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Friday, February 26

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 27 to 2,738. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Emerging Markets Lead Stocks Higher as Metals Gain on Economic Expansion // European Economy Risks Decoupling From Global Recovery as Deficits Balloon // Lloyds Has Wider-Than-Estimated Loss as HBOS Takeover Increases Bad Loans // Miles Says `Entirely Plausible' Bank of England May Need to Buy More Bonds //
  • Grantham's `Horrifically Early' Forecasts Are Challenge for GMO, Followers // Buffett Sides With Insurance Rivals, Picking Cooperation Over Competition // Germany Considering Buying Greek Bonds Through State's KfW, Lawmakers Say // U.K. Emerges From Recession at Faster Pace Than Estimated, Boosting Brown // Volkswagen Profit Slumps 80% as Recession Erodes Demand for High-End Cars // U.K. Consumer Confidence Rises to Four-Month High on Optimism for Economy // European Stocks Rebound, Paring Weekly Decline; St. Gobain, Rio Tinto Rise // U.S. Economy Grew at 5.9% Pace in Fourth Quarter, More Than First Reported // Existing-Home Sales in U.S. Unexpectedly Decline 7.2% to 5.05 Million Pace // Business Activity in U.S. Gains More Than Estimated, Chicago Survey Shows // Consumer Sentiment in U.S. Weakens on Job Prospects, Michigan Index Shows
  • The US Dollar stumbled badly after US economic reports on housing were issued, with the Euro regaining its edge and now trading higher by nearly 1/2 of 1%. NYMEX crude is up 1.7% and and over $79.50/barrel. Gold is up 1/2 of 1% and silver is higher by 1-3/4%. Base metals all got a good bounce for the Euro swing today and ended the day positive. Indicator charts show nickel was ahead but quiet until the Euro made its big jump, then nickel was off to the races nd did not look back. For the day, week and month, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $9.59/lb , a new high for 2010. That is up over 4% on the week, and nearly 13% higher for the month. Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses took another healthy bounce overnight, and now rest over 162,600 tonnes. Nickel inventories fell 2,142 tonnes for the month, and 3,812 tonnes off their Feb 8th all time record high. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel trading thru yesterday (chart here). Cancelled warrants moved back into the high 2 point range. The Baltic Dry Index rose 27 points to 2,738, ending the month 110 points lower than January. The US Commerce Department reported before the bell this morning, that the fourth quarter GDP was better than previously reported, up 5.9% instead of 5.7%. For 2009, the GDP fell 2.4%, its worst reading since 1946, the year following the conclusion of World War Two. Consumer confidence fell, existing homes sales fell, and global warming is falling in the Northeast today in the form of snow.
  • Have a safe and enjoyable weekend!

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Ontario’s McGuinty Plans 5-Year Jobs Program, Toronto Star Says - more
  • Economists React: Still ‘Significant Concerns’ About U.K. Growth - more
  • Dallas Fed’s Fisher: Fed Has Done All It Can to Support Economy - more
  • Bullish a Year Ago, Robert Prechter Now Sees "the Biggest Bubble in History" - more
  • Double-Dip, Rate Spike 'Danger' Looms: Ex-Fed Governor - more
  • Lessons from the Fed’s past on heading for an exit - more
  • About the Politically Malleable FASB - more
  • Afflicting the Afflicted  - more

  USW, Vale Inco to meet with mediator - Video - The first real glimmer of hope in the almost eight-month strike by United Steelworkers against Vale Inco is showing. - more

  Xstrata's USW Local 2020 gives union 98 per cent strike mandate - Another union in Sudbury has given its bargaining committee an overwhelming strike mandate. - more

  Gulf Mining to launch Oman’s first chrome ore concentrator plant - Oman’s first chrome ore beneficiation plant will be opened at Wadi Mahram in Wilayat Samayil later this week. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.10/lb with most base trading higher this morning as Japanese manufacturers increased production the most since May. The Euro is trading 2/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar, assisting commodities. NYMEX crude futures are flat at $78.15/barrel. Gold opened over 1/10 of 1% higher, and silver is just shy of 2/10 of 1% higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China off a third of a percent. European markets are higher this morning on higher commodity prices, and US futures do not yet show a direction for Wall Street. Nickel inventories bounced higher for a second day, while the BDI rose 27 points.  
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - This morning, we are higher in metals, with copper recovering most of yesterday's losses. There is not much to explain the shift, other than the dollar, which has weakened again, and is now trading at $1.36 against the Euro. However, the European currency will remain under pressure in our view, as the Greek crisis continues to fester. Officials from the EU, the IMF, and the European Central Bank have all been in Athens since the start of the week to evaluate Greece's progress in cutting its budget deficit and are apparently pushing the Greeks to adopt additional spending cuts on top of the ones already announced. .... We are $20,535 on nickel, up $185, and still looking rather toppy at current levels in our view. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Dow Jones) China's nickel pig iron production in 2010 is expected to reach 100,000 metric tons, the same level as in 2009, Barclays Capital said in a report late Thursday.
  • (Bloomberg) OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, Russia’s largest mining company, may pay $1 billion in dividends for 2009, ending two years without a payout, Vedomosti reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.
  • Robust demand buoys resources - more

  MEPS forecasts near-record global stainless steel production in 2010 - Global crude stainless steel production for 2009 is expected to total 24.7 million tonnes. This corresponds to a decline of 4.6 percent from the result in the previous calendar year. - more

  Vale to sit down with striking Sudbury union - Vale will hold "exploratory" talks with union leaders representing striking workers at the company's Sudbury, Ontario, nickel operations, the first signs of movement in a strike that began last July. - more

  Nickel Production In Japan For CY 2009 Had Slight Decrease AS Exports Increased = Output Of Ferro-Nickel Decreased By 4%, That Of Nickel Metal Had Decline Of 14% - According to the monthly statistics concerning steels and nonferrous metals released recently by the Ministry of Economy, Trade Industry, the quantities of nickel metal and ferro-nickel produced in Japan in the calender year (January - December) of 2009 as well as in a single month of December were known as per the table attached hereto. - more

  Minara posts $49m, gives positive outlook - Nickel miner Minara has boosted its full year profit 332 per cent to $49 million on cost cutting, improved nickel prices and record production. - more

  US Nickel signs letter of intent with China Minmetals for two nickel targets in USA - US Nickel, formerly Lumacom Ltd has today inked a Letter of Intent with a Minerals and Metals Group US entity on the Mid-Continent Project located in Minnesota, USA. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • 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 25

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 4 to 2,711.   (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) India Forecasts 8.2% Growth Next Year, Giving Room for Exit From Stimulus // China IPOs in U.S. Suffer Longest Slump in Five Years as Buyers Evaporate // Cathay Pacific to Buy Air China Cargo Stake, Inject Freighters on Export // General Motors Plans to Shut Hummer After Sale to Sichuan Tengzhong Fails // Euro Weakens, Greek Bonds Decline on Downgrade Concern; U.S. Futures Drop // European Economic Sentiment Unexpectedly Worsens as Recovery Almost Stalls // Greek Bonds Fall on Threat of Ratings Downgrade; Bunds Advance on Safety // Greece Risks Debt-Rating Downgrade Within Month on Struggle to Cut Budget // Yen Climbs to One-Year High Against Euro Amid Greek Debt Downgrade Concern // European Stocks Decline on Greek Rating Concern; BHP, Hays, Piraeus Slide // Bernanke Seeks to Defuse Calls for Audits With Offer of More Transparency // Fed Fails to Get Credit-Default Swap Users to Accept Clearinghouse Target // U.S. Home Prices Fell 1.2% in Fourth Quarter, Smallest Loss in Two Years // U.S. Durable Orders Ex-Aircraft Drop as Business-Equipment Demand Weakens // Bernanke Says Fed Is Reviewing Goldman Sachs's Arrangements With Greece
  • The US Dollar is trading over 1/10 of 1% higher against the Euro, off session highs. NYMEX crude is down 3% and over $77.50/barrel. Gold is up 1% and silver is over 1.1% higher. Base metals all ended lower on a higher Dollar and overall pessimism in the economic recovery. Indicator charts show nickel trading was choppy but shallow as the day's activity was limited to a $300 tonne band. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $9.23/lb . Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose for the first time in 10 days, and now rest over the 161,700 tonne level. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel trading thru yesterday (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index gave up its one day negative reading and rose 4 points to 2,711. Concerns about Greece are back in traders minds today and their appetite for risk fell. Jobless claims rose again last week, and instead of blaming the snowstorm in the Northeast, the government acknowledged the snowstorm delayed more jobless claims from being filed. And thanks to the transportation sector, durable good order rose 3% in January, instead of declining by 0.6% without civilian airplanes.  

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (AMM) Crowflight set to ship nickel concentrate in March
  • (MW) Violent protests last week at Yamana Gold's Agua Rica project, in Andalgalá, Argentina, have sparked national debate on the issue and provincial government officials are reportedly concerned that events may spark anti-mining protests elsewhere in the country.
  • There's No Such Thing as a Free Market -- Just a Matter of Who Pays for It - more
  • Economists React: Bernanke Has ‘No Interest in Surprising Markets’ - more
  • Banks Bet Greece Defaults on Debt They Helped Hide - more
  • Address jobs now and deficits later - more
  • History in the Remaking - more
  • Inventing Job Creation Numbers - more
  • Should We Fear China? - more
  • The Danger of Daily Aspirin - more

  Chinas General Administration of Customs reported Wednesday that during the month of January, China imported 16,219 tons of refined nickel, up 112.81% from last January's 7,622 tons. Imports of nickel ore for January rose 127.6% from last January's 507,268 tons to 1,154,490 tons last month. Both totals are well off record highs, and refined nickel imports rose from December, while nickel ore imports fell sharply.

  Courtesy MF Global Daily Report

  Opinion: Is Sudbury running out of luck? - Its deep ore veins are touted as among the world’s richest, the fortuitous result of a meteor strike, geologists reckon, thousands of years ago. - more

  HNR strengthens Forrestania nickel sulphide project - Western Australian minerals explorer Hannans Reward believes its Forrestania nickel sulphide project continues to be strengthened with the involvement of additional key experienced technical professionals, access to increasingly prospective exploration acreage and a balance sheet that enables a methodical exploration process to be employed without short term capital raising requirements. - more

  Stainless Steel Wallet - This wallet claims to be the only Stainless Steel Wallet ever. From looking at it you might think it’s not actually stainless steel… but you would be wrong :) It is made from 25000 stainless steel threads that each measure three times thinner then a piece of paper - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.07/lb with all base metals trading lower this morning. The US Dollar is trading over 1/3 of 1% higher against the Euro, as the Greece crisis continues to weigh. NYMEX crude futures are down over 8/10 of 1% and under $79.50/barrel. Gold opened down 1/2 of 1% while silver is down 1.3%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China up nearly 1-1/2%. European markets are lower this morning on news European economic sentiment unexpectedly fell. US futures show the Bernanke bounce may end with futures down sharply. Nickel inventories broke their streak and rose for only the sixth time this month and the BDI has yet to publish.    
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals reversed earlier losses on Wednesday, as prices moved higher with the stronger Euro, which pushed from 1.3500 to 1.3625 against the dollar over the course of the day. The dollar's sell-off came after relatively dovish Congressional testimony by Fed Chairman Bernanke, who reiterated his view that rates were going to remain low for "an extended period of time", and gave no hint as to when he would contemplate raising them. The one macro release we saw come out of the US did not help the dollar's cause either, and that was the January new home sales report showing sales plunging 11% month-over-month to their lowest level on record. ... We are $20,416 on nickel, down $59, and looking rather toppy at current levels. We suspect the bias should be lower from here, particularly if we cannot bust through $21,500 resistance.read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) Taiwan’s Yieh United Steel Corp. (Yusco) just announced to raise its list prices for March, stimulated by the increasing nickel price. For export market, the company’s price of 300 series hot rolled and cold rolled stainless steel products was raised by US$170~270/ton. And the export price for 400 series stainless steel products rose by US$60~100/ton.
  • (Interfax) China's imports of refined lead fell in January 2010, while imports of refined zinc, tin and nickel rose on an annual basis in the month, according to figures released by the General Administration of Customs (GAC) on Feb. 24.
  • (MB) Miitel nickel mine to restart in a 'few months'
  • (CD) The output of China's 10 types of nonferrous metals exceeded 26 million tons in 2009, up 3.99 percent year-on-year, reporters learned from the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association. Of them, refined copper output reached 4.11 million tons, primary aluminum 12.85 million tons, lead 3.71 million tons, zinc 4.36 million tons, nickel 164,800 tons, tin 134,500 tons, antimony 165,800 tons, magnesium 500,800 tons and sponge titanium 61,500 tons. China's nonferrous metal import and export value totaled 83.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2009, down 11.27 percent year-on-year.
  • (PR) The American Trucking Associations' advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index jumped 3.1 percent in January, following a revised 1.3 percent increase in December 2009. The latest gain boosted the SA index from 107 (2000=100) in December to 110.4 in January, its highest level since September 2008.
  • US slaps duties on steel pipe from China - more
  • China says U.S. abuses trade measures in steel case - more
  • 'China to witness 9.8% GDP growth' - more

  Molybdenum Production By Nine Major Companies In CY 2009 Decreased Only By 6% = Owing To Increased Exports For China, Extent Of Decrease Shrunk Compared To That As Initially Forecasted - The total quantity of molybdenum in molybdenum concentrates produced by nine major molybdenum companies of the world in the calender year (January - December) of 2009 had a decrease of only 6% compared with that in the preceding year of 2008. - more

  China to Continue Driving Molybdenum Demand - Cutbacks by major producers, combined with stockpiling in China, resulted in a tightening of supply, causing prices to spike in mid 2009. Between July 2009 and August 2009, prices for both molybdic oxide and ferromolybdenum almost doubled, only to drop by 50% in the next two months. - more

  East Asia's Stainless Producers To Up Ni-Based CR Sheet Prices At Home - There are forecasts that East Asia's stainless steel manufacturers in nations such as China, South Korea and Taiwan will execute considerable price increases this week each in the equivalent of US$200/ton or beyond in what they sell at home as nickel-based CR sheets. - more

  S.Korea POSCO says to raise stainless steel prices - South Korea's POSCO, the world's No. 4 steelmaker, said on Thursday it would raise prices of its stainless steel products by up to 3.2 percent for those to be released in March due to rising raw material prices. - more

  BHP Billiton appoints new stainless steel materials president  - Global resources group BHP Billiton has announced on Thursday that it has appointed Glenn Kellow as President, Stainless Steel Materials, effective from 1 April 2010. - more

  Baosteel May Bid for Steelmakers, 21st Century Says  - Baosteel Group Corp. is studying possible bids or technology cooperation pacts with European stainless steelmakers Acerinox SA and Outokumpu Oyj, the 21st Century Business Herald reported, without citing anyone. - more

  Rising input costs push the MEPS global price upwards in February - US customers are cautiously optimistic that consumption will grow for seasonal reasons in the spring. - more

  Chairman retiring at Universal Stainless - Universal Stainless & Alloy Products said today Clarence M. McAninch will retire as chairman of the Bridgeville specialty steel producer in May and will be replaced by President and CEO Dennis M. Oates. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • 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 24

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 17 to 2,707. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Harvard's Rogoff Says `Horrible' China Crisis May Trigger Regional Slump // GM Hummer Sale to Sichuan Said to Be Imperiled as China Withholds Approval // Hong Kong Tax on Luxury Homes May Fail, Fuel Speculation on Cheap Property // Emerging-Market Stocks Drop Before Bernanke Testimony; Greek Bonds Decline // Europe Industrial Orders Unexpectedly Climb, Boosted by Machinery Demand // Greek Bank Downgrade Triggers Increase in Price of Sovereign Default Swaps // European Stocks Rise as Bernanke Says Interest Rates Will Stay Low in U.S. // Geithner May Allow Volcker-Rule Leeway as Congressional Opposition Mounts // Mortgage Applications Declined 8.5% Last Week as Demand for Homes Dropped // Credit-Default Swaps Show Europe Contagion Won't Hit U.S.: Credit Markets // SEC Disappointing Goldman Sachs as Commissioners Vote on Short-Sale Curb // Bernanke Says `Nascent' U.S. Recovery Still Requires Low Interest Rates // Sales of New Homes in U.S. Unexpectedly Declined in January to Record Low // Ford's Credit Unit to Cut 1,000 Jobs This Year as Automaker Sells Brands // U.S. Stocks, Treasuries Gain as Dollar Declines on Bernanke's Rate Remarks
  • The Euro is trading 1/3 of 1% higher against the US Dollar at the moment. NYMEX crude is up over 1% and over $79.50/barrel. Gold is down 3/4 of 1% and silver is up 1/4 of 1%. Base metals ended the session mostly higher, after a slow start. Indicator charts show nickel had a sleepy morning, but had a very positive afternoon. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $9.29/lb . Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell overnight for the ninth consecutive day, and now rest just over the 160,800 tonne level. Sucden's day old chart shows trading thru yesterday (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index fell 17 points to 2,707. The US stock markets got two pieces of good news today. First, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress that the economy is not yet strong enough to stand on its own, so low interest rates will continue. Second, MarketWatch reported "A divided U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday voted to temporarily limit short sales after a yearlong debate on the contentious issue. The SEC's five commissioners voted 3-to-2 to curb short sales of a stock after it falls 10% in one day." New homes sales fell 11.2% in January to their lowest level since 1963. Now before you ask where the good news in all that is, we did qualify the statement by saying the "market" got good news today. It has become increasingly clear over the past few years that Wall Street and Main Street operate in two entirely different worlds of reality.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (AP) Nippon Steel & Sumikin Stainless Steel Corp. is reducing its capacity utilization rate on stainless steel sheet production lines by 5-6 percentage points in the January-March term from the preceding quarter. Until now, distributors' efforts to replenish inventories supported a recovery in demand. But after inventories reached 170,000 tons in November, up 5.6 per cent from July, demand "softened," in the words of an official at NSSC, which is co-owned by Nippon Steel Corp.
  • Crowflight Provides 2010 Outlook - more
  • Martin Wolf is Very Gloomy, and With Good Reason - more
  • The Short and Long-Term Case for Treasuries - more
  • Greenspan: crisis worse than Great Depression - more
  • Questions and Answers about the Financial Crisis - pdf here
  • Japan - Past the Point of No Return - By Vitaliy Katsenelson  - more
  • Mass Layoffs Increase in January - more
  • Bracing for a Wave of Bank Failures - more

  Sherritt posts profit; Ambatovy project advances - Sherritt International said on Wednesday it posted a fourth-quarter profit, compared against a year-ago loss, when results were hurt by a large goodwill impairment charge. - more

  Ferro Metals Builds Inventory as Prices Increase - London-listed and South African-based ferrochrome producer International Ferro Metals (IFM) has been building its inventories to take advantage of recent higher ferrochrome prices, it said yesterday. - more

  Mining exports down 19.8% to US$30.6bn in 2009 - Chilean mining exports totaled US$30.6bn last year, a 19.8% decrease compared to US$38.2bn in 2008, according to the central bank's 4Q09 report on foreign trade. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:25 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around even but off session lows, with other base metals lower but nearly all recovering. The Euro is trading 3/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar, which is helping commodities find a footing this morning. NYMEX crude futures are down 2/10 of 1% and over $78.50/barrel. Gold opened 8/10 of 1% lower, while silver is down nearly the same. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, while China markets rose 1.4%. European markets are slightly higher as European industrial orders rose for a second month in December, with US futures showing Wall Street may open quietly higher. Traders around the world are awaiting Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's two days of testimony before Congress that begins this morning, awaiting to see what action he plans to take to address the weak recovery and joblessness. Nickel inventories fell overnight.
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals were hammered on Tuesday, as a confluence of events hit the markets. The stage was set for a weaker opening when the dollar strengthened considerably early in the Tuesday session, finally moving away from the $1.36-$1.3650 congestion band it was in and pushing towards $1.35. Prices than weakened after the release of US consumer confidence readings for February, with the Conference Board index plunging by a whopping 10 points month over month to 46-- almost 11 points lower than forecast. Consumer sentiment is obviously buckling under the weight of job prospects that remain bleak despite signs that the US recovery has commenced. Macro indicators out of Germany also contributed to the weaker tone yesterday, with February German business sentiment falling for the first time in almost a year. We are lower again right now in metals, feeding off yesterday's weakness and an uneventful Chinese session. In fact, we believe that much of the weakness we have been seeing so far this week in metals could be attributable to markets being disappointed by the lack of buying coming out of China after the New Year break, traditionally a time of modest restocking. For our part, we have been skeptical about the recent run higher in metals, and expect the downbeat tone to continue through the week. Prices in a number of complexes are working lower into the range and seem to be on track to test trading range support. n related news, Chinese customs released monthly metal imports data today, showing month-over-month declines in most metals, perhaps another reason behind today's sluggish opening. Imports of refined copper fell to 196,926 tonnes in January from 244,013 tonnes in December, primary aluminum imports fell to 40,059 tonnes from 42,106 tonnes, imports of zinc were down from 2,282 tons to 1,566 tons, with only lead imports up from 19,078 tons to 28,973 tons in January. We will have the individual breakdowns in tomorrow’s note...... We are $20,050 on nickel, down $145, and starting to turn back lower into the trading range. We have not been able to spot any fundamental reason to justify nickel’s recent run higher, and therefore expect much of the recent gain to be rolled back if the weaker tone in the general metals complex persists.  (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) The price of stainless scrap in Europe is being boosted due to LME nickel price breaking US$20,000/ton. So far, the market prices of stainless scrap 18/8 are prevailing at US$1,873/ton in UK.
  • (Dow Jones) Jones) Talvivaara Mining Company PLC restarted its nickel plant Feb. 20 after a catalyst failure forced a shutdown earlier in the month, a senior official said Wednesday. About 1,000 metric tons of nickel metal output and 2,000 tons of zinc metal output were lost during the shutdown .....
  • (JMB) Japan Stainless Cold Rolled Export to Rise by US$ 200/T
  • (Tex) Japan's crude steel production totaled 8,723,000 tons in January 2010, down 228,000 tons or 2.5% from a month ago (up 36.8% from a year ago), indicating a year-on-year increase for three consecutive months, when it hit a level of 8,000,000 tons for six months running, according to the Japan Iron & Steel Federation.
  • (AISI) Based on preliminary Census Bureau data, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported today that the U.S. imported a total of 1,634,000 net tons (NT) of steel in January, including 1,257,000 NT of finished steel (up 16% and 11%, respectively, vs. December final data). Annualized total and finished steel imports in 2010 would be 19.6 and 15.1 million NT, respectively, up 21% and 6% vs. 2009.
  • Gindalbie to work with Chinese Ansteel, again - more
  • CFTC to hold March meeting on metals trading - more
  • West Not Recovering, Bond Crisis on the Way: Strategist  - more

  Finnish nickel and zinc producer Talvivaara Mining posted disappointing output figures, but said it expects to turn cash flow positive in the second half of 2010 if nickel prices stay near current levels. - more

  China Steel cuts debt, maintains full production - Australian-listed stainless steel producer China Steel Australia announced yesterday that its shareholders had approved the transaction for its lenders to convert their loans into fully paid ordinary shares and options via a debt for equity swap. - more

  Indonesia's Inco Nominates Freeport Executive As President Director - PT International Nickel Indonesia said Wednesday that it has nominated a former PT Freeport Indonesia executive as its new president director.  - more

  Rising from the nickel wreckage - Investors flock to listed nickel stocks, as profitability returns to the global sector, and spot prices flirt with multi month highs. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • 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 23

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 3 to 2,724. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Kan's Widening Rift With Shirakawa Hampers Japan Battle Against Deflation // Philippines Sells 100 Billion Yen in Samurai Bonds to Fund Budget Deficit  // German Business Confidence Unexpectedly Drops as Snow Hampers Retail Sales // King Says Bank of England Will Do `Whatever Seems Appropriate' for Economy // Germany to Face Greek Bailout Dilemma Over Rating, Exports, Schroders Says // Greece's Four Biggest Banks Lowered by Fitch on Concern Economy Worsening // European Stocks Fall for Second Day as Confidence Slips in Germany, U.S. // Buffett Defies Downgrades as Berkshire Credit Risk Drops to 17-Month Low // Home Depot Raises Dividend for First Time Since 2006 as Net Tops Estimates // Harvard's Rogoff Sees `Bunch' of Sovereign Defaults, U.S. Belt-Tightening // FDIC Said to Prepare Sales of Bonds Backed by Failed U.S. Lenders' Assets // Consumer Confidence in U.S. Falls to 10-Month Low as Outlook for Jobs Dims // Home Prices in U.S. Cities Rose for Seventh Month in Sign of Stabilization //
  • The US Dollar is trading nearly 2/3 of 1% higher against the Euro today as  a dip in German business confidence and US consumer confidence calmed risk appetites among traders. Andrew Wilkinson, senior market analyst at Interactive Brokers told MarketWatch "Tuesday is starting out to be another one of those when investors turn to the solace of the dollar when they suddenly appear to run out of reasons to buy an alternative." NYMEX crude is down over 2% and nearing the $78.50/level. Gold is down nearly 1% and silver is off over 2%. Base metals ended the day lower, as a rising Dollar and negative confidence readings weighed heavy. Indicator chart show nickel spent the day in a slow gradual slide, just opposite of some of last week's daily charts. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $9.16/lb . Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell by over 1000 tonnes overnight, it's seventh consecutive decline. In a break from the past few days activity, inventory was received into warehouses, but more shipped out overnight. Cancelled warrants fell below the 2-1/4% level, possibly signaling the exodus of nickel could potentially be slowing. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel trading thru yesterday (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index rose 3 points to 2,724. Reports out of the US were less than positive today. US consumer confidence fell sharply, to levels not seen since last Spring, and CNBC reported "The present situation index dropped to 19.4 from 25.2 in January, the worst since February 1983." (report here) The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller composite index reported home prices fell 0.2% in December in 20 metropolitan areas. Marketwatch reports "the National Association of Realtors on Tuesday reported that it doesn't expect any meaningful recovery in commercial real estate before 2011." And FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair reported that teh number of troubled banks has risen to 702. The Dow was off triple digits earlier, but is down 90 at the moment.   

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) The London Metal Exchange Tuesday said that $5.7 million worth of molybdenum and cobalt futures contracts were transacted on the first day of trading Monday, ....the official price at the end of ring trading for molybdenum delivered in three months was bid-offered at $37,500/ton-$38,500/ton.
  • (TT) For the first time since mid-2008, average global container freight rates experienced a year-on-year increase, according to the Drewry Global Freight Rate Index. Analysts in London said the index has recovered by 3 percent in the year to November 2009.
  • The US imported 198,233.6 mt of high-carbon ferrochrome in 2009 compared to 469,418.3 mt in 2008.
  • (DMN) Commercial Metals Co. shares jumped Monday on speculation that the Irving-based steel recycler and distributor might be an acquisition candidate.
  • So What Exactly Caused the Financial Crisis? - more
  • Commercial Real Estate Apocalypse in 2011-2012 - more
  • Some Good News on Jobs: Tax Withholding Improving - more
  • 'Death of American Capitalism:' The 10 final scenes - more
  • Cost of Home Ownership - more
  • Early in the Year, and Already Surprised - more
  • As a marker for hospital quality, cost alone is unreliable, new study suggests - more
  • Nearly 20% of US Workers Underemployed in Jan  - more
  • The Doomsday Cycle - more
  • Americans losing hope on finding work - more
  • Who Pays the Costs of the Recession? - more

  International Ferro Metals H1 losses widen - South African-based International Ferro Metals Ltd (IFM) reported a wider loss in its first half as higher production was outweighed by lower prices for the stainless steel ingredient and stronger rand. - more

  Iron ore prices up at $136/T in post-holiday trades - Spot iron ore traded 5 percent higher when Chinese players returned to the market after week-long holidays, market sources said on Tuesday. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around no change , with other base metals mostly lower, but quiet. The US Dollar is trading nearly 1/10 of 1% higher against the Euro at the moment. NYMEX crude futures are down over 1-1/2% and close to $79/barrel. Gold has opened slightly lower this morning, and silver opened over 4/10 of 1% lower. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended slightly higher, with China off over 1%. European markets are lower this morning as German business confidence unexpectedly fell, and US futures are slightly lower. Nickel inventories fell over 100 tonnes for a second day, and the BDI has yet to be published.    
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metal prices finished mostly lower on Monday, with copper leading the way and never managing to mount the upside reversal it was staging with so little effort for most of last week. (In fact, copper's 9% gain last week was the largest percentage price rise since March of 2009). This morning, we continue to see weakness in metals, as the dollar, which hardly budged off the 1.36 mark against the Euro yesterday, is stronger today, and currently trading at $1.3570. We do not have much to add to what we wrote yesterday, namely that most of the metals are quite overdone on the upside in our view, and in store for a modest pullback given the continued strength we expect in the dollar..... We are $20,515 on nickel, up $40, and off the best levels of the day, which was an intraday high of $20,734. Prices remain in breakout mode, but $21,500 marks serious resistance. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Interfax) China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has drawn up a plan to eliminate the country's outdated metals facilities in the year ahead, state media reported on Feb. 23.
  • (MB) China stainless mills raise prices by $219 on higher nickel
  • (JMD) Cold-rolled Ni stainless steel sheet/ Distributors' inventory end-January, first decline in 5 months
  • Nihao unit given 25-year mining contract - more
  • Bondi Mining enters agreement with JOGMEC over North Maureen Project - more
  • Sirius Resources confirms nickel sulphide gossan at Polar Bear during sampling - more
  • (SM) According to the American Forest & Paper Association’s January 2010 U.S. Containerboard Statistics Report released today, total containerboard paper production again rose sharply when compared to same month last year. This month follows a trend set in December 2009. Total production saw an increase of 335,500 tons or 13.8% over January 2009. Production increase compared to December 2009; and the daily average percent change was up 1.1%. The recent reduction in capacity is reflected in the current operating rates. The containerboard operating rate for January 2010 rose 15.3 points to 93.1% over January 2009.
  • State and Federal Borrowing Is Crowding Out Everyone Else - more
  • China New Village Makes Chanos See Dubai 1,000 Times - more

  It is Nickel boom in China - Chinese stainless steel production rose 26.8% to 8.8 Mt in 2009, according to the Stainless Steel Council of China. China’s apparent consumption of stainless steel increased by almost 32%, to 8.22 Mt. - more

  Cuba says Venezuela ferronickel venture on track - Cuban plans to produce ferronickel with Venezuela at a partially completed plant in eastern Holguin province are on track with preliminary work well under way, official media said on Monday. - more

  Ferrochrome May Advance 29%, International Ferro Says - Ferrochrome contract prices may rise as much as 29 percent in the second quarter as demand improves, according to David Kovarsky, chief executive officer of International Ferro Metals Ltd. - more

  Metals to rally this year on funds, China-Natixis - Base metals will rally this year as funds are set to maintain their buy-side bias, while strong Chinese growth will overshadow lacklustre growth in mature economies, according to Natixis. - more

  Anti-dumping duty on Chinese tyre, steel - Concerned over surge in imports particularly from China, India has slapped anti-dumping duty on several stainless steel products and radial tyres. - more

  Steel prices in the Developing Markets’ remain unsettled in February - Trading activity in Turkey has been sluggish in February. A few local long product steelmakers have opted to downgrade their production. - more

   Courtesy AISI - In the week ending February 20, 2010, domestic raw steel production was 1,660,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 68.6 percent. Production was 1,064,000 tons in the week ending February 20, 2009, while the capability utilization then was 45.5 percent. The current week production represents a 56.0 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending February 20, 2010 is up 0.9 percent from the previous week ending February 13, 2010 when production was 1,645,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 68.0 percent.

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • 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 22

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 7 to 2,721. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Reliance Said to Increase Bid for Bankrupt Lyondell to About $14.5 Billion // Japan Hoarding Treasuries Foils Dealers Seeing High Yield in China Retreat // Singapore Plans to Spend $3.9 Billion in Five Years to Raise Productivity // Asian Stocks, Oil Advance as U.S. Interest Rate Concern Eases; Yen Weakens // Euro's Worst to Come as Derivatives Show Greece Hammerlocking ECB on Rates // Provopoulos Confident Greece to Meet `Very Ambitious' Goals on Deficit Cut // Greece Said to Have Arranged Swap Contracts with About 15 Securities Firms // Total Unions Warn French Fuel Shortage Imminent Amid Call for Wider Strike // Goldman Sachs Says Swaps for Greece Had `Minimal Effect' on Budget Deficit // Germany, France Weigh Tougher Rules for Hedge Funds, Credit-Default Swaps // European Stocks Decline for First Time in Six Days; Inditex, Glaxo Retreat // Lowe's Quarterly Profit Tops Analysts' Estimates as Sales Exceed Forecast // Treasury Yields Are Near Six-Week High as Stocks Advance, U.S. Issues Debt // AIG `Death Spiral' Ends With Bailout Support Bringing Stability to Revenue // Fed's Yellen Says U.S. Economy Will Perform Below Potential for Two Years // BofA Settlement With SEC Over Merrill Lynch Deal Wins U.S. Court Approval //
  • The US Dollar is trading nearly 2/10 of 1% higher against the Euro, as concerns about sovereign debt refuse to go away. NYMEX crude is up 1/4 of 1% and refusing to relinquish the $80/barrel level. Gold is down 2/10 of 1% and silver is off 1/4 of 1%. Base metals ended mixed, mostly lower and quiet as traders await news if China will start buying again now that they have returned from Spring Festival. Indicator charts show nickel spent the day in a reserved mood, slowly drifting lower in choppy trading. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $9.29/lb , still its second highest close for the year. Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell by over 1000 tonnes over the weekend and now site just under the 162,500 tonne level. That's the seventh consecutive fall, and ninth in the last 10 working days.Cancelled warrants remain above 3%. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel trading thru Friday (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index gained 7 points to 2,721 but positive momentum is falling. Molybdenum started trading on the London Metal Exchange today. If you were watching hockey and missed 60 Minutes last night, you missed, in our opinion, one of the biggest marketing coups of the year. If 60 Minutes was hoping to uncover another energy scam, they were humbled by what they found in the secret operation, and its worth watching because it has the potential of rocking the electrical industry (watch here). The Chicago Federal Reserve reported this morning that the National Activity Index indicated that the U.S. economy was in the best shape its been since May of 2007.

  Reports

  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Europe - ThyssenKrupp Nirosta March stainless steel surcharge - here
  • Europe - Outokumpu March stainless steel surcharge - here

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Molybdenum, used as an alloy agent in stainless steel and in aircraft parts, is meanwhile trading in the physical market at around $16.50-$17.25/lb.
  • Millions of Unemployed Face Years Without Jobs  - more
  • It Is Not a Jobless Recovery, It is a Growthless Recovery - more
  • The US is not a viable concern anymore - more
  • Das: Mark to Make Believe – Still Toxic After All These Years!- more
  • If Our Grandparents Could See Us Now - more
  • We need jobs, not deficit cuts - more
  • The Bush 400 - more
  • Keep rates at zero, Yellen says - more
  • Euro's Future in Question Even if Greece Saved: Soros - more
  • China: No one home - more
  • Economists See Firm Recovery In 2010, Job Creation In 1Q - more
  • Job seekers pounce on openings in Year of Tiger - more
  • Worker dearth worsening  - more

  India slaps anti-dumping duty on stainless steel imports - India has imposed anti-dumping duty of up to $2,254 per tonne on import of certain stainless steel products -- used by consumer durables and auto industries -- from the US, EU, China and other countries. - more

  China Still in Talks for Iron Ore Supply - A report during the Spring Festival said that five major Chinese metallurgical companies had reached agreement with Vale, and BHP Billiton, according to which the supply price of iron ores to Chinese ports would be upgraded by 40% from USD 62 per ton of 2009 to USD 84 per ton. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:30 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.03/lb lower, with most base metals lower this morning. The Euro is trading slightly higher against the US Dollar and off earlier lows. NYMEX crude futures are up 1/2 of 1% and over the $80/barrel level. Gold opened 1/3 of 1% higher and silver is higher by 3/4 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China falling 1/2 of 1% on its first day back from holiday. European markets are higher this morning, and US futures show Wall Street will open bullish. LME nickel inventories fell by over 1000 tonnes over the weekend, and the BDI has yet to be published. 
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more
  • Reuters morning report - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metal prices put on another spectacular display to the upside on Friday, teeing off on the weaker dollar, which sold off from 1.3440 against the Euro to 1.36 by the close of the day. The dollar's decline was attributable to the release of consumer inflation numbers showing prices not only rising less than expected in January, but actually falling on the "core" reading, (excluding food and energy), for the first time since 1982. We are higher slightly lower as of this writing in metals, but off the worst levels of the day. We would not be surprised to see prices finish higher again today, as the trading pattern seems to be similar to what we have seen in recent sessions, namely, weakness early on followed by late-day strengthening. Chinese markets have resumed trading overnight, and the closes in Shanghai were marked higher in order to line up with the recent gains seen on the LME. Despite the heady advances seen in metal prices in recent weeks, we would exercise caution about chasing the upside at these levels, as we are not convinced that the current dollar rally is close to being over. The sovereign debt issues in Europe are only being addressed, and not getting resolved, and so we would not be surprised to see further "runs" into the greenback in the weeks to follow. More importantly, the Fed's move last week to raise the discount rate is an important pivot point for the central bank, and will likely be followed by further tightening into 2010. Neither are we convinced that inflation is as tame as the consumer price readings out Friday suggest. In this regard, the producer price index was not reassuring at all, with wholesale prices up 1.4% in January, and prices here are now running 4.6% higher than a year ago and are up 9.8% annualized over the last six months. Fed Chairman Bernanke will undoubtedly have to address these issues when he testifies in front of Congress later this week at the semi-annual Humphrey-Hawkins hearings, and despite his easy-money public face, markets are correctly sensing that we are now entering the end game on the low-rate cycle...... We are $20,650 down $75. We have been highlighting nickel’s breakout above $19,500 (red line) last week, and prices now seem to be on track to test the next key resistance on the charts at $21,500 (in black). A decisive push above this level could result in a more spirited advance. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Interfax) Jinchuan Group Ltd., China's largest nickel producer, has raised its ex-works refined nickel price, for the third time in February, by RMB 13,000 ($1,904.18) to RMB 158,000 ($23,143.06) per ton, in line with international refined nickel prices, according to Jinchuan Group's Web site on Feb. 20.
  • (Reuters) Goldman Sachs plans to buy U.S.-based warehouse and logistics company Metro International Trade Services, a Goldman Sachs spokesman said on Friday. The official declined to say how much the deal was worth.
  • (CD) Baosteel to raise steel prices by up to $103 per ton - more
  • (BBC) The Mineral Resources Development Co Ltd is satisfied with the progress at Ramu nickel and cobalt project in Madang Province. This comes after Imbi Tagune, MRDC's manager for external affairs, and Joe Taymen, manager technical, expressed satisfaction after visiting Kurumbukari mine site. The project is being developed by Ramu NiCo (MCC), a Chinese company.
  • (MBN) Nonferrous mining giant Kennecott Rio Tinto is pursuing mineral drilling exploration in Northeastern Minnesota this winter while developing a copper-nickel mine in Upper Michigan.
  • (JMB) Japanese demand of steel products for building will increase in fiscal 2010 starting April from fiscal 2009, which is the first increase in 4 years, according to Japanese steel makers.
  • Number of Banks Failed in 2010 - more
  • Long Term Unemployed Graph - more

  London Metal Exchange Expands With Molybdenum, Cobalt  - The London Metal Exchange, the world’s biggest metals market, began trading today in cobalt and molybdenum, commodities used in everything from jet engines to stainless steel. - more

  MBMI Resources is preparing to resume nickel shipping activities from its Alpha project on Palawan in the Philippines. - Several sales agreements have been executed with Asian industrial consumers for the delivery of nickel bearing material having grades of about 1.4% nickel. - more

  General Review Of Chrome Ore In 2009 And Its Outlook For New Year= 2009 Was The Year Swung Around By Demand For Chrome Ore From China - The reason, why the international prices of chrome ores had fluctuated considerably during the last one year of the end 2008 to 2009, can be well understood from the movements of floor prices applied to exports by MMTC of India. - more

  • Tangshan's monthly stainless steel output will break 10,000 t - It is reported that Tangshan's stainless steel begins to receive small amount of orders and to run equipments after successfully completed trial producing the HR in November, 2009. - more

  Vale sees $5.3B earnings in 2009 - Global mining giant Vale's net income for 2009 hit US$5.3 billion, down from the $13.2 billion seen in 2008, according to the company's financial reports. - more

  Investment in SE Sulawesi`s mining sector up significantly - The governor of Southeast Sulawesi, Nur Alam, said investment in the province`s mining sector had increased significantly. - more

  Taiwan’s Formosa to build steel plant in Vietnam - Formosa Plastics Group has said it plans a stainless steel plant in Vietnam  - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • 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 19

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 10 to 2,714. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Singapore Says 2010 Economy May Expand 4.5% to 6.5%, Faster Than Expected // Toyota Will Appear Before House Panel as U.S. Probes Automaker's Recalls // Asia May Be Helped by Fed's Move Amid Inflation Pressures, ADB's Nag Says // Russia Lowers Rate Quarter Point to Spur Lending, Curb Strengthening Ruble // Australia's Stevens Sees Less Room for Economic Growth Without Inflation // Japan Air Has Last Trading Day After Bankruptcy, Wiping Out Shareholders // European, Asian Stocks Drop as Fed Lifts Discount Rate; U.S. Futures Fall // UBS Defers Bonuses on Compensation Above $250,000 After Unprofitable Year // Greece Replaces Debt Chief Papanicolaou as Deficit Crisis Batters Markets // Dollar Touches Nine-Month High Versus Euro After Fed Raises Discount Rate // U.K. Retail Sales Drop Twice as Much as Forecast as Cold Curtails Spending // European Manufacturing, Services Expand, Boosted by Rising Global Demand // European Stocks Rise for Fifth Day, Posting Biggest Weekly Gain Since July // Fed Raises Discount Rate by Quarter-Point in Retreat From Crisis Measures // U.S. Consumer Prices Increase Less Than Forecast in Sign Inflation Subdued // Fed's Dudley Calls Discount Rate Boost `Last Piece' of Liquidity Package // Foreclosures in U.S. Set Record as Unemployment Thwarts Housing Recovery // Buffett's `Dangerous Business' Ensnares Insurers as Muni Bankruptcies Loom
  • The Euro has bounced back and is now trading nearly 1/4 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up over 8/10 of 1% and just under $80/barrel. Gold is up over 1-1/3% and silver is higher by 3.8%. London traded base metals all ended slightly higher on the day. Indicator charts show it was another slow climb for nickel throughout the session, with a slight setback late. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $9.40/lb , a new high for 2010 and a gain of 12% for the week. Inventories of nickel stored in LME warehouses slipped for a sixth consecutive time overnight, and now sit just over the 163,500 tonne level. Inventories now sit 1,266 tonne slower than they sat on the last day of January, and 2,936 tonnes of their all time record high from Feb 8th. Sucden's day old chart shows LME nickel trading thru yesterday (chart here). The largest warehouse in Rotterdam, has not seen an inbound shipment since the first of the month, and cancelled warrants remain above the 3% level. The Chinese will be back on Monday and it will be interesting to see how they react to this weekly increase. The Baltic Dry Index rose 10 points overnight, and is showing evidence it may go negative in the next few trading days. In US reports, the US government reported today that the cost of living increased less than expected in January, but that the so called core index, a measure of prices excluding food and fuel, fell for the first time since 1982. Last week the Greece crisis turned world markets bearish, while this week the bulls have jumped back in command. What will next week bring?
  • Have a safe and enjoyable weekend!! 

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Ryan Sweet, Moody’s Economy.com - The Federal Reserve Board’s hike in the discount rate Thursday signifies a separation between credit easing and traditional monetary policy. However, it does not alter our forecast for the central bank to leave both the interest paid on reserves and the fed funds rate target unchanged until the fourth quarter of 2010.
  • Steve Blitz, Majestic Research - A stable financial system is necessary for the economy to grow but not sufficient. The minutes of the January FOMC meeting were a sober assessment of the economy giving little sense that prospects are for anything more than stable growth around 2% to 3% despite record monetary and fiscal stimulus. Given this outlook, a pace of unwind as accelerated as some FOMC members seem to want is very much unlikely.
  • Bruce Kasman, J.P. Morgan Chase - This move is part of the removal of unconventional measures and should not be seen as a signal of a change in the Fed’s monetary policy stance.  .... This move does not alter our view that the Fed’s first policy rate hike will come in [the first half of 2011.
  • What Can the Market Tell Us About Surprise Fed Action? - more
  • The Joe Stack Suicide Note - What is he talking about? - more
  • Jobless claims report points to long-term unemployment problem - more
  • Shock as British deficit equals that of Greece - more
  • Wall Street's Bailout Hustle - more
  • Foreclosure troubles only hibernating - more
  • California Death Spiral - more
  • Rich get richer, tax rates fall  - more
  • US Economic Cycle Research Institute (LEIs) - more

  POSCO Strikes Stainless Deal - Steel giant POSCO has signed a long-term contract with Thailand's biggest auto component manufacturer, Yarnapund to supply it with stainless steel. - more

  BJP blames futures trading for price rise - The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday blamed futures trading in the commodity market for rising food prices. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:25 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.07/lb lower with all base metals lower on a stronger Dollar. The US Dollar is trading nearly 1/4 of 1% higher against the Euro,  after spiking much higher on yesterday's after market announcement of an increase in the US discount rate by 1/4%. NYMEX crude futures are down nearly 3/4 of 1% and under $78.50/barrel. Gold is slightly lower and silver is higher by nearly 9/10 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets closed lowe ron the US discount news with China markets re-opening on Monday. European markets are lower this morning, and lower US futures reveal traders are concerned about the Fed's announcement, and the exit from emergency liquidity measures.  Nickel inventories fell yet again, and the BDI rose 10 points.  
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more
  • Reuters morning report - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals continued to push generally higher on Thursday, with copper leading the way once again. A strong regional manufacturing report out by the Philadelphia Fed helped set the steadier tone after it was noted that factory activity in the US Mid-Atlantic region rose for a tenth month in a row. There was not much reaction to more negative news of an uptick in weekly US jobless claims and a faster-than-expected rise in January producer prices. In addition, buying picked up in anticipation of the return of the Chinese from their Lunar New Year Holidays next week, traditionally a time when demand perks up a bit.   .... We think much of the rally in metals this past week has been overdone, and with the Fed news now in front of us and the action in the dollar no longer a flash-in-the-pan type of move, we very well could see various commodity complexes begin a more consistent push lower over the course of today’s session and into next week. The Fed's move was clearly a shot across the bow, and will likely be followed by further steps to sop up excess liquidity, culminating in an eventual move to raise rates, which we suspect will happen sometime over the spring or summer months. Moreover, because a number of central banks are starting to move in the same direction, their collective actions could generate significant headwinds for commodities going into 2010. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Dow Jones)  Russia's nickel output increased by 8.8% YOY in January
  • Speciality steels provider Universal Stainless & Alloy Products Inc reported on Thursday that the company will hike base price by 5% on all stainless wire rod manufactured at its Dunkirk Specialty Steel LLC facility effective with all new orders from 1 March 2010.
  • (Dow Jones) The London Metal Exchange Friday approached the Baltic Exchange with a proposal to jointly develop a Regulated Investment Exchange for freight derivatives following months of exploratory talks with the wider freight market.
  • (WSJ) Trading is slated to start Monday in London for two industrial metals, providing a fresh test of investors' appetite for risky assets after last year's broad rebound in commodities prices. Cobalt and molybdenum are both widely used in manufacturing.
  • (SSW) After extended negotiations, Belvedere Resources Ltd has purchased, through its wholly owned subsidiary Belvedere Mining Oy, the Hitura Nickel Mine and associated claims, as well as the Kopsa gold property from the administrators of the Finn Nickel Bankruptcy estate for EUR 1 and the forgiveness of any remaining claims on the Finn Nickel estate by Belvedere.
  • The Freight Transportation Services Index was unchanged in December from its November level, after one monthly increase, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported today, Feb. 18.

  Market Tendency On Imports Of Ferro-Alloys At 15th February 2010= Prices Of Low Carbon And High Carbon FeCr Have Risen To A Remarkable Extent - The market tendency by item on imports of ferro-alloys into Japan at the 15th February of 2010 is as follows  - more

  Ni-Based Japanese Stainless CR Sheets Sell At $2,900 C&F For March Exports - Japan's stainless steel manufacturers have firmed up their export deals of nickel-based CR sheets at US$2,900/ton C&F for March shipments to Asian destinations, mainly to China. - more

  Anglo American profits halve on economic downturn - Global mining giant Anglo American on Friday said that its net profit more than halved to 1.575 billion pounds in 2009 as last year's economic downturn slashed the prices of metals. - more

  First Point Discovers Nickel-Iron Alloy on the Klow Property, Central BC - First Point Minerals Corp. is pleased to report the discovery of nickel-iron alloy on its 100%-owned Klow property. - more

  Atlas subsidiary to resume Palawan nickel exploration - A unit of listed miner Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp. will soon start a drilling program to assess the feasibility of reopening the Berong nickel project in Palawan. - more

  Vale: Goro Nickel Commissioning Progressing Well - Brazil's Vale said Wednesday that commissioning of its 60,000 metric-ton-a-year Goro nickel development in New Caledonia was progressing well, resulting in a first intermediate nickel product. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  • China Daily Special Coverage
  • SINA
  • Chain of Events
  • BHP, Rio Investigation Extended by German Regulators - A probe into BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group’s planned iron-ore joint venture was extended by German antitrust authorities, threatening to delay a deal the companies say will save them at least $10 billion. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • 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 18

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 43 to 2,704. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Carlyle's Willcom Files for Bankruptcy After Failing to Agree Revival Plan // Wesfarmers Profit Beats Estimates on Retail Expansion, Driving Up Shares // Toyota May Add Corolla to Recall List After U.S. Probe on Power Steering // Asian Stocks Drop, Yen Rises on Greece, Concern Fed May Withdraw Stimulus // Daimler Posts Unexpected Fourth-Quarter Loss, Won't Pay Dividend for 2009 // U.K. Posts First January Budget Deficit Since at Least 1993; Revenue Drops // Barrick to Spin Off Tanzanian Assets, Create U.K.'s Biggest Gold Producer // Merkel Slams Greek `Scandal' as Goldman's Role on Budget Draws Attention // Greece's Katseli Says Some Nations May Need `Other' Funds, Real FM Says // European Stocks Advance for Fourth Day; ABB, Swiss Re Shares Lead Increase // Wal-Mart Quarterly Sales Trail Estimates on Food, Electronics Price Cuts // SEC Said to Use BofA Enforcement Talks to Give Investors More Say on Board // Treasury Yield Curve Steepens to a Record as 10-Year Securities Decline // Philadelphia Area Manufacturing Gains as Orders Fuel Factory-Led Recovery // Leading Economic Index in U.S. Increased 0.3%, 10th Consecutive Advance // Jobless Claims in U.S. Unexpectedly Increased 31,000 Last Week to 473,000 //
  • The US Dollar is trading nearly 2/10 of 1% higher against the Euro, nearly where it was this morning, but was much lower for a time during the last four hours. This gave a spurt of energy to commodities and most refused to relinquish that gain. NYMEX crude is up nearly 1% and over $78/barrel. Gold is up 8/10 of 1% and silver is up nearly the same. Base metals ended the session mostly higher, with only aluminum falling. Indicator charts show nickel took off to the race searly and didnt take a break till the end of the trading day, leveling out. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $9.28/lb , a new 2010 record high. Inventories of nickel stored in LME warehouses fell for a fifth consecutive day, and fell below the 164,000 tonne level. Cancelled warrants remain above the 3% mark, and Sucden's day old chart shows LME trading thru yesterday (chart here).  More than any other LME traded base metal, nickel is showing strong resistance to the strengthening Dollar, apparently taking its cues instead from inventories falling off record high levels, and cancelled warrants implying increased demand. The Baltic Dry Index rose 43 points to 2,704. IN US reports, jobless claims rose last week and US wholesale prices rose higher in January than expected by analysts. The Philly Fed index rose as expected, and leading U.S. economic indicators rose 0.3% in January, its 10th consecutive climb.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • WSJ Poll Shows China Growth Slowed Ahead of Government Tightening - more
  • A Look at the Tax Returns of the Top 400 Taxpayers - more
  • Stripping away the disguise of derivatives - more
  • TIC tock; TIC tock; TIC tock - more
  • Coming Soon: Chapter 9 Municipal Bankruptcies - more
  • Thinking the Unthinkable: What if China Devalues the Renminbi? - more
  • Administration pushed to expand foreclosure-prevention program - more

  Berong Nickel not resuming operations - Improving nickel prices have not provided enough reason for Berong Nickel Corp. (BNC), a subsidiary of Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp., to resume its nickel laterite mining operations. - more

  Canaccord: Copper, nickel, zinc and aluminium: Is demand for metals really recovering outside of China? - Copper, nickel, zinc and aluminium: Is demand for metals really recovering outside of China? The debate goes on. - more

  ThyssenKrupp Confirms Mid-Year Start-Up Dates For New Plants - German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp has reconfirmed that it aims to start production at its new plants in the USA and Brazil in the middle of this year. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:25 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.07/lb with most other base metals lower. The US Dollar is trading 1/4 of 1% higher against the Euro, adding pressure to commodity trading. NYMEX crude futures are down 1/3 of 1% and just over $77/barrel. Gold is up 2/10 of 1% and silver is higher by nearly 4/10 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower as Greece concerns re-surfaced. European markets are trading higher this morning, with US futures not yet giving a clear opening signal. Nickel inventories fell again overnight, while the BDI gained for a third day. 
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Ed's reports have been arriving after our morning update lately. We are updating the pdf as soon as we receive (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • Eramet cuts dividend after 2009 loss  - more
  • (JMB) World nickel supply will be 38,000 tonnes more than the demand in 2010, according to outlook by Sumitomo Metal Mining.
  • (SBB) US stainless exports fall despite big jump in semis trade
  • Global Scrap Market Reports - more
  • Codelco will not hedge against LME molybdenum - more
  • (Dow Jones) Eramet Says Doniambo Nickel Output Steady At 52,100 Tons In 09
  • Mustang Minerals Corp. Makwa Nickel Project Update - more
  • China risk makes buying commodities a 'dangerous' trade - more
  • Commentary: What to expect from the commercial real estate crisis - more

  Eramet Group: 2009 results - more

  Universal Stainless Announces Stainless Wire Rod Base Price Increase - Universal Stainless & Alloy Products, Inc. (Nasdaq:USAP - News) today announced a base price increase of 5% on all stainless wire rod manufactured at its Dunkirk Specialty Steel, LLC facility. - more

  Indsil Hydro Power to set up 75,000 tpy ferro chrome smelter in Oman - Indsil Hydro Power and Manganese along with its group sister company, Indsil Energy & Electrochemicals have entered into an arrangement on 17 February 2010 with the Muscat Overseas Group from the Sultanate of Oman to form a 50:50 joint venture for the purpose of setting up a 75,000 tpy ferro chrome smelter in the Sultanate of Oman. - more

  Japan January crude steel output rises 37 pct - Policies aimed at boosting demand for cars and homes in emerging markets helped Japanese mills increase crude steel output by more than a third in January from a year ago. - more

  Anti-mining priest named CBCP-NASSA’s executive secretary - The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has named an anti-mining priest to serve as executive secretary of its social action department. - more

  A global automotive components manufacturer invites proposals for a low-cost, conductive, corrosion-resistant coating for stainless steel. - pdf here

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  • China Daily Special Coverage
  • SINA
  • Chain of Events
  • Miners playing 'hardball' with China on iron ore - Mining companies are playing "hardball" with China, the world's leading iron ore consumer, in difficult contract talks which could collapse again this year, analysts say. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • 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 17

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 63 to 2,661. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Japan Should Impose Tobin Tax on Financial Transactions, Minezaki Says // Westfield Returns to Profit in Second-Half on Australia, New Zealand Malls // Asian Stocks, Currencies Rally on Earnings, Growth Outlook; Yen Declines // U.K. Unemployment Claims Unexpectedly Jump to the Highest Level Since 1997 // BNP Paribas Posts $1.89 Billion Profit, Beating Estimates as Defaults Drop // Goldman Sachs, Greece Didn't Disclose Swap, Leaving Bond Buyers `Fooled' // Spain Offers Investors Increased Yield on 5 Billion-Euro 15-Year Bond Sale // Greek Bonds Advance as Bailout Prospect Concern Eases; German Bunds Steady // U.K. Unemployment Claims Unexpectedly Jump to the Highest Level Since 1997 //  European Stocks Surge Most in Six Weeks; BNP Paribas, Man Group Advance // Walgreen Agrees to Purchase Duane Reade From Oak Hill for $1.075 Billion // Deere Profit Beats Estimates as Material Costs Drop; 2010 Forecast Raised // U.S. Factory Output, Home Starts Exceed Forecasts in Sign Recovery Intact // Buffett Discontinues Annual Reception With Berkshire's Non-U.S. Investors // Stocks, Dollar Climb on Recovery Outlook; Treasury Two-Year Notes Decline
  • The Euro had a big day yesterday, but the US Dollar came back with a vengeance today. The Dollar is now trading 1-1/4% higher against the Euro. NYMEX crude is still trading higher, up a little over 2/10 of 1% and over $77/barrel. Gold is flat and silver is down over 1/2 of 1%. Base metals ended mixed as traders were unwilling to give up on their bull run, irregardless of the pressure the rising Dollar put on them today. Indicator charts show three month nickel rose early, and then spent the rest of the day in a very choppy slide, as the bulls refused to relent. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $9.13/lb , it's second highest close of the year. Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses slipped for the fourth consecutive time overnight, and now rest just under 164,500 tonnes. Sucden's day old chart shows the bull run nickel has been on lately (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index rose 63 points to 2,661. It appears the situation in Sudbury could potentially get dicier than it already has. We have learned that the USW Local 2020, representing the office, technical, and clerical (OTC) employees, may be making preparations to join the strike against Vale. The USW has complained to the Ontario Labour Relations Board that Vale has been requiring qualified Local 2020 members to do the work of striking 6500 members as it has resumed production at some facilities. Now they have reportedly applied to the Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment for conciliation for the Local 2020 bargaining unit. This could be seen as preparatory action for a strike. The WBMS reported the global nickel market ended 2009 with a surplus of 3,000 metric tons. WBMS number bashing has become a bad hobby of ours, but we would like to throw some other numbers for your consideration today - not nickel related. The WBMS also reported zinc ended 2009 with a 207,000 tonne surplus and lead with a 19,900 tonne surplus. The International Lead and Zinc Study Group reported their ending 2009 figures today, and reported a surplus of zinc at 445,000 tonnes and lead at 77,000 tonnes. Pretty big difference, so we will keep our hobby. In US reports, industrial production and housing starts numbers came in better than expected, and Wall Street is higher on the news.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) The global refined nickel market was in a slight surplus of 3,000 metric tons in 2009, the World Bureau of Metal Statistics said Wednesday. Global refined nickel production fell 2.5% on the year to 1.318 million tons, mostly due to cutbacks in Europe and Canada. Global refined nickel demand rose 1.8% on the year to 1.315 million tons.  
  • (MBA) The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending February 12, 2010. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 2.1 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 0.5 percent compared with the previous week.
  • An Alternative Route to Appreciation for China’s Yuan - more
  • The currency quarrel with China is a dangerous distraction - more
  • Minneapolis Fed’s Kocherlakota Sees Slow Recovery - more
  • "Net Interest Payments on the Federal Debt: A Flawed Measure" - more
  • China Sells Treasuries... or Did They? - more
  • Federal Reserve Declares Recession Over - more
  • Elders of Wall St. Favor More Regulation  - more
  • Kansas City Fed’s Hoenig: Rising Debt Could Spark Economic Crisis - more
  • The Coming Pan-European Sovereign Debt Crisis, Pt 4: the spread to western European Countries - more

  Mining project in Argentina suspended by court order - An Argentine judge has suspended a mining project that Canada's Yamana Gold was developing amid protests by local inhabitants, the press reported Wednesday. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:25 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.08/lb , with other base metals mixed and quiet.  The US Dollar is trading over 1/4 of 1% higher against the Euro at the moment. NYMEX crude futures are trading nearly 3/4 of 1% higher and over 77.50/barrel. Gold is trading nearly 1/4 of 1% higher and silver is up over 4/10 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China closed. European markets are much higher this morning, and US futures show Wall Street should open bullish. Nickel inventories slipped again overnight, and the BDI has yet to be published.  
  • Reuters morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals exploded to the upside yesterday, with sharp gains seen across the board. The volatility in the markets has simply been astounding with copper, to take an example, first losing, and then gaining almost $1000 in the span of a little more than two weeks. Yesterday's advance was aided in large part by the thin trading conditions and the notable weakening in the US dollar, which eased a full two Euros to 1.3770 over the last twenty-four hours for its biggest one-day decline since July.  .... Tuesday’s advance has repaired much of the technical damage evident in many of the metal complexes, particularly in copper, and this could now result in more technical buying coming. However, right now, the markets are quietly mixed, and perhaps in “pause” mode as they digest the massive gains left over from yesterday. The Euro is also not doing very much, slightly weaker now at $1.3740, while oil prices are up by about $.50 a barrel. US stocks are expected to open higher again today. .....Nickel is at $20,252, down $73; prices have broken out of their trading range and now seem to be on track to push higher. We were stopped out of a recommended short position at the top of the range. The $21,500 level seems to be the next upside target. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) China’s crude steel output is expected to rist by 6.2 percent to over 600 million tons in 2010, according to the China Iron & Steel Association (CISA).
  • (SG) MetalBiz reported that recently stainless manufacturers lifted export offer for February in Asian regions, however, the clients are not accepting the new offer, so the transaction is few. Export offer of 304 stainless steel from Taiwan and South Korea stood at USD 2,800 to USD 2,850 CFR and USD 2,900 respectively.
  • Real commodities being favoured by rich investors worried about worthless cash  - more
  • Execs at Small-Cap Firms Snap Up Their Own Shares - more
  • A regular commentary on the El Niño-Southern Oscillation - more

  Japan Imported 122,000 Tons Of Stainless Steel Products In CY 2009 As Decreased For 2 Years= Imports In 2009 Decreased By 10% From That In 2008, Reflecting Decreased Imports From South Korea - Japan Iron and Steel Federation compiled the data on imports of stainless steel products into Japan in the calender year (January - December) of 2009 on the basis of the statistics released by the Ministry of Finance and the contents were as per the table attached hereto. - more

  LME cancelled warrants are rising fast - Some intriguing gyrations are under way in the world of metal trading. - more

  Canadian Steel Shipments Rise Briskly - Shipments of steel products from Canadian metals service centers were 9.2% higher than in January a year ago, the Metals Activity Report from the Metals Service Center Institute shows. - more

  Vale: Goro Nickel Commissioning Progressing Well - Brazil's Vale said Wednesday that commissioning of its 60,000 metric-ton-a-year Goro nickel development in New Caledonia was progressing well, resulting in a first intermediate nickel product. - more

  Toledo Mining gets drilling approval at Berong nickel project - Toledo Mining, the AIM listed exploration group working on nickel laterite deposits in the Philippines, has been given the green light to press ahead with a planned drilling campaign at its Berong nickel project. - more

  Hazir Muja: Good news for chrome ore sector in Albania - The recovery in industrial activities in US, EU, China, Japan, India, Russia and Brazil is good news for the steel, iron and chrome ore sector. - more

  IFM to fire smelters with Angloplat waste ore - South African ferrochrome producer International Ferro Metals plans to cut its cost base by firing its smelters with waste product from mining peer Anglo Platinum. - more

  Australia miners demand govt rule out resource tax - Australia's resource industry has urged the government to rule out a new tax on big miners including Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton which would make them among the world's most heavily taxed. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • 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 16

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 32 to 2,598. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Bank of Japan May Refrain From Easing Credit Even as Deflation Intensifies // Europe Weighed on RBA's `Finely Balanced' Decision to Hold Australia Rates // Indonesia Cancels Planned Sale of $107 Million of Islamic Treasury Bonds // Asian Stocks Rise as Barclays Profit Signals Economic Growth; Commodities Rally // Barclays Advances as Net More Than Doubles; Varley, Diamond Forgo Bonuses // Spain Plans Sale of 15-Year Euro-Denominated Bonds as Greece Roils Markets  // King Says Inflation Pressure to the `Downside' as Economic Slack Persists // European Finance Ministers Prepare to Impose Deeper Deficit Cuts on Greece // JPMorgan Agrees to Buy Sempra Commodities Units From RBS for $1.7 Billion // European Stocks Rise Most in Six Weeks; Barclays, BHP Billiton Lead Gains // Manufacturing in New York Fed Region Expands at Faster Pace Than Estimated // Companies Pull Most Bond Sales Since 2007 Financial Crisis: Credit Markets // Foreign Demand for U.S. Financial Assets Slowed in December on China Sales //
  • The Euro is having a big day against the US Dollar, up 1.2% at the moment. Typically good for commodities, today proved to be no exception. NYMEX crude futures are up over 3.7% and just under $77/barrel. Gold, up 1.45%. Silver, up 3.8%. Copper, up 3.8%, zinc, up 5.8% and nickel ... well, let's just say had a bod day. Indicator charts show nickel jumped early, and then spent about 6 hours fumbling within a $200/tonne band. When US markets opened, it was off the the races again, which lasted till the end. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $9.22/lb , it's highest close since August 13, 2009. Why so much in one day? A senior trader told Dow Jones "It's a combination of weak dollar and perceptions of improvement in the US economy, [as well as] stop-loss buying and fresh fund buying." Inventories of nickel stored in LME warehouses slipped under the 165,000 tonne level for the first time since climbing over that level on February 1st. Of 12 business days this month, only 5 have seen inventory levels gain. For the third consecutive day, cancelled warrants are above 3%. Sucden's day old chart clearly defines nickel's most recent bull run (chart here). The BDI gained 32 points to read 2,598. Since we occasionally get asked, the last inbound shipment of nickel received into the Rotterdam warehouse was on on Feb 1st. Since that large shipment, the inbounds for the rest of this month have been limited mostly to Asian warehouses. IN US reports, the Empire State Manufacturing Survey was welcome news to traders, although the new orders slumping concerns us greatly. - more And the National Association of Home Builders reported their housing market index rose two points to 17 in February. Wall Street is higher, with the Dow trading in the triple digits plus column.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Nationalization isn't South African government policy, President Jacob Zuma said Tuesday, amid calls from leftist allies to nationalize the country's key mining industry. "We reiterate that nationalization is not government policy. Don't confuse a debate raised to policy of government. Don't!" Zuma told parliament.
  • (JMD) Orders for stainless steel plates/ In December, 15% month-on-month increase
  • What Keeps Australian Central Bankers Up at Night? - more
  • Labor Underutilization Problems of U.S. Workers Across Household Income Groups at the End of the Great Recession - pdf here
  • How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America - more
  • Volcker says must let big financial firms fail - more
  • Mortgage rates poised to jump as Fed cuts funds - more
  • The Independent Contractor Problem Continues and Grows - more
  • Capital One credit card defaults rise in January - more
  • Coming Soon: 5 Million More Foreclosures - more
  • PEW How The Recession Might Change States - pdf here
  • Labor Underutilization Rate by Household Income - more
  • In one respect, Greece doesn't look so bad - more
  • Storm clouds ahead for markets - more
  • S&P500 Swing Analog: 1938, 1974, 2003 - more
  • FRBSF Economic Forecast - more
  • Teaching PIIGS to Fly - more
  • Japan as #2: It Isn't - more
  • Is the Recession Over? - more

  Jindal Stainless to raise Rs 232 cr through QIP - Jindal Stainless is likely to raise about Rs 232 crore through a qualified institutional placement (QIP) to meet lenders' conditions under the corporate debt restructuring (CDR) programme. - more

  Victory Nickel Updates Site Activities at Minago - Victory Nickel Inc. today provided an update on activities that are ongoing at its 100%-owned Minago nickel project in Manitoba. The first blast on the limestone outcrop took place late last week and diamond drilling has begun with two rigs on site and a third scheduled to arrive shortly. - more

 Tata Steel to mothball Teesside plant by end of week - India's Tata Steel Ltd , the world's No. 8 steel maker, will mothball its Teesside plant in the UK by the end of this week, a top company official said on Tuesday. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.18/lb higher, with all base metals higher in morning trading. The Euro is trading 1/3 of 1$ higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude futures are up 1.4% and over $75/barrel. Gold opened 2/3 of 1% higher with silver slightly higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets closed higher, with China markets closed. European markets are higher this morning, and US futures shows Wall Street should open higher. Nickel inventories fell for the fifth time out of the last six business days, while the daily BDI number has yet to be published.
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metal prices rose on Monday, but did not really add much to their initial gains, as trading was subdued in light of holidays seen in the US and across Asia. Turnover on LME-Select, for example, was just under 3,000 lots vs. the 13,600 lots seen Friday. The stronger dollar, which sank below $1.36 yesterday, did not induce any notable weakness in the complex, but the greenback is struggling today, now trading at $1.3650. Not surprisingly, we are higher across the board in metals now, with copper prices even pushing past the $7,000 mark earlier. There are solid gains in the rest of the group as well. Oil prices are also up, (by about $1/barrel), and US stocks are called higher as well. We think metals have done too much, too quickly this past week, particularly in copper. We therefore could be in for a modest pullback, as we do not see the dollar rally over just yet, and view yesterday’s disconnect between metals and the currency to be a temporary aberration. Although chart patterns in metals certainly look more constructive, we suspect the light buying being drawn in is possibly being magnified by the relatively thin trading conditions. .... Nickel is at $19,700, up $350, but we are not seeing any reason behind the recent rally. Prices have breached the top end of the trading range at $19,500, but we suspect prices will have trouble closing beyond this level for two days in a row. We would consider a short trade at these levels with a tight stop.  (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • AK Steel said today (Monday) that it will increase spot market base prices by $50 per ton, effective immediately with all new orders for its carbon steel products. AK Steel said that the price increase is in response to increased demand for carbon steel products, as well as the need to recover higher costs.
  • (JMD) NSSC/ To raise price of Ni steel sheet by 5 thousand yen
  • Use of Temps May No Longer Signal Permanent Hiring - more
  • Goldman’s O’Neill Says ‘Something Brewing’ in China on Currency  - more
  • Beijing Seen Vacant for 50% Commercial as Chanos Predicts Crash - more
  • China on brink of becoming superpower - more
  • State of the States - more

  Buying Trigger Pressed In Nickel - Although fundamentals are still poor for Nickel yet the buying trigger has been pressed in the commodity. Domestic Nickel futures have jumped by almost 2% so far to trade at Rs 909 per kg up Rs 15. - more

  Sumitomo to invest $2.107B in Surigao mine project - Sumitomo Metal Mining is planning to infuse 190 billion yen ($2.107 billion) over the next three years to expand and strengthen its nickel operations in the country, particularly the Taganito project in Surigao del Norte. - more

  • Atlas Consolidated may reopen Berong mine in Palawan - Listed Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp. may reopen its nickel mine in Southern Luzon this year to take advantage of the recovery in nickel prices, company executives said. - more

  JSL to Extend Debt Maturity After Defaulting on Overseas Bonds - JSL Ltd., an Indian maker of stainless steel products, said it will extend the maturity of its foreign debt after defaulting on overseas bonds sold mostly to investors in Hong Kong and Singapore. - more

  Nickel miner Western Areas reports a turnaround in H1 - Nickel miner Western Areas NL has reported a turnaround to profitability for its first-half earnings due to higher production and improved nickel prices. - more

  Domestic Price Of Ni-Based Stainless Scrap Is Reduced By Yen 20,000 / Ton From 9th Feb. = Actual Market Prices Have Fallen To Yen 145,000 - 150,000 / Ton Delivered To Mills - Following the weakened international price of nickel metal, the actual domestic price of nickel-based stainless steel scrap (new clippings) in Japan is falling. - more

  Questions raised on worth of Ramu nickel and cobalt mine -  Questions have been raised on the worth of the Ramu nickel and cobalt mine by joint venture partners Highlands Pacific managing director John Gooding. - more

  Haywood ups precious metals forecasts, anticipates strength in base metals - Despite a significant correction in metals prices in recent weeks, Canada's Haywood Securities remains so bullish on gold and silver, it has readjusted its precious metals forecasts upward. - more

  Belvedere Re-Acquires Hitura Nickel Mine From Administrators - Belvedere Resources Ltd. is pleased to announce that after extended negotiations, Belvedere has purchased, through its wholly owned subsidiary Belvedere Mining Oy, the Hitura Nickel Mine and associated claims and the Kopsa gold property from the administrators of the Finn Nickel Bankruptcy estate for Euros 1 and the forgiveness of any remaining claims on the Finn Nickel estate by Belvedere. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending February 13, 2010, domestic raw steel production was 1,645,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 68.0 percent. Production was 1,064,000 tons in the week ending February 13, 2009, while the capability utilization then was 45.5 percent. The current week production represents a 54.6 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending February 13, 2010 is up 2.5 percent from the previous week ending February 6, 2010 when production was 1,605,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 67.3 percent.

  Tension follows killing of Filipino anti-mining official - Tensions are running high in the southern Philippines town of Victoria after the murder of a local official and anti-mining activist. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  • China Daily Special Coverage
  • SINA
  • Chain of Events
  • ArcelorMittal: BHP-Rio Venture May Hurt Its Business - ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker by volume, cautioned that a move toward spot iron ore sales and the announced iron ore joint venture between Rio Tinto PLC and BHP Billiton Ltd. could adversely affect its business. - more
  • China's fight with the Rio Tinto Four has implications for steel prices - In the next few weeks a trial is expected to start in a Shanghai court, which will have implications for the price of iron ore and steel in the coming year and which may also affect the confidence with which foreign investors approach opportunities in China. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • 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 15

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 5 to 2,566. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg)  Japan's Economy Grows Faster-Than-Estimated 4.6% on Asian Export Revival // Chinese Growth May Exceed 11% as Officials Struggle to Damp Lending Surge // Asian Stocks, Euro Fall as Greece Debt, Chinese Curbs Dent Risk Appetite // Deutsche Bank Deferring Bigger Part of Top Bankers' Bonuses, People Say // Europe's Response to Greek Debt Woes Questioned as Finance Ministers Meet // Weber Clear Frontrunner to Succeed Trichet as ECB President, Survey Shows // European LBOs Face Wave of Defaults by 2013 as Debt Falls Due, Fitch Says // Greece Told to Work Harder on Deficit Cuts as EU Seeks Disclosure on Swaps  Dubai // Credit-Default Swaps Rise to Highest Since March, CMA Prices Show // Greece Bailout Would Deal `Major Blow' to Euro's Credibility, Issing Says // Stocks Advance in Europe on Economic Outlook as Greece Concern Hurts Euro // Finance Ministers in Europe Will Resist Obama's Plans for Banking Overhaul // Oil Trades Near $74 After Falling as China Seeks to Cool Economic Growth //
  • The US Dollar continues to trade higher against the Euro, by about 2/10 of 1%. NYMEX crude futures are now down 2/10 of 1% and under $74/barrel. Gold is trading 2/3 of 1% higher and silver only slightly higher at the moment. Base metals had a bullish day, with all trading higher. Indicator charts show nickel started out climbing this morning, taking a brief respite in the late afternoon, before continuing upwards thru the end of the session. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $8.78/lb .  That is a new record high close for nickel this year, and the official prices that we are not allowed to post, also set new 2010 high's. Inventories of nickel stored in LME warehouses fell for the sixth day this month over the weekend, and now lead gainer days by one. Cancelled warrants have ben climbing, jumping over the 3% mark on Friday, and remaining above that level today. Total inventory now sits just under 165,100 tonnes, and with 1/2 the month behind us, we have seen a net addition of 276 tonnes added to inventory so far, not counting cancelled warrants. Sucden's day old chart clearly defines the uptrend that nickel is trading in (chart here). US, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Canadian, Brazil and other Latin American markets were closed today for holidays.   

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Kosovo-based ferro-nickel miner Ferronikeli said Monday that it aims to raise output this year by more than 27% from last year's production, which was hit by a drop in prices.
  • International Monetary Fund - “U.S. household consumption declined sharply in late 2008, marking a departure from the trend of a steady increase in U.S. consumption as a share of income since the 1980s. Combining econometric and simulation analysis, we estimate that this departure will be sustained beyond the crisis: the U.S. household consumption rate will likely decline somewhat further from its current level, as the saving rate rises to around 6% of disposable personal income (from nearly 5% in 2009). Compared to the pre-crisis years (2003–07), this saving rate implies a decline in U.S. private-sector demand on the order of 3 percentage points of gross domestic product.”
  • China - Coastal businesses already worry about post-holiday worker scarcity - more
  • U.S. Housing Aid Winds Down, and Cities Worry - more
  • Economists: The Future A Bit Brighter - more
  • Saudi Central Banker Confirms that US Dollar is on its Deathbed - more
  • Charges in Web Video Bring Unusual Rebuttal From F.D.I.C. - more
  • AP Starts Running Editorials on the Deficit As News Stories - more
  • Greece Rescue Collides With the Policy Trilemma - more
  • The Making of a Euromess - more
  • AP Economic Stress Index - graph here

  Chilean firm signs on with Nokomis mining project south of Ely  - Duluth Metals entered a joint partnership last month with international mining company Antofagasta to help develop the 3,000-acre Nokomis mining project south of Ely. - more

  Diversification helps Sudbury keep economy in check as Vale Inco strike drags on - Three decades ago, a nine-month miners' strike in Sudbury devastated the northern Ontario city's economy and drove home the perils of being a one-industry town. - more

  The 7th Annual China Nickel Conference - 26-27 May 2010 - more info

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:30 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.22/lb , with all base metals higher this morning. The US Dollar is trading nearly 2/10 of 1% higher against the Euro at the moment. NYMEX crude futures are up nearly 2/10 of 1% and at $72.27/barrel. Gold is up nearly 6/10 of 1% and silver is higher by more than 1/10 of 1%. In overnight trading, the Asian markets that were opened finished lower, with China closed for a week long holiday. European markets are higher this morning, while US markets are closed for Presidents Day. Nickel inventories fell over the weekend, cancelled warrants registered above 3% for a second day, and the BDI has yet to be published. We posted some interesting articles and statistics below on Sunday.
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more
  • Reuters morning report - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Nickel is at $18,965, up $325, and making a push towards the topside of the trading range (red lines). Whether we take this level out remains to be seen, but we have our doubts and would consider going short closer to the ceiling at $19,500 with a tight stop in place. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (ABIX) Demand for nickel is expected to rise in the second half of 2010. According to Morgan Stanley, this trend is likely to be reflected in the share prices of Australian-listed nickel producers.
  • (RMW) In 2009 Norilsk Nickel increased nickel supplies to China by 50%, said the Deputy CEO of the company, Victor Sprogis on Friday at the 7th Krasnoyarsk Economy Forum.
  • (JMB) Japanese Stainless Product Export Decreases by 22% in 2009
  • The preliminary Consumer Sentiment number for February came in at 73.7, a bit lower than January's 74.4 but still not that bad when you look at the long term view.
  • (China) Six out of 10 expect income rise: survey - more
  • Shipping Rises 32% in Survey as Boats Await Coal From Newcastle - more

 Global Supply And Demand Of Ferro-Chrome In 2010 Will Be Balanced = Speech Delivered By Onal Sales Manager Of Eti Krom At International Conference - At the 3rd International Stainless Steel Trade Summit held on the beginning of February in Dubai of United Arab Emirates, Mr. Cengiz Onal, who is Sales Manager of Eti Krom in Turkey and was one of guest speakers at this conference, delivered his speech, saying that a global prospect of ferro-chrome in 2010 will be consumption : 7,880,000 tons, production : 7,770,000 tons and resulting in a balance. - more

  Atlas to reopen mine in Palawan amid recovery in nickel prices - Listed Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp. is looking at reopening its nickel mine in Southern Luzon this year to take advantage of the recovery in nickel prices, company executives said. - more

  Ramu mine - not K92b - More questions have been raised on the actual worth of the Ramu nickel and cobalt mine by joint venture partners Highlands Pacific managing director John Gooding. - more

  Steel sector shed 75 000 jobs from Feb-Dec '09 - South Africa's steel and engineering sector shed over 75 000 jobs in the ten months between February to December 2009, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (SEIFSA) said on Monday. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  • China Daily Special Coverage
  • SINA
  • Chain of Events
  • BHP, Vale Say Ore Spot Price Points to Contract Level - BHP Billiton Ltd., in talks with China to set annual iron ore prices, joined Vale SA, the world’s biggest producer, in signaling that this year’s contracts should reflect the doubling in so-called spot market prices. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • 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

Sunday, February 14 (extra edition)

  More personal research that others may find useful - China final statistics for 2009 (using multiple Chinese sources)
  • China steel exports 2009 - 24,576,777 tons - Top 10 destinations - (1) South Korea 22.64% (2) Vietnam 16.98% (3) India 4.81% (4) USA 4.27% (5) Thailand 2.76% (6) Singapore 2.72% (7) Iran (2.38%) (8) UAE (2.32% (9) Afghanistan 2.22% (10) Brazil (2.09%)     
  • China steel imports 2009 - 17,640,007 tons - Top 10 shippers - (1) Japan 30.83% (2) South Korea 22.763% (3) Hong Kong 13.63% (4) Taiwan 10.26% (5) Russia 8.11% (6) Kazakhstan 2.89% (7) Germany 1.42% (8) Ukraine 1.38% (9) Belgium 1.07% (10) Netherlands 1.02%  
  • China stainless steel statistics 20090 compared to 2008 - total production of 8.8 million tons in 2009 compared to 6.943 tons in 2008. 300 series stainless 52.05% compared to 50.53% in 2008. 400 series 29.09% compared to 26.82%. 200 series 18.86% compared to 22.64%. Self sufficiency rate increased from 81.24% in 2008 to 85.37% in 2009.
  •  Own estimations - (not official) The increase in production of 300 series stainless at 8% nickel works out to an approximate increase in nickel demand of 85,600 tons in 2009 over 2008 (not including any other requirements for nickel in China) From earlier published figures on this site, China imported 4.203 million tons more nickel ore in 2009 than it did in 2008 (16.575 million tons to 12.372 million tons). At 2% grade, this would be 84,1060 tons of additional nickel sourced thru ore. At 1%, it would mean an additional 42,030 tons sourced.  Most of the imports have shifted to coming from the Philippines - unable to find average grade leaving that country destined for China.
  • Also, for the first time that we have been able to find, a Chinese newspaper quotes a Shandong pig nickel producer as stating their break even cost is $7.34/lb. (the article did not state what % grade ore this producer was using for this figure but it is the first time we have seen an actual producer give a break even cost.) 

  Big push to acquire mineral wealth abroad - The government is planning a major overseas shopping drive to ensure secured supply of scarce resources such as crude oil, gas and coal. India is realising countries such as China have made a headstart in the sweepstakes to control the world’s scarce natural resources market. - more

  Australia urges China not to interfere in iron ore prices - Sydney: Australia has warned Beijing not to interfere in difficult commercial iron ore price negotiations and urged China to act as a market economy. - more

  • Iron ore prices likely to rise - BHP Kloppers - Sydney - Iron ore prices were on track to rise this year despite global economic concerns, the head of the world's biggest miner BHP Billiton said Sunday as he backed China's growth to support commodity prices. - more

  BDI in choppy waters - The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) is published by the Baltic Exchange which acts as the global bazaar for broking shipping contracts. - more

  Anti-mining village chief shot dead in Mindoro - A staunch anti-mining village official in Oriental Mindoro province was shot dead in his house last week, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said Saturday. - more

  Vale Inco employees in Sudbury finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet - Striking Vale Inco employee Rod Price says he's "lost everything," and so have many of his colleagues. - more

  • Strike now seven months - Vale Inco could have some explaining to do to shareholders about the quality and quantity of nickel it is producing while its production and maintenance workers are on strike, union officials say. - more
  • Complaint to be heard March 30 - The Ontario Labour Relations Board has set a new date for a hearing into a bad-faith bargaining complaint filed by United Steelworkers against Vale Inco Ltd. - more

  Xstrata's big boss with bigger ambitions -Mick Davis has turned a tiny Swiss steel firm into a mining behemoth in 10 years, but has no plans to rest on his laurels - more

  Anglo American on course to deliver $2bn of cuts - Anglo American chairman Sir John Parker said the mining giant is on course to deliver its $2bn (£1.27bn) cost-saving programme by next year. - more

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Wall St. Helped Greece to Mask Debt Fueling Europe’s Crisis - Wall Street tactics akin to the ones that fostered subprime mortgages in America have worsened the financial crisis shaking Greece and undermining the euro by enabling European governments to hide their mounting debts. - more
  • Germans say euro zone may have to expel Greece: poll - more
  • Greek PM slams European Union amid crisis - more
  • Unemployment rate by county (updated) - more
  • SNAP Assistance #'s by states - more
  • 'They Just Don't See It' - more
  • Bank of America forecloses on house that couple had paid cash for - more
  • Purchasing Power of Money in the United States from 1774 to 2008 - more (test your salary - are you better off than xx years ago?)

Friday, February 12

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 4 to 2,571 . (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Raises Reserve Requirement for Second Time in a Month to Cool Growth // Regulators Hired by Toyota Helped Halt U.S. Safety Probes, Documents Show // India Factory Output Rises Most Since 1994, Adding to Case to Slow Economy // China Milk Defaults on Shortage of Foreign Currency, Seeks Creditor Talks // Europe's Economic Recovery Unexpectedly Wilts After Stagnation in Germany // ThyssenKrupp Posts First Profit in Year on Rebound in Demand, Lower Costs // Banks May Ignore Regulators on Hybrid Bonds, Money Manager Survey Suggest // Greek Recession in the First Nine Months of 2009 Was Deeper Than Thought // Daimler Said to Agree to Pay About $200 Million to End U.S. Bribery Probe // Harvard's Feldstein Says Greece's Fiscal Crisis Shows Euro `Isn't Working'  // European Stocks Decline After China Increases Bank Reserve Requirements // Treasuries Snap Three-Day Decline on Speculation Greece Needs Greater Aid // Fannie, Freddie Spreads Narrowest in 17 Years, Man Sells: Credit Markets // Retail Sales in U.S. Increase More Than Anticipated as Recovery Takes Hold // Retail Sales Climb, Consumer Confidence Slips in Sign of Gradual Recovery // Toyota May Lose U.S. Market Share, Fall Behind Ford as Recall Costs Sales  // Stocks, Euro, Commodities Drop on Concern Over Greece, China Reserve Rule
  • The US Dollar continues to trade higher against the Euro, but off earlier highs and over 1/2 of 1%. NYMEX crude got a double punch today - larger than expected inventory buildup of crude and the falling Euro. It is trading down 2-1/4% and nearing $73.50/barrel. Gold is down 1/3 of 1% and silver is off just under 1%. Base metals ended the session mixed, and for the most part, traded quietly. The falling Dollar helped most recover morning losses. Indicator charts show nickel jumped early, fell back under pressure from the Dollar, then recovered some and spent the afternoon quiet. For the day and week, Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended at $8.46/lb , up $.74/lb for the week. Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses took a big hit overnight, the biggest one day withdrawal this year, and the largest since June of last year. Four warehouses shipped nickel out, with no inbound shipments recorded and nickel inventories now sit just under the 165,500 tonne level. Sucden's day old chart shows the extent of yesterday's spike in nickel trading (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index fell 4 points to 2,571 and may go positive Monday. The big news of the day is China unexpectedly raising their deposit reserve ratio for the second time this month late at the end of their business day. China traders did not have time to react before they started their week long celebration of their Chinese New year, but European and American markets reacted strongly. US reports today were split, with retail sales up but consumer confidence down. Wall Street is lower, but well off an early morning double digit dive. The Dow's 10,000 level, more of a psychological barrier than anything, appears to be giving the market support.
  • Have a safe and enjoyable weekend. And Happy New Year to our Asian readers, and best of luck to the world athletes meeting in Canada.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) China's foreign ministry rebuffed questions about the country's legal process related to charges of bribery and obtaining commercial secrets against four employees of mining giant Rio Tinto (RTP), following calls from the company and from the Australian government for a speedy and fair trial.
  • Mortgage officials try exits softer than foreclosures - more
  • Lunch With the CIA - more
  • Thoughts on sovereign debt - more
  • Charts and Graphs That Will Finally Make It Clear - more
  • Welcome to boarded-up Britain: One in eight shops now stand empty as recession hits high streets - more
  • The Pan-European Sovereign Debt Crisis: If I Were to Short Any Country, What Country Would That Be? - more
  • Asia’s Exposure to Europe’s Woes - more
  • German Halt, Italian Reverse Hit Euro Zone Recovery - more
  • IMF’s Blanchard Thinks the Unthinkable - more
  • Low Global Growth Will Persist: Roubini  - more

  Vale sales disappoint, analysts to revise outlooks - Some analysts will probably slash their stock price target for Brazilian miner Vale after its disappointing fourth-quarter results, even as the market for iron ore is poised to enjoy one of its best years ever in 2010. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.03/lb higher, while other base metals are trading lower in London this morning. The US Dollar is trading nearly 9/10 of 1% higher against the Euro at the moment. NYMEX crude futures are down nearly 1.9% and under $74/barrel. Gold has opened down nearly  a full percent and silver is off nearly 1.8%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower after The People's Bank of China hiked its deposit-reserve ratio, with China ending up nearly a full point before its week long break. European markets are slightly lower this morning, and US futures implies Wall Street may open in a bearish mood. Nickel inventories took a big hit overnight, and the BDI has yet to be published. China is closed for business for all next week for Chinese New Years holiday. Canada grabs the world spotlight over the next few weeks, hosting the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. American Samoa is preparing for the arrival of Cyclone Rene, after Cyclone Pat decimated the island of Aitutaki in the Cook Islands. (chart)
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  Copper surged to two-week highs on Thursday, staging one of its most impressive one-day gains, (+6%), in almost one year. There was no one particular reason behind the move, rather, a combination of buy stops, some short-term technical moving averages being taken out, and an easing of concerns with regard to European sovereign debt issues, combined to push prices higher. In addition, there was quite a bit of buying already evident in copper from the Far East session, and so the stage was set for further gains when the European and US markets opened for trading. Interestingly, the dollar did not play much of a role in yesterday's action, and was actually slightly stronger on the day, as currency markets were somewhat disappointed by the lack of details having to do with the Greek rescue package. However, the fact that the matter is now commanding the attention at the highest levels is comforting, and as a result, we are not seeing same level of panic in the debt markets that was evident earlier in the week. Nevertheless, the Greek incident has exposed the currency bloc's need to address its essential weakness, namely, that although the European Central Bank has the power to set monetary policy for the entire Euro zone, it has little influence over individual members' fiscal policies. When these policies run amok, as is the case with Greece, the Euro regime finds itself under pressure to come to the aid of its ailing members, or risk them dropping out of the bloc altogether. However, handing out bailouts opens the door to additional rescues, further undermining confidence in the currency. Right now, some of yesterday's excessive gains in metals are being rolled back, particularly in copper, where the complex was down more than $200/ton at one point. The rest of the metals are also off sharply, as this time around the stronger dollar is not being ignored, trading as it is at 1.3550 against the Euro-- a nine-month high. Also bearish, was the announcement by the Chinese government ordering banks to set aside more deposits as reserves for the second time in a month, this after reports of surging loan growth and rising property prices were released yesterday. ... Nickel is at $18,445, down $5. Prices did push beyond $18,500 at one point earlier in the session, but we have since retreated. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (SSY) According to the latest SteelBenchmarker issued by World Steel Dynamics, the world export price for hot rolled band has risen by $13/t from end-Jan to $587/t, the highest level since November 2008. The US HRB price has risen to a 15-month high of $656/t. In contrast, the HRB price in the EU has fallen by $13/t to $592/t. The Chinese HRB price dropped by $2/t to the current level of $466/t.
  • Haywood Securities forecasts nickel prices will decline to $7.75/lb in 2011, and reach Haywood's long-term forecast of $7.50/lb in 2012. For molybdenum they forecast $15.00/lb for 2010, $20.00/lb in 2011, and $15.00/lb in 2013."
  • (MW) South African ferrochrome producer Assmang plans to convert the No 5 furnace at its Machadodorp Works to produce high-carbon ferromanganese, rather than ferrochrome, it announced on Thursday.
  • (PT) Norilsk Nickel to spend 24 bln rbl on Polar division in 2010
  • (CD) China's electricity consumption in January 2010 grew 40.14 percent year-on-year to 353.1 billion kilowatt-hours (kWhs), the National Energy Administration (NEA) said in a statement on its website Friday.
  • Wall Street Journal Forecasting Survey  - more

  Palmer plans nickel expansion - Mining magnate Clive Palmer hopes to expand his nickel operations in north Queensland. - more

  Council happy with nickel mine briefings - The Shire of Ravensthorpe says its dealings to date with the new owners of the town's nickel operation have been positive. - more

  China Baosteel raises March steel prices-sources - China's top steel firm, Baosteel, has raised March prices of hot- and cold-rolled steel coil by 300 yuan ($43.91) a tonne, two industry sources said on Friday. - more

  Surprising Strength in 2010 Service Center Forecasts - Many service center executives appear surprisingly pumped about their prospects for 2010, according to the findings of the latest Metal Center News Outlook Survey. - more

  Indonesia issues new mining regulations - Indonesia has issued two new regulations under its mining law to allow firms to start obtaining mining permits, in a move that should increase certainty and help boost investment in the mining sector. - more

  ThyssenKrupp swings to profit, sees slow recovery - ThyssenKrupp, Germany's biggest steelmaker, said its markets would be slow to recover from last year's slump after it pared back costs and pushed through price hikes to record its first profit in four quarters. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  • China Daily Special Coverage
  • SINA
  • Chain of Events
  • BHP, China Agree 40% Provisional Ore Price Gain, Analyst Says  - BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, and some Chinese steelmakers have agreed to a provisional 40 percent increase in contract iron-ore prices, said UC361.com analyst Hu Kai, citing the mills. - more
  • China indicts Rio staff, case set for trial - Australia has urged China to deal transparently with the trials of four Rio Tinto staff accused of bribery and stealing commercial secrets, as the firm's CEO said the Asian country remained a key part of its long-term plans. - more
  • China's iron ore supply shortage to ease in 2010 - Steel product prices rose steadily for around two months from October 2009, and the price of imported iron ore increased accordingly. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • 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 11

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 55 to 2,575. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China's January Loans, Property Prices Surge as Banks Extend More Credit // Australia Job Growth Surges, Unemployment Rate Falls; Aussie Strengthens // Rio Tinto Returns to Second-Half Profit, Reinstates Dividend on Divestment // China Plans a `Gradual' End to Stimulus Efforts as Economy Gains Momentum // Marc Faber Says China Economy Will Slow `Meaningfully,' Hurt Commodities // Asian Stocks, Commodities Rise on Australian Jobs, Greece Talks, China Inflation // Greece Gets European Pledge of Help on Deficit as Merkel Insists on Rules // German Banks Have Most at Risk as Merkel Seeks Boost to Greek Stability  // Spain's Top Priority Is Welfare, Deficit `Very Close' Second, Salgado Says // EU Demands Greece Fix Budget Deficit, Stops Short of Concrete Aid Measures // Euro Retreats as EU Officials Give Few Details of Plan to Support Greece // Obama Says He's `Fierce' Advocate of Business, Rejecting Corporate Critics // Fed in Talks With Money-Market Funds to Help Drain $1 Trillion in Reserves // Marriott Returns to Profit on Cost Cuts, Increasing Demand From Travelers // Bernanke Lays More Groundwork for Rate Increases Without Specifying Timing // CEOs in U.S. See Economic Recovery Taking Hold on Investment, Survey Finds // Mortgage Rates on 30-Year Loans Decline to 4.97%, Fifth Drop in Six Weeks // Stocks in U.S. Gain on EU Pledge to Help Greece; Philip Morris Shares Rise
  • The US Dollar is trading over 1/2 of 1% against the Euro at the moment and well off earlier highs. This typically pressures commodity trading, but as we will see, commodities didn't care today. NYMEX crude up 1.1% and near $75.50/barrel. Gold up nearly 1.9%. Silver up 2.3%. Base metals - all solidly higher, Indicator charts show nickel was struggling to gain ground early, in choppy but confined within a $200/tonne zone. Then EU President Herman Van Rompuy spoke, and nickel, like nearly every other stock, took to the races. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $8.37/lb . Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose overnight but not enough to offset the last two days of declines, thus no new record numbers were set. Inventories sit just under the 166,400 tonne level. Sucden's day old charts show nickel appears to have found a low point and is climbing out now (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index slipped 55 points to read 2,575. Things are getting dicey in Sudbury. Striking union members started blocking access to Vale facilities yesterday. Vale spokesman Steve Ball is apologizing for what he called a "poor choice of words" when he apparently referred to the Xstrata/CAW agreement as "slashed and burned" to a Sudbury Star reporter. We've posted a few stories from the Sudbury Star below to show just how testy things are getting. Not sure who, or how important Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas is, but while it is understandable that she would back her constituents, her statements made on the picket line today could almost be construed as an elected official sanctioning violence against Vale. We hope for the sake of the people of Sudbury, the union didn't see it that way. The EU's announcement that it would not lett Greece default on its debt, was what the market wanted to hear today, and Wall Street is up.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Nickel miner PT International Nickel Indonesia (INCO.JK) said Thursday its net profit in the fourth quarter of 2009 fell 21% to $59.96 million from $75.88 million in the third quarter because of a three week maintenance shutdown of one of its electric furnaces resulting in lower production and lower deliveries of nickel in matte.
  • Japan Customs reports that Japan imported 2,198 tons of molybdenum oxide in December 2009, up over 19% from November.
  • First Nations jobs - more
  • Dallas Fed’s Fisher: ‘We Still Have Work To Do’ - more
  • Wall St.’s Biggest Bonuses Go to Not-So-Big Names - more
  • Foreclosures Fall, But Little Relief for Housing Ahead - more

  Stainless Steel buyers' market continues - Stainless steel production is expected to grow this year, but not at the 10% recovery rate being suggested by the mills. There's too little demand for too much metal. - more

  Vale Nickel Output Down 32% On Year Due To Ongoing Strike - Brazilian mining company Vale SA (VALE) reported a 32% drop in 2009 nickel output, to 187,000 metric tons, as a strikes at two of its Canadian sites continue. - more

  Nickel: Transitional year ahead with improved demand, higher prices - Global demand for nickel has fallen for three consecutive years but is expected to rebound in 2010 as world stainless steel production boosts use of the alloying and plating metal to 1.35 million metric tons.  - more

  Hike customs duty on ferro alloys to 10% - Indian ferro alloy sector has a capacity of 3.64 million tonnes. This is sufficient to take to produce more than 150 million tonnes of steel. - more

  Vale Inco makes its case for major changes in Sudbury - Point of View - The column by local Vale Inco executive John Pollesel in Wednesday's Sudbury Star was a much-needed explanation of the company's thinking as we approach the seven-month mark of the strike by United Steelworkers Local 6500 in Sudbury and Local 6200 in Port Colborne. - more

  • 'Scabs' lead to violence, Gelinas says - Allowing replacement workers to do the work of striking employees is a recipe for disaster, charges Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around  $.13/lb , with all base metals trading higher. The Euro and US Dollar are even this morning, after European nations advised they would help Greece if needed, but the Euro is off earlier highs, as no details of how Europe might help Greece have yet to be published. NYMEX crude futures are up nearly 1% this morning and over $75/barrel. Gold opened up 2/3 of 1% and silver is up 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher with China up 2/10 of 1%. European markets are higher this morning as the most recent crisis in Greece appears to have been averted. US futures are higher for much the same reason this morning. Nickel inventories rose overnight, and the BDI has yet to be published. The US Labor Dept just issued its weekly employment report and first time jobless claims fell 43,000 to 440,000. These numbers are better than expected and Wall Street futures are higher on the news.  
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - We had a very choppy day on Wednesday in copper; early gains fizzled by the close after the dollar pushed higher on remarks by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke saying that he was going to raise rates "at some point". However, prices regrouped and pushed higher in late-day trading in the US, as the dollar eased back. As of right now, metal prices are higher, especially on copper, and disconnecting from the dollar, which is not showing much change against the Euro. The feeling emanating from Asia is that demand will likely be strong after the Chinese New Year, and this could explain the sharp run-up we are seeing heading into the holidays, which start on Feb 14th and last for a week. In other markets, the dollar is trading at $1.3740 against the Euro, not much different from yesterday’s levels, as the resolution of the Greek debt crisis seems to be at hand. In fact, earlier today, European Commission President Jose Barroso said officials have reached an accord and that details will be announced shortly. Crude oil prices are up another $.70 on the day, while US stocks are called to open higher. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Dow Jones) U.S. nickel imports fell -7.3% in December from last month, and was down 11.3% from the previous year, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
  • (Interfax) The domestic molybdenum concentrate price may climb above RMB 3,000 ($439.43) per kilogram, measured by metal content, in March, due to the upcoming launch of molybdenum concentrate futures trading on the London Metal Exchange (LME), an analyst told Interfax on Feb. 11.
  • (Interfax) Jinchuan Group Ltd., China's largest nickel producer, has raised its ex-works refined nickel price by RMB 3,000 ($439.43) to RMB 143,000 ($20,946.24) per ton, in line with international prices, according to Jinchuan Group's Web site on Feb. 11.
  • Lara Exploration Ltd.: Updated NI 43-101 Technical Report Completed on the Araguaia Nickel Project, Brazil - more
  • (quote) What's the significance? As John Williams, the proprietor of Shadow Stats, explains, the drop in real M3 is a sign of the double-dip ahead. "In modern economic history, every time there has been such a year-to-year liquidity contraction, the economy subsequently has turned down, or if already in recession, the economic downturn has intensified," he writes in a report to clients. - more

  Ravensthorpe mine could re-open in 18 months - First Quantum Minerals hopes to get the troubled Ravensthorpe nickel mine up and operating within 18 months, after formally taking control of the site. - more

  Talvivaara plant failure means nickel production deferral - Finnish miner Talvivaara says a production stoppage in metals recovery is continuing due to a catalyst failure at its hydrogen plant. - more

  BHP talks up Nickel West performance in face of sale rumours - BHP Billiton has talked up the performance of its Nickel West unit in the Goldfields in the face of persistent market speculation the mining giant is looking to offload the asset. - more

  Goro nickel plant still not up and running - Vale - The processing plant at Brazilian miner Vale's Goro nickel operation in New Caledonia, which had been expected to start operating in January, is undergoing tests but is not yet in production, a company official said on Wednesday. - more

  Service Center Inventories, Shipments - Inventories of steel and aluminum products at service centers in the United States and Canada rose slightly in December as shipments of those products declined seasonally, according to the latest Metals Activity Report from the Metals Service Center Institute, Rolling Meadows, Ill. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  • About 3,050 hourly rated production and maintenance workers, members of United Steelworkers Local 6500, have been on strike since July 13. Another 130 USW Local 6200 members in Port Colborne are also on strike. About 450 members of USW Local 9508 in Voisey's Bay have been on strike since Aug. 1.
  • Sudbury Star
  • Vale/Inco offer // Vale/Inco Company Site
  • Union Strike Site //  USW  Local 6500
  • Sudbury TV // Sudbury Northern Life Videos
  • Workers Unanimously Reject Latest Offer - Here's something you don't see very often - a 100 per cent rejection of a contract offer from an employer, but that's what the United Steelworkers Union has just done. - more
  • An unfortunate statement from the Steelworkers leadership: Vale Inco  - In a recent column in The Sudbury Star, the international president of the United Steelworkers offered yet another assault on the reputation of Vale and Vale Inco while failing to provide even the slightest glimmer of hope for a settlement to the strike his union undertook on July 13 last year. - more
  • Steelworkers set up blockades at Vale Inco plants this morning - Hundreds of striking Steelworkers blocked access to Vale Inco facilities early Wednesday, venting frustration with everything from the hiring of replacement workers to the cancellation of a bad-faith bargaining hearing into a complaint filed against the company. - more

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  • China Daily Special Coverage
  • SINA
  • Chain of Events
  • China to Put Rio Tinto Employees on Trial - China will put an Australian national and three other detained employees of mining giant Rio Tinto Ltd. on trial on charges of stealing commercial secrets and taking bribes. - more
  • Vale Will ’Struggle’ to Meet Iron Ore Demand as Markets Recover - Vale SA, the world’s biggest iron- ore producer, said it will “struggle” to meet demand for the steelmaking raw material this year as China’s economy expands. - more
  • Tense times in Chinese iron ore price talks - Due to stand trial in China, Stern Hu knows just how sensitive the country is about how much it pays for the vast iron ore imports its giant steel industry needs. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • 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 10

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 76 to 2,630. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China's Imports Surge 86% as Domestic Demand Aids Global Economic Rebound // Toyota Factory Workers Join Washington Lobbying Push Bigger Than Chrysler // BHP to Increase Capital Spending 63%, Leaves Door Open for Acquisitions // Stocks, Metals, Currencies Rise on Greek Aid Speculation, Global Recovery // Global Confidence Declines on Concern Widening Deficits Will Hurt Rebound // UBS Claws Back $282 Million of Bonuses From Bankers After 2009 Loss Report // Germany Weighs Greek Aid as Market Drop Spurs Reversal on Eve of EU Summit // EU to Push Greece on Budget, Stop Short of Aid Announcement, Official Says // European Stocks Rise for Third Day on Prospect of Greek Aid; Fortis Climbs // Paulson, Once a Top Wall Street Earner, Tells Buffett Bankers Are Overpaid // Default Swaps Signal Bond Rebound as GMAC Sells $2 Billion: Credit Markets // Sprint's Revenue Misses Estimates as Customers Switch to Rival Carriers // Bernanke Says Federal Reserve May Opt to Raise Discount Rate `Before Long' // U.S. Trade Deficit Unexpectedly Widens as Import Gains Outpace Export Rise // Obama Doesn't `Begrudge' Millions in Bonuses for Bankers Blankfein, Dimon
  • The US Dollar continues to trade higher against the Euro, up 4/10 of 1% but well off session highs. NYMEX crude is up 1/2 of 1%, gold is down 1/2 of 1% and silver is down 1/3%. Base metals ended mostly higher, with copper and aluminum slightly lower. Indicator charts show today's trading resembled a mountain peak, with 1/2 a day spent rising in price, and the other half falling. The climb was steeper than the fall, so Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $8.03/lb . Nickel inventories stored in LME approved warehouses slipped for a second day and now sit just over the 166,000 tonne level. No inbound shipments have been received for the last two days into any warehouse. Asian warehouses, who have been seeing the most recent influx, have grown quiet. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel trading thru yesterday (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index slumped 76 points to read 2,630. Stealing copper is back in the news here in the States with two cases making news. Both in Texas, one is the story of a victim who lived to tell why no one else should try it (here) and the second are photo's making around the blogosphere of some victims who were not so fortunate. We are posting a link to one such blog, but be warned, these are graphic photo's (here) (there are other photo's of this scene on the web but too graphic to link too here - hopefully someone can use these to save someone's life) The news in the US today is the snowstorm hitting the East Coast, which is following a major snow storm over the past weekend in much of the same area. This weather event will most likely skew economic reports for February, as numerous business' are closed, and those that remain open, are likely filled with people who don't want to be there. The nations captial, for all practical purposes, is shut down. .

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (MW) The Ceridian-UCLA "Pulse of Commerce Index" slowed to a 3.3% seasonally adjusted annualized growth rate in the three months ending in January from a 14.6% rate in the three months ending in December. The index was released to the public for the first time Wednesday.  .... The Ceridian-UCLA index is based on anonymous data from thousands of trucking companies across the nation that use Ceridian payment cards to purchase fuel. Leamer said past data for the index show a strong correlation between fuel consumption and economic growth. (WSJ) The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce seasonally adjusted January index fell to 104.53 last month, from 108.60 in December, a 36.8% annualized decrease. (more)
  • Fed’s Dudley: Financial System In ‘Much Better’ Shape - more
  • MBA: Mortgage Purchase Applications Decline, Rates Fall below 5.0% - more
  • How Brussels Is Trying to Prevent a Collapse of the Euro - more
  • China's inflation rate still 'relatively low': central banker  - more
  • 'No Bailout' Clause? The EU's Greek Rescue Problems - more
  • China orders retreat from risky assets  - more
  • The Indymac Slap in our Face - video here

  Cargo ship freed in St. Lawrence River - The cargo ship Algoma Discovery, which ran aground on the St. Lawrence River near Quebec City this week, was freed by a high tide Tuesday afternoon - more

  China iron ore imports slump, steel exports slow - China's iron ore imports fell 25 per cent in January from the previous month, while a slowdown in exports of steel products put an end to a seven-month trend of rising net exports from China, the top steelmaking nation. - more

  Chromex Mining restarts operations at Stellite chrome mine amid improved market conditions - Chromex Mining has recommenced mining at its Stellite opencast chrome mine on the Western Limb of the Bushveld Complex in South Africa as pricing and chrome market conditions improved, which has led to the drawdown of its run-of-mine stockpiles over the past six months. - more

  ArcelorMittal forecasts slow steel recovery in Q1 - ArcelorMittal, the world's top steelmaker, said its markets would improve only slowly with higher shipments but lower prices in early 2010, and its profit forecast fell short of market expectations. - more

  Salzgitter increases capacity utilization - Germany's second biggest steelmaker Salzgitter has increased production levels as it benefits from higher demand. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.16/lb higher, with other base metals mixed and quiet. The Euro is trading lower against the US Dollar, down about 1/3 of 1% at the moment. NYMEX crude is slightly higher and at $73.80/barrel. Gold opened slightly lower this morning and silver is over 2/10 of 1% higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up 1.4%. European markets are trading higher this morning as hopes for some sort of European Union bail-out for Greece continue. US futures are slightly higher at the moment.  Nickel inventories slipped for a second day, and the BDI has yet to be published.  
  • Reuters morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  Metal prices rose sharply on Tuesday, as a continued advance from oversold conditions, and more importantly, a significant rally in the Euro to over $1.38 from 1.3650 earlier in the day, both combined to boost prices. The Euro surged on a report out by the Wall Street Journal hinting that Germany was considering a plan to offer Greece and other troubled Euro-zone members loan guarantees. Although a final decision has yet to be made, Germany has apparently concluded that loan guarantees are likely the most efficient way of preventing the debt crisis from spreading, and is apparently prepared to lead EU efforts in this regard. This morning, the German Finance Minister said aid to Greece may extend beyond guaranteeing loans, and his remarks triggered a further rally in both the Greek equity and bond markets.  .... In macro news, China reported that its imports climbed a record 85.5% from a year before, but much of the jump was influenced by a shift in the Lunar New Year holiday to February this year from January 2009, exaggerating the comparisons. .... On the metals side of the trade data, Chinese imports of unwrought copper and semi-finished products fell 21% in January to 292,096 tons. This reverses December's 27% rise, and falls well short of the 400,000 tons import increase expected, as consumers apparently turned to material in bonded warehouses and existing stockpiles to cover demand. A Chinese metals analyst told Reuters that he expects refined copper imports to be around 2 million tons in 2010, averaging less than 200,000 tons a month, and much lower than what was seen in 2009.  ..... Nickel is at $17,975, up $425, as prices seem to have re-entered back into the trading range that broke to the downside earlier in the week. The current rally could take us to $18,500; any gains over that resistance level would be bullish, as nickel’s short-term downchannel would then be broken.  (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (SBB) Stainless mills in China are optimistic about demand for the January-March quarter and are running production at full capacity as a result, say industry sources.
  • (Yieh) Russia’s stainless steel imports dropped by 38.7 percent in 2009 compared to 2008.
  • (Interfax) The 68 major steel mills that report to the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) saw their combined profit drop 31.43 percent year-on-year to RMB 55.4 billion ($8.11 billion) in 2009, CISA reported on Feb. 9.
  • (SO) Dafenggang Economic Zone, Shanghai Yatai Steel Group and Shanghai Jinchang Stainless Steel Tube Manufacturing Co., Ltd. have recently inked a cooperation agreement for the construction of a stainless steel project in Shanghai with a planned annual production capacity of 500,000 mt.
  • (Yieh) Outokumpu has announced that its stainless steel shipment in the fourth quarter of 2009 was about 277,000 tons, up slightly by 16,000 tons compared with the same period of 2008.
  • (CD)  China's foreign trade up 44.4% in Jan - more
  • Recent Weakness May Provide an Attractive Entry Point For Investors Looking at Commodities - more
  • Wholesale Trade Revenues Fall 14.5% in 2009 - more
  • Small Business Economic Trends - pdf here
  • China May Choose Wages Over Yuan Gains to Narrow Trade Surplus - more

  China’s Imports Climb as Domestic Demand Aids Global Rebound - China’s imports climbed for a third straight month in January, signaling increasing strength in domestic demand that’s aiding the global economic rebound. - more

  • China exports show trade recovery on track -  China's export growth accelerated in January and imports rose, adding to signs a recovery in global and Chinese demand is on track. - more

  First Quantum Minerals Announces Finalization of the Acquisition of the Ravensthorpe Nickel Operation, Western Australia - First Quantum Minerals Ltd. today announced the finalization of the acquisition of the Ravensthorpe Nickel Operation in Western Australia following the receipt of the relevant Government approvals. - more

   Kennecott gets final go-ahead for Humboldt  - The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment issued four permits covering air emissions, water discharge, and other operations associated with the mill. - more

  Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Rejects New Ownership Laws - - Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai rejected legislation signed into law by President Robert Mugabe that forces companies to sell more than half of their shares to black investors because it would “scare off” foreigners. - more

  BHP Billiton profit more than doubles to $6.1 bln - Anglo-Australian miner BHP Billiton Ltd. said its first half profit more than doubled to $6.1 billion after selling record quantities of key commodities and shedding a loss-making nickel mine. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  • China Daily Special Coverage
  • SINA
  • Chain of Events
  • China Indicts 4 Rio Tinto Employees for Bribery, Xinhua Says - China has indicted four employees of Rio Tinto Plc, including Australian citizen Stern Hu, for alleged bribery, the official Xinhua news agency said in a Chinese-language report today. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • 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 9

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 16 to 2,706. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China's January Surge in Lending Probably Exceeded Fourth Quarter's Total  // China's January Passenger-Car Sales More Than Double on Stimulus Demand // Koito Plunges on Repairs to 150,000 Airbus, Boeing Seats After False Data // Macquarie Group Shares Tumble as Profit Forecast Misses Analyst Estimates // Euro, Asia Stocks Gain on Speculation Europe to Help Greece Tackle Deficit // SAS Drops Most in Almost 11 Months on Wider-Than-Forecast Loss, Share Sale // Portugal Said to Hire Barclays, Goldman to Sell 10-Year Bonds in Euros // Stiglitz Says Greek Default Isn't a Risk as `Speculative Attacks' Persist  // GM Applies for $3.7 Billion in Loans, Guarantees to Fund Adam Opel Revamp // UBS Posts Increase in Client Withdrawals, Returns to Profit; Stock Drops // Germany Considering Aid to Greece, CDU Government Lawmaker Says  // Most European Stocks Gain; National Bank of Greece, Swatch Rise  // Coca-Cola Profit Rises as China, India Sales Volume Offsets North America // Default Rate Declines to 0.3% as Seen in Junk Bond Yields: Credit Markets // Wholesale Inventories in U.S. Unexpectedly Decline 0.8% in Sign of Demand // U.S. Stocks Gain on Prospects for EU Bailout of Greece; Freeport Advances
  • After taking a beating over the past few weeks, and especially over the last week, the Euro is 1% higher against the US Dollar, as rumors fly that Germany or the EU will come to Greece's financial rescue. These rumors made a huge difference on world markets today. Commodities like a stronger Euro and NYMEX crude is up2%. Gold is up 1.4% and silver is up nearly 3.3%. Base metals were up also, all ending on the positive. Indicator charts show nickel slumped early, climbed much of the rest, before spiking late. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $7.96/lb . Inventories of nickel stored in LME warehouses fell overnight, and now sit just under the 166,200 tonne level. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel trading making a turn yesterday (chart here). After two days of gains, the Baltic Dry Index turned south again, losing 16 points to 2,706. Wall Street is much higher today on the Greece bailout rumors, with the Dow up 200 points earlier. China releases copper import figures for January tomorrow, which could give us a hint at nickel figures.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • European Nickel repays US$5 mln loan to Endeavour Financial after raising US$19.5 mln - more
  • Small-Business Owners Remain Pessimistic - more
  • The Coming Pan-European Sovereign Debt Crisis - more
  • Fed’s Yellen: U.S. Rates Too Hot for China - more
  • The Inexact Science of Economics" - more
  • Sovereign Debt Default Risk and the Price of Crude Oil  - more
  • Indicator Shows Improvement in Jobs Picture - more
  • The Death of the Workforce - more
  • In praise of mammoth deficits - more
  • Why Sovereign Debt Pain Has Only Just Started  - more
  • How to invest for a global-debt-bomb explosion - more
  • Forget the Mortgage, I'm Paying My Credit Card Bill - more
  • The World's Biggest Debtor Nations Slide show - more

  London Metal Exchange to open Singapore office - The London Metal Exchange said on Tuesday it will open LME Asia, its first overseas office, in Singapore to serve members' needs and make the most of opportunities in the region. - more

  Brazil enters fray for African resources - Brazil’s mining company, Vale, is preparing to start operations in Mozambique as South America’s largest economy steps up its involvement in the scramble for Africa’s resources. - more

  • Echoes From Davos: Brazil Follows China Into Africa - Some corridor chit-chat at Davos 2010 comparing the commercial and diplomatic push of two of the BRICs, China and Brazil, into Africa and Latin America respectively - more

  China impacts raw materials market - Raw-materials junkies can appreciate the impact that China has on prices for the ingredients used to make steel and other metals. For those who can’t, consider this data, courtesy of the International Iron and Steel Institute. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending February 6, 2010, domestic raw steel production was 1,605,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 67.3 percent. Production was 1,057,000 tons in the week ending February 6, 2009, while the capability utilization then was 45.1 percent. The current week production represents a 51.9 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending February 6, 2010 is up 0.7 percent from the previous week ending January 30, 2010 when production was 1,595,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 66.9 percent.

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:30 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.06/lb higher, with all base metals trading higher this morning. The Euro is trading 8/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar, giving a big boost to commodity trading. NYMEX crude futures are up 1-1/4% and nearing $73/barrel. Gold is up nearly 1/4% and silver is over 2-1/4% higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up over 1/2 of 1%, its first gainer in 4 days on news car sales more than doubled in January, and banks may have loaned more in January than the entire fourth quarter of 2009. European markets are slightly higher this morning, and US futures show Wall Street will make another run at a bullish day, with futures up 63 at teh moment. Nickel inventories fell overnight, and the BDI  fell 16 points.  

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  Metal prices rose yesterday, posting good-sized gains amid generally oversold conditions. A slightly weaker dollar also helped the advance, although by late in the day, the greenback recouped most of its losses, as US equity markets faded once again, with the Dow losing another 100 points on the session. The dollar is slightly weaker against the Euro today on speculation that the European Union could bail out Greece, this after news that ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet was leaving a meeting of central bankers in Sydney early to attend an EU leaders' summit to be held on Thursday in Brussels. The issue is a delicate one for the EU, for if Greece were to be bailed out, it would set a precedent for helping other countries facing similar problems. The dollar’s slightly weaker tone is helping metals again today, although values have come off from earlier highs, reflective of just how tentative the recovery still is. Despite this, we suspect that a slightly firmer tone could still be with us for the next day or two, as currency markets will likely be on hold at least until later in the week pending EU summit talks. There is not much on the US macro front this week to lend direction to metals, so currency factors will likely dominate. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) Korea’s BNG Steel has raised its stainless steel prices for February. The company was bringing up its stainless steel 300 series prices by 117,000 won/ton. The company’s 304 prices rose to 3.92 million won/ton from 3.803 million won/ton, while 430 prices remained unchanged. Posco also raised prices by up to 3.3 percent for February due to rising raw material prices.
  • (MDM) December U.S. manufacturing technology consumption totaled $219.60 million, according to the Association for Manufacturing Technology and the American Machine Tool Distributors' Association. This total, as reported by companies participating in the USMTC program, was up 22.9% from November but down 5.7% from the total of $232.93 million reported for December 2008.
  • Xstrata sees 'advantages' in possible Glencore link-up - more
  • Commodities Slump a ‘Buying Opportunity,’ Morgan Says - more
  • Xstrata predicts new commodities boom - more
  • Metal stocks likely to outperform in Mar-Apr: Bhambwani - more
  • China builds stakes in Canadian mining companies  - more
  • Buy Stock Now to Ride Second Stage of Bull Market: John Dorfman - more

  China Imported 16 Million Tons Of Nickel Ores In CY 2009= Increased By 34% Compared To That In 2008, Imports From Philippines Doubled - According to the customs-statistics released in China, this country imported 16.575 million tons of nickel ores in the calendar year (January - December) of 2009, having had a considerable increase of 34% compared with that (12.372 million tons) in the preceding calendar year of 2008. - more

  Posco May Raise Stainless Steel Output by 22% in 2010  - Posco, Asia’s biggest stainless steelmaker by 2008 output, may increase throughput of the product by 22 percent this year because of economic recovery. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  • About 3,050 hourly rated production and maintenance workers, members of United Steelworkers Local 6500, have been on strike since July 13. Another 130 USW Local 6200 members in Port Colborne are also on strike. About 450 members of USW Local 9508 in Voisey's Bay have been on strike since Aug. 1.
  • Sudbury Star
  • Vale/Inco offer // Vale/Inco Company Site
  • Union Strike Site //  USW  Local 6500
  • Sudbury TV // Sudbury Northern Life Videos
  • Vale Inco: we have right to use replacement workers at Sudbury operations - Nickel mining giant Vale Inco says it has the right to use non-striking workers to fill in at its operations in Sudbury, Ont., while the rest of its employees walk the picket lines. - more

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • 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 8

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 7 to 2,722. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Asian Stocks, Euro Fall as G-7 Fails to End Concern Over Greece, Budgets // Sumitomo Mitsui Third-Quarter Profit Rises as Bad Loans, Stock Losses Fall // India's Economic Growth May Quicken for First Time Since 2007, Agency Says // Toyota Said to Recall Prius Cars to Fix Brake Flaw Wozniak Calls `Scary' // Lagarde, Schaeuble Say EU Will Ensure Greece Delivers Budget Deficit Cuts // Gruebel Second Turnaround Means Battered UBS Stock May Trump Credit Suisse  // Swiss January Retail Sales Rise, Unemployment Rate Unexpectedly Declines // G-7 Governments Risk `Muddled Middle' With Plan to Spend Now, Save Later // Portugal, Spain Lead Jump in Sovereign Debt Risk as Deficit Concern Grows  // Volkswagen's Audi Luxury Unit Predicts `Strong' Quarter After January Gain // European Stocks Advance; SAB, Xstrata Lead Gains Among Foodmakers, Miners  // Geithner Says U.S. Will `Never' Lose Aaa Debt Rating, Deficit Will Shrink // Weak Dollar Illusory as Correlated Trading Shows Gains Since Bretton Woods // Greenspan Sees `Slow' Recovery, Would Be `Very Concerned' If Stocks Drop // Stocks in U.S. Fluctuate as Analyst Upgrades Offset European Debt Concerns
  • The Euro is trading over 1/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar at the moment, but neither side appears to have more than fleeting momentum. NYMEX crude futures are up 1.15% and at $72/barrel. Gold is up by 1/10 of 1% and silver is lower by about the same. Base metals ended the session higher for the most part, with only tin lagging. Indicator charts show nickel rose early, fell in early afternoon, then started recovering late in the session. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $7.84/lb . Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose slightly over the weekend, and now sit just shy of the 166,500 tonne level. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel slump late last week (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index rose 7 points to 2,722 implying its second day of gains, may not last much longer. US markets appear to be hesitant to make a major directional move today, as the bears and bulls fight over dominance. We read a lot of articles daily, in our research for this site, but have our favorites that we watch closely. Two of these had less than positive news today and we thought it was worth mentioning, since these two writers have typically been bullish lately. Na Liu in his weekly China Update for Scotia , wrote "As we wrote in the Macro section, the 21st Century Business Herald, a respected local newspaper, reported on Wednesday that Chinese banking authorities have asked commercial banks to carefully review and strictly control loans to the steel industry and steel traders, because of the perceived high inventory risk and overcapacity concerns. The paper wrote that all commercial banks in Sichuan province had received an internal document from the Sichuan bureau of the China Banking Regulatory Commission. The document, dated January 25, 2010, said that all financial institutions should review outstanding loans to the steel industry and control risks accordingly. The risk is high in the steel industry because “steel mills and steel traders, with the support of bank credit, are betting on higher steel prices in 2010 as a group by stockpiling. The steel inventory level in the country has swelled and risk has accumulated.” The document said that at the end of 2009, the total steel inventory in China was 70 million-80 million tonnes, up by about 20 million-30 million tonnes on a YOY basis. As total steel output in 2010 is likely to top 700 million tonnes, the high inventory and strong output will put pressure on steel prices, according to the document. The document also said that if steel prices go lower, banks will face “severe financial risks.” A writer who goes by the handle Robry, and who has gained a loyal following with his natural gas fuel reports, wrote in his weekly analysis "Overall (at least short-term), the gas-flows are starting to exhibit a slowing, stalling, meandering look... (no doubt reflecting at least in part the malaise in the markets, the malaise in government, and the malaise in employment), leaving one to wonder what comes next. As recoveries (and recessions) feed upon themselves, a loss of momentum opens the door to unpredictability... where a single news story... a single political gaff... a single down-day in the markets... even a single meteorological event (such as a crippling snowstorm) can impact consumers in such a way as to get a ball rolling that will quickly become difficult to stop. The danger is not so much on the Industrial/Business side of the economy (though businesses will and do react, compounding problems) but on the consumption side of the economy... where consumers (at a single bad news story) will cut back spending... "just in case". In my own opinion... every recession starts out by "just in case"."

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Russia exported 244,700 metric tons of nickel in 2009, 3.3% less than in 2008, the federal customs service said Monday.
  • Kansas City Fed’s Hoenig Explains His Dissenting Vote - more
  • Living on Nothing but Food Stamps - more (reader submitted, aged article but worth noting)
  • Employment Chart Roundup - more
  • Euro Your Boat, I’ll Sail the Dollar - more
  • Bank Securitization Woes Only Beginning - more
  • Despite Carping, Dollar Is Still King - more
  • My Sunday media nightmare - more
  • America Is Not Yet Lost - more
  • No Double-Dip Slump but Recovery Slow: Geithner - more

  Metals prices heading for the roof - Speakers at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town this week seemed as one in warning of a near-term supply-demand squeeze and some solid price increases for a swathe of metals. - more

  Jilted Xstrata Going It Alone, For The Moment At least - Anglo-Swiss miner Xstrata is done being told to take a hike. Toward the end of 2008 the world’s third-biggest platinum miner, Lonmin, resisted its hostile takeover. And last year Anglo American spurned merger talks with its would-be partner. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.03/lb , with other base metals mostly higher. The Euro is trading slightly higher against the US Dollar this morning, but its losing ground at the moment. NYMEX crude futures are up 2/3 of 1% and over $71.50/barrel. Gold is down less than  1/10 of 1% and silver is off more than 1/2 of 1%.  In overnight trading, Asian markets ended slightly lower, with China closing the same. European markets are lower after European finance chiefs failed to ease concern over deficits in Greece, Portugal and Spain. US futures are slightly higher this morning, implying Wall Street may take a stab at a bullish day. Nickel inventories rose slightly over the weekend, and the BDI rose 7 points.
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more
  • Reuters morning report - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Where to from here? After the recent steep declines and RSI readings that are all in the 20’s for most metals, we suspect the complex is due for a modest technical bounce. In fact, we could very well be carving out trading ranges in a number of markets, with the top end of the range probably defined for the next several months, and possibly for the year as a whole if the budding global economic recovery disappoints. The bottom end of the range is still “a work-in-progress”, although some of the metals seem to be getting to quite attractive at current levels. These include tin and lead, whose fundamentals remain quite constructive going into 2010. The ones that still look most problematic to us are copper and aluminum, with the latter potentially seeing more weakness if some of the locked-up material on the LME starts getting released onto the market.  .... Nickel is at $17,125, up $75, and still very range-bound. Friday’s close below $18,000 support suggests further downside erosion, possibly to $16,500.  (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (MB) Jinchuan cuts nickel prices 4%
  • Wealth Managers See Bright Future In California - more

  Aust nickel miner Western Areas expects turnaround in H1 - Australian nickel producer Western Areas NL is tipping a turnaround in fortunes in its first half, after making a loss in the corresponding period a year earlier. - more

  Xstrata sees renewed commodities boom - Anglo-Swiss mining group Xstrata on Monday reported a 41 per cent drop in its annual profit in 2009 and pinned its hopes on a renewed boom in commodities demand in China and other emerging economies. - more

  Sojitz Plans to Double Molybdenum Sales as Steel Demand Grows - Sojitz Corp., Japan’s largest molybdenum trader, expects to double its sales in the next three years on increased demand from steelmakers, an executive said. - more

  BHP insists it will hold on to its nickel assets - The rumour that BHP Billiton is looking to offload its remaining nickel assets for upwards of $US3 billion just won't go away. - more

  Global iron and steel production to reach a record high in 2010 - MEPS forecasts world steel output at 1350 million tonnes in 2010. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  • About 3,050 hourly rated production and maintenance workers, members of United Steelworkers Local 6500, have been on strike since July 13. Another 130 USW Local 6200 members in Port Colborne are also on strike. About 450 members of USW Local 9508 in Voisey's Bay have been on strike since Aug. 1.
  • Sudbury Star
  • Vale/Inco offer // Vale/Inco Company Site
  • Union Strike Site //  USW  Local 6500
  • Sudbury TV // Sudbury Northern Life Videos
  • Vale Inco strike: the sounds of silence - Someone said the other day the strike at Vale Inco might go for another two years. - more
  • Vale sending nickel off to Welsh refinery - The first shipment of nickel concentrate to be processed into matte at Copper Cliff Smelter Complex since a strike by Steelworkers began seven months ago is on its way to Vale Inco's refinery in Clydach, Wales. - more
  • Sides grow further apart; Vale Inco says it will resume full production, whether the strike ends or not - Vale Inco is aiming for full production, with or without its 3,200 production and maintenance workers. - more

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • 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 5

  U.S. Consumer Credit Fell for 11th Straight Month - Consumer borrowing in the U.S. declined less than anticipated in December as Americans took out loans to buy cars. - more (Dow climbs nearly 200 points in last few hours to end plus 10 for the day Friday. Dollar hits 8 month high against Euro. For you Dow chart watchers, what does a northern doji following a falling three method imply?) 

  Vale starts nickel shipments from Sudbury smelter - Brazilian-owned Vale Inco shipped the first nickel matte product on Thursday from its smelter in Sudbury, Ontario, after restarting the plant last month, and is looking ahead to an eventual return to full operations in the region, spokesperson Cory McPhee said on Friday. - more

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up

  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 30 to 2,715. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China's 2009 Fiscal Revenue Growth Exceeds Target as Recovery Raised Taxes // RBA Says Australian Economy to Accelerate Even as Interest Rates Increase // Stocks, Commodities Plunge, Dollar Gains on U.S. Jobless Claims Increase // G-7 Splits Hurt Investor Confidence as Ministers Seek Exit Plan in Arctic // Russia Names Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, VTB to Manage Bond Sale // Corporate Bond Risk Increases in Europe, Credit-Default Swap Prices Show // Spain's GDP Contracts for Seventh Consecutive Quarter, Bank of Spain Says // ICAP Plunges After Lowering Earnings Outlook on New Business Profitability // European Stocks Retreat, Posting Biggest Weekly Index Decline in 11 Months // Former Bank of America Chief Lewis Sued by New York's Cuomo For TARP Fraud // Aetna 2010 Profit Forecast Misses Analysts' Estimates on Economy, Jobless // Unemployment Rate in U.S. Unexpectedly Falls to 9.7%; Payrolls Drop 20,000 // Dodd Will Press for Bank Regulatory-Reform Bill Amid Bipartisan `Impasse' // U.S. Stocks Retreat as Sovereign-Debt Concern Offsets Unemployment Report
  • The US Dollar strengthened after a positive US employment report, and is trading 3/4 of 1% higher against the Euro. NYMEX crude initially jumped after the report but the strengthening Dollar cut the wings off any rally possibility and it is down a whooping 3-1/2% and nearing $70.50/barrel. Gold is off nearly 1.1% and silver is down over 3%. Base metals fared no better, with all ending lower and at or below yearly lows. Indicator charts show nickel slumped early, spent most of the day trying to crawl out of the cellar, but fell sharply late as the Dollar pressure proved just too much. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day and week at $7.72/lb , its lowest close since mid December. A chart analyst, like Ed Meir from MF Global, would warn that a close below support for a second day like we saw today, could mean the market is heading for $7.50/lb. Nickel inventories rose slightly overnight and now sit over the 166,300 tonne level with any consecutive gain these days setting a new all time record high. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel's sell-off yesterday (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index gained 30 points to end the week at 2,715. The Department of Labor's Employment Situation Report for January sen the market some very mixed signals today, but overall the drop from 10% to 9.7% was good news. You can read the summary here. Barry Ritholtz, a usual cynic, was encouraged - blog entry here. Many of his readers, as can be seen in the comments, were not so encouraged. RDQ Economics stated "We judge there is more good news than bad news in this report and we think labor market trends remain on track to show the emergence of job creation in the first quarter." Jason Schenker from Prestige Economics stated "The big truth of today’s report is not that the job market improved, which it did not. The big truth is that with downward revisions to previous employment reports, there were more jobs lost than had previously estimated. Furthermore, there was also a very large decrease in the number of unemployed workers by 378,000, as most of these people became “permanent job losers,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In other words, this is not a positive employment report. Clearly, a job-less recovery is occurring." Pick your poison, the Dow is off 75 points at the moment. Have a safe and restful weekend!! The fun starts again on Monday.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (WSJ) In its report, the government revised its job loss numbers for November, saying the economy gained 64,000 in that month rather than 4,000. But the numbers in December were much worse than previously stated; the economy lost 150,000 jobs rather than the 85,000 originally reported. ... Job losses in August, September and October of last year were 240,000 worse than original forecasts.
  • (AMM) Nickel premiums still elevated despite Xstrata labor contract
  • Q&A: Carmen Reinhart on Greece, U.S. Debt and Other ‘Scary Scenarios’ - more
  • Q&A: Top-Ranked Economists Look to 2010 - more
  • Crouching tiger, hidden investment opportunity - more
  • Fiscal Scare Tactics  - more
  • Are Greek Sovereign Debt Tremors a Start of a New Phase of the Crisis? - more

  Vale Inco, Xstrata take different approaches to management - Point of View  - The three-year contract settlement between Xstrata and Mine Mill Local 598/CAW has left a lot of people wondering why such an agreement can't be had at Vale Inco? - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:25 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.16/lb lower, with all base metals trading lower in the great worldwide sell-off, day two. The US Dollar is trading over 2/10 of 1% higher against the Euro, adding selling pressure to commodities. NYMEX crude is down 1/3 of 1% and under $73/barrel. Gold is down nearly 3/4  of 1% and silver is off over 8/10 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets fell hard, with China off 2%. European markets are down hard this morning,a nd US futures show Wall Street could open much lower. Nickel inventories grew overnight, while the BDI has yet to be published. The highly anticipated US payroll report for January was just issued and the US lost another 20,000 jobs that month. The revised employment numbers were also issued and the Labor Dept announced 8.4 million jobs have been lost since the recession began. The official US unemployment rate dropped from 10% to 9.7%.  
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  Commodity prices were thrashed again yesterday, as a surging dollar, (now at 8-month highs against the Euro), and weak US equity prices, continue to weigh on the complex. However, as mentioned in yesterday's note, it is lingering concern about how deeply and quickly China will move on tightening credit that has generated the most angst. Copper tumbled to its lowest level in three months yesterday, while aluminum plunged to lows not seen since late November. More broadly, the Reuters-Jefferies CRB index dropped to a four-month low on Thursday, as oil prices lost almost $4 on the session, their steepest one-day decline since July. We are continuing our descent in metals as of this writing, as earlier gains in Asia seem to have fallen by the wayside. The dollar has strengthened again overnight, getting to a high of 1.3660 against the Euro at one point, and is now trading at 1.37. The cost of credit-default swaps for Spain, Greece, and Portugal, all rose to record highs today, further contributing to Euro weakness. In addition, remarks put out by the European Central Bank President, Jean-Claude Trichet, failed to allay investor concerns that these heavily indebted Euro members could potentially imperil the entire Euro regime. Markets are also nervous ahead of the US non-farm payroll report out later today, which is expected to show a modest gain of some 15,000 jobs. Given what we can glean from the labor figures leading up to the release, we do not think the number will surprise significantly in either direction to alter the downward price trend that seems to be in place. ... Nickel is at $17,325, down $400, and trading below $18,000 support. Another close below this level today (likely) could eventually lead to a downside target of $16,500.  (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) It is reported that in 2009 year, stainless steel products imported to Russia has fallen by 38.7 percent year-over-year in quantity, while export from Russia has decreased by 39.2 percent year-over-year in quantity. According to the data revealed by Russian Special Steel and Alloys Consumers and Suppliers Association (Spetsstal), main stainless steel products imported to Russia reached 109,600 tons, or US$388.57 in amount.
  • (Interfax) Demand from emerging markets, not Europe or the United States, will enable global steel production to recover to pre-crisis levels in 2010, the chairman of Russia's Evraz Group, Alexander Abramov, said at the Russia 2010 forum in Moscow.
  • (JMB) Global supply-demand for nickel this year/ Production, consumption, both increase by 10%
  • AK Steel Recalls 284 Laid-Off Workers - more
  • Biggest Bubble in History Is Growing Every Day: William Pesek - more
  • Five myths about America's credit card debt - more

  Operations resume at Shakespeare Nickel Copper Mine west of Sudbury - URSA Major Minerals Incorporated announced Thursday it has started mining operations at the Shakespeare Nickel Copper Mine located 70 km west of Sudbury. - more

  Lower Prices, High Inventory To Limit Chinese Nickel Imports - Limited selling pressure as Chinese traders stockpiled imported metal helped maintain a floor for nickel prices last year, but rising domestic production and high inventory levels could limit Chinese import demand going forward, industry participants said Friday. - more

  China's Imports Of Molybdenum In Second Half 2009 Still Kept High Pace = Imported 75.5 Million Lbs. On Mo Content Base In CY 2009 - According to the customs-statistics released in China, the quantities of molybdenum exported and imported by China in the calendar year (January - December) of 2009 were as per the table attached hereto. - more

  Western Areas Announces Record Nickel Production at Flying Fox - We have received a number of enquiries from shareholders on the production grade (3.3% nickel), higher cash cost (US$3.95/lb nickel) and associated lower metallurgical recoveries in the December Q 2010 activities report. - more

  Weather, terrain plaguing megaproject - The bulldozer jabbed its ripper - a long, claw-like device at the rear - into the earth and brought up solid in the ground. The dozer's caterpillar tracks began to turn, but after a short distance, started spinning hopelessly. The operator could only smile and shrug his shoulders. - more

  Foreign miners merge to beef up Zambales nickel venture - United Kingdom based European Nickel PLC has merged with Australian firm Rusina Mining NL to create a “financially stronger company” that will finance the Acoje nickel mining project in Sta. Cruz, Zambales. - more

  Steel pools next - The Sabah Sports Board will consider using stainless steel technology in the construction or replacement of swimming pools in the state for the future. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  • China Daily Special Coverage
  • SINA
  • Chain of Events
  • Rio Tinto hires new China boss to improve ties - Rio Tinto has named fluent Mandarin speaker Ian Bauert to head its China business, at a time of tense iron ore price talks and a case against four employees accused of illegally obtaining commercial secrets. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • 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 4

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 12 to2,685 .   (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Rejects Obama Comments as Yuan Not Main Cause of U.S. Trade Deficit // Roubini Says Dollar to Decline Against Asian, `Commodity' Currencies, Real // Toyota Scraps Loss Forecast, Saying Profit to Withstand Record Auto Recall // Portugal, Spain Lead Worldwide Decline in Stocks; Bonds Drop, Dollar Gains // Bank of England Pauses Bond-Purchase Plan, Keeps Open Option to Buy More // ECB Keeps Benchmark Rate at Record Low as Greek Deficit Takes Center Stage // Shell Targets More Job Cuts, Savings on `Challenging' Outlook for Refining // European Stocks Fall for Second Day; Portugal, Spain Drop on Debt Concern // Bernanke Vows to Protect Fed Independence as He's Sworn in for Second Term // Productivity in U.S. Climbed 6.2% in Fourth Quarter, Labor Costs Declined // Buffett Stripped of His Last AAA Rating as S&P Downgrades Berkshire's Debt // Bank of America Settles SEC Suit for $150 Million as Cuomo Sues for Fraud // Geithner Says Doubling Tax on Hedge Fund Managers `Good Economic Policy' // Factory Orders in U.S. Increase More Than Forecast on Business Investment // Stocks, Metals Plunge on Concern Rising Jobless Claims to Derail Recovery
  • The US Dollar continues to strengthen against the Euro, now trading over 1% higher. NYMEX crude is down 5.2% and under $73/barrel. Gold is off over 4% and silver is lower by nearly 6%. Not hard to guess where metals headed today. All ended the day lower, with nickel joining the foray as well. Indicator charts show nickel was holding its own for much of the early part of the trading session, but finally succumbed to the Dollar's strength and fell to its second lowest close of the year. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $8.04/lb . Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose to anew all time record high overnight, with levels now in excess of 166,200 tonnes. Sucden's day old nickel chart shows nickel has fallen into a range that it can't seem to move out of (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index rose 12 points today, ending seven consecutive falls, and is presently at 2,685. Traders around the world were nervous today, and US traders are no different, with the volatility index up 18% at the moment, and the Dow off over 200 points. Ugly day all the way around.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Diane Garnick, a New York-based investment strategist at Invesco Ltd., which manages $400 billion to Bloomberg reporter on today's employment report - "Holy cow! Look at those initial claims ....We thought we were finally going to have a positive month. It wasn’t in the cards this time. Unemployed people don’t spend money. That means the growth we’ve seen is not sustainable until people get jobs."
  • Massive revision will show recession was even worse - more
  • Bloomberg on the Birth Death Adjustment - more
  • Italy Seizes Bank of America, Dexia Assets Amid Probe - more
  • Service Sector Growing, but Expansion Remains Anemic - more
  • IMF Stands Ready to Help Greece - more
  • Kevin Warsh: “No Firm Should Be Too Big To Fail” - more
  • Americans drank more, but cheaper liquor last year - more
  • James Chanos on Earnings, Shorting, China, Greece - more

  Union votes 93% to accept - Rank-and-file members of Mine Mill Local 598/CAW -- "surprised and awed" with the deal their union negotiated with Xstrata Nickel -- voted 93% to accept the offer Tuesday night. - more

  S. Africa Mine Nationalization Isn’t ‘Real’ Risk, Group Says - Threats of nationalization are less of a risk to mining companies in South Africa, the biggest platinum, ferrochrome and manganese producer, than the lack of power in the country, consulting company Control Risks said. - more

  World’s only stainless steel Buddhist chapel - The glittering reflection of the sun on the shining chapel of Pak Lam Kha-Khaeng Temple in Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province, 130 kilometres west of Bangkok, makes the edifice stands out among other religious structures in the serene compound. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:25 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.02/lb higher, with other base metals trading mixed and quiet. The US Dollar is trading 1/3 of 1% higher against the Euro, and at 1.3846. NYMEX crude futures are off 8/10 of 1%, and under $76.50/barrel. Gold is down 1/2 of 1% while silver is lower by a full percent. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China off 1/3 of 1%. European markets are trading lower this morning as budget deficits in Greece, Spain and Portugal become a concern. US futures are lower on similar concerns. Nickel inventories rose nearly 500 tonnes overnight, while the BDI number has yet to be published. Government reports will be in the spotlight today, with retail sales, employment numbers and factory orders all in the spotlight. So far, the retailers that have reported are reporting positive results, but the Labor Department just reported first time jobless claims jumped by 8,000 last week, which is the opposite direction analysts felt it would go.  
  • Reuters morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - We had a stunning reversal in metals yesterday, as the dollar strengthened abruptly, moving from 1.40 against the Euro to below 1.39 in the span of a few hours. In the process, it unleashed a barrage of selling in metals, with the sell-off in copper being particularly brutal.  .... The stronger dollar, weak equity sessions, and hot-and-cold US macro readings, have alternatively acted as primary bearish catalysts in the metals complex of late, but more recently, we think the dominant bearish factor has been growing worries about the credit situation in China. Markets are becoming increasingly sensitive to any news having to do with China's lending sector, and in fact, there were a few items out yesterday that should have caught our attention in this regard. As examples, the Fitch ratings agency downgraded two midsize Chinese banks on Tuesday, bringing their ratings in line with other national banks it follows. Importantly, this was the first time in more than six years that Fitch has downgraded a Chinese bank. The 16 Chinese banks Fitch now covers carry ratings between “D” and “E”, with D signifying "weakness of internal and or external origin” and E, although undefined in the article we came across, presumably being worse than that. Of course, with roughly $2.4 trillion in foreign currency reserves, the Chinese government could easily absorb any bad debts the banks may incur, but for China to even remotely acknowledge such a possibility will cause tremendous havoc and almost certainly unhinge the metals rally we have seen take hold over the last nine months. Another indirect signal that the Chinese economy may be slowing came from Australia, where the country’s central bank kept rates unchanged on Tuesday after analysts were expecting another .25% increase. Although there are domestic reasons for a pause, the underlying message could be that Australia’s central bank is possibly looking at a slowdown in China's economy in the near-term. China takes up to one-fifth of Australia's exports, of which 90% of that is commodities. .... Nickel is at $18,450, up $100, and very quiet today with only a $360 trading range in place. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Dow Jones) -Russia's stainless steel products imports fell by 39% in 2009 compared to the year earlier, to 109,600 metric tons, the special steel producers' association Spetsstal reported Thursday. Total stainless steel consumption in Russia in 2009 slumped by 40% on the year earlier to 180,000 tons, Spetsstal reported.
  • (Interfax) Chinese steel mills are expected to relent to a 40 percent price hike at the long-term iron ore benchmark talks with global iron ore giant Rio Tinto in 2010, an analyst told Interfax on Feb. 3.
  • (Bloomberg) Barclays expects aluminum to average 25 percent higher at $2,088 a ton, zinc to average 39 percent higher at $2,300 a ton, and lead 27 percent more at $2,188 a ton. Nickel may average 40 percent higher at $20,375 a ton, and tin 33 percent more at $18,013 a ton..... For 2011, Barclays forecast copper at $7,000, aluminum at $2,300, zinc at $3,000, lead at $2,200, nickel at $25,000, and tin at $18,500.
  • (MW) European steel output may rise 0.6% in 2010, accelerating to 3.5% to 4% growth in 2011, the Eurofer trade group said. "We are seeing the first green shoots of recovery and there is confidence that this will translate into a further improvement in E.U. steel market fundamentals," said director general Gordon Moffat. Consumption dropped 35% in 2009, it said.
  • US commodities market under attack - more

  First Molybdenum Brands Listed On The LME - The London Metal Exchange has listed its first molybdenum brands for delivery against the LME’s new molybdenum contract. The exchange has listed roasted molybdenum concentrates from Molymet’s Nos roaster in Chile, from its Molymex roaster in Mexico and from its Sadaci roaster in Belgium. - more

  Market Tendency On Imports Of Ferro-Alloys At 29th January 2010= Composition In Exports And Imports Of Ferro-Alloys By China Has Changed - The market tendency by item on imports of ferro-alloys into Japan at the 29th January of 2010 is as follows - more

  Orissa inks pact with JSL for stainless steel park - The Orissa government today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ratan Jindal-owned JSL Ltd for setting up a stainless steel park at Kalinganagar where the company is setting up a 1.6 million tonne integrated stainless steel plant. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  • About 3,050 hourly rated production and maintenance workers, members of United Steelworkers Local 6500, have been on strike since July 13. Another 130 USW Local 6200 members in Port Colborne are also on strike. About 450 members of USW Local 9508 in Voisey's Bay have been on strike since Aug. 1.
  • Sudbury Star
  • Vale/Inco offer // Vale/Inco Company Site
  • Union Strike Site //  USW  Local 6500
  • Sudbury TV // Sudbury Northern Life Videos
  • Vale to boost nickel output at Sudbury mines - Brazilian miner Vale will restart one nickel mine and boost production at another at its Sudbury, Ontario, operation despite a strike that has gone on for nearly seven months, a company spokesman said on Wednesday. - more
  • Vale pension plan short $729 million - The pension plan that's a central issue in a lengthy strike at Vale Inco's Sudbury operations was about $729 million in the red at the end of 2008, the company says. - more

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  • China Daily Special Coverage
  • SINA
  • Chain of Events
  • Credit Suisse Raises Iron Ore Target to 50% Increase - Credit Suisse Group AG raised its price targets for iron ore and other bulk commodities for the next Japanese fiscal year, citing rising global steel output and increasing production costs in China. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • 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 3

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 18 to 2,613. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Honda Raises Profit Forecast on Spending Reductions, Smaller Gain in Yen // Toyota's U.S. Sales Drop May Signal Tough Months Ahead on Recall Crisis // Asian Stocks, Commodities Gain as U.S. Home Sales Stoke Recovery Optimism // Greek Deficit Plan Wins EU Backing as Papandreou Deepens Cuts in Spending // Electrolux Drops Most in 3 Years After Earnings Miss Analysts' Estimates // Portuguese Government Bonds Drop as Almunia Points to Concern on Deficit // European Stocks Drop, Ending Three-Day Rally; Electrolux Sinks on Earnings // Pfizer Profit, 2010 Forecast Miss Analysts' Estimates After Wyeth Purchase // Bank of America Said to Pay Investment Bankers Average Bonus of $400,000 // Time Warner Boosts Dividend, Increases Buyback as Profit Exceeds Estimates // GMAC Cuts More Than 500 Jobs in Mortgage, Auto-Loan Units to Stanch Losses // Service Industries in U.S. Expand at a Slower Pace Than Forecast, ISM Says // LaHood Says Earlier Comment to Stop Driving Toyotas Was a `Misstatement' // Pimco's El-Erian Says 2010 Will Be Year of Sovereign Risk as Debt Balloons // U.S. Companies Cut 22,000 Jobs in January, Fewest in Two Years, ADP Says
  • The US Dollar is trading higher against the Euro, by 4/10 of 1% at the moment, and way off session high's. NYMEX crude oil is 1/10 of 1% lower and in danger of falling under $77/barrel. Gold is off 1/3 of 1% and silver is done nearly 2-1/3%. Base metals were all trading higher when the Euro was higher, but as the US Dollar strengthened, metals weakened. Indicator charts show nickel opened higher, then spent much of the day sliding until some recovery took place late in the afternoon. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day where it did yesterday, at $8.30/lb . Inventories of nickel stored in LME warehouses fell for a second day, and now sit just over the 165,700 tonne level. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel traders gains yesterday (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index only lost 18 points overnight and is showing signs it may go positive in the next few days. Canadian Auto Workers Sudbury Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union Local Union 598 members ratified a three year deal with Xstrata in voting late yesterday. Exact details have not been made public but the statement reads "Highlights of the Agreement include an annual cost of living allowance with a 20-cent hourly wage increase in the third year, C$2,500 Continuity Allowance, a new nickel bonus formula that reflects current business realities, competitive pension and benefit improvements that adjust for inflation, and a new employee performance-based incentive program linked to the achievement of business targets. The Agreement also provides a framework for a new joint Company-Union initiative aimed at mitigating longer term challenges with the current Defined Benefit Pension Program." It would appear by this statement, that CAW members accepted some concessions that USW workers at Vale have so far refused to accept. On the other hand, Xstrata conceded some issues that Vale has so far refused to concede. Nerves are frayed after 7 months and the situation in Sudbury has grown very unsettled. This agreement without a strike will hopefully put pressure on both Vale and USW to cut down on the rhetoric, the violence, the spying, playing the victim, and get back to the table. Our advise - get a mediator, get Tito and Leo to talk "too" one another and stop talking "about" one another, and put a stop to all this nonsense. Like watching a bunch of whiny little children arguing, trying to get the biggest cookie. Down here in the lower 48 we call that the US Congress.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Picking Up the Slack — Or Is It Too Late? - more
  • 20 reasons Global Debt Time Bomb explodes soon - more
  • Eastern Europe - The population crash - more
  • Fed Disqualifies Itself as Systemic Risk Regulator - more
  • Causation Analysis: What “But Fors” Caused the Crisis ? - more
  • Consumer Bankruptcies Remain Elevated - more
  • Deflation - more

  China Metals: Perception versus reality in pricing - Traders and speculators see active metals purchasing by China as a good economic gauge that justifies raising world commodity prices. But, lately, the country has been overbuying and building stockpiles. Maybe prices should be falling. - more

  The United Steelworkers will negotiate, not capitulate -  As a member of Local 6500 USW, a former Inco employee and a Sudburian, I am immensely proud of the solidarity and strength displayed by our members and their families. - more  (note - read the comments section - a few surprises there besides the typical garbage and name calling)

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:250 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.05/lb lower with most base metals lower, but quiet this morning. The Euro is trading nearly 2/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar, adding underlining support to commodity trading today. NYMEX crude futures are 1/4 of 1% higher, nearing $77.50/barrel. Gold is 1/10 of 1% higher and silver is nearly 2/10 of 1% lower. In overnight trading, Asian markets rebounded with China up over 2-2/3%. European markets are slightly higher at the moment, and US futures are down slightly. Nickel inventories slipped for a second consecutive day and the BDI only lost 18 points overnight.    
  • Reuters morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metal prices have staged impressive upside reversals this week, with much of the increase due to exogenous variables as opposed to any fundamental change in the metals picture itself. In this regard, we have been getting, on balance, much stronger than expected macro readings out of the US, coupled with the fact that the dollar has slipped quite significantly this week, and is now trading over 1.40 against the Euro. Both these variables have reinvigorated the US equity markets, helping stem last week’s selling in commodities as well. ... The firmer tone is extending into today's session, where we had a very strong close in Shanghai, with zinc closing limit up (by 5%) followed by good gains in aluminum and copper. On the LME, copper stocks have fallen again today, but not as much as yesterday's 2,375 ton decline, which was the largest since July of last year.  .... The Chinese Lunar New Year holidays start on February 14 and goes on for one week.  .... Nickel is at $18,250, down $50, and taking in stride news out earlier this week that Xstrata reached a tentative deal with unionized workers at its Canadian nickel mining operations in Sudbury, Ontario. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Interfax) Hebei Iron and Steel Group was China's largest steelmaker in December 2009, with crude steel production up 13.77 percent on a monthly basis to 3.83 million tons, according to figures released by Mysteel on Feb. 1.
  • Rising molybdenum price should be good news for Strzelecki Metals - more
  • (WSJ) The HSBC China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index rose to a record high of 57.4 in January from 56.1 in December, marking the fourth straight month that the index's reading has risen. (note - we use the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing and the National Bureau of Statistics index on our PMI page, which fell slightly this month)

  Xstrata Nickel: Ratification of collective agreement between Xstrata Nickel Sudbury Operations and Canadian Auto Workers Local 598 - Xstrata Nickel is pleased to announce that it has successfully renewed a three-year Collective Agreement with the Canadian Auto Workers Sudbury Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union Local Union 598, representing production and maintenance employees at its operations in Sudbury. - more

  Nickel demand to exceed supply over next two years, Desjardins says - Nickel prices will rise to US$9 per pound in this year and US$10 per pound in 2011, say analysts at Desjardins Securities. - more

  Outokumpu Sees No ‘Major’ Demand Improvement; Shares Decline - Outokumpu Oyj, the Finnish stainless steelmaker, dropped the most in more than three months after posting a 7 million-euro ($9.8 million) fourth-quarter loss and saying it doesn’t see any “major improvement” in demand.- more

  Quantities Of Ferro-Alloys Imported By China In CY 2009 Exceeded Those Exported In Same Year = Imports Increased To 2,567,000 Tons But Exports Decreased to 925,000 Tons As 1/3 Of That In 2008 - According to the customs-statistics released in China, the quantities (on material base) of ferro-alloys exported and imported by China in the calendar year (January - December) of 2009 as well as in a single month of December were as per the tables (1) and (2) attached hereto. - more

  Molybdenum: Market outlook to 2014 - Cutbacks by major producers, combined with stockpiling in China, resulted in a tightening of supply, causing prices to spike in mid 2009. Between July 2009 and August 2009, prices for both molybdic oxide and ferromolybdenum almost doubled, only to drop by 50% in the next two months. - more

  Posco's Major Domestic Markup For Stainless Sheets? - Speculation is circulating that South Korea's integrated steelmaker Posco will voice a major increase Jan 29 at the earliest in what the company charges for its domestic shipments of stainless sheets in February. It is a matter of attention what level of a price increase will take effect. - more

  ENRC Q4 Ferrochrome Output Jumps - Kazakh mining group ENRC posted a 57 percent jump in fourth-quarter output of its most important product, ferrochrome, in a rebound after slashing production in late 2008 during the global downturn. - more

  China firms continue global hunt for lucrative commodities - China, the world's largest metal consumer, will add to last year's record $32 billion spending on resource acquisitions as demand for iron ore, copper and oil soars with the fastest economic growth since 2007. - more

  • China favouring Australia, Canada mining sectors - China's mining investments favoured Australia and Canada, although Africa was gaining ground as Beijing pushed to secure minerals for its booming economy, a senior World Bank official said on Wednesday. - more

  European Nickel offers $33m for Rusina - European Nickel Plc has made a bid for Perth-based minerals explorer Rusina Mining NL, which values the Australian company at about $33 million. - more

  Courtesy The Copper Journal (download original pdf containing charts on all base metals here)

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  • China Daily Special Coverage
  • SINA
  • Chain of Events
  • Chinese mills start iron ore talks with miners - report - China's leading steel mills have begun talks in Singapore with the big three global miners on 2010 contract iron ore prices, the China Times newspaper said in a report, but the Australian miners declined to comment. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • 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 2

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 54 to 2,691. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Australia Unexpectedly Keeps Key Interest Rate at 3.75%; Currency Plunges // Nomura Returns to Profit in Third Quarter on Surge in Japan Equity Sales // Singapore Airlines Returns to Profit as Travel Demand Picks Up on Economy // China's Banking Regulator Said to Tell Lenders to Curtail Third Mortgages // Airbus Predicts Chinese Airplane Demand Will Outpace Global Market Growth // Volkswagen Plans to Increase Sales to More Than 10 Million Cars by 2018 // German Retail Sales Increase as Improved Outlook Boosts Christmas Spending // BP Predicts Slow, Gradual Recovery After Profit Misses Analysts' Estimates // European Commission to Endorse Greece's Deficit-Cutting Plan, Barroso Says // European Stocks Advance as Mining Companies Climb; BP Slumps on Earnings // Obama's Budget Proposes $1.9 Trillion Tax Increase on Richest, Businesses // Lexmark First-Quarter Forecast Beats Estimates on Job Cuts, Laser Products // Build America Subsidy Cut May Spur $150 Billion Taxable Municipal Bonds // Ford Posts 25% U.S. Sales Gain, Buoyed by Rebate Offers to Toyota Owners // Pending Sales of Existing U.S. Homes Increase 1% Following Record Decline // Paulson Says U.S. Was `Close' to Financial Collapse, Bailout Unavoidable
  • The US Dollar is trading 2/10 of 1% lower against the Euro and at 1.396 at the moment. NYMEX crude is up 3-1/3% and nearing $77/barrel. Gold is up nearly 1% and silver is still trading flat. Base metals had a bullish day, all ending the session in the green. Indicator charts show nickel jumped early, stalled, then pulled off some more gains before the session ended. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $8.30/lb . Nickel inventories held in LME approved warehouses slipped slightly overnight, and remain over the 165,800 tonne level. Sucden's day old nickel chart shows traders reaction to yesterday's tentative agreement between Xstrata and its union workers (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index fell 54 points. Allegheny and AK Steel updated their surcharges for March (comparison here). On the material prices that most matter to 304 and 316 stainless steel, we saw the following average changes from Dec 2009 to Jan 2010. Chrome from $.89/lb to $1.01/lb. Nickel from $7.74/lb to $8.36/lb. Molybdenum from $11.38/lb to $14.51/lb. And iron from $345/GT to $400/GT. Not hard to guess where stainless steel surcharges for March headed. Traders may have suffered an initial shock to the Xstrata/CAW tentative agreement announcement yesterday, but today they shrugged off the news and took nickel prices higher. Back in the US, the National Association of Realtors reported their pending home sales index rose 1% in December after plunging 16.4% in November.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Base metals are likely to continue to recover from the past week's sell-off and should perform strongly in the first quarter, says Barclays Capital. "(We) would not be surprised to see some opportunistic buying given what has been an overshooting to the downside, in our view, over the last few trading days."
  • (Dow Jones) South Korea's Public Procurement Service, a state agency that stockpiles strategic commodities, has purchased 300 metric tons of nickel of Norwegian origin at a $669 a metric ton premium over the prevailing London Metal Exchange price.
  • (RI) Commodities analysts at JP Morgan expect moly prices to jump by 55 per cent over the next two years with a price of $21 per pound by the end of this year and $24 by the end of 2011. Haywood Securities puts moly at $20 per pound in 2011. Demand from China and elsewhere is expected to outpace supply.
  • Race for title of top commodity 2010 wide open - more
  • The New Depression and the Fed’s illusion - more
  • The Government Spends $100 on the Rich for Every Dollar It Spends on the Poor - more
  • How to Fall 35,000 Feet—And Survive - more
  • Why bipartisanship can't work: the expert view - more
  • McKinsey Says Deleveraging Will Exert Drag on GDP Growth - more
  • Private Sector Layoffs May Be Over, But Public Sector’s Are Just Starting - more
  • Inequality in times of crisis: Lessons from the past and a first look at the current recession - more
  • IMF’s Blanchard: Interest Rates Should Stay Low - more
  • ISM Suggests 2010 Momentum, Job Growth - more
  • Huge budget deficits may change US power, says paper - more

  We think it's a pretty good deal - More than 1,100 laid-off and working members of Mine Mill Local 598/CAW will learn today what happened at the bargaining table to break through an impasse and produce a tentative agreement with Xstrata Nickel early Monday morning. - more

  • Steelworkers praise Xstrata negotiations - The tentative agreement negotiated by Mine Mill Local 598/CAW and Xstrata Nickel "clearly discredits" Vale Inco's bargaining strategy, striking Steelworkers said Monday. - more
  • Tentative deal a framework? - A tentative agreement between Xstrata Nickel and Mine Mill Local 598/CAW could have a slight impact on the strike at Vale Inco's Greater Sudbury operations, a top nickel analyst said Monday. - more

  European Nickel to buy Rusina Mining - European Nickel Plc said it agreed to buy Rusina Mining)in a share deal worth about 18.1 million pounds ($28.8 million) as the company seeks to become a mid-tier nickel producer. - more

  Nickel prices to rise - Nickel prices will rise to US$9 per pound in this year and US$10 per pound in 2011, say analysts at Desjardins Securities. - more

  • Base metals prices are going up - Demand is growing as the economic recovery kicks in. But high levels of inventory could keep prices from skyrocketing. - more

  Crowflight on Track to Resume Bucko Mine Production in Q1 2010 - Crowflight Minerals Inc announced today that it plans to re-start production mining activities at the Bucko Lake Nickel Mine ("Bucko") located in the Thompson Nickel Belt near Wabowden, Manitoba by the end of February 2010. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending January 30, 2010, domestic raw steel production was 1,595,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 66.9 percent. Production was 1,016,000 tons in the week ending January 30, 2009, while the capability utilization then was 42.4 percent. The current week production represents a 57.0 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending January 30, 2010 is up 1.5 percent from the previous week ending January 23, 2010 when production was 1,587,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 65.6 percent.

  Chinese mills start iron ore talks with miners-report - China's leading steel mills have begun talks in Singapore with the big three global miners on 2010 contract iron ore prices, the China Times newspaper said in a report, but the Australian miners declined to comment. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:30 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.09/lb higher, with all base metals trading higher this morning. The Euro is trading only slightly higher against the US Dollar at the moment, off earlier high's. NYMEX crude is trading slightly over 1% higher and over $75/barrel. Gold is up 1/3 of 1% and silver is flat at the moment. In overnight trading Asian markets ended slightly higher while China closed 2/10 of 1% lower. European markets are trading higher this morning , and US futures show Wall Street should open higher. Nickel inventories slipped slightly overnight, and the BDI slipped another 54 points. CAW Local 598 members will vote today on the tentative agreement its team made with Xstrata yesterday. While most believe it will pass easily, the only worm in the apple may be the numerous laid off Xstrata union members that will get to vote.
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more
  • Reuters morning report - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  next report scheduled for Wednesday, Feb 3
  • (Interfax) China's crude stainless steel output reached 8.8 million tons in 2009, up 26.81 percent year-on-year, according to a report from the Stainless Steel Council of China Special Steel Enterprises Association (CSSC) on Jan. 29.
  • (Rusmet) The mining and processing plant “Norilsk Nickel” received the certificates of quality management system and environmental management ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004 correspondingly.
  • (M-P) Moly Mines says the final critical approval from the Chinese government to allow a $200 million equity and debt takeover by Hanlong has been delayed.
  • China Plans Measures to Cut Overcapacity, Zhu Says - more
  • Better prospects, recovery — and compassion - more
  • Taiwan’s screw exports in December 2009 rose by 10 percent to 96,000 tons than the previous month, hitting the highest record in 2009. The figure increased by about 25 percent compared to the same period in 2008. However, it is expected that the export volume may drop in the first two months of 2010 due to Chinese New Year holidays.
  • New Australian website for mining families - Mining Family Matters - more
  • ARM Mining Indaba Feb 2010 - pdf here

  Last year, Vale set a production target for its new Caledonia start up mega-mine Goro of 20,000 tonnes for 2010. In a news conference on Friday, CEO Peter Poppinga was cautious but non committal, when asked by a reporter if they would still meet this target after Poppinga announced another start up delay to possibly mid 2010. Poppinga also reportedly announced Goro produced its first nickel on January 24th during initial start up tests of its new high pressure acid leach system.  

  AK Steel Announces March 2010 Surcharges for Electrical and Stainless Steels - AK Steel has advised its customers that a $325 per ton surcharge will be added to invoices for electrical steel products shipped in March 2010. - more

  Asian Average Stainless Steel Prices - Our Asian stainless steel forecasts are little changed from December 2009. An anticipated hike in alloy surcharges for February 2010 will, almost certainly, result in a significant hike in selling figures for all austenitic products this month. - more

  DJ Western Areas On Track At Flying Fox - Australian nickel producer Western Areas NL said Tuesday that its Flying Fox mine in Western Australia state produced 874 metric tons of nickel in January, around 20% higher than its target for the month. - more

  Nickel material from ThyssenKrupp VDM optimizes hard facing - In a two-year research project metallurgists at ThyssenKrupp VDM have succeeded in optimizing the filler material Nicrofer S 6020 (FM625) for hard facing in line with customer and market requirements. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  • About 3,050 hourly rated production and maintenance workers, members of United Steelworkers Local 6500, have been on strike since July 13. Another 130 USW Local 6200 members in Port Colborne are also on strike. About 450 members of USW Local 9508 in Voisey's Bay have been on strike since Aug. 1.
  • Sudbury Star
  • Vale/Inco offer // Vale/Inco Company Site
  • Union Strike Site //  USW  Local 6500
  • Sudbury TV // Sudbury Northern Life Videos
  • Vale lacks 'incentive' to settle - A last-minute labour deal between Xstrata PLC and its unionized workers in Sudbury, Ont., has put the spotlight on rival Vale SA and it employees to settle their seven-month-old strike. - more
  • Xstrata/Mine Mill deal 'discredits' Vale Inco: Steelworkers - The tentative agreement negotiated by Mine Mill Local 598/CAW and Xstrata Nickel "clearly discredits" Vale Inco bargaining strategy, striking Steelworkers said Monday. - more
  • Get back to talks, NDP MPs tell Vale Inco - Sudbury's NDP MPs are calling on Vale Inco to settle a labour a dispute in Greater Sudbury, in light of a late-minute deal Monday between Xstrata Nickel and Mine Mill Local 598/CAW. - more

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • 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 1

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 103 to 2,745    (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China's January Manufacturing Expands on Signs of Improving Export Demand // Toyota Sales Freeze in U.S. May Have Driven Car Buyers to GM, Ford, Honda // Japan's Export-Led Recovery Not Spreading, BOJ's Top Economist Momma Says // Airlines Will Take Three Years to Recover From Recession, IATA Chief Says // Asian Stocks Fall as China Manufacturing Reports Spur Tightening Concerns // Euro Proving No Reserve Alternative as Central Banks Lead Shift in Assets  // Hedge Fund Managers May Return 20% of Bonuses Under EU Legislation Change // European January Manufacturing Growth Accelerates in January on Recovery // European Stocks Rise for Second Day, Led by Northumbrian; Ryanair Advances // Obama Offers $3.8 Trillion Budget to Boost Economy While Cutting Deficit  // Exxon Posts Fifth Straight Profit Drop as Gasoline, Diesel Demand Declines // Manufacturing in U.S. Expands More Than Forecast as Recovery Gains Ground // Consumer Spending in U.S. Rises for Third Straight Month in Recovery Sign // Recovery in U.S. Accelerating as Corporate Spending Rises Most Since 2006 // U.S. Stocks Rebound, Treasuries Fall on Manufacturing Reports; Euro Gains
  • The Euro continues to trade higher against the US Dollar, up nearly 4/10 of 1%. NYMEX crude oil is higher by  1-1/3% and almost back to $74/barrel. Gold is up 1.8% and silver is higher by 2-1/3%. Base metals was not going to be left behind today, and on the stronger Euro and better than expected PMI from the US, they ended higher - for the most part. Nickel was one of two who did not share in the good fortunes of the day, along with tin. Indicator charts show nickel slumped early but was stalled, until news came out of Sudbury of a tentative agreement between Xstrata and the CAW. This put nickel back on the negative slump, and while the market was able to get back some of its loss when the US PMI numbers came out, they slumped again soon afterwards. For the first trading day of February, Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $8.16/lb .  Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose to yet another all time record high over the weekend, and now sit over the 165,500 tonne level. Sucden's day old nickel chart shows LME nickel trading thru last week (chart here).  The Baltic Dry Index slipped 103 points. With China and the US publishing monthly PMI numbers, we have updated out monthly PMI page (here). Nickel traders got a triple dose of negative news, while the stronger Euro, better than expected US PMI numbers, and a continuation of a strike at Vale helped support. On the negative side, inventories of nickel rose to yet another all time record high, China's manufacturing PMI slipped, and  a major strike was averted this morning at Xstrata's Sudbury operation. The CAW and Xstrata have now come to two consecutive agreements without a strike since Xstrata took over the operation from Falconbridge. We left our weekend Xstrata watch section up below as we posted some interesting China 2009 import figures for you number crunchers and curious types. China and Japan's PMI numbers dropped, while the European and US numbers rose. Consumer spending was up, but less than expected. Market bulls want to shrug off a rough January ending and Wall Street is higher - so far.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Check your US bank's performance - here
  • Summers: GDP ‘Favorable,’ but More Effort Needed - more
  • Wage and Benefits Grow Slower Than Inflation - more
  • Fed’s Kohn: Banks Need to Prepare for Higher Rates - more
  • How Japanese Hyperinflation Could Turn The Dollar Into Toilet Paper - more
  • Bye-Bye January - more
  • Key Break Playbook - more
  • U.S. consumer spending slows in December - more
  • Too soon to say recovery will last - more

  Voting Tuesday on deal reached Monday morning between Xstrata Nickel and Mine Mill Local 598/CAW  - Xstrata Nickel and Mine Mill Local 598/CAW reached a tentative agreement about 5 a.m. Monday to avert a strike at the company's Greater Sudbury operations. - more

  The violence must stop - Like most people, I am beginning to get concerned about all the recent acts of violence and vandalism around Sudbury. - more

  Total Mined Production Of Nickel In Xstrata Increases To 57052 Tonnes - Total mined nickel production increased to 57,052 tonnes, 5% higher than in 2008, as increased head grades and volumes from Raglan, significantly higher volumes from Xstrata Nickel Australasia (XNA) and initial feed from the Nickel Rim South operation more than offset the impact of the restructuring of the Sudbury operations. - more

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)

  • Indicators at 7:25 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.16/lb lower, with all base metals except aluminum trading in the negative. The Euro is trading 1/3 of 1% higher against the US Dollar this morning, which typically helps commodities, but the metals markets may be unnerved by the slippage in the China PMI. NYMEX crude futures are higher by nearly 9/10 of 1% and over $73.50/barrel. Gold is up 2/3 of 1% and silver is up8/10%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with CHina off nearly 1-2/3% on a lower PMI reading. European markets are trading lower, while US futures show US markets could open higher as the bulls try to forget a negative January. Nickel inventories rose over 1000 tonnes over the weekend, and the BDI number has yet to be posted. Obviously the big news of the day is the tentative agreement announced early this morning between Xstrata and CAW LOCal 598, averting a second large nickel mine strike in Sudbury. We posted the link to the announcement around 6:40 am CST, and after the story was picked up by the Dow Jones about 7:06 am CST, all of the other metals sites posted the news. This gave us a few minutes head start on watching the market after we posted the info. Somebody apparently noticed in London, as the market quickly ended a mini spike it was on and began to slip, taking an even more noticeable slip after Dow Jones made their announcement. Congratulations to both sides for finding common ground!!
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more
  • Reuters morning news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  no report today or Tuesday
  • (Yieh) Posco raised its domestic stainless steel prices for February on January 29, and the price hike is between 100,000~250,000 won/ton. It’s said that Asian stainless steel buyers have began buying after Posco announced its price hike, and Asian stainless steel price is very likely to keep strong lately.
  • (Interfax) China's crude stainless steel output reached 8.8 million tons in 2009, up 26.81 percent year-on-year, according to a report from the Stainless Steel Council of China Special Steel Enterprises Association (CSSC) on Jan. 29.
  • (MBiz) S. Korea based Zhangjiagang Pohang Stainless Steel Company (ZPSS) in China said that the production of 200 series stainless steel product is expected to tumble by 1,000-2,000 tons in January.
  • (MB) Antam expects nickel sales to jump 34%
  • (Yieh) Russian Trade Commission and Tariff Policy Committee has suggested the government to levy a 39 percent special duty on imported stainless steel tubes.
  • (AFPA) According to the American Forest & Paper Association December, 2009 Paperboard Report released today, total production decreased from November totals by 88,300 tons or 8.0%. Total paperboard production decreased by 2.3% in December, 2009 compared to December, 2008.
  • China manufacturing activity index decreases - more

  2010 Xstrata Nickel Mine Mill Local 598/CAW Negotiations Updates - Feb 1st, 2010 @ 6:01 am Tentative Collective Agreement Reached! - pdf here

  Xstrata Sudbury labour talks extend past deadline - Labour talks between Xstrata and workers at its main Canadian nickel operation continued past a Sunday strike deadline, the firm said on Monday. - more

  World stainless steel prices slip in January but upturn imminent” - The stainless steel market appears to be at something of a crossroads, with raw material costs, end-user demand and the aims of the producers all having their separate influences. - more

  Xstrata-Merafe Ferrochrome Production Falls 30% in 09-Merafe - Ferrochrome production at the Xstrata-Merafe Chrome Venture in South Africa decreased by 30% in the 12 months ending Dec. 31, 2009, compared with the same period a year earlier, Merafe Resources said in a statement Monday. - more

  Sudbury Xstrata / First Nickel Negotiations

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • 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 be an authorized LME vendor.

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