This page is archived news covering the period of February 2012
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LME nickel prices and news

Stainless Steel News and Nickel Prices

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Daily Nickel Market News & Stainless Steel Prices

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Nickel Prices

Wednesday, February 29 (Leap Day)

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 12 to 750. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Chinese Lawmaker Showdown Over Property Curbs Simmers After Wuhu Retreat // China’s Yuan Strengthens Most in Three Weeks as PBOC Sets Record Fixing // AIJ’s Madoff-Like Returns Post-Lehman Shock Raised Red Flags for Investors // India’s Economy Grows at Slowest Pace Since 2009, Adding Rate-Cut Pressure // Thai Central Bank Says It Can Hold Interest Rate as Inflation Risks Rise // Germany Showing Strength as Unemployment Holds at Two-Decade Low: Economy // Banks in Europe Tap ECB for More Three-Year Cash Than Economists Estimated // Monti Signals Europe Sovereign-Debt Crisis Abating as Bond Spreads Narrow // Dollar Rises Versus Euro, Yen as Bernanke Comments Damp Easing Speculation // Bernanke Says Highly Accommodative Stance Meets Fed Goals on Jobs, Prices // U.S. Business Activity Improves in Sign Demand to Sustain Growth: Economy // Treasuries Fall as U.S. Stocks Are Little Changed After Bernanke’s Remarks //
  • The Euro is now trading nearly 3/4 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down nearly 9/10 of 1% and trading at $105.62/barrel. Gold is down 3.3% and silver is off 4.9%. Base metals ended the session  mostly lower, with only aluminum squeaking out a gain. Indicator charts show nickel opened higher as was holding its won, when it took a dive as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke began to put more quantitative easing hopes to rest and the US Dollar rose. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $8.73/lb . Stockpiles of nickel kept in LME licensed warehouses rose slightly yesterday and totals just over 98,450 tonnes for a second day. That puts nickel stockpiles at their highest for the year, and the price of nickel at its lowest close this month. Fed Chairman Bernanke is playing the Grinch today, putting to rest the hopes of some that the US Fed would start another round of quantitative easing in the near future to add a little gas to the recovery. The US Dow surrendered the 13,000 level earlier, but is trying to crawl back, as investors realize there will be no more free money coming, primarily because the Fed thinks the economic recovery is strong enough without it. That's good news, right?

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Equipment Demand Hasn’t Dropped Out, Just Taking a Breather - more
  • Conditions Ripe for Inflation Inferno, St. Louis Fed Economist Warns - more
  • Vital Signs: Companies Invest More in Equipment - more

   Vale to blame for mine double fatality: union - United Steelworkers is calling on the Ontario government to consider pressing criminal charges against international mining company Vale, placing the blame for two workers' deaths at one of their Sudbury, Ont. mines squarely on the shoulders of the company. - more 

  WA climbs list of worldwide mining hotspots - Western Australia and the Northern Territory were rated two of the top 20 places for mining investment in the world by an international survey of more than 800 mining executives for 2011-12. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.13/lb higher, with all London traded base metals higher as well. The Euro is trading over 1/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude futures are up 1/3 of 1% and trading at $106.89/barrel. Gold is up slightly , while silver is up 6/10 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, while China fell 1%. European markets are trading higher this morning, and futures show Wall Street has no intention of giving up the 13,000 level. Nickel stockpiles rose slightly overnight.
  • LME Morning - Metals step back after hitting multi-week highs on ECB cash injection - more
  • Reuters morning - Copper climbs to two-week high after ECB injection - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Commodities ended mixed yesterday, with precious metals taking top honors in the day’s rankings. Silver tacked on more than 4% after it breached key technical resistance, while gold finished $13/ounce higher and is now within striking distance of $1800. In base metals, copper finished at a two-week high, although it did fall back from earlier gains. However, aluminum and nickel both bucked the trend to finish lower.  .... Right now, markets are generally higher, with investors taking their cue from the calm conditions evident in the European debt markets. The yield on the 10-year Italian bond is down again, while the Euro is steady, now trading at $1.3450. Practically all commodity markets are slightly higher as a result, and US stocks are expected to open up as well given the steadier tone in the European equity markets. We expect this across-the-board resiliency to stay in place, as investors seem comfortable pursuing “risk-on” trades for the time being. .... Nickel is at $19,970, up $195. The complex has struggled for much of the last week, with prices confined to a narrow trading range. Nickel’s inability to push higher along with the rest of the group does not bode well, and suggests the market could be somewhat vulnerable here. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Yieh) It’s reported that Posco, the largest stainless steelmaker in South Korea announced to keep its list prices of austenitic and ferritic stainless steel hot rolled and cold rolled coils unchanged for March contracts.
  • (Yieh) It’s reported that Chinese Baosteel decided to raise its domestic prices of 304 grade hot rolled stainless steel products by RMB400/ton for March deliveries due to tight supply.
  • (DJ) Russia January Stainless Steel Products Imports +28.6% On Year
  • (China) Iron ore prices 'to weaken' - more
  • ATA Truck Tonnage Retreated 4% in January - more
  • ECRI Says Recession Is Still Coming - Evidence Is In Coincident Data - more

   Ferrochrome: Review Of 2011/Outlook For 2012 = Weaker market despite increase in SUS output in 2011; turnaround in 2012 desired = World's crude stainless steel production in 2011 was 34 million tons, up by 5.5% from 2010, naturally prompting growth in demand for ferrochrome. However, the benchmark price for the South African charge chrome delivered in Europe during the Q1 (January - March) of 2012 was agreed at US‘115/lb ddp, down by US‘5/lb from the preceding quarter to a two-year low. - more

   Baosteel to bag $1.5 bln from stainless steel asset sale - China's Baoshan Iron & Steel Co Ltd (Baosteel) said on Wednesday it will sell its loss-making stainless steel and special steel assets to parent Baosteel Group which is expected to boost its profit by 9.58 billion yuan ($1.5 billion). - more

  Chinese Nickel Producers Eye New Caledonia Resources - Plans are taking shape for a joint venture between New Caledonia’s SMSP mining company and China’s biggest nickel producer, Jinchuan. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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 28

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 8 to 738. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Chinese Tower May Add Floors to Become World’s Tallest After Burj Khalifa // Most China Stocks Decline on Concern Rally to Three-Month High Excessive // Money Rate Reaches Three-Week Low in China After Reserve-Ratio Reduction // Italian Borrowing Costs Fall in Government Auction as ECB Readies Bank Aid // Confidence in Europe Rises More Than Forecast on Stability Signs: Economy / Syrian Forces Shell Towns in North After Assad Says Voters Back Referendum // European Stocks Rise on U.S. Consumer Confidence Rebound; KBC Groep Climbs // FHA to Increase Cost of Up-Front Mortgage Premiums for New 30-Year Loans // JPMorgan Considers Clients With Less Than $100,000 in Bank as Unprofitable // American Confidence Climbs to Highest Level in Year on Job Growth: Economy // U.S. Stocks Gain on Confidence as Euro Rises, Oil Retreats for Second Day
  • The Euro is currently trading 4/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down 3/10 of 1% and trading at $108.24/barrel. Gold is up over 1.1% while silver is higher by 4.9%. Base metals ended the session mostly higher, with only aluminum and nickel slipping. Indicator chart show nickel opened higher and was fairly quiet, until shortly after our morning update, it began to slide hard. Dow Jones reports three month nickel was unable to hold onto the $9/lb level and closed at $8.97/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose sharply on Monday and now sit at a new 2012 high of just shy of 98,450 tonnes. This the fourth single day gain of over 1000 tonnes recorded this month and it is spooking traders. While nickel gave up the $9/lb level today, the US Dow has jumped over the 13,000 level and is struggling to hold on.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Fed’s Duke to Defend Focus on Housing - more
  • Consumer Debt Falls on Less Mortgage Borrowing - more
  • European Crisis Realities - more
  • Texas-Area Manufacturing Expands - more
  • Short Selling and the Great Depression: Echoes - more
  • 10 investment lessons from Jeremy Grantham - more
  • Wealthy More Likely to Lie, Cheat: Researchers - more

  Rusal - Norilsk Nickel buyback dispute to be heard on April 6 - A commercial court will hear on April 6 Rusal Investment Management's lawsuit against MMC Norilsk Nickel to cancel decisions made by the MMC board of directors, the court told the Russian Legal Information Agency on Tuesday. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.07/lb higher, with other London traded base metals higher as well. The Euro is trading over 4/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. Gold is up nearly 3/4 of 15%while silver is up 1-1/4%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up nearly 1/4 of 1%. European markets are trading higher this morning, and US futures imply a positive opening for Wall Street. Nickel stockpiles jumped to a new 2012 high yesterday.
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Advances to a Two-Week High on Signs of Strengthening Confidence - more
  • Reuters morning - Copper hits two-week high on ECB injection - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals inch higher, steady tone pervades complex - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • The metals group erased earlier losses yesterday to finish modestly in the black, as a welcome decline in energy prices more than offset the bearish impact of a stronger dollar. Trading volume was brisk; COMEX copper turnover was 20% above the 30-day average, as strong chart patterns and constructive moving averages helped bring the buyers back in. ... Metal prices are up right now, erasing earlier declines that set in during the opening of the Asian session. Copper is at the highs of the day, leading the group higher. Energy prices are down, with Brent off $.80/brl, but the Euro is stronger, now at $1.3440, so both these developments are likely lending strength to base metals.  .... In LME news, Metal Bulletin reports that the exchange has sent out a notice to warehousing companies asking them to provide additional details about the delays to withdraw metal at locations in the warehousing system. The move coincides with an investigation into whether the sharp increase in cancelled warrants in New Orleans, Vlissingen, and Johor are related to the length of time takes to withdraw metal from those facilities. .... Nickel is at $20,300, up $145. The complex has struggled for much of last week, not really participating in the upside move along with the rest of the group. Instead, charts suggest that we may continue to erode somewhat further from here, likely pushing down to about $19,400 support. .... (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Dow Jones) The near-term outlook for base metals looks "mildly bullish," as fundamentals begin to improve, says Standard Chartered.
  • (LGMI) According to China Iron and Steel Association, the daily crude steel production of its members in mid February came to 1.5679 million tonnes up 0.2% compared to early February.
  • (JS) Crude stainless steel bar output in 2011 by the major seven SUS mills [in Japan] was 3.584 million tonnes, down by 1.9% YoY from 3.650 million tonnes of 2010.
  • The Asset Triple A China’s Most Promising Companies: China Nickel Resources Holdings  - more
  • Thompson Creek Reports 2011 Record Molybdenum Sales of 40.1 Million Pounds and Revenue of $669.1 Million - more
  • La Niña on the decline; Australian waters remain warmer than usual - more
  • Thieves steal 7,000 pounds of steel from Sea Pines - more

   New Caledonia’s SMSP in talks with top Chinese nickel producer - Plans are taking shape for a joint venture between New Caledonia’s SMSP mining company and China’s biggest nickel producer, Jinchuan. - more

  Aperam on brink of bouncing back into profit - Stainless steel maker Aperam expects to return to profit in the first quarter, helped by restocking among distributors after a weak end to 2011. - more

  • Stainless steel consolidation pushing Aperam to act - Pressure is mounting on Aperam to restructure or seek a partner, as a proposed tie-up between two rivals, Outokumpu and Inoxum, could soon make the Luxembourg-based company Europe's least competitive major stainless steel producer. - more

   raud Charges Brought in Norilsk Nickel Pension Case - A multi-million dollar fraud case has been brought by the Interior Ministry against managers of Norilsk Nickel's pension fund, Interfax reported Tuesday. - more

  Japan Ni-Alloyed SUS Scrap Market Stalls = Sanyo Special Steel tentatively stopped intake = The domestic price of nickel-alloyed stainless steel scraps (new clippings) rose to Yen150,000/ton for the deliveries during February in reply to the nickel price rise in LME, up by Yen10,000/ton from January, but the domestic price recently stopped moving as the LME nickel prices became softened. - more

   Courtesy AISI - In the week ending February 25, 2012, domestic raw steel production was 1,930,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 78.1 percent. Production was 1,780,000 tons in the week ending February 25, 2011, while the capability utilization then was 75.4 percent. The current week production represents a 8.4 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending February 25, 2012 is down 0.6 percent from the previous week ending February 18, 2012 when production was 1,942,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 78.6 percent.

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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 27

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 12 to 730. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Zoellick Predicts China ‘Soft Landing’ Even as Growth Model Unsustainable // China May Double Rare Earth Exports as Overseas Demand Rebounds on Price // China’s Stocks Rise to Three-Month High on Optimism of Government Support // South Korean Rate-Cut Case Diminishes as Oil Adds Price Pressures: Economy // U.S. Starts Military Drills With S. Korea as North Warns of Confrontation // Asian Stocks Decline From Seven-Month High as U.S. Futures Fall; Yen Strengthens // Draghi Expects Banks to Boost Credit Supply as Euro Now in a ’Safer Place’ // Italian Business Confidence Unexpectedly Declines to Two-Year Low: Economy // European Stocks Drop as G-20 Rebuffs Boosting IMF Resources; HSBC Declines // Merkel Wins Greek Aid Vote After Warning of ‘Incalculable Damage’ on Delay // Bernanke Pessimism Drives Easy Credit With Forced Government Spending Cuts // Buffett Says BofA Warrants Have ‘Great Value,’ Praises Moynihan’s Cleanup // U.S. Governors Have Few Answers as Cities Teeter on Brink of Bankruptcy // Fed Says Household Debt in U.S. Falls as Real-Estate Borrowing Declines // Pending U.S. Home Resales Show Housing Market Regaining Footing: Economy // Stocks in U.S. Climb on Housing Data as Oil Declines; Treasuries Advance
  • The Euro continues to trade nearly 1/3 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down 2/3 of 1% and trading at $109.02/barrel. Gold is up slightly, and silver is up nearly 1/2 of 1%. Base metals ended the session mostly higher. Indicator charts show nickel fell hard early, then rose sharply into the black, before falling back and ending the day about where it started. For the day Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $9.14/lb , down a penny from yesterday. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell on Friday and now total just under 97,400 tonnes. Nickel held its own today in light of a weaker Euro. The Indonesia story is still on traders minds, although the exact ramifications to the industry should Indonesia decide to accelerate its nickel ore export ban to this spring instead of 2014, remain unclear. We remain skeptical in the whole rumor. Ed Meir with FC Stone is back and clips from his daily commentary are below. Download the entire report for a more thorough report.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Ayn Rand Beats Out Rick Santelli as First Teapartyer: Gary Weiss - more
  • Number of the Week: Energy bills heading down (really!) - more
  • Fed’s Bullard Optimistic On Economy, Labor Market Gains - more

  Norilsk May Bid for Nickel, Copper Deposits, Invest $1.7 Billion - OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of the metal, may bid for two deposits of copper and nickel in central Russia, and invest as much as 50 billion rubles ($1.7 billion) in their development. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.10/lb lower, with other London traded base metals lower as well. The Euro is trading over 1/3 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down 1.1% and trading at $108.57/barrel. Gold is down 3/10 of  1% and silver is down 1/2 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, while China closed 1/3 of 1% higher. European markets are trading lower this morning, while US futures are lower as well. Nickel stockpiles fell on Friday.
  • Reuters morning - Copper falls on poor global outlook, China demand - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals under pressure, market remains cautious - more

  Reports

  • SMM Nickel Price Forecast (Feb. 27-Mar. 2) - more
  • Robry Monday Morning Economic Assessment - more
  • Weekly Scoreboard - pdf here
  • Reuters Inside Metals - pdf here
  • Commonwealth Daily Alert- pdf here
  • Daily Market Report - pdf here
  • Commodities Report - pdf here
  • Metals Insight - pdf here

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • We had a very strong week in the base metals complex last week. Copper led the advance, posting its biggest weekly gain in over a month, helped along by the fact that the metal's 200-day moving average turned positive. Outside of copper, there were good advances in aluminum and lead, although zinc, nickel, and tin did not perform as impressively. In addition, we saw sharp gains in energy, precious metals, and US equity markets, as a round of synchronized buying set in across the board. The better news out of Europe over the past week no doubt set the stage for the multi-market advance. In this regard, the formal approval of the Greek bailout by the Europeans at the beginning of last week firmed up the Euro, sending the currency to a three-month high of just under $1.35.  .... Overall, we were not surprised by the advance we saw last week and, in fact, suggested in our last note that getting the Greek bailout out of the way would provide the bulls fodder for pushing the markets higher still. However, with Greece now fading from the headlines, (although certainly not as a problem to be reckoned with down the road), we could see the short-term advance in metals start to stall as other variables come into sharper focus. For one thing, one can make a good case that the post-January surge we have seen in most markets is largely attributable to investors discounting the fact that some sort of Greek resolution-- bumpy as the ride was at times-- was imminent. More importantly, European debt yields have fallen dramatically since late December thanks to a large dose of central bank lending. Outside of Europe, there has been surprisingly robust data coming out of the US, this occurring just as every other region is showing signs of slowing down. However, with all these elements now arguably discounted by the recent advance, the question now becomes what will it take to drive metals higher from here? Certainly, demand out of China may not be the variable it was once, as physical offtake has been noticeably weaker of late. Underscoring this point, at least as far as copper is concerned, is the fact that Shanghai stocks are close to 10-year highs, this despite strong imports, telling us that the metal being brought in is not necessarily being consumed.  .... Right now, markets are mostly lower; base metals, precious metals, and energy are all down as of this writing, as is the Euro, which is now trading at $1.3400. European stock markets are off as well, as the weekend G-20 meeting in Mexico failed to convey a sense of unity regarding the ongoing European debt crisis. In this regard, most G-20 members pressed European leaders to expand their rescue-fund capacity to at least €750 billion, pushing it up beyond the €500 billion planned. The Europeans, particularly the Germans, countered with proposals to increase the IMF’s funding by around $600 billion, this on top of the existing $360 billion the IMF already has in its coffers. The G-20 pushed back on the idea, saying that the Europeans would have to beef up their reserves first, something the Germans have a problem with, fearful it would ease pressure on countries to carry out tough fiscal reforms. No matter who goes first, we suspect that a large financial backstop is exactly what is needed to fight off contagion fears down the road. .... In LME news, the exchange’s proposed new trading fees will now be introduced on July 2 after being delayed from the initial date of March 2, as the board reviews complaints from users. Certain heavily-traded spreads will be exempt from the new fee, the LME said. .... Nickel is at $20,031, down $144. The complex has struggled for much of last week, not really participating in the upside move along with the rest of the group. Instead, charts (see our report) suggest that we may continue to erode somewhat further from here, likely pushing down to about $19,400 support. ..... Sherritt International expects a volatile nickel market in 2012 and 2013 due to unclear global demand patterns, its top executive said. "The assumption that there’s going to be a surplus (this year) is based on the number of different facilities all coming online. We’ll see how well that pans out for us and other producers," he said. The company expects production of between 8,000 and 13,000 tons of nickel from its Ambatovy nickel project in Madagascar this year. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • For Glenstrata, China watchdog could be fiercest - more
  • China Copper Demand to Rebound on Clean Energy Use, Nexans Says - more
  • Bullish Futures Top 1 Million Contracts for First Time in ’12: Commodities - more
  • Protectionism and disputes 'will rise' - more

   News feature: Indonesia Nickel Ore Export Ban Triggers Heated Debate - It was reported that the proposed 2014implementation date of Indonesia nickel ore export ban will be adjusted to May 7th, 2012, which triggered market players concern over Indonesia’s nickel ore export restriction. - more

  2 investors show interest in Nickel mine – Simuusa - Two investors have so far shown interests to take over the operations at the defunct Albidon Munali Nickel mine in Mazabuka. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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 24

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 12 to 718. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Leading Economic Index Rises at Faster Pace in January Than December // China’s Stocks Rise, Capping Sixth Week of Gains, as Property Shares Surge // Asian Stocks Rise as Oil Gains After Economic Reports Signal Recovery; Yen Drops // Lloyds Forecasts Lower 2012 Profit After Wider-Than-Estimated Loss in 2011 // Putin Poised to Win Presidential Election in First Round in Levada Survey // EU’s Iran Sanctions Will Curb Cover on Crude Oil Ships, Asian Insurers Say // European Stocks Climb as Telecom Italia, Eiffage Advance on Debt Forecasts // BP’s Fate in Oil Spill Case Rests With Judge Who Sued on Behalf of Sailors // Mentor of Central Bankers Fischer Rues Complacency as Economy Accelerates // Consumer Sentiment in U.S. Reaches One-Year High on Jobs Outlook: Economy // Oil Rises to Almost $110 as S&P 500 Closes at Highest Level Since June ’08
  • Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the session and week at $9.15/lb . Have a nice weekend and we will back to normal on Monday.

  Xstrata and Glencore merger to be notified to European Commission - The merger of Switzerland-based mining group Xstrata and commodities trader Glencore will be notified to the European Commission under the EU merger regulation, Glencore said in a statement issued on the London Stock Exchange Friday. - more

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

  • Indicators at 6:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.06/lb higher, with other London traded base metals mostly higher. The Euro is trading nearly 3/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is trading nearly 2/3 of 1% higher and at $108.46/barrel. Gold is down 1/4 of 1% while silver is off more than 4/10 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up 1.6%. European markets are trading higher this morning, and US futures are higher as well. Nickel stockpiles slipped on Thursday, and now total just over 97,500 tonnes. Out afternoon update will be brief again today, as we will be in meetings all day.
  • Reuters morning - Copper rises, heads for biggest weekly gain in a month - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals trade sideways but find support in stronger euro - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • no report this week

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Yieh) It’s reported that mining giant Vale indicated that nickel demand is expected to be improved in 2012, supported by the rebounding stainless steel market. In addition, Vale said that the nickel prices will be affected by the development of some nickel projects and China’s production of nickel pig iron.
  • Copper Traders Most Bullish in Two Months as Hedge Funds Buy: Commodities - more
  • Mining Act to be reviewed - more

  Xstrata-Merafe Closes 5 Furnaces - Loss Of 100,000 Tons FeCr = Temporary closure to cooperate with ESKOM = Xstrata and Merafe Resources, both in South Africa had been in talks with ESKOM with regard to closure of some of its ferrochrome smelting furnaces in order to cooperate with the power company in its solving the forecasted power shortage problem, and on February 17, Merafe, the partner in the ferrochrome producing joint-venture with Xstrata, announced that the venture would temporarily close 5 furnaces until May 31, 2012 and would lose about 100,000 tons of charge chrome production. - more

  Raw Commodity Export Ban Sparks Smelter Building Boom in Indonesia - As the government gears up to ban all exports of unprocessed commodities, Indonesia will see 12 new smelters in operation by the end of 2014, a senior ministry official said on Tuesday. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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 23

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 2 to 706. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Wen Seen Paring China’s 8% Growth Target on Rise in Inequality: Economy // China’s Stocks Rise for Fifth Day, Longest Winning Streak in Four Months // Euro Strengthens After German Confidence Report; U.S. Futures Erase Gains // Syrians Troops Shell Homs on Eve of Tunisia Talks to Discuss Ousting Assad // S&P 500 Gets 9% Cheaper as Record Profit Restores $3.2 Trillion to Stocks //
  • Stockpiles of nickel stored IN LME approved warehouses fell on Wednesday and now total just over 97,800 tonnes. Stockpiles have grown by 7,770 tonnes since the end of 2011.
  • Dow Jones reports three month nicel closed the day at $9.06/lb .
  • Apologize for brief update today.... in meetings all day today and tomorrow

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Housing Takes Another Step Out of The Cellar - more
  • Hong Kong’s Killer Pollution - more
  • Current Housing Bust Much Worse Than Great Depression - more
  • The Map That Proves Red Staters Use The Safety Net Too - more

  Asia Moly Oxide: Spot trade continues to stall on price gap - Spot trade of molybdenum oxide powder was quiet Thursday as sellers and buyers were in a standstill, unable to narrow their gap in price ideas, market sources said. - more

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

  • Indicators at 6:55 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.01/lb higher but declining, while the rest of the London traded base metals are lower. The Euro is trading 1/3 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude futures are up nearly 2/10 of 1% and trading at $106.45/barrel. Gold is down slightly while silver is up 2/3 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China ending up 1/3 of 1%. European markets are trading lower this morning, and US futures show Wall Street may open higher. Nickel stockpiles slipped overnight.
  • Reuters morning - Copper softer Ifo, EZ growth data digested - more
  • LME Morning - Metals mixed, range narrowly amid short-term uncertainty - more

  Reports

  • AK Steel March Stainless Steel Surcharges - pdf here
  • Ugitech March Stainless Steel Surcharges - pdf here
  • US Imports of Stainless Steel Mill Products - more
  • Reuters Inside Metals - pdf here
  • Commonwealth Daily Alert- pdf here
  • Daily Market Report - pdf here
  • Commodities Report - pdf here
  • Metals Insight - pdf here

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • No report this week as Ed is traveling

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Interfax) China's imports of nickel, lead, zinc and tin fell sharply in January amid low seasonal demand due to the Chinese New Year holiday, according to customs data released Tuesday.
  • Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan to construct new nickel manufactures - more

   London Metal Exchange meets to consider bids, fees - The London Metal Exchange's (LME) board was meeting on Thursday to examine non-binding bids for the world's biggest marketplace for industrial metals, facing a possibility that the offers may be lower because bourse users oppose its plans for higher fees. - more

  Sharp rise in ferrochrome prices likely - The price of ferrochrome, an essential ingredient in stainless steel, is likely to rise sharply after production shutdowns in SA, the world’s largest producer, according to industry executives and analysts. - more

  Ramu mining awareness starts - A state team led by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) and the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) last week began an awareness programme on environmental and other issues related to the Ramu mining project. - more

  Eramet Group 2011 Production/Turnover = Manganese Group: up in production, down in turnover; Nickel group: both up year-on-year = Eramet Group of France released production/turnover results of the Q4-2011 and the full year of 2011 on February 16. According to the report, total turnover of the Group in 2011 was EUR3,603 million, up by 0.8% from EUR3,576 million of 2010. - more

  Sherritt predicts shrinking production in Cuba - Sherritt International Corp., Cuba’s largest private foreign investor, projects lower nickel, oil and electricity production on the island this year, according to the company’s annual report. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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 22

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 2 to 704. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Manufacturing Data Show Risk of Deeper Slowdown on Exports: Economy // China Stocks Rise for 4th Day on Outlook Shanghai Is Easing Property Curbs // City Rising From New Zealand’s Deadly Earthquake Spells End for Low Rates //  Europe Struggles to Rebound With China’s Output Poised to Shrink: Economy // BOE Splits as Posen Pushes With Miles for Larger Boost to Asset Purchases // Crude Oil Falls From Nine-Month High on Signs of Slowdown in Europe, China // Stocks in Europe Decline After Worse-Than-Expected PMI Data; TUI Retreats // Construction Jobs Rebound as U.S. Homeowners Increase Remodeling Projects // Distressed Properties Boost Sales of Previously Owned U.S. Homes: Economy
  • The Euro is trading 1/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar at the moment. NYMEX crude is down nearly 4/10 of 1% and trading at $105.85/barrel. Gold is down over 1/10 of 1% and silver is down over 1/2 of 1%. Base metals ended their session mixed, with copper, tin and nickel falling. Indicator charts show nickel slumped early, and fought to recover, but could not climb out of the hole. For the day Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $9.11/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose on Tuesday and now total just over 98,000 tonnes. This is the first time since September of last year we have seen a total of 98,000 tonnes. Make sure to read the Bloomberg article below "Record Nickel Supply Expanding Glut Thwarts Bull Market Rally: Commodities" and keep in mind this could have been written using different analysts at anytime during the past 9 months. As one analyst noted last week, every time a glut of nickel is forecast, something happens and it never quite materializes. This day last year, LME stockpiles totaled 129,720 tonnes, and on this date in 2010, they totaled 162,474 tonnes. And since you are wondering, on this date in 2010, with all that nickel sitting in storage, the price of nickel ended that day's trading at $9.29/lb. Last year it ended at $13.00/lb. The number of mega mines that have, and are coming online recently is noteworthy, and with stainless steel demand floundering, it is possible we could see LME stockpile numbers continue to climb in the coming months. What effect that will have on the traded price - will most likely be minimal.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • ‘Why This Time Could Be Different’ With High Gasoline Prices - more
  • The Decline In Inventory Right Now is NOT a Good Sign - more

   19 smelting plants expected to begin operation by 2017 - At least 19 metal processing and refining facilities are currently either under construction or subject to feasibility study as part the country’s efforts to comply with a law banning ore exports beginning 2014, the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has reported. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.04/lb lower, with other London traded base metals lower as well. The Euro is trading less than 1/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude futures are down 1/10 of 1% and trading at $106.13/barrel. Gold is down 3/10 of 1% and silver is lower by 3/4 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up more than 1-1/3%. European markets are trading lower this morning, with US futures yet to send a directional signal. Nickel stockpiles rose sharply on Tuesday.
  • Reuters morning - Copper falls on demand concerns, China data - more
  • LME Morning - Metals lose early gains, turn lower as European growth worries kick in - more

  Reports

  • Thyssenkrupp Nirosta March Stainless Steel Surcharge - more
  • Allegheny Ludlum March Stainless Steel Surcharge - more
  • Reuters Inside Metals - pdf here
  • Commonwealth Daily Alert- pdf here
  • Daily Market Report - pdf here
  • Commodities Report - pdf here
  • Metals Insight - pdf here

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • no report this week as Ed is traveling

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Interfax) China's daily crude steel output averaged 1.71 million tons in the first ten days of February, up 1.9 percent from 1.67 million tons during the last ten days of January, according to data released Monday by the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA).
  • (MBN) China January stainless flats exports fall to 22-month low
  • Horizonte Minerals upbeat on Araguaia and nickel prices - more
  • Mechel Reports Launch of Chrome Briquette Production at Tikhvin Ferroalloy Plant - more

  Record Nickel Supply Expanding Glut Thwarts Rally: Commodities - Mining companies and refineries are producing more nickel than at any time in history, expanding a glut that threatens to reverse this year’s rally. - more

  Indonesia to Ban Ore Export by IUP Holders From May, Wacik Says - Indonesia will ban exports of metal ore by companies that hold IUP Operation Production, or mining permits issued by local governments, starting in May, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik told reporters in Jakarta. - more

  Japan 2011 Crude SUS Output Down 1.9% Y-O-Y = 3.584 million tons; small recovery in December from November = Crude stainless steel output in 2011 (January - December) by the major seven SUS mills was 3.584 million tons, down by 1.9% from 3.650 million tons of 2010. In November 2011, the monthly output sharply dropped, but it slightly recovered to 270,979 tons in December, up by 3.8% from November. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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 21

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 9 to 706.   (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Curbing Overcapacity Helps GM Set Goal for Doubling Deliveries: Cars // Coal Shipments to India Overtaking China on Fuel Shortage: Energy Markets // China’s Stocks Rise to 11-Week High on Easing Credit Crunch, Greek Bailout // Record Rice Harvests Seen Boosting Stockpiles to Decade High: Commodities // RBA Sees Scope for Further Australian Rate Cuts on Europe Crisis: Economy // Greece Wins Second Bailout as European Leaders Choose Aid Over Default // Italy’s Economic Overhaul Marked by Three Women Wrestling Over Labor Laws // Greek Rescue Leaves Risk of Default Alive in Europe as Austerity Deepens // European Stocks Decline After Accord on Greek Bailout; U.S. Futures Gain // Wal-Mart Profit Trails Estimates as Low Prices Hurt Margins; Shares Fall // Geithner Treasuries Trail Paulson’s While Beating Rubin With Debt Doubling // S&P 500 Cheapest to Bonds as Bernanke Zero Rates Boost Business Investment // S&P 500 Index Tops Its Best Close Since 2008 as Oil, Treasury Yields Gain
  • The Euro is now trading slightly higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up over 1.6% and trading at $104.90/barrel. Gold is up nearly 1.1% and silver is 1.7% higher. Base metals ended the session sharply higher on the Greek debt relief. Indicator show nickel opened slightly lower, but spent the day in an uptrend, albeit with hesitations. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at  $9.17/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose on Monday and now total just over 97,300 tonnes. Commodity markets welcomed the second Greek bailout today, while equity markets are still dissecting the news for its long term implications. It's a no winner deal, with all parties concerned coming away dirty. Two big questions remain. First, will the European economy start showing some life now - or will the austerity programs in place in so many countries now going to continue dragging down the economy's. Second, is this the final bail-out Greece will need - or is the country in such dire shape, that the crew is throwing cargo over it will need to survive, to keep the ship afloat a little longer? Considering European markets ended lower today, it would appear European traders are less optimistic about this bailout than their US counterparts are. The Dow is flirting with 13,000 today, a psychological point of importance only. Nickel is getting a little support from rumors that are running rampant that Indonesia miners may stop shipments of laterite nickel ore this year, instead of waiting until 2014 when the official ban kicks in. We will follow this and advise if there is any meat to the speculation. With its bounce today, nickel prices recovered the last week of losses.  

  Reports

  • WorldSteel January 2012 Crude Steel Production - more
  • Commodities Daily - pdf here

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Private Prison Company to Demand 90% Occupancy - more
  • Here Comes Dow 13,000. Then What? - more
  • Take Two: Can a Second Bailout Save Greece? - more

  Zimbabwe: South Korean Firm Acquires Stake in Maranatha - South Korean multinational steelmaker Posco said last week it had signed an initial agreement to acquire a stake in local ferrochrome-processing company Maranatha from Gurta of Switzerland and Zimbabwe's Anchor Holdings. - more

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

  • Indicators at 6:55 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.18/lb higher, with other London traded base metals higher as well. The Euro is trading nearly 2/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude futures are up 1.3% and trading at $104.59/barrel. Gold is up 1/4 of 1% and silver is 1/3 of 1% higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up nearly 9/10 of 1%. European markets are trading lower this morning, while US futures are higher this morning. Nickel stockpiles rose on Monday.
  • Bloomberg morning - Base Metals Advance as Finance Ministers Reach Agreement on Greek Bailout - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals build on gains after Greek debt bailout agreement - more
  • Reuters morning - Copper rises with euro on relief over Greece - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • No report his week as Ed is traveling

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • China Imports and Exports of Base Metals in January 2012 - more
  • (Yieh) It’s reported that Chinese government announced to impose mining taxes on six mineral commodities including molybdenum, effective from February 1st.
  • (Interfax) Indonesia may initiate an export ban on nickel ores - originally set to begin in 2014 - as early as May this year, several industry sources told Interfax Tuesday.
  • Rusal and Norilsk Nickel dispute over documents to be reconsidered - more
  • (LGMI) China Iron & Steel Association data showed that steel inventories at key Chinese steel mills monitored by CISA reached 10.98 million tonnes by the end of January, the highest since the second half of 2009 and rising 24.5% from early January.

   New Caledonia eyes 'nickel boom' - New Caledonia is set for a nickel boom in 2012, a government analyst said Tuesday, with the French Pacific territory eyeing a significant boost in production to meet increasing global demand. - more

   Japan 2011 Hot-Rolled SUS Production Drops Y-O-Y = Down by 5% from 2010; both Cr-alloyed and Ni-alloyed dropped = According to the data released by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on February 14, details of the output of hot-rolled stainless steel during 2011 as well as in the single month of December were as per the table attached hereto. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending February 18, 2012, domestic raw steel production was 1,942,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 78.6 percent. Production was 1,780,000 tons in the week ending February 18, 2011, while the capability utilization then was 75.4 percent. The current week production represents a 9.1 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending February 18, 2012 is up 0.7 percent from the previous week ending February 11, 2012 when production was 1,929,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 78.1 percent.

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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 20

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 2 to 715. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Hong Kong Offers Asia’s First Volatility Index Futures as Swap Alternative // China Cuts Reserve-Ratio for Growth as Inflation Deters Interest-Rate Move // China’s Stocks Rise, Extending Gains to Sixth Week, on Reserve-Ratio Cut // Japan’s Trade Deficit Widens to a Record as Export Slump Deepens: Economy // Japan’s AA- Credit Rating May be Cut if Economic Outlook Weakens, S&P Says // Asian Stocks Climb for Fourth Day as Metals Rally on China Measures, Greek Talks // Merkel as Europe’s Debt Crisis Iron Lady Bucks German Street on Greek Aid // Syrian Gunmen Kill Officials as U.K. Foreign Secretary Warns of Civil War // Greece Moves Toward Second Bailout as Default Risk Spurs European Leaders // European Stocks Rise as Ministers Discuss Greek Bailout; TNT Express Gains // Euro Advances a Third Day on Greek Bailout Progress; Dollar, Yen Decline // U.S. Stock-Index Futures Advance as China Cuts Reserve Ratio for Lenders
  • The Euro continues to trade higher against the US Dollar, now by 8/10 of 1%. NYMEX crude is up 1.8% and trading at $105.09/barrel. Gold is up 6/10 of 1% and silver is over 9/10 of 1% higher. Base metals ended their session higher as well, supported by a weaker Dollar. Indicator charts show nickel opened higher this morning, spent the first half of the session in a downtrend, and the latter half in an uptrend. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $8.96/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME warehouses fell for a second consecutive day on Friday and now total just over 96,800 tonnes. China cut reserve requirements for lenders and markets are betting the European Union will approve another Greece bailout later today. On this news, the Euro traded much higher which helped reverse last week base metal losses. Edward Meir is traveling this week so no daily commentary from FC Stone. Interesting audio interview below from Citigroup.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Audio) Citigroup's expectations for global  nickel and  stainless steel in 2012 - more
  • Number of the Week: Five Cents of Every Retail Dollar Spent Online - more
  • Euro-Zone Crisis Forces Regional Markets To Expand - more
  • A Few Head Scratchers In Some Fed Statements - more

   IFL ferrochrome production down - London-listed ferrochrome producer, International Ferro Metals says production volumes fell by 15% to 85,779 tonnes (t) for the six months ended December 2011, compared to the same period in 2010. - more

  Tati Nickel battles for longer lifespan - Tati Nickel Mining Company plans to take to the skies soon for airborne geophysical surveys aimed at identifying pockets of nickel resources that could be mined to extend its three-decade old operation. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.02/lb lower, with other London traded base metals higher at the moment. The Euro is trading 9/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude futures are up 1.8% and trading at $105.09/barrel. Gold is up nearly 6/10 of 1% and silver is up 2/3 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up over 1/10 of 1%. European markets are trading higher this morning, and US markets are closed for President's Day. Nickel stockpiles fell on Friday.
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Rises as Demand May Strengthen After China’s Latest Policy Easing - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals rise on brighter macro outlook - more
  • Reuters - China easing, Greek bailout hopes boost copper - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • no commentary this week

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Yieh) Taiwanese stainless producers may hike March list prices further despite of down nickel prices. The nickel prices at LME turned weak last week and it has been down to below US$20,000/ton currently.
  • (CO) Copper to average $9 000 a metric ton in Q2 nickel at $23 500: Deutsche Bank
  • Q+A: How closed are China's commodity futures markets? - more
  • French steel workers occupy Arcelor Mittal plant - more
  • (China) Central bank on path of prudence - more

  Menace of deadly nickel cargoes in spate of sinkings  - For five days, Dau Ngoc Hung clung to a flimsy upturned raft in the middle of a raging Pacific storm before being plucked to safety by the British ship, London Courage. - more

  Vale Earmarks $2b to Double Nickel Production - Vale Indonesia, the country’s largest nickel miner, says it has a $2 billion investment plan to nearly double its nickel production in the next few years. - more

  MCN Outlook 2012 Survey... Hopes High for 2012 - Results from the latest Metal Center News Outlook Survey show that most industry executives have optimistic expectations for business conditions in the year ahead. - more

  Japan Imported Ferroalloy Market Report; February 14, 2012 = Silico-manganese price steadily rising = Market outlook in Japan of the imported ferroalloys as of February 14, 2012 is as follows: - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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 17

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 6 to 717. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Most China Stocks Fall on Growth, Lending Concern, Trimming Weekly Advance // Asian Stocks Advance, Set for Ninth Weekly Rally, on U.S., Greece Outlook // Germany Seeks to Avoid Two-Step Vote on Greek Bailout Plan, Lawmakers Say // Lehman Crisis Veterans Warn Europe Leaders Against Provoking Greek Default // Retail Sales in Britain Unexpectedly Increase for a Second Month: Economy // European Stocks Rise to a Six-Month High as Societe Generale, Lafarge Jump // Most-Hated Stocks Burn Short Sellers as Sears, Netflix Lead S&P 500 Rally // Index of Leading Indicators Points to Sustained Expansion in U.S.: Economy // Treasuries Retreat, Euro Advances as S&P 500 Index Trades Little Changed
  • The Euro continues to trade higher against the US Dollar, by nearly 2/10 of 1% currently. NYMEX crude is up 8/10 of 1% and trading at $103.12/barrel. Gold is down nearly 1/2 of 1% while silver is lower by nearly 1%. Base metals ended the session mixed, with copper, tin and nickel taking a thumping. Indicator charts show nickel opened higher, but spent the day in a downtrend. For the day, and week, Dow Jones reports three month nickel surrendered the $9/lb level and closed at $8.89/lb. Last Thursday we closed at $9.97/lb and the trend was pointing to breaking the $10/lb level. A week later and we are back in the high $8/lb range. Can you spell volatility? Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell on Thursday and now total just over 97,200 tonnes. Leon Westgate, a metals analyst with Standard Bank wrote in his morning report today. "The physical nickel market continues to look incredibly weak. Physical premiums have continued to fall so far during 2012, while  on-warrant LME inventories have also remained on an upward trend over January and into February, bucking the normal seasonal pattern." Based off that kind of negativity, one might assume that nickel prices may continue to head lower. And with Ed Meir of FC setting next support at $8.73/lb, one might have another reason to believe nickel is heading lower. With nickel falling for  second day while the Euro gained against the Dollar, one might have yet another reason to feel nickel is weakening and further price drops are in order. An established nickel mine resuming production and a brand new mega one starting to produce next month. Nickel stockpiles already at or near 2012 high's. One can find reason's to bet against nickel right now. One should also tread lightly because nickel always seems to find a reason to come back.
  • Have a safe and relaxing weekend!

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Nickel's poor fundamental picture should weigh on futures prices in months to come, says Standard Bank. "The physical nickel market continues to look incredibly weak," it says.
  • (Dow Jones) Envelopes containing the bids submitted to buy the London Metal Exchange were opened Wednesday by LME advisor Moelis & Co. and will be considered at the start of next week by a committee including the exchange's chief executive, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.
  • Despite Gains, Housing Still Faces Problems - more
  • Geithner: Payroll Tax Rate Should Rise Back to Normal in 2013 - more
  • Philly Fed Index Points to Improved Conditions - more
  • Is America Becoming More Conservative? Why? - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.07/lb higher, with all London traded base metals trading higher this morning. The Euro is trading 1/4 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude futures are up over 4/10 of 1% higher and trading at $102.76/barrel. Gold is up over 1/10 of 1% and silver is flat. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up slightly. European markets are trading higher, and futures show Wall Street should open higher as well. Nickel stockpiles fell on Thursday.  
  • Reuters morning - Copper up on Greek bailout hopes - more 
  • LME Morning - Metals stage modest recovery as euro rebounds, mood wary - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • We had a very choppy day yesterday, with copper selling off sharply early on, recovering impressively by mid-session, and then ending up with a modest loss. What seemed to have thrown the markets a lifeline of sorts yesterday were a slew of numbers out of the US that came in much stronger than expected, this despite the surprisingly weaker-than-expected industrial production number out Wednesday. Data released yesterday revealed that weekly initial claims dropped by 13,000 in the latest week to 348,000, much less than even the most optimistic forecasts were suggesting. Other reports showed consumer confidence improving, housing starts climbing more than expected, while manufacturing in the Philadelphia area is now accelerating at its fastest clip in four months. Other markets followed the V-shaped pattern we saw in base metals. Precious metals retreated early on, but then recovered by the close, as did energy and the Euro. .... Right now, markets are somewhat more stable than they were at this time yesterday, as we suspect that investors are betting on a successful resolution of the Greek issue as opposed to an outright failure; base metals are all up modestly, but confined within narrow trading ranges, while both precious metals and energy prices are higher as well. The Euro is steady at $1.3170 and conditions are quiet in the European credit markets. We do not think we will see much more action today, as there still is a chance that things could change over the weekend. Monday will be a critical day, as a consensus will likely emerge by then and likely lend the markets a somewhat steadier tone, at least through next week.  .... Nickel is at $19,785, down $115. .... Global nickel prices are close to the level of fundamental support now thanks to a balanced market and high spot premiums in comparison with the fourth quarter of 2011, Norilsk Nickel's head of marketing told Reuters in an interview, adding that the company does not “ expect any meaningful deficit or surplus on the market”. ... AMM reports that domestic nickel premiums in the US remain under pressure even as spot business has picked up. Premiums for melting-grade material are between 20 and 30 cents per pound, the lowest level since 2009, while plating-grade premiums are between 55 and 75 cents per pound, down from 65 to 90 cents previously. 
  • (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Base metals complex failed to take advantage of improved sentiment - more
  • (CRU) Ferrochrome: Prices continue rising News of supply disruptions in South Africa, combined with lean stock levels at stainless steel mills, have led to an increase in the volume of enquiries and concluded deals in all regions. As a result, prices have edged up on January levels.
  • (Yieh) Zhangjiagang Pohang Stainless Steel, South Korean steel giant Posco's stainless steel production subsidiary in China planned to establish a new ladle furnace with ladle turret, aiming to enhance the current production by 25%.
  • Russia's Norilsk Nickel - free cash flow under pressure - more
  • China's Minmetals wins $1.3 bln Anvil bid, eyes more - more
  • Exports face difficult outlook in Q1 - more

  Ambatovy Nickel Mine to Begin in March, Sumitomo Says - Sumitomo Corp. , Japan’s third- largest trading house by assets, said the Ambatovy nickel project in Madagascar will start initial production in March. - more

  Service Center Shipments Show Growth Year Over Year -  January 2012 service center shipments continued to grow on a year over year basis in both the U.S. and Canada. In the U.S., steel shipments grew at 9.0% and growth in aluminum shipments was just over 10%. - more

  China 2011 Ferroalloy Exports Down 26% Y-O-Y = Exports 935,000 tons, imports inched up to 2,054,000 tons = According to China's Customs Statistics, exports and imports of ferroalloys during the full year of 2011 as well as in the single month of December were as per the tables attached hereto. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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 16

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 8 to 723. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China May Set Lowest Growth Target Since 2004, Government Economist Says // China Stocks Drop Most in Week as FDI Slump Adds to Concerns About Economy // Biggest Australia Jobs Gain Since 2010 Augurs Interest Rate Pause: Economy // Asian Stocks, Euro Decline as Greek Bailout Delayed; Bond Risk Increases // Greek Budget Controls Pushed as Europe Struggles to Complete Bailout Plan // SocGen Profit Drops After Investment Bank Reports First Loss in Two Years // European Stocks Are Little Changed as U.S. Economic Data Outweigh Greece // Goldman Sachs Analyst Inquiry Said to Show Probe’s Focus on Banks, Taiwan // Hillary Clinton Is Said to Rival Summers as Contender to Lead World Bank // Oil Climbs to Highest in Five Weeks on Optimism Greece Will Receive Rescue // Boehner’s ‘Take to the Bank’ Resolve to Fizzle // Euro Rises Versus Dollar on Report Central Bank Is to Exchange Greek Debt // Stocks in U.S. Gain on Economic Data as Euro Climbs After ECB Swap Report
  • The Euro is now trading 1/3 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up over 4/10 of 1% and trading at $102.25/barrel. Gold is down 1/3 of 1% while silver is off 1/2 of 1%. Base metals ended the session lower, but off earlier lows as US economic data was positive. Indicator charts show nickel opened lower and did little throughout the session. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $9.02/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose sharply again on Wednesday and now total just over 97,750 tonnes. Stockpiles are now the highest they have been since the end of September 2011. With yesterday's fall below support for a second day, two huge days of huge inventory gains, and today's complete snub of the large swing in the value of the Euro vs the Dollar, it is hard to imagine what might trigger the next bullish nickel run. But as stainless steel users have discovered many, many times in the past, the unimaginable is always just right around the corner.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Macquarie) Latest INSG nickel data suggests a full year surplus of 17 kt in 2011 – this compared with reported stock declines of 48kt last year, suggesting a large build in unreported stocks.
  • Manufacturing Sector Is Doing Fine - more
  • Consumer Bureau Gets Its Money From NY Fed Account - more
  • What Happens if Congress Doesn’t Continue Emergency Unemployment Benefits? - more
  • Euro zone ponders delay of 2nd Greek bailout program - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.10/lb lower, with other London traded base metals lower as well. The Euro is trading 2/3 of 1% lower against the US Dollar, adding pressure to commodity trading. NYMEX crude futures are down nearly 9/10 of 1% and trading at $100.91/barrel. Gold is down nearly 8/10 of 1% and silver is off over 1%. In overnight trading, Asia markets ended lower, with China down over 1/2 of 1%. Europe is trading lower this morning, and US futures are signaling a lower opening. Nickel stockpiles rose sharply for  second day on Wednesday.  
  • Reuters morning - Copper slips on Greek bailout delay concerns, weak euro - more
  • LME Morning - Metals retreat on Greece/eurozone jitters, most hit multi-week lows - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Metals retreated on Wednesday after earlier gains in Asian trading fell through, a pattern we have been seeing pretty much all week. Copper has now dropped for four days in a row, and is off some 10% from last week's five-month peak of $8,800 per ton and $4 per lb. Energy and precious metals also retreated from their highs yesterday, although unlike base metals, both managed to hold onto modest gains. Unfinished business with respect to Greece continues to weigh over the markets, chipping away at the strong gains we saw set in over the course of January. The weakness in the Euro is keeping pressure on the commodity group as well, with the currency sinking to a one-week low against the dollar yesterday and giving up a sizable advance that set in earlier in the day. In addition to Greek worries, the release of Fed minutes showing little appetite for another round of quantitative easing hurt the Euro’s prospects and more than offset the bearish impact of the weak US January industrial production numbers (unchanged on the month).  ....  Despite the complacency in the debt markets, we think that as long as the Greek issue festers, it does have the capacity to destabilize the markets. As a result, we would continue to advise caution on the base metals group over the short-term. Having said that, we soon may be ready to push higher once the markets sense that the outline of a “plan” emerges, but we are certainly not there just yet. ..... Right now, markets are sharply lower across the board; copper is off another $160/ton, dragging the rest of the metals down along with it. Gold is also off, as the Euro has crashed below the $1.30 mark. Oil prices have just turned south as well, off by a $1/brl. All week, ongoing geopolitical developments have been providing an element of support to crude; in this regard, there has been a spate of bombings over the past 72 hours across Asia, with signs pointing to Iran as the likely instigator. In addition, protests seem to be flaring up in Bahrain, a country that resonates strongly in the oil markets due to its proximity to Saudi Arabia. .... Nickel is at $19,900, down $175; $19,250 looks to be next logical support. ..... The global nickel market was in a supply surplus by 17,000 tons last year, the latest monthly bulletin from the International Nickel Study Group showed. Latest figures show world primary nickel consumption totaling 1,572,400 tons last year, while nickel output was 1,589,400 tons. In early October, the INSG said it expected the nickel market to record a 30,000-tonne surplus last year compared with a deficit of 30,000 tons in 2010. It is forecasting a 70,000-tonne surplus for 2012.  (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Demand for nickel in developed markets is expected to be negatively affected by the deterioration of the economic climate this year, but consumption in emerging markets is still far from its full potential, French nickel producer Eramet SA said Thursday. The company, which produces nickel, manganese and alloys, said its positive medium and long-term view is unchanged.
  • (Yieh) It’s reported that Taiyuan Iron & Steel Group (Tisco), the largest stainless producer in China hiked the export quotes of 300 series products by US$300/ton for April. In addition, the firm remained the quotes of 400 series materials flat.
  • (Bloomberg) Jinchuan Group International Resources Co. hares jumped the most in three months on speculation Indonesia may bring forward restrictions on exports of metal ores including nickel to May, potentially boosting sales from Chinese suppliers.
  • Biggest Mining Deals No Promise of Xstrata Bonanza: Commodities - more
  • Nickel market in 17,000 T surplus in 2011-INSG
  • (China) Experts: EU statement opens door to status - more

  Western Areas Says Nickel Prices Are Rebounding on Steel Demand - Western Areas NL, Australia’s second-biggest nickel producer, said prices are rebounding and will extend gains in the next three years, aided by Chinese demand. - more

  China 2011 Crude SUS Production = Several different figures; CSSC says 12.6 million tons = There are several different figures presented to public by authorities and by analysts with regard to the crude stainless steel production in China in 2011. - more

  Nickel is on the way to hit $22500/ton in 2012 - The physical market for nickel is in poor shape. Sentiment at European stainless mills is negative, nickel premiums are low, nickel is in significant contango and inventories ample. - more

  Vale Quarterly Profit Misses Estimates After Metal Prices Drop - Vale SA, the world’s second-largest mining company, said fourth-quarter profit fell 21 percent, missing analysts’ estimates, after metal prices dropped and the sovereign debt crisis caused European shipments to slump. - more

  Eramet profits hit by weaker metal prices - French mining and metals group Eramet said on Thursday its profits fell last year due to flagging nickel and manganese prices and warned that a weaker economic climate would weigh on mature countries this year. - more

  Talvivaara surprises with placing, names new CEO - Finland's Talvivaara Mining Company surprised with plans to issue shares representing almost 10 percent of existing capital that will help fund a ramp-up of mining and processing operations and said it was confident of meeting its 2012 production targets. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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 15

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 3 to 731. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Wen Says China Ready to Be More ‘Deeply’ Involved in Solution for Europe // China to Expand Essential-Drug List, Health Minister Says; Price Cuts Seen // China’s Stocks Rise to 2-Month High as PBOC’s Zhou Pledges Help to Europe // Asia Stocks Rise, Metals Gain as China Backs Europe Efforts; Yen Weakens // Greece Warns Euro Partners on Threat of Expulsion After Bailout Hits Snag // King Says BOE Stimulus Isn’t at Limit as Euro-Area Debt Crisis Poses Risk // Sarkozy Will Seek French Re-Election Playing Euro Crisis Leadership Card // Europe’s Economy Probably Shrank for First Time Since 2009 on Debt Turmoil // Greece Warns Euro Partners on Threat of Expulsion After Bailout Hits Snag // Apple Asks for Court Approval to Sue Bankrupt Kodak in N.Y. Over Patents // Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley Warn of Increase in Risks Under Volcker Rule // U.S. Homebuilder Confidence Increased to Highest Since ’07 // Factories Churning Out More Products Help Kindle U.S. Expansion: Economy // Deere Declines After Lowering Its Annual Forecast for U.S. Farmer Revenue //
  • The Euro is now trading just under 6/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up 7/10 of 1% and trading at $101.44/barrel after Iran stops shipping oil to six EU countries. Gold is up 1/3 of 15 while silver is down 2/3 of 1%. Base metals ended the session mostly lower except for tin. Indicator charts show nickel opened higher, did little for the first half of its session, then fell as the rhetoric in Europe picked up over the Greece bail out and the Euro took a trumble. It recovered a little late, but fo the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $9.10/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose sharply on Tuesday and now total just over 95,700 tonnes. World tensions appear to be on the rise yet again. Iran is threatening, Syria is killing, and Greece has entered into a war of words with EU partners. After a tumultuous weekend that saw riots, the Greece parliament passed the cuts required by the EU to get a second bail-out. But since then, the EU has demanded further assurements and Greece is growing annoyed, today doing a little threatening of its own. Markets are not liking the sudden disharmony. Nickel fell below support for a second day, giving a technical signal that more price declines are likely. A rising Euro could trump this signal though, so it will be interesting to see how this Greece bailout plays out in the next few weeks.  

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) The global nickel market was in deficit by 10,900 metric tons in 2011, the World Bureau of Metal Statistics said Wednesday. This compares with a 100-ton surplus over the whole of 2010, although this figure included substantial imports recorded by China, some of which was destined for re-stocking purposes, the WBMS added.
  • Economists React: Euro Zone GDP ‘Could Have Been Worse’ - more
  • Odd Retail Data Aren’t as Worrying as Rising Gas Prices - more
  • Fed’s Kocherlakota Offers Economic Projections - more
  • The professor versus the chairman - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.07/lb higher, with other London traded base metals mostly higher. The Euro is trading slightly lower against the US Dollar this morning. NYMEX crude futures are up 1-1/2% and trading at $102.25/barrel. Gold is up nearly 4/10 of 1% while silver is up just over 1/10 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up 1.1%. European markets are trading higher this morning on news that the EU 4th quarter GDP did not contract as much as feared. US stock futures show Wall Street is set to pen higher as well. Nickel inventories rose sharply on Tuesday.
  • Reuters morning - Copper steadies on stronger euro, Greece prospects - more
  • LME Morning - Metals steady on improved risk sentiment but soft European GDP curbs move - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Copper fell for a third straight session yesterday, but trading lacked any clear conviction. A slightly stronger dollar and a mixed US January retail sales figures, (weaker on the overall reading and in line on the ex-auto component), also helped deflate the mood somewhat.  .... Right now, metals are mostly lower in quiet trading, but we are seeing strength in both energy and precious metals. The Euro is not much of a factor, trading at $1.3100, and slightly lower on the day. Oil prices are up by about $1/barrel on news that Iran will suspend exports to six European countries in retaliation for an impending sanctions program. US stocks are called to open higher after a flat day yesterday. .... Given that not much is expected out of Greece for the balance of this week, metals will likely continue to drift uneventfully through Friday. Monday could be a pivotal day, as by then, markets should get a sense from European ministers as to where things stand. For metals, Chinese trade data -- released next week as well -- will also be important. Of particular interest, is how February copper imports are running given the sharp rise and fall seen in the December and January that were brought on mainly by seasonal and other exogenous factors.  ..... Nickel is at $20,209, up $54. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Yieh) It’s reported that Taiyuan Iron & Steel Company (Tisco), the largest stainless producer in China announced the price policy for March. The company decided to raise the ex-factory prices of stainless steel products by RMB100~RMB300/ton average for March.
  • (SSI) Global usage of molybdenum rose 15 per cent in the third quarter of 2011 compared with the same period in 2010 but fell compared with the previous quarter, according to new figures released this month by the International Molybdenum Association (IMOA).
  • China's Baosteel lifts March steel prices from Feb - more
  • (ETCN) According to China's customs statistics, trade balance of molybdenum in 2011 was export surplus by 4.13 million pounds, i.e. exports were 22.67 million pounds and imports were 18.54 million pounds.
  • (JMB) Global supply-demand of nickel for 2012/ Excess supply to increase to 50 thou tons
  • (Mist) Chinese stainless makers may raise prices further for March 2012
  • Beijing lends a hand to Europe - more
  • Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index January - pdf here
  • Small Business Optimism Essentially Unchanged in January - more

  Deutsche Bank lifts base-metals-price forecasts - Deutsche Bank DB said it is lifting its base metals forecasts for 2012 following a strong start to the year for the industry-linked commodities, spurred by expectations on restocking in both China and Europe in the months ahead. - more

  Xstrata/Glencore Merger And Low Profitability Of Chrome Business = How can the chrome business survive in the combined company? = The world's fourth largest resource company will be born. Xstrata and Glencore agreed to merge during the second half of 2012. The combined company, under the name of Glencore, will be the fourth largest after BHP-Billiton, Rio Tinto and Vale. - more

  -Voestalpine sticks to outlook as steel gloom lifts - Austrian specialty steel group Voestalpine stuck to its outlook for "somewhat weaker" fiscal-year operating profit as conditions for its key steel division picked up from the turn of the year after a "very difficult" October-December quarter. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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 14

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 5 to 734. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Macquarie Group Said to Cut 10% of Asian Investment-Banking Jobs Last Week // Wen Says China Ready to Be More ‘Deeply’ Involved in Solution for Europe // U.S. Envoy to Hold First Talks With North Korea Since Kim Jong Il’s Death // China’s Stocks Decline Most in Week on Economic Outlook, European Concerns // BOJ Unexpectedly Adds Stimulus as It Sets 1% Target for Inflation: Economy // Asian Stocks Fall as Moody’s Cuts Europe Ratings; Default Swaps Rise a Fifth Day // Italy-Spain Borrowing Costs Decline at Auction Following Moody’s Downgrade // Greek Economy Shrank Greater-Than-Forecast 6.8% Last Year on Spending Cuts // European Stocks Decline as Moody’s Downgrades Italy, Spain; Shell Advances // Volcker Rule Draws Barrage of Lobbying From Banks After Details Released // U.S. Retail Sales Trail Estimates as Automobile Purchases Decline: Economy // Fed to Decide ‘Soon’ on Capital One-ING Deal After Eight Months of Delays //  
  • The Euro is now trading 6/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is now 2/10 of 1% lower and trading at $100.71/barrel. Gold is down 4/10 of 1% and silver is off 1.1%. Base metals ended their session lower as well. Indicator charts show nickel opened lower, rose slightly early, but then spent the rest of the session in a decline as the Euro fell. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $9.14/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME authorized warehouses fell on Monday and now total just over 94,300 tonnes. Nickel fell below Ed Meir's $9.30/lb support level today, and a second close tomorrow could put the entire $9/lb level in jeopardy. Asian markets traded lower on Moody's rating cuts in Europe and US and European markets are trading, or ended lower, on disappointing January retail sales figures. Vale announced it is resuming production in Sudbury, with its recent closure due to a worker fatality not expected to effect annual production levels.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Wealthy at $250,000? Depends on Where You Live - more
  • In Defense of the Baltic Dry Index - more
  • Why Did Economists Get It So Wrong in 2011? - more
  • Know New Taxes - more

  Brazil Vale Resumes Sudbury, Canada, Nickel Mining After Accident - Vale SA said Tuesday it is gradually resuming operations at its underground nickel mines in Sudbury, Canada, after an accident. - more

  Nickel - A Market in Balance - At a recent presentation to a group of industry CEOs, my colleague Lisa Reisman was asked for her views on the nickel market. Coincidentally, this was a topic we had been discussing just the day before, and although we had written about it as recently as early December, there had been so much movement we felt the CEOs’ interest - and a follow-up blog - were entirely appropriate. - more

   Courtesy AISI - In the week ending February 11, 2012, domestic raw steel production was 1,929,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 78.1 percent. Production was 1,780,000 tons in the week ending February 11, 2011, while the capability utilization then was 75.4 percent. The current week production represents a 8.4 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending February 11, 2012 is up 1.2 percent from the previous week ending February 4, 2012 when production was 1,1907,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 77.2 percent.

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.07/lb lower, with other London traded base metals mostly lower. The Euro is trading slightly lower against the US Dollar at the moment. NYMEX crude futures are up 1/3 of 1% and trading at $101.27/barrel. Gold is down 1/3 of 1% while silver is off 3/4 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China down 4/10 of 1%. European markets are trading slightly higher at the moment, while US futures are flat. Nickel stockpiles fell slight on Monday.
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Drops Third Day After Moody’s Rating Cuts as Metals Fall - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals mostly edge higher on upside surprise in EU data - more
  • Reuters morning - Copper steady on weaker dollar, China buying caution weighs - more

  Reports

  • Steel & Metals Market Research Stainless Briefing - more
  • U.S. Exports of Stainless Steel Mill Products - more
  • Reuters Inside Metals - pdf here
  • Commonwealth Daily Alert- pdf here
  • Daily Market Report - pdf here
  • Commodities Report - pdf here
  • Metals Insight - pdf here

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Metals sold off rather abruptly yesterday, giving up modest gains built up over the Asian session and finishing with a slight loss. Trading volume on COMEX picked up nicely, with turnover up some 50% from the 30-day average. Other markets closed mostly higher on the day, but most were well off earlier highs. The uneventful finishes we saw were attributable to the fact that investors are still somewhat on edge, as over the next few weeks, the Greeks will have to start implementing the terms of the accords -- and will be closely watched doing so. Apparently, the Greek Cabinet will meet later today to discuss further budget cuts and there is talk that a manifesto signed by the major parties adhering to the terms of the bailout will also be forthcoming. Additionally, we would not be surprised to see pink slips start flowing imminently for some of the 15,000 civil workers whose jobs will now have to be sacrificed as part of the budget cuts.  .... Right now, markets are mixed in quiet trading; base metals were higher earlier in the day, but have taken a sharp dip lower in the last 30 minutes, as have gold and silver. US stocks are called to open slightly higher. The Euro is down, now trading at just under $1.32, but does not seem to be too rattled by a Moody’s downgrade that hit the markets after the close on Monday. In its latest review, the agency cut the debt ratings of six European countries, including Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Moody’s said it will also revise its outlook on the UK’s and France’s Aaa rating to negative. “Uncertainty over the Euro area’s prospects for institutional reform of its fiscal and economic framework” were cited as reasons behind the downgrade, as was the view that Europe’s increasingly weak macroeconomic prospects “threaten the implementation of domestic austerity programs and the structural reforms that are needed to promote competitiveness”. We continue to remain modestly cautious on the metals group, as we think the Greek rescue still bears watching over the next 3 weeks. In addition, the markets have had a good run higher since January, presumably discounting the Greek “rescue” during this time, but with this issue now behind us, at least in terms of the votes, market attention will likely focus back onto the more relevant macro picture.  ....  Nickel is at $20,270, down $285, with support at $20,500 now broken, likely setting up a retreat to $19,900. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Yieh) t’s reported that Chinese stainless makers may continue to hike the March list prices further even though the nickel prices at LME dropped substantially last Friday. Chinese steelmakers said that the sharp drop in nickel prices on last Friday can’t reflect the costs completely. Therefore, their new price policy won’t be affected.
  • Commodities benefit from increased investor confidence - pdf here
  • La Niña shows some weakening - more
  • NFIB - The Index of Small Business Optimism gained 0.1 points to 93.9 last month – basically unchanged from December. Index readings from January and February 2011 were higher, so we are still below where we were a year ago even though the Index has risen five months in a row. Except for January and February of 2011, the current Index is the highest reading since December 2007 when the economy peaked. But, even with the progress made in the past few months, the Index still remains at recession-level readings.

  Nickel price cuts deep into half-year profit at Western Areas - Australian miner Western Areas today said its net profit for the six months to December 31, 2011 fell 64 per cent to $24.1 million, reflecting a sharp drop in the price of nickel in line with other base metals. - more

  ThyssenKrupp swings to surprise loss - ThyssenKrupp, Germany's biggest steel maker, swung to a surprise 357 million euro ($471.8 million) operating loss in the last quarter of 2011 as weak demand from customers rattled by Europe's debt crisis hit prices. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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 13

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 14 to 729. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Most China Stocks Rise as Wen’s Comments; Developers Drop on Wuhu Reversal // China May Need to Fine-Tune Economic Policy This Quarter, Premier Wen Says // Japan’s GDP Shrinks More Than Estimated as Yen Undermines Exports: Economy // Asian Stocks Advance After Greece’s Parliament Approves Austerity Measures // Europe Job Losses Accelerate With AstraZeneca-to-PepsiCo Firing Employees // Greek Police Arrest 67 People After Buildings Burned in Austerity Protests // Germany Hails Greek Austerity Vote as EU Ministers Prepare for Aid Talks // Iran Sanctions Tightening as OSG to Frontline Halt Shipping Nation’s Crude // EU’s Rehn Says He’s Confident Greece Will Meet Demands to Receive Bailout // European Stocks Climb After Greek Austerity Approval: C&W Worldwide Surges // Bernanke Labor Pessimism Seen Misplaced as U.S. Growth Accelerates in 2012 // Stocks, Commodities Rise After Greece Approves Austerity Plan for Bailout
  • The Euro is now only trading slightly higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up 1.4% and trading at $100.05/barrel. Gold is up slightly, while silver is up 2/10 of 1%. Base metals ended the session lower, as the Euro gave up earlier gains, all London base metals gave up their early morning gains as well - plus some. Indicator charts show that is exactly what happened to nickel which saw early morning gains evaporate right before US equity markets open. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $9.32/lb , a new closing low for February. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell on Friday and now total just under 94,400 tonnes. Last week we were talking $10/lb, this week we start by talking about nickel nearing support levels today. Considering the Euro was still positive, albeit just barely when London markets closed, nickel closed lower for a second consecutive day, the first time this month we have seen that happen. Greece got the blame for the markets falling on Friday, and is getting credit for much of the gains in equity markets today. But at what cost. According to this article (Greece Becomes a Third-World Country) the austerity cuts are devastating to this country and its people. And while the people of Greece riot to show their displeasure, what is happening in Greece should be sending a chill thru governments around the world. The Mediterranean region has seen its fair share of government takeovers this past year, all south of the sea. A spread north could be devastating not only to the Europeans, but to the world economy as well.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It - more
  • Number of the Week: Accounting for Labor Force Dropouts - more
  • Bank Business Loans Rose $6.9 Billion in Latest Week - more
  • Consumer Sentiment Retreats in February - more
  • A Brief History of the American Pawn Shop: Echoes - more
  • EU Hits Indian Screw Makers With Duties to Counter Subsidies - more
  • Guess How Much It Costs The Government To Produce A Nickel - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.14/lb higher, with all LME traded base metals higher as well. The Euro is trading nearly 1/2 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude futures are up over 1% and trading nearly $99.73/barrel. Gold is up over 1/2 of 1% and silver is higher by 2/3 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China slightly lower. European markets are trading higher this morning, and US futures are higher as well. Nickel stockpiles fell back on Friday. Markets are higher after the Greece parliament passes another austerity bill and now qualifies for a second European bailout.
  • Reuters morning - Copper up on Greek progress but demand woes weigh - more
  • LME Morning - All base metals bar copper up, risk appetite improves but market still cautious - more

  Reports

  • US Imports of Stainless Steel Mill Products - more
  • SMM Nickel Price Forecast (Feb. 13-17) - more
  • Robry Weekly Economic Assessment - more
  • Weekly Scoreboard - pdf here
  • Reuters Inside Metals - pdf here
  • Commonwealth Daily Alert- pdf here
  • Daily Market Report - pdf here
  • Commodities Report - pdf here
  • Metals Insight - pdf here

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Copper sustained its first weekly loss since early January on Friday, selling off sharply and triggering a broad-based rout in the rest of the metals. COMEX copper futures set a trading volume record of just under 110,000 contracts, as the selling picked up throughout the day. Energy and precious metals also sold off, as did the US equity markets, which snapped a five-week winning streak. .... The Greek prime minister addressed the nation late on Sunday, saying that “Today at midnight, before markets open, the Greek Parliament must send a message. We must show that Greeks, when they are called on to choose between the bad and the worst, choose the bad to avoid the worst.” For now, the markets seem to be granting his wish, although the tone remains tenuous. The Euro is barely higher, now at $1.3240 and base metals are up as well, although not by much. European equities are up as well, as is the opening call for US stocks. In the critical European credit markets, Italian and Spanish bond yields fell slightly despite a week where Italy, France, and Spain are all set to auction new bonds. Standard & Poor's downgraded 34 Italian banks on Friday, but this does not seem to be having much of an impact in the credit markets. Over the next few days, the Greeks will not only need to show the Europeans (and the markets) that have the wherewithal and sense of urgency to implement the proposed reforms. Among the measures that they need to put through immediately, is a reduction in minimum wages, cuts in pensions, job cuts for as many as 15,000 state workers, and identifying another $430 million of cuts in the budget, all while making sure that none of these steps will be overridden by fresh elections now scheduled for April. For their part, we hope European leaders now “clam up” and give the Greeks a chance to see whether they will keep their end of the bargain. Casting doubts on Greece's ability to move ahead only undermines market confidence and does not bode well for this or future restructuring efforts going forward. Certainly today’s rhetoric has been more constructive than what we were seeing last week; German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief spokesman told reporters that the vote in Athens “shows the will and the readiness of the Greeks to undertake major efforts of their own, including tough cuts to put their country on a good path. Greece’s European partners welcome this; certainly Germany does.” The Europeans will now have to keep their end of the deal by putting through the €130 billion loan package; an EU ministers meeting on this is scheduled for Wednesday. Attention then shifts to national capitals as the parliamentary approval process gets underway, with the German vote schedule for Feb. 27. Even if the money for Greece is finally approved, we do not think the country will avoid an eventual default. In fact, we think the odds are high that Greece will exit the Euro sooner rather than later, but it is far better to leave when the European financial system is sufficiently braced to withstand its impact. We certainly are not at that stage yet. .... Out of China, the Financial Times reported today that China has instructed its banks to roll over loans to local governments estimated to be a whopping $1.7 trillion. More than half these loans are scheduled to come due between now and the next three years. One person briefed on the plan said in some cases the maturities would be extended by as much as four years, giving Beijing time to find a more permanent solution. The roll-over is good news in our view, as at this stage, the world can handle only one major debt crisis at a time. Outlook wise, we think we could work our way a little lower from here, as most markets are still overextended and may be entering a “buy the rumor, sell the news” type of mode now that the Greek issue is entering its final stages. Additionally, we still think the road ahead remains bumpy for the Europeans, as other countries, like Portugal, are still sporting unsustainable yields and have yet to be dealt with. In addition, the Chinese situation will likely garner more market attention. ...... Nickel is at $21,027, up $322. Nickel’s chart pattern looks constructive, as the short-term uptrend line is intact (blue line in our report). Support is at $20,500, (red line), but there is not much else below that until we get to $19,900. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Yieh) According to the statistics released by Japan’s Ministry of Finance, Japan exported 55,235 tons of stainless steel plate in last December, down by 33.5% year on year.
  • (Bloomberg) OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of nickel, advanced the most in a month in Moscow trading after prices of the commodity increased.
  • Steel Founders' Society Of America CASteel Reporter - pdf here

  China Molybdenum 2011 Trade Balance; Export Surplus = Exports 22.6 million pounds; Imports 18.5 million pounds - According to China's customs statistics, trade balance of Molybdenum in 2011 was export surplus by 4.13 million pounds, i.e. exports were 22.67 million pounds and imports were 18.54 million pounds. Details of the exports and imports are as per the table attached hereto. - more

  Bindura Nickel Corp retrenchment still in limbo - More than 1 000 Bindura Nickel Corporation (BNC) employees are still waiting for a determination on their retrenchment package four years after the exercise was first mooted leaving most of them to live as destitutes. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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 10

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 20 to 715. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China’s New Lending Increased Less Than Estimated in January Amid Holiday // China’s Import Slump, New Loans Slowdown Add to Growth Concerns: Economy // China’s Stocks Rise, Capping Fourth Week of Gains, on Property Easing Bets // Swiss Consumer Prices Decline Most in Two Years on Franc Strength: Economy // Solar Stocks Surge on Speculation of Increasing Demand for Chinese Panels // Greece Pushes Back Against German Demands for Deeper Cuts to Receive Aid // Greek Bailout at Risk as Cabinet Set to Meet Amid German Demands for Cuts // Stocks in Europe Decline on Greek Impasse; Saab, Commerzbank Shares Fall // Fed Playing Favorites With Wall Street in Secretive Bond Deals: Mortgages // Foreclosures to Climb in U.S. Before Bank Deal Helps Housing Market Heal // Trade Deficit in U.S. Rose in December to Six-Month High on Import Growth // Bernanke Says Housing Slump Is Holding Back Fed’s Efforts to Boost Economy // Stocks Decline With Commodities on Greece Bailout Concern; Treasuries Rise
  • The Euro continues to trade just over 7/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down 1.4% and trading at $98.45/barrel. Gold is down nearly 1/2 of 1% and silver is trading 8/10 of 1% lower. Base metals ended the session lower as well, as concerns over Greece intensify before the weekend. Deadlines are being missed, demands are being made, votes are suddenly questionable, and the streets of Athens are in an uproar. Doesn't this happen about once a month or so? Indicator charts show nickel opened lower but we holding on until late, when it collapsed. For the day and week, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at a February low of $9.39/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose again on Thursday and now total just under 94,500 tonnes. After eight trading days, stockpiles have risen five of them, but remain over 1,000 tonnes lower than they ended January at. Efforts to keep Greece from defaulting appear to in trouble and the equity and commodities market are none too happy about it. If this sounds familiar, we have been here and done this before.
  • Have a safe and relaxing weekend! 

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) U.S. nickel imports fell 17.9% in December from last month, but was up 12.4% from the previous year, the Commerce Department reported Friday.
  • (Dow Jones) U.S. nickel exports rose 20.0% in December from the previous month, but was down 21.3% from the previous year, the Commerce Department reported Friday.
  • Unemployment Extension Likely to Be Less Generous Than Current Law - more
  • Incomes Rebound, but Still Have Ground to Make Up - more
  • Wholesale Inventories Increased in December - more
  • Despite Recession’s Toll, Young Adults Are Optimistic - more
  • Huge Plunge In Petroleum and Gasoline Usage - more
  • The foreclosure settlement - more
  • The Recession of 2007–2009 - more

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

  • Indicators at 6:55 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.09/lb lower, with all London traded base metals lower this morning. The Euro is trading 7/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar as Euro-zone finance ministers require more from Greece to receive aid and the streets of Athens turn violent. NYMEX crude futures are down 1.3% and trading at $98.53/barrel. Gold is down 1.1% and silver is down 1-1/2%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China up nearly 2/10 of 1%. European markets are trading lower this morning, and US futures show a lower opening may be in store for Wall Street. Nickel stockpiles rose for a third consecutive day on Thursday.
  • Reuters morning - Copper falls on weaker euro, Greece worries linger - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals stumble amid eurozone concerns, drop in Chinese demand - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • A deal out of Greece finally came through yesterday, triggering a substantial rally in a number of markets, with base metals leading the pack. Copper rose to a five-month high as the Euro itself pushed to a three month peak of $1.33. Energy prices were also up on the news, but US equities lost early gains and finished flat. More broadly, fifteen of 24 commodities in the S&P GSCI index advanced. ..... Despite the accord, we don’t get the impression that anyone is breaking out the champagne – or the ouzo– just yet. The Europeans are now telling the Greeks that their math is suspect and that the leaders must identify an additional $431 million in spending cuts, as debt ratios will still remain high without them. Others are sounding even more strident, with one EU diplomat saying his government would wait on approving the money until there was evidence that the measures were actually being implemented. There is good reason for the skepticism; when the last Greek “accord” was announced in 2011 for example, the government at the time promised to lay off some 30,000 public workers. Instead, only 1,000 were let go, while an additional 10,000 were made to take early retirement, further increasing the strains on the pension system. For their part, many Greeks are none to happy with the agreement either; the socialist deputy labor minister resigned, saying the package was “too painful for working people”, while trade unions have started a 48-hour general strike. In the meantime, the economy continues to nose-dive; the government reported on Thursday that industrial output fell 11.3% in December from a year ago, while November unemployment rose to an all-time high of 20.9%. Youth unemployment stands at a staggering 48%. As we wait for the two sides to reach a final (final?)agreement, the markets are backing off. The Euro is now at $1.3170, off 1½ c from where we were yesterday, while energy and base metals are seeing sharp retreats as well, giving up most of yesterday’s advance. Oil is down by about $1.5/barrel, while Dow futures are pointing to a 70-point opening decline. The selling has picked up in the last thirty minutes on talk that the Greek vote will now not take place as scheduled. .... Elsewhere, we had trade data out of China overnight showing that China’s exports fell and imports slid more than forecast in January, with exports decreasing 0.5%, while imports fell a whopping 15.3% from a year earlier. The median estimate of 30 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a 3.6% drop in imports, so the actual number was a big miss. However, the Chinese trade surplus nevertheless widened to a six-month high of $27.3 billion. Part of the gap between the two categories can be explained by the Lunar New Year holiday, but the larger reason we believe is that local demand is slowing, just as China’s export markets are retrenching. On the metals side, China's imports of unwrought copper and semi-finished copper products fell to 413,964 tons in January after a monthly record of 508,942 tons in December 2011. A large decline was expected, so the number was not much of a surprise. Imports of unwrought aluminum and semi-finished products also fell to 92,106 tons in January after a 31.9% monthly rise in December 2011.  .... Nickel is at $21,105, down $420. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Copper traders brush off China CPI spike - more
  • (Interfax) Baoshan Iron & Steel Co. Ltd. (Baosteel), the listed unit of leading Chinese steelmaker Baosteel Group, has raised March ex-works prices for certain steel products by between RMB 50 ($7.94) and RMB 200 ($31.77) per ton, suggesting it sees the outlook for the industry brightening.
  • Taiwanese screw industry expects CSC to lower list prices of EF Al-killed wire rod - more
  • (AMM) Jinchuan raises nickel prices by 1.4%
  • (China) New Year inflation jumps higher than estimated - more
  • (China) Exports drop first time in 2 years - more

  Indonesia to Ban Metal-Ore Exports From 2014, Decree States - Indonesia will oblige mining companies to process metal ores locally from 2014, including copper, iron ore, nickel and bauxite, according to a ministerial decree that confirms a timetable in the nation’s 2009 mining law. - more

  Decoupling SUS Production Brought Closer For Japanese Steel Mills = By the Outokumpu/ThyssenKrupp combination = As reported, Outokumpu and ThyssenKrupp agreed that Outokumpu would purchase ThyssenKrupp's stainless steel division, Inoxum for EUR2.7 billion. ThyssenKrupp is to hold 29.9% of Outokumpu. Market regards this combination as ThyssenKrupp's rollback from stainless steel business in order to focus more on ordinary steel business. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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 9

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 19 to 695. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China’s Unexpected Holiday Inflation Pickup May Limit Easing Room: Economy // Chen Says China Exports Probably Fell in January, Hurting Small Businesses // China’s Stocks Rise to 2-Month High as Consumer, Property Stocks Advance // China Passenger Car Sales Tumble 24% on Earlier-Than-Usual Lunar New Year // Asia’s 1.25 Billion People Over 60 by 2050 Shows Why Bonds Beating Stocks // Rio Tinto Posts Loss on $8.9 Billion Aluminum Charge; Albanese Skips Bonus // Euro Ministers Debate Greek Aid After Athens Pact Falters on Pension Cuts // Bank of England Adds $79 Billion to Stimulus as Crisis Threatens Economy // Draghi Softens Outlook on Risks as ECB Refuses to Show Its Hand on Greece // European Stocks Advance as Greek Leaders Agree on Austerity; Daimler Gains // PepsiCo to Cut 8,700 Jobs Even as It Spends $600 Million More on Marketing // Five Banks Will Pay $26 Billion to Resolve U.S. Probe of Foreclosure Abuse // Euro, Commodities Advance While Treasuries Fall on Greece Austerity Deal // U.S. Stocks Advance as Greek Leaders Agree // Euro Finance Chiefs to Defer Decision on Greece
  • The Euro is now trading 3/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up nearly 1.1% and trading at $99.78/barrel. Gold is up nearly 1/4 of 1% and silver is slightly lower. Base metals ended the session mostly higher as the stronger Euro gave it a push. Indicator charts show nickel traded choppy in a near $600/tonne range, but in the end only gained $5/tonne. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended at $9.75/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose on Wednesday and now total just over 94,300 tonnes. Nickel is back to showing some stress, after punching out of its flat trend earlier this week, but showing a lack of commitment over the past few days. A stronger Euro seemed to give traders a momentary boost, but that momentary enthusiasm waned before the end of the session. The comical soap opera that seems to plague Norilsk continues, although in today's episode, the feuding parties and co-oligarch directors of Norilsk, Oleg V. Deripaska and Vladimir Potanin, may get the screws put to them, because former Norilsk part owner and Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov has had the audacity to run against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Putin, who has been supportive of the oligarch's wealth and support in the past, now is suggesting the oligarch's should be paying for the "dishonest privatization" programs that made these men wealthy by inheriting huge state owned corporations. Meanwhile, Norilsk owner Vladimir Potanin, who lost Prokhorov as a partner after an embarrassing legal situation in France, and inherited Deripaska, who is apparently not one used to sharing power, and has been a major headache ever since, may now see some of his fortune taken back by the state because former partner #1 decided to try and take the President's job. Hollywood writers could not make this stuff up! Then again, it's a fight among billionaires so one might find it somehwat difficult to shed a tear for any of the parties involved.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Despite Recession’s Toll, Young Adults Are Optimistic - more
  • EU Commissioner Says Austerity Focus Feeding Recession - more
  • North Dakota Workers Report Best Hiring Situation in 2011 - more

  Vale's Sudbury mines to resume production - Nickel mining giant Vale says most of its mines in Sudbury will be back in production by the end of next week. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.07/lb lower, with other London traded base metals mixed. The Euro is trading nearly 1/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude futures are up nearly 3/4 of 1% and trading at $99.42/barrel. Gold is up slightly and silver is flat at the moment. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up slightly. European markets are trading higher this morning, while US futures are slightly lower at the moment. Nickel stockpiles rose for a second consecutive day.
  • Reuters morning - Copper cuts losses as traders eye Greece - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals mostly creep higher, remain susceptible to outside influences - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Copper pushed to a one-week high on Wednesday in heavy volume, with 72,000 lots trading in the New York session, up 45% from the 30-day average, this according to Thomson Reuters data. News out of China that the country’s central bank encouraged the country's institutions to make loans available to first-home buyers helped set the stage for the rally, as this was at the first clear signal of support for housing since a tightening cycle was begun some two years ago. However, we are not sure how much that directive alone will help spur lending, as the central bank has yet to move aggressively in lowering reserve requirements, downpayments, or interest rates. Furthermore, inflation data released overnight will make its job all the more difficult; it was reported that prices unexpectedly accelerated in January, up 4.5% from a year earlier. This was more than all 33 forecasts compiled in a Bloomberg News survey.  .... Right now, base metals and energy are both slightly higher in quiet trading, while the Euro is flat on the day, now at $1.3250 after briefly hit a two-month high of $1.3313 in late Tokyo trading. European debt markets are on the defensive somewhat after Spanish bond yields moved higher in the wake of the government selling an unexpected 4 billion of 10-year notes. ..... Markets continue to look constructive on the charts, but at this point, the next inflection point will be just how investors react to a confirmed Greek announcement; we suspect we could see another flurry higher before a round of modest profit-taking sets in.  ..... Nickel is at $21,505, up $5. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Customs Statistics) Japan's Exports Of Nickel In December 2011 - more
  • (Yieh) According to statistics, the inventory of stainless steel in Chinese Wuxi market in mid-January totaled 190,708 tons, up by 0.12% in comparison of that in half month earlier.
  • Outokumpu delivers stainless steel for a sustainability driven building project in Qatar - more
  • More taxes to make mining sector less attractive: Report - more
  • Metals index to reflect big picture of industry - more
  • China Stays Key to Copper Demand: Standard Bank - more

  Inquiries Of Ni-series Cold Stainless Rushing From Europe/USA After Lunar New Yr - Negotiations on Ni-series cold-rolled stainless steel sheets are still moving slow in the Asian area after the Chinese New year while inquires from European and US customers are rushing. - more

  Russian oligarchs should pay privatisation fee-Putin - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, seeking to return to the presidency in an election next month, said on Thursday large Russian companies privatised "dishonestly" in the 1990s should pay a fee to win public acceptance for the deals. - more

  Albidon’s nickel sales drop - Nickel sales for Albidon, owners of Munali Nickel Mine for the closing quarter of 2011 dropped by 46 per cent, mainly due to the suspension of operations at the Mazabuka Mine in November last year. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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 8

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 16 to 676. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Central Bank Pledges Housing Market Support as Curbs Bite: Economy // China May Invest Tens of Billions of Euros to Assist Europe, Academic Says // China to Increase Domestic Diesel, Gasoline Prices First Time in 10 Months // Glencore, Xstrata Seal $39 Billion Deal in Two Months After Years of Talks // China Alone Among BRICs in Top Emerging Markets With Thailand Ranked No. 2 // China’s Stocks Jump Most in 3 Weeks as Slowing Inflation May Spur Easing // Global Stocks Set for Bull Market as Commodities Rise on Greek Debt Talks // Papademos Pushes Greek Party Leaders on Bailout Deal After Missed Deadline // German Exports Slump Faster Than Forecast as Crisis Damps Growth: Economy // Russians Huddle With Syria’s Assad as Europe Joins Gulf in Pulling Envoys // Germany Discussing Plan for Votes on Greek Bailout Next Week, Meister Says // Papademos Pushes Greek Party Leaders on Bailout Deal After Missed Deadline // European Stocks Fall for a Third Day; BHP Billiton Declines, Statoil Rises // Bernanke Holds to 2014 Low-Rate Pledge Even as Unemployment Rate Declines // Santorum’s Triple Victory in Republican Races Casts Doubt on Romney Lead // Stocks Drop on Concern Greek Debt-Accord Efforts to Fail; Euro Fluctuates
  • The Euro continues to trade only slightly higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up 1/2 of 1% and trading at $98.89/barrel. Gold and silver are both off 3/4 of 1%. Base metals ended the session mostly lower, with copper the sole winner. Indicator charts show nickel opened higher, and did basically nothing all day, until the end, it dropped hard. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $9.75/lb , making it the days biggest loser. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose o Tuesday and now total just over 94,150 tonnes. Not sure why nickel took a nose dive today but the move came shortly after Reuters published the story posted below about nickel's price vulnerability. Markus Moll, managing director at consultancy Steel and Metal Market Research (SMR) and a heavyweight in worldwide stainless steel analysis and trends is cautioning that nickel could be setting itself up for a correction, as stocked up Chinese buyers refrain from purchasing, and nickel pig iron producers begin to produce more. This coming on top of a market that some are forecasting, or should we say have been forecasting for months, that is - should be - might possibly be - entering a surplus period where more nickel is being produced than is needed. SLN in New Caledonia reports Cyclone Jasmine is now being forecast to miss the nickel producing island, while in Sulawesi, Indonesia, Vale's nickel mine is seeing daily protests. Greece concerns are back, and markets are lower and timid today.   

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Falling U.S. Share of Trade Not Due to Competitiveness Problems - more
  • Credit-Card Borrowing Surged Over Holiday Period - more
  • What Are the Industrials and Transports Suggesting? - more
  • Truth, lies and Afghanistan - more

  Nickel vulnerable to weak China imports, slow demand - A month-long rally in nickel prices risks running out of steam as import demand from top consumer China eases due to a well supplied market and a lack of appetite in Europe saps demand for stainless steel. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.06/lb higher, with other London traded base metals higher as well. The Euro is up nearly 1/10 of 1% against the US Dollar this morning. NYMEX crude futures are up nearly 8/10 of 1% and trading at $99.18/barrel. Gold is down nearly 1/10 of 1% while silver is slightly higher at the moment. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up nearly 2.9%. European markets are trading higher this morning, and US futures show Wall Street may open positive. Nickel stockpiles rose on Tuesday.  
  • Reuters morning - Copper gains on strong euro, Greece deal eyed - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals hold onto gains, euro strengthens on Greek debt agreement hopes - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Metals ended lower yesterday, but as has been the pattern over the last several days, losses were pared down by the close. Trading was heavy, with copper COMEX volumes running at 78,000 lots by late in the day, nearly two-thirds above the 30-day average, this according to preliminary Thomson Reuters data. All week, markets have been watching Greece, but for now, the waiting continues. Various Greek party heads have yet to come up with an agreement amongst themselves as to what exactly they will try to get through Parliament, postponing a decision that should have come out yesterday to today.  .... Despite the lack of news out of Greece today, metals seem to be on an upswing, likely anticipating an imminent agreement. The euro has soared, and is now trading at just under $1.33, lifting energy higher as well, although precious metals are flat as of this trading. European equities are also firmer and US stocks are called to open up, the Dow futures pointing to a 24 point gain. Copper is particularly strong on news that China’s central bank pledged yesterday to support the local housing market, underpinning a key demand source for the metal. Home prices in China fell for a fifth month in January, this according to data from a large real estate firm. We expect the firmer tone we are seeing in metals to persist as we head into what could be an imminent Greek agreement, but we still are expecting a modest retracement shortly after the confirmation comes through, as most markets are somewhat overextended, having already rallied heading into the news. ..... Nickel is at $21,950, up $150. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Yieh) Turkey imported 352,498 tons of stainless steel flat products in 2011, increasing by 7.2% year on year, according to statistics released by the Turkish Statistical Institute.
  • (SKRIN) Stainless steel consumption in Russia rises 19%
  • Kloppers Says BHP has Capacity for M&A as Rivals Xstrata, Glencore Combine - more
  • (JMB) Japan 4 Major Stainless Steel Makers to Post Recurring Loss
  • CR Index: Sentiment up, offset by spending and job lags - more

  Japan SUS Product 2011 Imports Up Y-O-Y at 189,263 Tons = Up by 14% from 2010, all major originating countries increased shipments, especially Korea = The Japan Iron and Steel Federation compiled the import statistics released by the Ministry of Finance into the table attached hereto with regard to the imports of stainless steel products during 2011. - more

  Yieh United Raises Wholesale Prices of Stainless Steel -To offset price hikes of raw material as nickel, Yieh United Steel Corp., one of Taiwan’s leading manufacturers of stainless steel, has recently raised the wholesale prices of its major products to be delivered in February. - more

  SMM Forecasts 52,000t World Nickel Oversupply in 2012 - Sumitomo Metal Mining (SMM) forecasts global nickel supply would be 52,000 tonnes higher than the demand in 2012. - more

  Protesters’ Rage, Blaze Claim Nickel Miner’s Facilities in Morowali - Around 500 protesters burned down buildings and other facilities belonging to Vale Indonesia in Morowali, Central Sulawesi, on Monday in another violent dispute between local residents and companies. - more

  Nickel Contango Deepens on Russian Exports, JPMorgan Says - Nickel is moving more deeply into contango as a decline in Russian exports suggests metal has been retained as inventory, adding to a global glut, said JPMorgan Chase & Co. - more

  New Caledonia nickel miner says cyclone threat eases - New Caledonia nickel producer Societe le Nickel (SLN) said on Wednesday it no longer sees Cyclone Jasmine as a threat to its operations as the storm was forecast to miss the South Pacific French Territory. - more

  Carpenter Technology Expanding into Alabama - Carpenter Technology is strengthening its core premium metals business by constructing a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Limestone County, Alabama. The new $500 million facility will include remelting, forging and associated finishing and testing capabilities. It is expected to be in operation by early 2014. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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 7

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 12 to 660. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Central Bank to Aid Home Buyers to Balance Crackdown on Speculators // China Warns Industrial Output Growth May Moderate as Global Risks Increase // China’s Stocks Decline Most in Three Weeks on Concern Slowdown Will Worsen // India Forecasts Slowest Economic Growth Since ’09, Adding to Rate-Cut Case // Papademos Seeking Greek Consensus on Cuts as EU Leaders Press for Solution // Snow, Ice and Siberian Cold Blanket Croatian Palms to Eastern Russia // Assad Uses Father’s Tactics to Crush Revolt Threatening His Grip on Syria // Greek Officials Working on Final Draft to Meet International Rescue Terms // European Stocks Slide for Second Day; Swatch, UBS Decline After Earnings // Banks See Paying Bonus to Troubled Homeowners Beats Foreclosure: Mortgages // Auto Loans in 30 Seconds Bolster Sales as Capital One Gains on Ally: Cars // Farmers Plan Biggest U.S. Crop Boost Since 1984, Led by Corn: Commodities // Bernanke Says 8.3% Unemployment Understates Weakness in U.S. Labor Market // Americans Gaining Energy Independence With U.S. Emerging as No. 1 Producer // U.S. Stocks Climb as Euro Strengthens on Greece Financial-Rescue Optimism // Dow Rises Toward Highest Level Since ’08
  • The Euro is now trading 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up 1-2/3% and trading at $98.48/barrel. Gold is over 1-1/2% higher and silver is up the same. Base metals ended their trading session mostly higher, with copper and zinc lower, and tin ending much higher, Indicator charts show nickel slumped early, and when the Euro initially headed north, nickel seemed to dismiss the movement. But as the Euro continued to rise, nickel could no longer resist the temptation and in the last hour it jumped higher. Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed the day at $9.88/lb , a gain of only $.04/lb on the day, but nickel's highest close since early September of last year. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell sharply on Monday and now total just over 93,900 tonnes. After starting the month with two consecutive gains, stockpiles are down nearly 2000 tonnes in the last three days. While Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before Congress today and got some attention, the headline that is driving the market was news that , according to Bloomberg, "Greece was reportedly close to an agreement with lawmakers on additional austerity measures seen key for a deal with bondholders and any further aid from the international community." With that, the Euro rose to a 2012 high, and pulled equity markets, and commodities, with it. Considering the strength in the Euro today, nickel looked somewhat ho-hum, only pulling off a gain for the day on a last hour rally. The Chinese stainless steel index we follow from a Chinese source is reading 102.16 today, compared to 100.20 it ended 2011 at. After bottoming out in early December, the index now reads about what it did in early October 2011.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Still losing the war on unemployment - more
  • Citigroup: Risk of Greek Exit From Euro Has Risen to 50% - more
  • Getting It Wrong on the BLS Employment Report - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.16/lb lower, with other London traded base metals lower as well. The Euro is trading over 1/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude futures are down over 3/4 of 15 and trading at $96.15/barrel. Gold is down 4/10 of 1% and silver is off 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, while China fell over 1.8%.  European markets are lower this morning, while US futures are only slightly lower. Nickel stockpiles fell on Monday.
  • Reuters morning - Copper down on China demand concern, Greece - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals drift gently lower on lack of impetus - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Copper lost modest ground on Monday, retreating under the weight of a stronger dollar and inconclusive Greek debt talks. The rest of the metals followed suit, although the group as a whole pared its losses somewhat by the close. Other markets finished quietly mixed. Right now, we are seeing a repeat of what we saw yesterday. Metals are generally lower, as the Euro continues to struggle, having broken $1.31 earlier, but now trading a shade above that mark. Oil markets are lower as well by about $.80/barrel, while US stocks are expected to open up flat. .... n the event of an expected agreement with Greece, investors in the metals space should be able to shift their attention more wholeheartedly to what is happening in China. Here, the situation has not changed much, suggesting that we could run into some selling pressure in metals over the weeks ahead. We continue to see reports of high inventories and slack demand, particularly for copper. In fact today, Reuters is running a story saying that some copper smelters in China are considering exporting their refined copper stocks on account of an attractive arbitrage for metal heading the other way. However, export taxes are said to be a disincentive, although a receding one at that. In LME news, the exchange said it will press ahead with a new trading fee in March after its chief executive met with members who were upset over not being consulted about the move. The LME says that the higher fees are aimed at boosting revenues needed to update technology and raise. In the meantime, industry sources tell Reuters that they have at least 15 suitors who have expressed interest in the exchange. ... Nickel is at $21,342, down $353. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Prime) Russia to cut nickel export duty to $1,245/tonne from March 5
  • (Yieh) According to statistics released by the Stainless Steel Council of Special Steel Enterprises Association (SSC), China’s stainless steel output totaled 12.59 million tons in 2011, surging by 11.9% year on year.
  • (JMB) Japan Stainless Steel Import Increases by 13% in 2011
  • China growth estimate for 2012 cut to 8.25% - more

  Superseding ATI Allegheny Ludlum’s price increase announcement dated January 24, 2012 and effective with shipments beginning Monday, February 27, 2012, ATI Allegheny Ludlum is increasing prices for all ATI 201™, ATI 301™ and ATI 430™ grades of cold-rolled sheet and strip and tubular-quality sheet and strip products. This increase will be achieved by reducing the functional discount by two percentage points. Additionally, all prices for emission-control alloys and bright anneal finishes will increase by $0.04/lb. and Precision Rolled Strip® Products prices will increase by 5-12%.

  CSSC released the stainless steel production,import/export and apparent consumption in 2011 - China stainless steel production increased by 11.86% to 12,591 thousand metric tonnes (‘000 metric tonnes) in 2011 - more

  Russian Nickel Inventory May Add to Global Glut, JPMorgan Says - A 19-percent drop in Russian nickel exports in 2011 means the inventory may worsen the global surplus, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. said. - more

  Stainless steel consumption in Russia rises 19% - The year of 2011 was very successful for the Russian stainless steel market. According to a tentative estimate of SpetsStal Association, the aggregate volume of consumed stainless steel products in 2011, on 2010, rose 19% to 371.2 th. tons. - more

  Miners Xstrata, Glencore agree to $90B merger - Mining company Xstrata and commodities dealer Glencore agreed to a $90 billion US merger Tuesday that will create the world's fourth largest natural resources company. - more

  Xstrata Nickel reveals why mine can’t hit US$600.0M target - The miner Falcondo Xstrata Nickel earns around 300 million dollars and pays around US$60 million income tax, but could produce U$600 million, with US$200 million more for government coffers, if it manages to contract low cost electricity and exploit the protected area, Loma de Miranda. - more

  Norilsk Boosts African, Australian Nickel to Cut Russia Reliance - OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, the largest producer of the metal, plans to increase nickel-concentrate output in South Africa and Australia to curb dependence on Russian mines. - more

  Gov’t probes Surigao mining firms - The Mines Geo-Sciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources formed a task force to thoroughly investigate alleged violations committed by three large-scale mining companies that endangered the lives of villagers in Surigao del Norte province. - more

  France’s FSI Says It’s Close to Deal With Areva on Eramet Stake - France’s state-owned fund for strategic investments, or FSI, is close to a deal to buy Areva SA’s 26 percent stake in nickel miner Eramet (ERA) SA. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending February 4, 2012, domestic raw steel production was 1,907,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 77.2 percent. Production was 1,784,000 tons in the week ending February 4, 2011, while the capability utilization then was 74.5 percent. The current week production represents a 6.9 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending February 4, 2012 is up 0.5 percent from the previous week ending January 28, 2011 when production was 1,897,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 76.8 percent.

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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 6

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 1 to 648. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China’s Lowest Lunar Sales Growth Since 2009 Seen Dimming Outlook: Retail // Chinese Economic Growth May Be Halved If European Crisis Worsens, IMF Says // China Swap Rate Increases Most in a Month as PBOC Gauges Demand for Bills // Indonesian Economy Grows at Fastest Pace Since 1996 as Investment Climbs // Australians Flee Homes as Floods Threaten to Engulf Parts of the Northeast // Era of Falling Food Prices Comes to End as World Population Adds 2 Billion // Speculators’ Bullish Wagers at 12-Week High as Growth Emerges: Commodities // Clinton Urges Western Pressure on Syria After Russia-China Veto of UN Plan // Air France Cancels Two-Thirds of Flights Because of Strike by Pilots, Crew // German Factory Orders Increase on Demand From Outside Euro Area: Economy // Time Is Running Out for Greece to Accept Bailout Conditions, Merkel Says // European Stocks Retreat on Greece Debt Talks; SocGen, Glencore Shares Fall // Nod for Citibank’s Credit Cards May Signal Chinese Banking Market Opening // Stocks Least Loved Since 1980s as Americans Scale Steepest Wall of Worries // Stocks Decline, Euro Weakens as Greek Leaders Meet Over Debt; Copper Drops
  • The Euro is now trading nearly 2/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down over 8/10 of 1% and trading at $97.03/barrel. Gold is down 2/10 of 1% while silver is trading slightly higher. Base metals ended mostly lower as Greek default concerns drove the Euro lower. Nickel, however, joined tin in bucking the others and gaining. Indicator chart show nickel fell early, but then spent the rest of the session in an uptrend, spiking when the Euro jumped late. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $9.84/lb , a gain of $.18/lb from Friday's close. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell just slightly on Friday and now total just over 94,500 tonnes. Traders apparently have the psychologically important $10/lb in their targets, and today's close was $5/tonne lower than it was on the 27th of last month. Nickel has seemingly fallen into a range just shy of the $10/lb mark as traders try to decide if the positive economic news can last in light of the European debt problems. So far, traders appear to be betting that the steel and stainless steel industries are in a strong recovery mode, as the ISSF forecast today, or that the cost to produce nickel has grown so high, that further cutbacks could be seen in light of an expected surplus; one the analysts have been forecasting since mid 2011.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) LME nickel remains close to its marginal cost of production, which suggests there's limited downside for prices, but that still "does not necessarily mean significant potential for a price rally later this year," says Standard Chartered analyst Judy Zhu. She says the market should move into a surplus of 31,000 tons, which will cap any gains. The bank forecasts the price to trade between $17,000-$25,000/ton in 2012, "reflecting support from marginal costs and resistance from oversupply."
  • Did Economy Really Create 500,000 Jobs? - more
  • Economists React: Jobs Report ‘Positive in Every Way’ - more
  • A Few Thoughts on the Employment Situation - more

  Global stainless steel production to see continued growth: ISSF - The global stainless steel industry will continue to grow as it has in previous years, Pascal Payet-Gaspard, secretary general of the International Stainless Steel Forum said Monday. - more

  Glencore Bonds Show Xstrata Merger to Lower Debt Rates: Corporate Finance - Glencore International Plc debt investors are betting that an $88 billion merger with miner Xstrata Plc would lead to lower borrowing costs. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.03/lb lower, with other London traded base metals lower as well. The Euro is lower by over 7/10 of 1% against the US Dollar. NYMEX oil futures are over 1% lower and trading at $96.81/barrel. Gold is down 6/10 of 1% and silver is down 1.1%. In overnight trading, Asian marekts ended lower with China off slightly. European markets are trading lower this morning, while US futures show Wall Street may open quietly. Nickel stockpiles fell slightly on Friday.  
  • Reuters morning -  Copper falls as Greece bailout talks knock euro - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals drop on falling euro, all eyes on Greece debt talks - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Metals surged on Friday, led by a 3% advance in copper after a surprisingly strong US non farm payroll report ignited the commodity markets. It was reported that the US economy created jobs at its fastest pace in nine months in January, with payrolls up by a whopping 243,000, well above the 150,000 consensus forecast. The gains were spread across the board - from retail to construction, and from temporary help to manufacturing. Importantly, the unemployment rate fell to 8.3%, this despite new job seekers streaming back into the labor force. Finally, there were revisions to November and December data, with 60,000 more jobs added to the previous numbers. .... Nickel is at $21,230, down $76, and looking somewhat toppy on the charts. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Reuters) OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel’s main shareholders, led by billionaires Oleg Deripaska and Vladimir Potanin are deadlocked over how to define and pay independent board directors, after two meetings last week, Kommersant reported, without citing anyone
  • (Yieh) Reportedly EU average stainless steel transaction values has increased in January 2012. Due to the increase in basis numbers by mills in the short term and re-stocking from buyers, transaction figure of stainless steel market is forecasted to climb over the next few months.
  • (MBN) China's 2011 stainless steel output up 12%, CSSC says
  • Bye-bye Benz: Clive Palmer cuts bonuses - more
  • Strong growth predicted for China’s steel industry in 2012 - more
  • (Interfax) The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) touched a 25-year low of 647 points on Feb. 3, while weak shipping demand and a seasonal boost in capacity last month added to the challenges facing China's shipbuilders
  • (Interfax) China's imports of nickel ore and concentrate declined 30.66 percent on monthly basis in December to 4.37 million tons amid soft domestic demand and high stockpiles, Antaike analyst Xu Aidong told Interfax Feb. 3.
  • (China) January flash PMI indicates slowdown - more

  Stainless Steel: Review Of 2011/Outlook For 2012 = Expansion in China and India; Restructuring in Europe and Japan = Production of crude stainless steel in 2012 is forecasted to reach 34 million tons, up by more than 3.5% from 2011. The biggest growth will be again in China, followed by India, while almost no growth at best or even slightly negative growth is forecasted in Europe and in Japan. This forecasted trend in production is basically the same as in 2011. - more

  Ramu NiCo says security firm in place - Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd yesterday pointed out that any existing structure and legally-binding business relationship which were created under a memorandum of agreement (MoA) should be honoured and proper processes will be followed in pursing such initiative. - more

  Big nickel mining firm says rains caused pollution of bay - A large-scale nickel mining firm has disputed charges that its operations had polluted the waters of Claver Bay in Claver, Surigao del Norte, blaming torrential rains for the mess. - more

  Japan Imported Ferroalloy Market Report; January 31, 2012 = Indian SiMn sellers in efforts to raise price = Market outlook in Japan of the imported ferroalloys as of January 31, 2012 is as follows: -  more

  China 2011 Chrome Ore Imports Record-High = 9.444 million tons, up by 9% from 2010; December imports were 672,000 tons, down by 4.7% from November = According to China's customs statistics, imports of chrome ore (on material weight basis) in the full year of 2011 as well as the imports during the single month of December were as per the attached table hereto. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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 1

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 18 to 662. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China’s Manufacturing Industry Holds Up Against Global Slowdown: Economy // Hong Kong Homes Face 25% Drop as Loans Fall in Year of Dragon: Mortgages // China Workers Become Easy Targets as Growth Sends More Citizens Overseas // Russia Warns Arab Leaders Against Crossing ‘Red Line’ on Syrian Leadership // Most Asian Stocks Advance on China Manufacturing; Won Weakens, Oil Climbs // Manufacturing Showing Growth Worldwide as Slump in Europe Eases: Economy // Steel Demand Slowing With Europe in Setback to ArcelorMittal: Commodities // European Stocks Rise to a Six-Month High as Manufacturing Gauges Increase // Chrysler January U.S. Sales Exceed Estimates on Sales of Jeeps, 200 Sedan // Volcker Exemption for Sovereign Debt Said to Be Weighed by U.S. Regulators // Manufacturing Gains in U.S. Bolster Outlook for Global Expansion: Economy // GM, Chrysler, Nissan January U.S. Auto Sales Beat Estimates as Ford Misses // Stocks Gain as Dollar, Treasuries Fall on Manufacturing Recovery Outlook
  • The Euro is currently up nearly 8/10 of 1% against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up 1/10 of 1% and trading at $98.57/barrel. Gold is up over 1/2 of 1% and silver is 2% higher. Base metals ended their session mostly higher, with only tin losing ground. Indicator charts show nickel fell  early, recovered, then fell again, before spiking a the close. Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $9.51/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose sharply on Tuesday and now total just under 95,600 tonnes. BHP gave the bulls something to cheer about this morning, when it announced it was cutting production at its Australian Mount Keith nickel mine. Any hitch in the supply chain, even when many analysts believe the market is operating in a surplus situation, gets the markets attention. There is an article below about BHP's operations, and more on this move. Most markets are higher today as world manufacturing numbers looked positive for December. We follow four bigger ones on a monthly basis (here). The Dow has yet to recover all that it lost over the past four days, but it is getting close.
  • We will be traveling on business for the remainder of this week and will be unable to post updates. Next update will be Monday, Feb 6th. In the mean time, we recommend you visit Kitco Base Metals here

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Viewpoint: Is Manufacturing Dead in America? - more
  • Determining Why People Stop Working Is Key - more
  • Senators: Get Rid of Dollar Bills - more
  • Economic Projections and Key Numbers From CBO Budget Report - more
  • Why Is Unemployment Duration So Long? - more
  • Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Declines - more
  • CNBC: Best Alternative Financial Blogs - more

  China Drives Continuing Growth in Stainless Steel Output - Official figures for global crude stainless steel production in 2011 are estimated to have reached another all-time high total of 32.05 million tonnes, 3.1 percent above the previous record, set one year earlier. - more

  BHP takes axe to WA operation as nickel loses its lustre - Barely two months ago, BHP Billiton boss Marius Kloppers promised to buy investors ''a beer'' if they saw him announce plans to offload the company's struggling nickel division. - more

  Repairs hit miner ENRC's ferrochrome output - Kazakh mining group ENRC reported a drop in 2011 output from its key ferroalloys and iron ore divisions on Wednesday, after unscheduled repairs at both units in the fourth-quarter. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around  $.01/lb higher, with other London traded base metals mixed and quiet. The Euro is trading 3/4 of 1% higher against the US Dollar at the moment. NYMEX crude is up over 2/3 of 1% and trading at $99.16/barrel. Gold is up 6/10 of 1% while silver is 2.2% higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China down over 1.4%. European markets are trading higher this morning, and US futures are over 100 points higher at the moment. Nickel stockpiles rose sharply on Tuesday.
  • Reuters morning - Copper rises after euro zone PMI data - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals prices take support from QE3 hopes, better-than-expected Chinese data - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Copper fell for a third straight day on Tuesday, hit by Euro weakness and unimpressive macro data out of the US. However, for the month as a whole, the complex had a good run, with prices up some 10% over the period, its biggest gain in three months. For that matter, the broader 19-commodity Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index was up 2.3% over the course of the month after declining in both November and December. Precious metals helped the overall gain in the index, with gold, silver, and platinum, each up by 10%, 20%, and 13% respectively. .... Base metals are mostly higher right now, except for zinc, nickel and tin, while energy prices are sporting modest gains. US stocks are expected to open higher, as key manufacturing data is awaited out of the US later in the day. .... We remain cautious on the base metals group over the short-term, as prices have had a good run despite a global macro backdrop (outside of the US) that seems to be decelerating. In addition, it is possible that the confirmation of an imminent Greek deal would lead to something of a “buy-the-rumor, sell the news” type of retracement, as investors look ahead to the more intractable European problems that still need to be addressed..... Nickel is at $20,734, down $121. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Yieh) Japan stainless steel flat export down 7% in 2011 according to the data from Japanese ministry of finance. Yet, the imports upped 14% last year.
  • (Dow Jones) Brazilian mining company Vale S.A.said late Tuesday its underground nickel mines in the Sudbury Basin in Canada have temporarily stopped operation following a fatal accident on Sunday.
  • (Interfax) China accounted for 44.56 percent of global crude steel production in December, up from 43.19 percent the previous month, according to figures released by the World Steel Association (WSA) Jan. 23.
  • (NAS) North American Stainless will increase the fuel surcharge to 33% for stainless flat and long products shipping in the month of February 2012. The surcharge rate is considered a maximum level for February; and will be reviewed monthly.
  • Antam Signs Mandate Letter For The Financial Arrangement Of East Halmahera Ferronickel Project  - more
  • China's PMI rises to 50.5 in January - more
  • La Niña continues with little change - more

  BHP Cuts Nickel Mining on Lower Prices, Australian Dollar - BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s fourth-largest nickel producer, will reduce mining operations at its West Australian operations by 30 percent because of weak metal prices and the strong Australian dollar. - more

   Prices up on surge in nickel price - A hesitant start of 2012 was replaced by steadily increased market activity during the last part of January. - more

  Outokumpu CEO sees regulators approving Inoxum deal - Outokumpu Chief Executive Mika Seitovirta said he was confident anti-trust regulators would approve the Finnish company's proposed takeover of ThyssenKrupp's stainless steel unit Inoxum. - more

  • Outokumpu : CEO : Stainless Steel Buy To Boost Competitiveness - Finland's Outokumpu Oyj said Wednesday that its planned takeover of Inoxum--the stainless steel business of Germany's ThyssenKrupp AG --will help it better compete with low-cost producers from Asia. - more

  Rusal lawsuit on canceling Norilsk Nickel's buyback to be heard on Feb.28 - The court will begin hearing on February 28 Rusal Investment Management's lawsuit against Norilsk Nickel, in which the plaintiff seeks to invalidate a decision approved by its board during September 13 and September 21 meetings on the buyout of shares. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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

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