce necessary capital investments due to the global recession. - more

  Antam sales decline on lower output, prices - In a statement sent over the weekend, the company said full-year unaudited sales reached Rp 9.5 trillion (US$880 million) in 2008, down from the Rp 11.8 trillion booked in 2007. - more

  Financial strains remain acute - A sharp short-covering rally in the LME metals complex early last week was quickly smothered by the continuing slew of negative macroeconomic news, all pointing to prolonged weakness in the global economy. - more

  • Lower costs give scant relief to metal producers  - Metals producers must take further cost-cutting steps to avoid closure despite the falling costs of producing industrial metals, helped by sharp declines in prices for energy, raw materials and labour. - more

  Iron ore tycoon offers Norilsk merger plan: report - Russian tycoon Alisher Usmanov is proposing a tie-up between his Metalloinvest iron ore group and Norilsk Nickel that would make him the largest shareholder in a merged giant, Vedomosti reported on Monday. - more

  EU puts antidumping duties on Chinese screws, bolts  - The European Union imposed on Saturday import duties of up to 85 percent on screws and bolts from China, a move likely to trigger retaliatory action by Beijing at the World Trade Organisation. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Feb 2 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

January Archives


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All prices shown on this page are indications only. "A Guide To LME Trading"...pdf here "The ABCs of a Metals Exchange" ...pdf here (Molybdenum prices are for molybdenum oxide, an ingredient and major price factor in 316 stainless) (all ton listings are metric tons = 2204.622 pounds ) Updated daily before 8 am CST and before 1 pm CST weekdays - Disclaimer Candlestick Pattern Dictionary here / Intro to Candlesticks here Original content and opinions copyright www.estainlesssteel.com. Note - For real time and official LME prices, LME requires a user subscribe to an authorized LME vendor.

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