This page is archived news covering the period of Janaury 2009
If you are looking for current daily market news, please visit here.

Stainless Steel News and Nickel Prices

Free comprehensive information on worldwide nickel market pricing, stainless steel prices and metals analysis and forecasts


Kiva - loans that change lives

Friday, January 30

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 34 to 1,070. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (MarketWatch) Japanese output falls at record pace, worst may be still ahead // GDP contracts 3.8% as inventories limit downturn - Fourth quarter marks worst performance for U.S. economy in nearly 29 years // Chicago purchasing managers index lowest since 1982 (Bloomberg) Asian Stocks Fall on Earnings, Japanese Recession; Nintendo, Toshiba Slide // Japan Heads for Worst Postwar Recession as Companies Cut Output, Workers // U.S. Economy Shrinks at 3.8% Pace, Most in 27 Years, as Spending Crumbles // Brazil's Meirelles Says Global Economic Crisis Won't End Any Time Soon // Stocks in U.S. Retreat, Extending Losses in S&P 500's Worst-Ever January
  • US Dollar is trading over 1% higher against the Euro, NYMEX crude is trading a little of 1/2 of 1% higher, and gold and silver are trading over 2% higher. A stronger dollar added pressure on base metals trading, and even after getting a knee jerk reactionary bounce from the US GDP numbers, they all ended weaker. Nickel fell thru most of the morning, only to recover some of its losses in afternoon trading. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day, week, and month at $5.06/lb . Looking at Sucden's day old chart (here), today's trading should see the TL1 line breached, but TL2 holding. Three month nickel started the month, having ended 2008, at $5.30/lb. LME warehouses held 78,390 tonnes at the end of Dec 2008. Today, they hold nearly 84,000 tonnes, and this was during a month "after" most of the nickel mine closures had already taken place (current list here). Ravensthorpe's closure was the big news of the month, but it's immediate impact will be more devastating to the local community and its workers, than any potential impact on the nickel market as a whole. Ravensthorpe has been a dream for many years, and touted as the mega mine that would keep nickel supply on a even keel with ever increasing world demand. And up until mid 2008, it looked like the multi-billion dollar project could still pay off. Then nickel slipped under $10/lb, world stock markets began to plummet, stainless steel production dried up, and the world entered a recession, putting to sleep the "decoupling" theories. As we have stated before, Ravensthorpe got a lot of media attention because it was so massive and its closure not only hurt thousands of workers, but put entire towns in jeopardy. The pain though, is spread throughout the globe, and no mining country has been immune from the slowdown. And few are saying ti will get better anytime soon. In fact, MarketWatch has an interesting observation for those of us with retirement funds, or money in the market. "According to the Stock Traders Almanac's January Barometer, the month of January tends to predict the direction of the market with a 91.4% accuracy ratio, with only five major errors recorded since 1950. (more)" Tea leaf speculation? Voodoo forecasting? Probably. But if the ship is slowly sinking beneath you, you'll grab onto any bit of information you can. Who knows. Good advice could get you into a life raft stabile enough to ride out the event. Bad advice will get you very, very wet - or worse.
  • Have a restful and safe weekend!!

  Reports

  • Commodities Market Data - here
  • Corey Steel - Uncertainties and Opportunities - pdf here
  • The Nickel Misconception - pdf here
  • Cr, Cu, Mn, Mo, Ni, and steel commodity price drivers (2007 presentation) - pdf here

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

  • Metals:''It ain't good out there'' - As we and others have reported, global steel production hit 1,329.7 million metric tons last year, a decrease of 1.2% compared with 2007 and the first decline we’ve seen in a decade. - more

  Fortescue earns $610m with iron ore sold at discount - Fortescue Metals has admitted selling some of its iron ore shipments at a discount to the benchmark price before the conclusion of this year's pricing talks. - more

  Job cuts to be made in European and North American operations - Explosives and chemicals giant Orica is shedding jobs, with plans to put off "hundreds" of workers from its overseas operations. - more

  Shuvalov: Tycoons Won't All Get Help - Russia will not write a blank check to save top businessmen hit by the global economic crisis, and the state expects something in return for helping bail them out, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said Thursday. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.09/lb lower and rebounding on a better than expected GDP reading. Base metals are all trading lower this morning as the Euro trades nearly a full 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is trading 1/10th of 1% lower and quiet, while gold and silver are trading higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets managed to squeeze out a slight gain, thanks mostly to India and Pakistan. European markets are trading nearly dead even so far this morning, and US futures show Wall Street will open lower on news the GDP  for the 4th quarter fell hard, but less than economists had forecast, but still its weakest in 28 years. Look for commodities markets to most likely be subdued today, with much of China returning to work Monday.
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more
  • Ever wondered what $1,000,0000,000 (billion) U.S. dollars looks like? Here is what it would look like in $100 bills - picture here

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - "Metals ended mixed yesterday, but the day ended better than it where began for most in the group. ... As of this writing, metals are slightly lower again today, as a stronger dollar (now at 1.2880 against the Euro) weighs on the complex. In addition, stocks continue to rise,  ... We are currently at $10,875, down $525. We seem to be on track to test modest support evident at $10,300, which marks the bottom end of our up channel (marked in red in our chart below). Should we break below the line, we could set up a test of major support at $9300." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • Australia - Nickel sector climbs 144.5 points (2.5%), rising for a second day, a 2-day rise of 3.3%
  • Barrick's Munk Says Gold Will Top $1,000 on Turmoil - video here
  • 2009 Country Stock Market Performance -- Things Already Aren't Pretty - more
  • Why Your Bank Is Broke - more
  • Australia: Not Good News From Commodity Forecast - more
  • No bottom yet for falling commodities, Scotiabank finds - more

  Vale Reaches Agreement in Canada to Unblock Nickel Shipments - Cia. Vale do Rio Doce, the world’s second-largest nickel refiner, reached an agreement with Newfoundland and Labrador to build a nickel-processing plant in the Canadian province, clearing an impasse that halted shipments. - more   (government's official statement here)

  Vale agrees paid leave deal with Brazil unions - Seven labour unions have given their consent to Brazilian miner Vale to put their members on leave with half-pay at any time between now and May 31 as a way to avoid layoffs, Vale said on Thursday. - more

  • DJ Brazil's Rio State Vetos Three Iron-Ore Terminal Projects - The Rio de Janeiro State government has vetoed the installation of three iron ore export terminals worth BRL5 billion (US$2.19 billion) on the state's southern coast, State Secretary for Development Julio Bueno told Dow Jones Newswires Thursday. - more
  • Rio Tinto to sell assets to Vale for $1.6bn - Rio Tinto on Friday struck a surprise deal to sell assets in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay for US$1.6bn in a move that will help the indebted Anglo-Australian mining group achieve its target of reducing borrowings by US$10bn in 2009. - more

  Russia's Norilsk raises '08 nickel, copper output - Norilsk Nickel, the world's No. 1 nickel and palladium producer, said on Friday its saleable nickel output rose to 299,721 tonnes last year from 276,000 tonnes in 2007. - more

  • Norilsk 08 Nickel Output Up 1.5% On Yr To 299,721 Tons - Russia's OAO Norilsk Nickel, the world's largest nickel producer by production volumes, Friday said its 2008 nickel output was 299,721 metric tons, 1.5% up from 295,209 tons a year earlier and above the company's forecast of 298,000 tons. - more

  Mine jobs lost worldwide as recession hits metals - All over North and South America, miners are losing their jobs as the recession hits demand for metals that enjoyed a boom in recent years. - more

  Zimbabwe: Mining Industry Anticipates Boom - The mining industry is poised to benefit from the projected rise in the global metal prices this year, analysts have said. - more

  Iron Ore Market May Have Bottomed, Fortescue Predicts  - The iron ore market may have bottomed as demand from Chinese steelmakers recovers, driving prices for the raw material higher, according to Fortescue Metals Group Ltd., Australia’s third-biggest producer.  - more

  OneSteel cuts steel production - OneSteel has cut steel production in response to lower than expected sales levels caused by a global economic slowdown. - more

  (JMB) Nippon Steel to Idle A Blast Furnace for Additional Production Cut - Nippon Steel announced on Thursday the firm expands the raw steel production cut to historical 4.2 million tonnes in second half of fiscal 2008 ending March 2009 compared with the first half year.

  Big-debt miners turn to markets - Two of the world's biggest miners employing thousands of Australians are tapping financial markets to raise a massive $US12 billion ($A18 billion) to pay back debt. - more

  Billionaire Vekselberg Says No ‘Rush’ With TNK-BP CEO - Viktor Vekselberg, a billionaire investor in Russian oil company TNK-BP, said shareholders are in “no rush” to appoint a new chief executive officer after talks with a former head of Russia’s biggest mining company stalled. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Jan 30 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Thursday, January 29

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 22 to 1036. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Asia Stocks Rise, Led by Banks, on Rate Cuts, Stimulus; BHP Billiton Gains // Nintendo Slashes Earnings Forecasts, Showing Wii Isn't `Recession-Proof' // European Stocks Fall for First Time in Four Days; BHP, AstraZeneca Decline // Ruble Drops Most in a Decade as Speculators Test Putin's `Gradual' Pledge // Prospects for U.S. Recovery Dim as Home Sales, Durable-Goods Orders Slump // Ford Burns $5.5 Billion in Cash, Taps Revolving Loan After Worst Loss Ever // Bovespa Falls on Earnings Concern, Global Slowdown; Bolsa, Ipsa Decline // Stocks in U.S. Retreat on Earnings, Durables, Jobs Data; Allstate Slides
  • The Euro continues to slump against the US Dollar, after billionaire George Soros commented the Euro may not survive 'without a European Union global plan to deal with toxic debt.' At update time it was down nearly 1-1/2%, but off daily lows. NYMEX oil lost its early morning gains, and is now trading lower by 1/4 of 1%. Gold is trading higher by nearly 2% and has crawled back over $900. Base metals ended mixed, with nickel ending lower. Indicator charts show nickel was much lower by mid day, but continued the recovery we mentioned in the morning update, and ended well off daily low's. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $5.17/lb .  Standard Bank analyst Leon Westgate wrote today ""At the moment it's hard to justify prices being higher. It's also difficult to justify them being much lower." The Baltic Dry Index remains to be one of the few bright spots out there, gaining again overnight. Since this is used to track raw material shipments around the world, it could mean such shipments are picking up. However, it also could mean these shipments are doing no more than heading for warehouses. Nickel inventories into LME warehouses continue to swell, with nearly a 1000 tonne gain reported overnight. And nickel is not alone here. Unemployment rose nearly twice as high as expected in a German report this morning. Here in the States, continuing jobless claims reached their highest level since the government started tracking them in 1967. Sales of new homes reached their lowest level since the government stated tracking them in 1963. Orders for US made durable goods fell 2.6% in December, but that doesn't tell the whole story. If we weren't spending billions in defense order for the wars Iraq and Afghanistan, the figure would have fell a much lower 4.9%. Either way, all of the reports above came in worse than analysts had expected, and Wall Street has soured on the news. One of the reasons analysts had forecast durable goods to only fall 2% in December, might have had something to do with the government reporting they fell 1.5% in November. Today, the government admitted a mistake, and revised November losses to 3.7%. Tomorrow we get the all important GDP numbers, with analysts forecasting a drop of 5.5% in the fourth quarter of 2008. Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, wrote to clients today, "The industrial recession is deep and broad and there's no prospect of any easing of the downward pressure anytime soon." 

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Xstrata financial report) "In response to weaker demand for ferrochrome, the Xstrata-Merafe Chrome Venture progressively suspended 17  ferrochrome furnaces in South Africa, representing approximately 80% of annual production capacity, prioritising lower cost, energy efficient production from the Lion and Lydenburg Premus smelters"..... “The full impact of nickel production cuts is expected to stabilise the market in 2009. Supply from Chinese nickel pig iron and other high-cost facilities is unlikely to resume given the prevailing economic climate and lack of visibility into near-term market conditions" ..... "The closure of additional production facilities will tighten physical markets and prices were expected to be supported by the economic cash breakeven costs of nickel producers. In the medium-to-longer term, the outlook is expected to improve as global demand recovers and the physical availability of nickel tightens.” 
  • (Highlands Pacific Limited quarterly report) MCC Ramu NiCo Limited (owner of 85% of the Ramu nickel cobalt project) and 100% owned subsidiary of China Metallurgical Construction Corporation (MCC) is the project manager for the project. The project remains on track for the targeted completion of construction by the end of 2009 and on budget with a total cost of US$1.4 billion ... Other Chinese parties involved with MCC are Jinchuan Group Limited; Jilin Jien Nickel Industry Co., Ltd.; and Jiuquan Iron and Steel (Group) Co., Ltd. These are all major players in the steel and nickel industry in China.(estimated production of 31,150 tonnes of nickel per year)
  • Graph - U.S. New Homes Sales - here
  • Graph - Durable Goods - New Orders for 2008 - here
  • Brookings Institution study - The Origins of the Financial Crisis - pdf here
  • Might want to hold off buying a new car because "Uncle Sam wants you to buy a car" - more

  World Growth Grinds to Virtual Halt, IMF Urges Decisive Global Policy Response - World growth is forecast to fall to its lowest level since World War II, with financial markets remaining under stress and the global economy taking a sharp turn for the worse, sending both global output and trade plummeting, the IMF said in its latest assessment of the world economy. - more

  House approves "Buy America" steel measure - The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a controversial "Buy America" steel provision as part of an $825 billion package to help pull the U.S. economy out of recession. - more

  • EU exec, steelmakers warn U.S. over "Buy America" - The European Commission signaled on Thursday it may contest a "Buy America" provision if it is included in the final version of an $825 billion package to kickstart the U.S. economy. - more

  Nippon Steel is latest metal maker to cut outlook - Nippon Steel cut the profit outlook Thursday for its fiscal year by a bigger-than-expected 36 percent as a slump in car sales hit its mainstay business of sheet steel for automobiles. - more

  Big metal cuts herald faster recovery for some - Parts of the mining and metals industry such as ferro-chrome, iron ore and steel have slashed output on tumbling demand and prices which should stand them in good stead for an eventual upturn. - more

  China slams EU anti-dumping move, threatens WTO action - China Wednesday blasted an EU decision to slap hefty anti-dumping duties on Chinese-made screws and bolts and said it may take the issue to the World Trade Organisation. - more

  Russia’s oligarchs lose more than £180bn in eight months - More than $260 billion (£182 billion) has been wiped from the wealth of Russia’s billionaires over the past eight months as the credit crunch has sent the value of its currency and largest industrial groups plummeting, according to one of Russia’s largest private banks. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.29/lb lower but showing signs of  possible recovery. Euro is losing some of yesterday's gains, and is trading over 2/10th's of 1% lower against the U.S. Dollar. NYMEX crude is nearly 3% higher this morning. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended solidly higher, and so far today, European markets are having a good day. Futures have Wall Street showing a lower opening after U.S. December durable goods orders fell 2.6%, much lower than expected, and the Labor Dept reported continuing unemployment claims hit an all time record high last week(more). Starbucks announced last evening it was closing 300 stores and firing 7,000 workers.       
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - "Metal prices ended up with modest gains yesterday, as a firmer tone in the US stock market brought on by market talk that some sort of government-sponsored bank rescue fund was possibly in the works, helped stabilize the various markets. ... It is a completely different story this morning, where metals are getting pounded across the board. Once again, the main culprit is the rising level of LME stocks, with the increases today being particularly noteworthy. ... Despite the selloff that we are seeing, we do not see an imminent retest of the trading range lows, as we suspect markets should remain fairly stable in light of the ongoing deliberations that are being pursued with respect to the banks. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reports today that the government is talking about spending another $1 trillion to $2 trillion to help restore the banks to health, and that the Administration could announce its plans within days. Apparently, the details of the proposal have yet to be worked out, but we would view such an announcement as being quite significant for the markets. In another major development, an $820 billion stimulus package was approved by the House yesterday, but pointedly, no Republican votes for the bill. The measure now goes to the Senate, which has its own version, and then will have to go to committee to be reconciled. ... We are currently at $11,100, down $650 and quiet. Charts remain inconclusive, with trading ranges remaining tight." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Dow Jones) The nickel industry has made "particularly rapid and significant" efforts to cut production in response to deteriorating demand with around 350,000 metric tons of refined output being taken out of the market in 2009, Anglo-Swiss miner Xstrata PLC said Thursday. This represents approximately 21% of the previously expected level of global supply in 2009, and is expected to stabilize the market this year, Xstrata noted.
  • Davies tells Anglo-Saxon economies correction must be long and painful - more

  International Royalty comments on Voisey's Bay concentrate shipments - International Royalty Corporation has recently learned of an article reporting that the Voisey's Bay mine had halted concentrate shipments - more (contains additional facts)

  Sherritt says Madagascar project needs review - Sherritt International said on Wednesday its Ambatovy joint-venture nickel project in Madagascar needs to be restructured as it copes with falling nickel prices and - more

  The MEPS GLobal Composite Steel Price Bottoms Out in January - US transaction values continue to fall, although the descent is less startling than of late. - more

  Russia And China Implement Countermeasures For Depressed Nickel Market = Russia Revokes Export Duty On Nickel, China Revises Regulations For Conversion Trade On Consignment - more

  • Chinese steel mills forecast price rise - Most Chinese steel mills expect steel prices to rise this year in spite of gloomy prospects for domestic demand and exports, according to a new survey from Steel Business Briefing, the consultancy. - more

  Hyundai Steel Warns Sales, Output to Decline on Global Slump - Hyundai Steel Co. warned that sales and production will decline this year as South Korea’s second- largest steelmaker battles shrinking demand for construction steel triggered by the global recession. - more

  Rio Tinto and Xstrata move to raise cash - Rio Tinto is in talks with Chinalco, the Chinese state-owned metals group, about a possible capital injection and a sale of assets.- more

  Usmanov says Russia mining merger doubtful-papers - A six-company Russian mining merger proposed by Norilsk Nickel's top shareholders is unlikely to succeed due to the huge debts involved, metals tycoon Alisher Usmanov said in interviews published on Thursday. - more

  • Deripaska Says Putin Right to Limit Russian Government Bailout - Billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who received $4.5 billion of emergency funding from the Russian government, said Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is right to limit the amount of bailout money available to companies. - more

  BHP to buy Ravensthorpe houses - BHP Billiton has confirmed it will buy back houses from some of the workers retrenched from the Ravensthorpe Nickel Mine.- more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Jan 29 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Wednesday, January 28

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 10 to 1014. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Reuters) U.S. mortgage applications plunged last week -MBA  (Bloomberg) Asian Stocks Rise For Second Day on Government Policy Optimism; Banks Gain // Tata Steel Third-Quarter Net Drops on Waning Demand for Cars, Appliances // European Stocks Climb for Third Day; Deutsche Bank, Barclays, SAP Advance // Obama Seen Naming FDIC to Run `Bad Bank,' Sending Financial Shares Higher // U.S. Stocks Surge, Extend Global Rally on Bank-Bailout Plan; Yahoo Climbs //
  • The Euro continues to trade higher against the US Dollar, up by 8/10th's of 1%, while crude oil has changed directions in the last hour and is now trading higher by 1%. Gold and silver are trading lower, and while most of the base metals squeezed out a gain for the day, the enthusiasm of early morning trading had waned by late afternoon. Nickel was the LME winner of the day, but indicator charts show it ended well off its daily high. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $5.31/lb . Just so you now, we aren't the only ones puzzled by the markets activity recently. Robin Bahr, an analyst at Calyon wrote today "Price rises cannot be sustained. There is no real fundamental reason why metals prices should rise, unless you are taking a long term -- 3, 5, 10 year -- view." And while some traders said today's rise was due to speculative and fund buying, David Thurtell from Citigroup noted "Base metals are tracking equities." Whoever is right, the old saying "don't fight the trend" appears to be holding true. Looking at Sucden's day old nickel chart (here), you can see the market is holding within the trendline's. Speaking of fundamentals, whether they matter or not, LME authorized warehouses have seen an average gain of 230 tonnes each business day this month, and 802 tonnes per day over the last 3 business days alone. The Baltic Dry Index continues to grow, and is followed by some traders as a barometer of raw material shipments around the world. Reuters finally posted their poll of metals analysts today and we have posted the nickel forecasts for each below. They appear to match the opinions of our readers that participated in our poll last week.  

  Reuters Survey Analyst Poll - Nickel to average in 2009

  • Deutsche Bank - $3.663/lb // UBS - $4.00/lb // Goldman Sachs - $4.0733/lb // Scotiabank Group - $4.20/lb // GFMS Consulting - $4.4793/lb // Citigroup - $4.50/lb // Evolution Securities - $4.50/lb // Haywood Securities - $4.50/lb // Investec - $4.50/lb // Base metals - $4.53/lb // China Int Futures - $4.536/lb // Calyon - $4.54/lb // Fairfax IS - $4.54/lb // Standard Chartered - $4.57/lb - MAPE - $4.5927/lb // Virtual Metals - $4.672/lb // ASTMAX - $4.7628/lb // Karvy Comtrade - $4.7628/lb // MF Global - $4.7628/lb // Fox-Davies Capital - $4.80/lb // ANZ - $4.875/lb // Barclays Capital - $4.9215/lb // Bernstein - $4.9261/lb // JP Morgan - $4.932/lb // Mitsui Bussan Commodities - $4.99/lb // Canaccord Adams - $5.00/lb // Macquarie Bank - $5.00/lb // Midas Funds - $5.00/lb // National Bank Financial - $5.00/lb // RBC Capital Markets - $5.00/lb // Societe Generale - $5.1256/lb //  BNP Paribas - $5.1259/lb // EIU - $5.20/lb // HSBC - $5.22/lb // Morgan Stanley - $5.25/lb // CPM Group - $5.37/lb // CIBC World Markets - $5.38/lb // Desjardins Securities - $5.50/lb // Royal Bank of Scotland - $5.50/lb // CLSA - $5.60/lb // Metals Bulletin - $5.6133/lb // Credit Suisse - $5.70/lb // BMO Capital Markets - $5.75/lb // ING - $5.75/lb // Way2Wealth - $5.806/lb // CBA - $5.83/lb // Commerzbank - $5.9421/lb // Danske - $6.0102/lb // Natixis - $6.1585/lb // RFS International - $6.3504/lb // Standard Bank - $6.6665/lb // and Merrill Lynch - $6.86/lb
  • Mean Forecast for 2009 - $5.093/lb / Median Forecast - $5.00/lb
  • Mean Forecast for 2010 - $6.1453/lb / MEdian Forecast $6.00/lb

  Reports

  • MF Global Metals Outlook 2009-2010 - pdf here
  • U.S. Imports for Consumption of Steel Products December 2008 - here

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Sociedad Minera Cerro Verde SAA, said late Tuesday that it will temporarily suspend its molybdenum circuit, which produced three million pounds of molybdenum in 2008.
  • (Dow Jones) U.S. preliminary December steel imports were down 11.4% from the previous month, to a seasonally adjusted level of 1,802.2 thousand metric tons, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced Wednesday. (report above)
  • Relax: There Will Be No Depression - more
  • Major provisions of stimulus package - more

  Vale Halts Nickel Shipments Amid Labrador Talks  - Cia. Vale do Rio Doce, the world’s second-largest nickel refiner, has halted concentrate shipments from Newfoundland and Labrador until an agreement can be reached with the Canadian province on a proposed processing plant. - more

  AK Steel CEO sees 50 pct iron ore price drop - The price of iron ore, a key ingredient in steel-making, is expected to decline as much as 50 percent this year, the head of AK Steel said Tuesday. - more

  Kazakhstan miner ENRC asks govt to cut key tax - London-listed Kazakh mining and metals group ENRC asked the government on Wednesday to temporarily reduce a key minerals extraction tax rate to help the sector deal with falling global metals prices. - more

  Russia VTB will seek Norilsk board seat-CEO - VTB, Russia's second-largest bank, will seek a seat on the board of Norilsk Nickel to back its large exposure to the world's top nickel miner, the bank's head said on Wednesday. - more

  BHP lied to us: Ravensthorpe president - The crash in nickel value was only half the story behind last week's sudden closure of the WA's BHP Billiton nickel mine in Ravensthorpe, according to Shire of Ravensthorpe president Brenda Tilbrook. - more

  Sherritt CEO says Cuban nickel business will help offset loss of oil contract - Sherritt International was caught by surprise by Cuba's decision to scrap a production-sharing oil contract with its partner Pebercan Inc., but chief executive Ian Delaney says his company's low-cost Cuban nickel business will help to offset any losses. - more

  China marches on in Africa despite downturn - Chinese businessmen are taking a long-term view and pursuing strategic expansion in Africa even though China's multiplying investments on the continent have lost some luster in the global downturn. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.24/lb   higher, with all LME base metals trading in the green. More than likely this is due to the Euro, which is trading up against the US Dollar this morning, by nearly a full 1% at update time. NYMEX crude is trading lower, by 4/10th's of 1%, and in the mid $41/bbl range. Gold is also down, as monetary traders anxiously await news on what the Federal Reserve might do today. Asian markets traded higher overnight, with strong performances in South Korea, Singapore, Pakistan and Australia helping boost the overall index. European markets are al;so trading higher this morning, with Wall Street futures showing a very strong opening, after reports surfaced that the Obama administration is close to finalizing a plan that will have the U.S. taxpayer buying all the bad assets from U.S. banks. A poll by analysts surveyed by Reuters and released this morning, shows the analysts forecast nickel will average $5.093/lb in 2009, and $6.153/lb in 2010. More in the afternoon update.     

  Nickel Gains in London on Speculation of More Production Cuts - Nickel advanced in London on speculation more production cuts will help erode a global surplus of the metal used in stainless steel. - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  "Metals got hammered yesterday, as the recent buying from earlier this week was not enough to push prices past key critical resistance points, particularly in copper, which failed to close above $3400 for two days in a row. As a result, both it, and a number of other metals, turned sharply lower into their trading ranges yesterday, and we may see a bit more consolidation before another upside attempt is made. Having said that, there is little out there to make a case for a sustained upward move in any of the commodity complexes, and we still maintain that rallies towards key resistance targets should be sold into.  ... We are currently at $11,700, up $300 and quiet. Charts remain inconclusive." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • The average price of nickel over the 14 year period 1990 to 2003 was $3.25/lb.
  • (JMB) Japanese raw steel production could decrease to less than 20 million tonnes in January-March when the integrated and electric furnace steel makers expand the production cut to reduce steel inventory under slow demand caused by world recession. The production could be 40-year low after 18.28 million tonnes in January-March 1969.
  • (ACNB) Nickel sector weakens below Moving Average (MA), with 50-day MA trailing its 200-day MA, plunges 2.3% January 28, 2009 16:00:00 AEST
  • Long on China, Short on the United States - more

  FACTBOX-Mines and plants hit by low prices, high costs - The global financial crisis and sharp falls in metals prices have forced several companies to abandon or put on hold their plans to bring new mines onstream. - more

  Xstrata price hit by fears of stake sale by Glencore - Xstrata led a mining sell-off amid revived worries that Glencore, its biggest shareholder and marketing partner, was under pressure to sell down its stake, particularly given Xstrata’s exposure to ferrochrome, which is used for making stainless steel. - more

  Limited Index Of FeCr Price For Q1 / 09 Comes Up In Europe = Small Quantities Are Supposed To Have Been Contracted At Nearer Price To Spot One - more

  BHP makes commitments to nickel workers - BHP Billiton has reportedly made a series of commitments to the unemployed mine workers from the Ravensthorpe nickel operation, including the redeployment of up to 200 former employees. - more

  • BHP considers 14 weeks redundancy pay - Mining giant BHP Billiton is considering a housing buyback as part of a package for workers laid off at its Ravensthorpe nickel mine, the West Australian government said on Wednesday. - more
  • Rio Tinto resumes Port Dampier iron ore loading - Rio Tinto Ltd/Plc has restarted iron ore loading operations in west Australia's Port Dampier following the passing of a cyclone through Australia's key iron ore mining region, a company spokesman said on Wednesday. - more

  Iron ore price seen falling 30 pct in 2009 - Iron ore prices are set to fall in 2009 after six years of price hikes as deteriorating demand triggers severe production cuts in the steel industry, a Reuters poll shows. - more

  • Big Cut Is Sought In Iron Prices - The world's steelmakers want at least a 10% reduction in iron-ore prices, but miners are determined to keep prices level as the two sides begin secretive contract negotiations in what looks to be a bust year for all commodities. - more
  • Japan steelmakers seek iron, coal price cuts-Nikkei - Nippon Steel Corp and other Japanese steelmakers will press for cuts of 40 percent in iron ore prices and 60-70 percent in coal prices for the next business year due to falling costs of natural resources and weakening steel demand, a newspaper reported. - more

  Madagascar opposition rallies, deaths mount - Tens of thousands of opposition supporters protested against the president in Madagascar's capital on Wednesday, two days after an earlier rally descended into violence that killed nearly 40 people. - more

  • Key facts on Madagascar - here

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • 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, January 27

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 9 to 1004. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Asian Stocks Climb on Lower Borrowing Costs, Economic Reports; Banks Rise // Dollar, Yen Advance as Record Low U.S. Confidence Boosts Demand for Haven // UK Stocks Fall for First Time in Three Days; Utilities Drop on Sales Concern // U.S. January Consumer Confidence Declines to Record Low; Home Prices Sink // Roubini Says There's `Nowhere to Hide' From Pain of Global Economic Slump // Stocks in U.S. Rise on Earnings; Texas Instruments, Travelers Shares Gain (MarketWatch) German business climate edges higher in January
  • The Euro was stronger against the US Dollar early after a German business report came in better than expected. But it began to lose ground after and ECB member was quoted as saying the European Central Bank may drop interest rates again. The Dollar is currently trading about 2/10 of 1% higher. Commodities are mostly trading lower, with NYMEX crude down nearly 5%, and gold down 1/2% and falling below the $900 an ounce. Base metals all ended lower, and indicator charts show nickel opened slightly higher, but started a tumble almost immediately that lasted until late afternoon, before the market closed with nickel in an apparent recovery mode. For the day, three month nickel ended the day at $5.17/lb . Looking at Sucden's day old nickel trading chart (here), we will see that today's trading kept the price of nickel trading above the TL1 line. Overall momentum on the market appears to be technically heading higher, but fundamentals, in our opinion, should eventually pull the market back into its apparent "comfort" zone , trading somewhere between $10,190/tonne ($4.62/lb) and $11,401 ($5.17/lb). Our track record has been so dismal lately, we thought about buying a monkey and basing our future forecasts on which part of the cage they did their business in. But after visiting a local zoo and discovering some monkeys have a nasty little habit of throwing their poop at unsuspecting human visitors, we decided to stick with the more hygienic, albeit less reliable, coin toss. The American Iron and Steel Institute reported production of steel for last week, was less than 1/2 what it was during the same week in 2008.

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Canada-listed molybdenum producer Thompson Creek Metals Co. Inc. is to cut its 2009 production by about a third due to unfavorable market conditions and reduced demand for the metal, the company said Tuesday.
  • (Reuters) Russian metals billionaire Alisher Usmanov and his partners in steelmaker Metalloinvest want to swap their debt of around $10 billion to the state for a stake in a mining giant which was proposed to be created by merging Metalloinvest and metals giant Norilsk Nickel, Vedomosti business daily reports.
  • Takara Resources Inc. has been granted five mineral exploration licences prospective for nickel (Ni) sulphides, covering an area of approximately 110,000 hectares located west of Thompson, Manitoba.
  • Peak oil? Global warming? No, it's 'Boomsday!' - more
  • Everything You Wanted to Know about Credit Default Swaps--but Were Never Told - more
  • Why do the majority of people never get cancer? - more

  China Commodities Weekly for the Week of January 19-23, 2009 - Last week, ahead of the Chinese New Year, the Chinese domestic markets were very quiet. - more

  Final Vale Inco plan for hydromet plant still not tendered - Mining giant Vale Inco has not yet submitted a final plan for developing a nickel processing plant for southern Newfoundland, with neither the company nor government officials commenting on the delay. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around  $.28/lb   lower, with all LME traded base metals in a similar state of sell-off.  Dollar is ever so slightly higher against the Euro, buy nearly .03%, while NYMEX oil trading 1.36% lower. Asian markets ended slightly higher overnight, minus the vacationing China, while European markets are trading slightly lower so far. US futures imply an opening in the green. Gold is lower this morning, after hitting a 3½-month high in dollar terms and posting all-time highs in euro and sterling yesterday as investors sought a safe haven, especially in Europe. Nickel inventories grew overnight, and are now just a few tonnes shy of 82,000 tonnes. BDI finally broke thru the 1000 level. Dominic is now a Tropical Depression and has moved inland in NW Australia (here). And off topic, but a fascinating picture has been posted online of the Obama inauguration. Here is the link, and zoom in on any area for incredible detail. (here)
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -"Copper rallied to its highest levels in nearly two months on Monday, buoyed by surprisingly strong macro readings out of the US. The complex finished well ahead of our resistance target of $3400, although prices did come off an intraday high of $3600 by the close. Nevertheless, the move was sufficient enough to pull the rest of the group higher, with good gains noted in lead, zinc, and ali, although nickel and tin turned in less than impressive performances.  ... We are currently at $11,460, down $440 and quiet. Charts remain inconclusive, as prices are basically in the middle of a three-month trading range." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • Ufaleynikel has announced it has begun preparatory work in anticipation of resuming production of nickel by early February.
  • (ACNB) Nickel sector jumps 187.7 points (3.2%), rising for a fourth consecutive day, a 4-day rise of 8.8%
  • The Great Depression: fact versus myths - more
  • How the Government Dealt With Past Recessions - more

  Spain's Acerinox threatens job cuts on weak demand - Spain's Acerinox said on Monday it might temporarily lay off workers at its Spanish factory if demand for its stainless steel did not pick up in the next two weeks. - more

  Vale Inco bullish - Early last week, analysts were speculating about the possibility of a lengthy shutdown at Vale Inco due to low nickel prices, but on Friday, there was Roger Agnelli, Vale's CEO in Brazil, announcing the company will invest $14 billion in its operations this year, up from the record $10 billion the company spent on its operations last year. - more

  Mining industry doubts negligence suit against BHP would succeed - The citizens of Ravensthorpe in WA are considering suing BHP Billiton for not telling them early enough about the closure of its nickel mine. - more

  • Australian oil, iron-ore output hit by Cyclone Dominic - Oil fields off the north west coast of Western Australia state remain shut in Tuesday due to tropical cyclone Dominic, which has also halted the iron ore exports of miner Rio Tinto Ltd. - more
  • WA Government agrees to help devastated mining towns - The Western Australian Government has agreed to spend up to $5 million to help the south coast towns of Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun deal with an exodus of workers following the closure of the BHP Billiton nickel mine. - more

  African Eagle Aims to Start Tanzanian Nickel Production by 2011 - African Eagle Resources Plc, a British metals explorer, may start producing nickel from the Dutwa deposit in Tanzania as soon as late 2011 if it can raise the necessary funds, said Managing Director Mark Parker. - more

  Putin Says Russian Metals Merger Should Be About More Than Debt - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Russian metals companies should only merge with rivals to enhance competitiveness and not simply to consolidate debt. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending January 24, 2009, domestic raw steel production was 1,025,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 43.1 percent. Production was 2,154,000 tons in the week ending January 24, 2008, while the capability utilization then was 90.3 percent. The current week production represents a 52.5 percent decrease from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending January 24, 2009 is down 2.0 percent from the previous week ending January 17, 2009 when production was 1,045,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 43.8 percent.

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

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

Monday, January 26

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 15 to 995. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Japan Stocks Fall to 3-Month Low on Earnings; Thai, Philippine Shares Gain / European Stocks Rise From Lowest Level in Two Months as Barclays, ING Gain / Corus May Cut 3,500 Jobs as Slump in Demand Prompts Lower Metal Production / Barclays Says It Won't Need More Capital as ING Replaces Chief, Cuts Jobs / US Existing Home Sales Rise on Record Price Slump / Stocks in U.S. Gain on Pfizer's Deal to Acquire Wyeth; Bank Shares Advance
  • The Euro rebounded against the US Dollar today, after British bank Barclay's issued an upbeat forecast. Euro was trading 1.6% higher at update time. Weaker dollar usually helps boost commodity prices, and NYMEX crude was trading nearly 2.6% higher. Gold and silver also traded higher, as did all of the base metals ... except for nickel. Nickel had its day in the sun on Friday, and today was apparently time to pay the piper. Indicator charts show nickel started out negative in pre trading, got a boost at the bell, before slumping, bouncing again in mid afternoon trading, before sliding once more.  Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $5.40/lb , and considering the fundamentals are horrible and technicals show it was seriously overbought on Friday (here), nickel held up fairly well, with the dollar giving it a hand. Last week we reported inventories of nickel stored in LME warehouses passed the 80,000 tonne mark. Today that total passed 81,000 tonnes, with some huge shipments received in Europe and Singapore. Baltic Dry Index continues to grow, now only 5 points shy of 1000. The Chinese New Year/Spring Festival is taking place this week, and for all practical purposes, that country is shut down. India celebrated their Republic Day today, Australia celebrated Australia Day, Icelander's awoke to news their entire government had resigned, and Tropical Storm Dominic is menacing miners in NW Australia (here). Wall Street is up today, but we should see a volatile week ahead as numerous economic reports are scheduled to be released. The rhetoric over President Obama's stimulus package kicked up a notch over the weekend, and the honeymoon between Republican's and Democrat's unofficially ended.

  Reports

  • Canada Commodity Price Update - pdf here

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Lay-off's in today's press - Caterpillar 20,000 - Sprint/Nextel 8,000 - ING Group 7,000 - Philips 6,000 - Corus 3,500 - Home Depot 7,000 - Pfizer 8,000+ - Ulster Bank - 700 - GM 2,000 - John Deere 700
  • 9 per cent unemployment? Looking good! - more
  • Bill Would Stop Uranium Mining Near Grand Canyon National Park - more
  • Nationalization Gets a New, Serious Look - more

  DJ Freeport: Sees 2009 Molybdenum Sales -25% At 60 Mln Lbs - U.S. producer Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc. (FCX) has revised its forecast for molybdenum sales in 2009 and 2010 to 60 million pounds for each year, some 25% and 40% down respectively from previous estimates. - more

  Cyclone threatens Australia's oil,iron ore output - Miners and oil and gas operators operating around Australia's northwest coast are taking precautionary measures as a cyclone forms in the region. - more

  Vale Inco employees donate $1.2 million to United Way - Vale Inco and United Steelworkers Locals 6500 and 2020 today announced a $1.2 million boost to the 2008 United Way Centraide campaign raised through a joint employee/company fundraising effort. - more

  No end in sight to slide in base metals mining profits - Earnings forecasts for major diversified mining firms have tumbled but calling a bottom may be premature due to risks from further falls in metals prices, output cuts and asset writedowns. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.18/lb lower. China is closed for business this week for the week long  Spring Festival and India markets were closed today because of the Republic Day holiday. NYMEX crude is trading 8/10 of 1% lower, while Brent Spot is trading 9/10 of 1% higher. The Euro is trading nearly 1/5 of 1% higher against the US Dollar at the moment.  In overnight trading, the Asian markets that were open traded lower, while European markets are higher this morning. Wall Street futures are showing nothing at this point, a plus 1 as we write this. Corus confirming another 3500 lay-off's is the news this morning that is getting the most attention, and sadly, news we are growing increasingly accustomed to.(more).  
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - "Metals enjoyed a broad-based bounce on Friday, with copper and nickel doing particularly well. Some short covering, along with an impressive reversal in the US stock market also helped the better tone. In the stock market's case, although the Dow finished Friday's session with a 45-point loss, it did manage to recover from a 200-point loss at one stage in the day.  Most of Friday's gains are spilling over into today's session, although some of the metals, like nickel and tin, are already starting to fade. ... The macro data out of the US this week will be quite heavy, unlike last week, where the calendar was rather sparse.  ... We are currently at $11,750, down $350 and quiet. We saw a nice move higher on Friday, but the complex has been unable to add to these gains today. Charts remain inconclusive, with resistance at slightly higher levels." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (JMB) Nippon Steel doubles the production cut to more than 4 million tonnes in October-March period from the original plan, said the president Shoji Muneoka on Friday.
  • China situation more "bad news" on jobs and economy - more

  Domestic steel units see revival of demand - After witnessing a slump in demand in the October-December quarter of the current financial year that forced output cuts, the domestic steel industry is on a revival mode. - more

  • Tata’s Corus Says Orders Down a Third Amid Reports of Job Cuts - Corus, Europe’s second largest steelmaker, said its orders are down by a third due to an “unprecedented” fall in demand, as reports said the company is preparing to cut as many as 3,500 jobs. - more
  • Steelworkers braced for job losses - The recession axe is set to fall on thousands of steel industry jobs. - more

  Miners hit by chrome warning - International Ferro Metals, the miner of ferrochrome in South Africa used for making stainless steel, dropped 19 per cent after it warned that it has had to agree much lower selling prices for ferrochrome it thought it had already sold and is having to write down the value of its ferrochrome inventory after China slashed the price it will pay for the mineral this quarter by 57 per cent compared with the previous quarter. - more

  • Two-year low for chrome prices  -  January quarter ferrochrome contract prices negotiated between producers and buyers have more than halved to 79c a pound from $1,85 a pound in the December quarter, Merafe Resources said on Friday. - more

  "We are in the midst of crisis?" - The inauguration of Barack Obama as 44th president of the United States was full of symbolic hope for the future but it was his warning of "gathering clouds and raging storms" that chimed best with the gloomy mood on the LME "street" last week. - more

  Barnett says he’s powerless to stop Ravensthorpe closure - Premier Colin Barnett says he is powerless to intervene in BHP Billiton’s closure of the Ravensthorpe nickel mine in the State’s south. - more

  African Eagle Aims to Start Tanzanian Nickel Production by 2011 - African Eagle Resources Plc, a British metals explorer, may start producing nickel from the Dutwa deposit in Tanzania as soon as late 2011 if it can raise the necessary funds, said Managing Director Mark Parker. - more

  Scrap Metals Supplement - A Tale of Two Markets - Newton’s third law of physics, "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction," could be applied to export markets for secondary commodities these days. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

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

Sunday, January 25

  Vale bullish on quick economic recovery - The fact Vale Inco's parent company is going ahead with plans to spend $14 billion in 2009 comes as no surprise to a Laurentian University commerce professor. - more

  Fundamental Views on Metals Markets - The resource industry and market review I have prepared are the result of several queries from investors and associates in the past few months about my feelings and beliefs regarding the current debacle and what the future holds. Unfortunately, most of us will be affected on one level or another. - more

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Jeremy Grantham - Obama and the Teflon Men, and Other Short Stories. Part 1 - pdf here
  • Moran Stanley Investment Perspectives Jan 15 - pdf here
  • Roubini, Edwards Predict Slump in S&P 500 on China - more
  • Six Errors on the Path to the Financial Crisis - more
  • Generation that survived the Great Depression knows this too shall pass - more
  • (Reuters) Steelmaker Corus is poised to axe up to 3,500 jobs next week, The Sunday Times reported. The precise number of lay-offs at the Anglo/Dutch steelmaker, owned by India's Tata Steel, were being thrashed out over the weekend, according to the paper.
  • (JMB) Japan Raw Steel Output Drops by 1.2% in 2008.
  • Chart Store Weekly Scoreboard - pdf here
  • China is hot, Britain is finished: Jim Rogers - more

  Cash is king as junior resources casualties mount - It is not to hard to find people in the sector who share the view that, before this horror market is done, the casualties among Australia's 810 listed resources companies could get well into the three figures, if you count both (mainly) failures and mergers. - more

  • Boom to bust in mining town - Times are tough throughout the Australian mining industry. - more
  • Chinese slide may undercut mining giants' ore prices - Mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto could be pressured into a greater than forecast drop in iron ore contract prices as China's economic data worsens. - more

  Bailout package for displaced workers gains support - (excerpt) This developed as 405 workers were laid off by a nickel mining firm in Dinapigue, Isabela last week. The Platinum Group Metals Corp. was forced to shut down operations after the decline in the price of nickel in the world market.

  • Rusina bullish on Philippine project -Australia-based mining firm Rusina Mining N.L.’s chief executive is optimistic that low-cost mining operations remain viable in the Philippines, including its nickel project in Zambales. - more

  Mining industry may get worse - Withering cost cuts across the mining industry have left tens of thousands of people without jobs from the Arizona desert to the Andes - and there is a litany of evidence that the situation is growing worse. - more

Friday, January 23

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 35 to 980. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Asian Stocks Fall as Sony, Samsung Losses Deepen Growth, Earnings Concerns // Geithner Warning on Yuan May Trigger Renewed U.S.-China Economic Tensions // U.K. Economy Shrinks More Than Forecast in Biggest Contraction Since 1980 // European Stocks Drop for Fifth Day; Prudential, Infineon, Ubisoft Decline // Brazil's Bovespa Drops, Heads for Worst Week in Month; Bolsa, Ipsa Decline // Stocks in U.S. Fall on Earnings; General Electric, Xerox Shares Retreat
  • The US dollar continues to trade higher against the Euro, by 1/10 of 1%. NYMEX crude is trading by 6/10 of 1% lower. Asian, European, and US markets have either closed down, or are trading down. We mention this only because these have been the barometers that analysts have used lately to gauge metal movements. Precious metals did well today, as investors sought out a safe haven. Base metals also did well, totally contrary to their usual reaction to the above listed factors. From a fundamental point of view, a bleak picture didn't change. A mega nickel mine in Australia closed this week, but nickel inventories stored in LME warehouses gained nearly 1600 tonnes during the week. There is no evidence that demand is picking up anywhere in the world, and we have nothing but anecdotal evidence and hopes that it might anytime in the near future. England, the home of the London Metal Exchange, woke up to the news that they were officially in their first recession since 1980. Not exactly the kind of news that sweetens the morning toast. From a technical point of view, the market shows nickel neither being in an oversold, or overbought situation. And yes, while the market has stayed above two slowly ascending trendline's, many analysts have been speculating the price, based strictly on fundamentals, could easily collapse below them. You remember fundamentals don't you? That was all we heard when nickel was selling at $23.50/lb. Too much demand, not enough supply, its fundamentals that is forcing the price higher. The fact that every investment fund worth their salt, saw nickel rising and decided to jump on the gravy train had nothing to do with it. Hu-uh! So why do indicator charts show nickel taking off at noon, and never looking back? For what sole reason did nickel dismiss all the typically bad news, and gain in price by over 10% in one day? Never fear. You come here for in depth analysis and you'll get exactly what you paid for. There is always a reason. Or should we say, there is always am excuse. Today, depending on whom you listen to, the market rose on (1) short covering, (2) optimism for the US stimulus package or (3) someone slipped drugs into the brownies. We'll take credit for the last one. Whichever you might believe, Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day and week at $5.49/lb . We hope each of you have a restful and safe weekend. Here is a video that is a few months old, but worth a viewing if you missed it.

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Dresdner Kleinwort metals analyst Peter Fertig on today's bounce - "It's a bit surprising because the developments in markets would point to weakness."
  • (Dow Jones) -PT Aneka Tambang (ANTM.JK), Indonesia's second-largest producer of ferronickel, will cut its output of the metal this year by 30% to 12,000 metric tons, as it doesn't expect flagging demand and lower prices of the commodity to improve, said a senior company official Friday.

  Moly prices to remain low in 2009, surplus to shrink: Morgan - Molybdenum prices are set to remain low this year, but the market's supply surplus should shrink from 2008 levels, Morgan Stanley said this week in its Global Metals Playbook for the first quarter. - more

  ThyssenKrupp CEO: Start-up Of Alabama Stainless Operations Delayed - Steelmaker and engineering company ThyssenKrupp AG will postpone the start-up of stainless steel production at a new plant in Alabama due to the "massive drop in demand" in North America for the product, said Chief Executive Ekkehard Schulz at the company's annual general meeting Friday. - more

  Stainless steel giant set to axe jobs - Fifty jobs are being axed at Outokumpu's Sheffield melting shop, four months after the stainless steel giant announced it was closing its thin strip business at Meadowhall with the loss of 230 jobs. - more

  Brazil Miner Vale CEO: Demand To Improve 2nd Half 09 Estado - Brazilian mining giant Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (RIO) Chief Executive Roger Agnelli said iron ore demand should show signs of improving in the second half of this year, local news agency Estado said Thursday. - more

  Analysis - - Earnings forecasts for major diversified mining firms have tumbled but calling a bottom may be premature due to risks from further falls in metals prices, output cuts and asset writedowns. - more

  Australia’s richest woman shrugs off slowdown with new mine plans - The richest woman in Australia, mining magnate Gina Rinehart, is shrugging off talk of a global slowdown in the resources sector and will push ahead with plans for a new iron-ore project and a coalmine. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.11/lb higher. Why? Appears to be more technical than anything else. If you look at Sucden's day old chart, you can see that nickel is trying to maintain a slight uptrend  as seen in the TL1 and TL2 trend lines. (here) The Euro is getting beat up this morning, trading over 1-1/2% lower against the US Dollar, while NYMEX crude is trading almost 1% lower. Other base metals show little activity or movement, while gold and silver trade higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, European markets are trading lower, and US futures forecast Wall Street will open much lower. It appears the bulls are in the barn, and the bears are on the prowl today. Ferrochrome contracts between South African producers and European steelmakers saw the negotiated price fall by 57%. This will help stainless steel producers whenever they start producing again, but hurts those who are holding higher priced ferrochrome inventory, especially those who have secured collateralized loans against their stock. Now that those stocks have lost over 50% of their value, the banks will be requesting more collateral.   
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - "We are lower in metals once again as of this writing, although the losses are not as steep as what we saw at this same time yesterday. Energy prices are off slightly this morning after an unusual bounce yesterday, this despite bearish weekly inventory data. The dollar is much stronger today, trading at 1.28 against the Euro and at 1.355 against sterling. However, its traditional downward impact on metal prices, at least thus far, seems to be limited. ... Finally, the Chinese markets will be closed next week on account of the Lunar New Year holidays. Come to think of it, given nothing but the grim news that seems to be on the menu practically every day, shutting all the markets down for a week may not be such a bad idea. ... We are currently at $11,100, up $100, and quiet. We are watching to see whether prices pull away and close below $11,000, which could result in an another leg lower. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • Michael Broeker, analyst at Frankfurt brokerage Steubing - "The international steel industry is suffering the biggest crisis in 80 years ... "We predict another drop of 20 percent y-o-y will emerge in world crude steel production in January 2009. We assume a gradual recovery of the international steel industry only from the second quarter of 2009."
  • Macquarie Bank analysts - forecasting a 8.1% YOY drop in 2009 worldwide steel production.
  • (Credit Suisse) Despite overall losses in December (the Dow Jones AIG Commodity Index finished down 4.48%), several commodities posted healthy returns for the month. Nickel was the month’s strongest performer, gaining 14.20%, as improvements within the equity markets began generating optimism for industrial consumption in 2009.
  • (JMB) Japanese steel export increased by 4.6% to record 38.169 million tonnes in 2008 from 2007, announced by Ministry of Finance on Thursday.
  • China’s Slowdown Is Set to Worsen as Recession Pummels Exports - more
  • Tribune - The AK Steel plant in Zanesville (Ohio) will be idle the last week of March, according to vice president of government and public relations department Alan McCoy.
  • China is hot, Britain is finished: Jim Rogers - more

  Ferrochrome Q1 price in Europe slides 57 pct - Contract prices for ferrochrome between South African producers and European steelmakers for the first quarter have tumbled 57 percent amid weak demand, producers said on Friday. - more

  Antam Says Global Nickel Demand May Fall 30 Percent  - PT Aneka Tambang, Indonesia’s second-largest nickel producer, expects global consumption to fall 30 percent this year as the worldwide recession slows demand and European steel mills reduce output. - more

  Brazil's Vale reports record nickel production figures for 2008 - Brazilian mining giant Vale ramped up its nickel production by 11.1% from 2007 figures to produce a record amount of 275,400 mt of nickel in 2008, according to the company's annual production results released Wednesday. - more

  Nippon Steel 'to cut output by record amount' - Nippon Steel Corp. likely will cut crude steel output by 5 million tons, or 15 percent, during the current fiscal year, marking the biggest production cut in the firm's 39-year history, The Yomiuri Shimbun learned Thursday. - more

  • Nippon Steel, Tokyo Steel Plan Output Cuts as Recession Deepens - Nippon Steel Corp., Asia’s largest steelmaker, and Tokyo Steel Manufacturing Co. said they plan to reduce output to try to counter deteriorating demand as the global recession deepens. - more

  General Review Of Stainless Steel In 2008 And Its Outlook For New Year = The Production In 2009 Will Have Large Decline After Interval 20 Years, Its Prospect Is Unable To Foresee - The falsehood, having increased the world production of stainless steel to a remarkable extent in reliance on an expansion of the production in China for the last 2 - 3 years, has collapsed in 2008. - part one part two

  POSCO Rides Out Global Slowdown Storm - Steel makers around the world don't have good memories of last year. Battered by dwindling orders, production cuts and tanking steel prices in the second half of 2008, companies witnessed a boom-to-bust scenario that wiped out even the good times in the first half. But is the worst over yet? - more

  ThyssenKrupp still sees sharp profit drop - German industrial group ThyssenKrupp AG still expects sales and profits to fall sharply this fiscal year due to the severe global economic downturn, Chief Executive Ekkehard Schulz said on Friday. - more

  Hopes that Asia would buffer Australian miners from the worst of the deepening global recession have evaporated. - This is because China has confirmed its economy had suffered a dramatic slowdown and was now growing at its slowest pace for seven years. - more

  MMC Norilsk Nickel cancels membership in Russian National Inter-Industry Association of Employers' - Producers of Nickel and Precious Metals -  OJSC MMC Norilsk Nickel (MMC Norilsk Nickel or the Company) announces that it cancels its membership in the Russian National Inter-Industry Association of Employers – Producers of Nickel and Precious Metals (Association). - more

  • Russian State sells out of Arkhangelsk Port - The Russian federal Property Authority (Rosimushchestvo) has laid 20 percent of its shares in the Arkhangelsk Commercial Port out for sale. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Jan 23 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Thursday, January 22

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 45 to 945. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China's Economy Grew 6.8% in Fourth Quarter, Slowest Pace in Seven Years  // Asian Stocks Advance on Optimism Government Policies Will Ease Recession // Mining Boom Turns to Bust in Western Australia, Raising Risk of Recession // European Stocks Decline, Led by Fiat, Nokia, BT Group on Earnings Concern // Stocks in U.S. Decline on Earnings, Recession Concern; Microsoft Retreats // Housing Prices, Starts in U.S. Decline at Record Pace as Recession Deepens
  • US Dollar is now trading 1/4 of 1% higher against the Euro, while NYMEX crude is trading lower by 5%. Gold and silver are trading slightly higher, while base metals, for the most part, ended lower. Nickel was one of two that rose on the day, with indicator charts showing a strong first half of the day, and a weakening latter part. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day slightly higher, at $4.97/lb .  We are seeing media reports from different regions of the world that demand for scrap might be picking up. According to figures released today by the World Steel Association, China became the first country in history to produce more than 500 million tons of crude steel in a year, up 2.6% over 2007. While overall world production of steel fell 1.2% in 2008, the first time it has fallen in a decade, production increased in China, South Korea, and India. In the US, production fell, as it did in Germany, Russia, and the Ukraine. Macquarie Research estimates stainless steel production alone, fell 30% YOY in the 4th quarter of 2008, while the International Stainless Steel Forum estimates worldwide stainless steel production fell by 7% to 26.6 million metric tons last year, with an anticipated further decline this year. The Dow is bouncing around the 8000 mark, but the volatility index, while still remarkably high, is not dancing around like it has the past few days. We leave you today with something that we hope will make you smile (turn your volume up)

  The last bull bows to the inevitable - BHP Billiton's announcement on Wednesday it is suspending its giant Ravensthorpe nickel mine and laying off 6,000 workers from its global workforce means that the last metals bull in town has bowed to the inevitable. - more

  Prices for chromium in world market continue to decrease - The prices for chromium in the world market continue to decrease. According to the latest information of the agencies Dow Jones Newswires and Metalindex.ru, the average spot for low-carbon ferrochrome (chromium content of 65%) on the European market over the past month decreased. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.14/lb higher and climbing.  The Dollar and Euro are doing the slow dance this morning, nearly unchanged in trading. NYMEX crude is trading 1/4 of 1% higher, while Brent Spot is a little over 1% lower. In overnight markets, Asian markets ended slightly higher, while European markets are doing the same this morning. Wall Street futures are showing red this morning, after a serious rebound in yesterday's trading, but data this morning shows a rise in weekly jobless claims and housing starts are at record low levels. Nickel inventories slipped back under 80,000 tonnes overnight, and the BDI bounced to 945.     
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - "Metal prices fell sharply yesterday, weighed down by continued uncertainty about how long the current global crisis will last amidst a never-ending stream of poor macro readings. Mounting LME stocks, coupled with a stronger dollar, were additional bearish influences yesterday. However, some of the day’s earlier losses were made up by the close, as metals piggybacked on the strong rally seen in the US equity markets. In this regard, a good earnings report from IBM, news of insider buying by banking executives, and a general bounce from oversold conditions helped the stock market make up a good portion of Tuesday’s losses.  ... As we wrote yesterday, we think short-term action in metals will be influenced primarily by the fate of the US stock market over the next few days, as the banking muddle is still a source of concern. Various equity indices are expected to open mixed this morning, contributing to the equally mixed picture we are seeing in metals, with copper, zinc, and tin all down, but the balance of the group in positive territory.  ... We are currently at $11,150, up $245, and quiet. For the time being, prices seem to be holding up within a short-term up channel, which will give way if we close below $11,000."  (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Scotia) China’s laterite ores at discharging ports are being consumed quickly over the most recent month. On January 8, 2009, the total stockpile was 7.9 million tonnes at all ports, decreasing by 600,000 tonnes from December 2008, according to Antaike. ? Chinese low-grade nickel pig iron producers started to resume partial production in November 2008, due to lower coke prices and better realization of Fe credits. Currently, about 10 enterprises using blast furnaces operated at full capacity in Shandong province. - more
  • (Dow Jones) Norilsk, Russia's largest nickel producer, is cutting on investment and costs, Strzhalkovsky said, adding that Norilsk's revenue is expected to fall 50% from 2007 to $8 billion, "based on an optimistic scenario."
  • (ICDA) The Indian Association of ferroalloys (IFAPA) wants to impose a ban on exports of chrome ore and chrome concentrate, which it said should be used for domestic consumption.
  • (JMB) World nickel market will be 37,000 tonnes of oversupply in 2009, according to Sumitomo Metal Mining. The firm expects the production is 1.336 million tonnes and the consumption is 1.299 million tonnes, both of which increases by 5.1% from 2008.
  • Investors Look to Bearish Sprott for Clues to Commodity Rebound - more
  • Global mining doomed.- more
  • Stephen Green with Standard Chartered Bank in Shanghai - ""We think it is way too early to call a recovery or even to claim that the worst is over, though the shock experienced in Q4 will likely mutate into a dull pain." - more

  Marubeni Says Scrap Steel Exports to China Quadruple - Marubeni Corp., Japan’s second- largest scrap steel trader, said its exports to China quadrupled in the past two months as demand improved in response to a planned government stimulus. - more

  IFM output drops sharply, chrome-ore inventory continues to dampen prices – LSE-listed ferrochrome producer International Ferro Metals (IFM) CE David Kovarsky said he was confident that low-cost ferrochrome producers, such at IFM, would be “rewarded” when demand for the commodity picked up again. - more

  BHP Billiton may close Yabulu nickel plant -analysts - BHP Billiton, the world's top miner, may suspend operations at its Yabulu nickel refinery indefinitely after completing a study on its future in the first half of 2009, analysts said on Thursday. - more

  • More jobs fears as mining boom busts - A union is warning of massive job cuts in mining to follow the loss of 3400 BHP Billiton positions yesterday. - more

  Lengthy shutdown possible: analysts - Vale Inco may close its Sudbury operations for two or three months in response to falling demand for nickel and to pressure workers in contract negotiations, analysts told Bloomberg Monday. - more

  Amcor to start nickel mining - The Asiaticus Management Corporation (Amcor) is not backing out of its promise to start the Pujada Nickel operation in Mati, Davao Oriental despite rumors of several mining corporations putting their mining ventures on hold due to the world economic crunch. - more

   Aussie miner Rusina may start nickel ore production by 2011 - Australia and London-listed Rusina Mining N.L. is on track to complete a $500-million nickel processing plant in Zambales in two to three years, the head of the company said yesterday.- more

  Iron Ore Prices May Fall 50% on China Slowdown, Rinehart Says - Iron ore contract prices may fall as much as 50 percent this year amid a slowdown in China, the world’s biggest consumer of the raw material, according to Australia’s richest woman and mining magnate Gina Rinehart.- more

  China Dec steel output up, first rise in 6 months - China's crude steel output rose 7 percent in December for the first time in six months, in contrast to sharp drops in neighbours Japan and South Korea, as a massive government spending plan pushed mills to lift run rates. - more

  World steel output slumps 24.3 pct in Dec - Global steel output plunged 24.3 percent year-on-year in December as recession bites into nearly all the major steel producing countries, official data showed on Thursday. - more

  • EU Steel Prices Bottoming OUt - Upturn Expected in the Spring - Many steelmakers and manufacturing companies took much longer breaks than usual over the Christmas/New Year holiday period because of the current economic downturn. - more

  Eramet Marietta to cut ferroalloy output - Eramet Marietta, Marietta, Ohio, plans to cut ferrochrome output indefinitely in March due to the slump in demand from the steel industry. - more

  Nickel producer generates power sharing, reduces blackouts with new control system - In the central part of Sulawesi, Indonesia, in the middle of the jungle, sits an integrated mining and smelting nickel producer, PT Inco. - more

  Amcor Plans to Ignore Singapore Ruling in BHP Mine Dispute Case - Asiaticus Management Corp., a Philippine mining company, plans to ignore a ruling from a Singapore arbitration panel that said the Philippine courts have no jurisdiction over a dispute with BHP Billiton Ltd. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending January 17, 2009, domestic raw steel production was 1,045,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 43.8 percent. Production was 2,154,000 tons in the week ending January 17, 2008, while the capability utilization then was 90.3 percent. The current week production represents a 51.5 percent decrease from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending January 17, 2009 is down 1.6 percent from the previous week ending January 10, 2009 when production was 1,062,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 44.5 percent.

  Russian metals players look for support as mega merger plan gains steam - Russian metal producers could save up to 300 million dollars this year. That's after the government cut export duties on nickel and copper to zero. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Jan 22 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Wednesday, January 21

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 28 to 900. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) U.S. Stocks Rise as Obama Readies Plan; Citigroup, Bank of America Gain // Asian Stocks Decline on Concern Bank Losses Will Prolong Global Recession // Pound Plunges to Lowest Level Against Dollar Since 1985 on Bank Concern  (WSJ) Banks Again Sink Europe Stocks (Reuters) GM loses global sales crown after 77 years //  Wall Street up but Geithner anxiety stifles rally
  • The US dollar is currently trading over 1/4 of 1% higher against the Euro, while NYMEX crude is trading nearly 2% higher at $41.61/bbl. Except for tin, base metals traded lower today. Indicator charts show nickel spent the day on the slide, with a small bounce at the end of trading. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $4.95/lb . Nickel inventories stored in LME warehouses jumped way up overnight, and total just shy of 80,000 tonnes. Even with the lay-off's and mine closures that seem to be happening at a faster pace, it appears the 5% export duty cut by Russia may signal more nickel to come. We mentioned a few days ago that Rotterdam was not receiving nickel like we were used to seeing it, and while it has seen some shipments since, Europe appears to be a favorite shipping destination for Norilsk and we will have to wait and see if this reduction to their bottom line will boost shipments.  Speaking of shipping, the BDI edged up today. Australia got broad-sided by news from BHP earlier, and the Australian media does not appear to hold much sympathy for the company. Mega mines the size of Ravensthorpe are always a huge gamble, no matter who the miner is, and in this case, its timing was wrong. That is little comfort to the thousands of miners and support staff who are now out of work, many living in the middle of nowhere. Miners are losing their jobs daily, and while the huge lay off's like Rio Tinto's 14,000 announcement of last month, or BHP's 6000 more today have a tendency to make headlines, it is the small independent miners that suffer mostly in silence, with only local newspapers carrying their story. Now there are rumors from Canada that Vale might be looking at more cuts. Goro is ready to fire up. Will it? Koniambo is under construction. For how long? Onca Puma? Ramu? Caldag? And numerous smaller operations under construction? We found it interesting to note that while the worldwide economic recession is obviously the primary culprit in the demise of Ravensthorpe, more than one article has China's introduction and success with pig nickel as a contributing factor.  Whatever is too blame, whoever is too blame, all that matters at this point, is that this is turning into one huge mess and more and more people are getting hurt.    

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (RTT) Allegheny Technologies Q4 profit falls 25% - According to Allegheny, demand was steady during the fourth quarter for the company's industrial titanium sheet, grain-oriented electrical steel and nickel-based and specialty alloy products, from the oil and gas as well as electrical energy markets. Sales for the segment declined 14% from the year-ago quarter to $563.5 million, due primarily to lower shipments for most products, lower raw material surcharges and lower base prices. Shipments of standard stainless products decreased 22%..... Allegheny said it expects fiscal year 2009 to be challenging and added that it expects weak demand from many of its end markets to continue through the first half.
  • The Economy Is Bad, but 1982 Was Worse - You often hear that we are now living through the worst recession since the early 1980s, and the comparison is not wrong. But it’s ultimately unsatisfying, because it is a little too vague to be useful. - more
  • Production cuts by major global steel firms - more

  World Nickel Mkt In 42,900 Ton Surplus Jan-Nov -WBMS - The world refined nickel market was in surplus by 42,900 metric tons in January-November of 2008, despite a drop in production, the World Bureau of Metal Statistics said Wednesday. - more

  Analysis - Aluminium, nickel to lag once base metals recover - Aluminium and nickel are expected to struggle under the weight of high inventories, and even when a recovery finally kicks in, perhaps later this year, prices will be slower to pick up than other industrial metals. - more

  • Continued deterioration in metals demand ‘all too clear'--Barclays - Barclays Capital analysts say that, as the fundamentals of metals prices continue to deteriorate, they believe prices are poised for further losses in the short term. - more

  Russia govt to drop nickel duty, cut copper alloys - Russia's government will issue an order on Wednesday abolishing a 5 percent export tariff on nickel and cutting substantially a 10 percent tariff on some copper alloys, Russian news agencies reported. - more

  Steel prices: Ready to recover ? - The worst could be over for depressed steel prices with slow improvement on the cards in Europe as evidence grows that destocking in the $800 billion industry is close to an end. - more

  Facing facts at BHP - BHP Billiton was never going to be immune to the wave of trauma sweeping through the global resources sector as demand for commodities, and their prices, have collapsed. - more

  • A new trophy for the wall of shame - There is a new entry into BHP Billiton's trophy room for investment disasters. It's the ill-fated $5.6 billion Ravensthorpe laterite nickel disaster. - more
  • Ravensthorpe rout hits industry hard - BHP Billiton's decision to slash 6000 jobs worldwide, mothball and take a $US3.7 billion ($5.7 billion) write-down on its disastrous Ravensthorpe nickel venture, and fess up to a $US333 million hedging blunder, will have big implications for the mining, mining services and contracting sectors. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around  $.20/lb  lower. Typically, news of curtailment of supply through a mine closure tends to support the price of a mined metal, but apparently nickel traders are not concerned that further cuts made by BHP, and potentially by Vale, will matter much at this point. All base metals are trading in the red this morning, as the Euro and Dollar stare down one another, with little change between their trading price. NYMEX crude is nearly 2% higher, trading just over $41.50/bbl. Overnight, Asian markets fell, and this morning, European markets are trading lower. Only US futures show some green to them, after a very rough close yesterday.  BHP's closure of Ravensthorpe, while not necessarily coming as a huge shock, has sent shock waves thru the industry and some Australian media is already referring to it as the great white elephant. The reality of just how bad it is out there is slowly becoming more and more apparent. Especially in light of the fact LME warehouses received in over 1000 tonnes in nickel over the last two days, receiving some huge shipments overnight.  The WBMS is reporting world refined nickel market was in a surplus of 42,900 metric tons in January-November of 2008, with world demand dropping by 1.9% during the year. Thanks to those of you who contributed a vote on our nickel poll yesterday. 222 visitors voted and here are the results as of this morning.
  •  

  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - "Base metals underwent a sharp selloff on Tuesday, although the day's earlier lows did hold. In fact, we are still some ways off from retesting the December 2008 lows in most of the group, except for ali, whose chart picture is looking increasingly dire. Yesterday also saw broad-based declines in many other markets, with energy losing ground, particularly on the forward contracts. ... There was not much in terms of news out yesterday, as practically all markets were taking stock of the historical spectacle of seeing President Barack Obama being sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. However, the guarded optimism generated by his speech did not do much to alter the mood in the US equity markets, where stocks finished sharply lower, as banking stocks once again took it on the chin. The weakness in banking is of growing concern to the markets -- if banks are perceived to be weak or failing, there is little chance that they will be at the vanguard of lending efforts to lead the economy out of its current funk.   .... For the moment, we think most commodity markets, metals included, will be held hostage by the fate of the US stock market, and in particular, on the outlook for banking stocks. Equities are called to open slightly higher this morning, but metals are trading down, perhaps indicative of the lingering skepticism about the problems at hand.  .... We are currently at $11,150, down $400, and quiet. For the time being, prices seem to be within a short-term up channel, which will give way with a close below $11,000. In such an event, we could see further erosion to the $10,200 mark." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) China imported 324,648 tons of chrome ore in November of 2008, around 50 percent down compared to the same month of last year.
  • (SBB) Chinese domestic stainless prices have continued to ease over the past month due to weak demand. Grade 304 prices fell by RMB 500-600/tonne ($73-88/t) while Grade 202 and 430 prices both slipped by RMB 100/t ($15/t). 
  • (WSJ) Brazilian miner Companhia Vale Do Rio Doce (RIO), or Vale, has suggested it could accept a 10% reduction in this year's iron ore contract prices, a Shanghai-based analyst with sources in Baoshan Iron & Steel or Baosteel, said Wednesday.
  • (SG) It is reported that stainless steel service center major Saritas Celik Sanayi ve Ticaret AS despite the global crisis, in memory of its 50th anniversary, has started a new major investment project in Gebze Industrial Zone near Istanbul. The groundbreaking ceremony took place on January 15th 2009.

  BHP Faces $1.7 Billion Charge on Mine Closure, Jobs - BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest mining company, may take $1.7 billion in one-time charges after closing a nickel mine in Australia and slashing 6,000 jobs as the global recession curbs demand for minerals.  - more

  • Thousands Lose Jobs as Australia's Once-Mighty Mining Sector Suffers - Mining giant BHP Billiton is cutting more than 3,000 jobs in Australia and will close a major nickel mine, because of poor profitability prospects. - more

  Vale May Cut Canadian Nickel Output as Demand Drops  - Cia. Vale do Rio Doce, the world’s second-biggest nickel miner, may announce further cuts to its Canadian nickel operations to contend with falling demand and to pressure workers in contract negotiations, analysts said. - more

  New Caledonia’s southern province and SLN sign up for joint deal - New Caledonia’s nickel producer SLN and the government of the southern province have signed a partnership agreement centered on giving SLN access to a large nickel ore deposit - more

  Global Steel Production Down in 2008 and to Fall Again in 2009 - The speed of collapse in steel demand throughout the world surprised the producers, consumers, distributors and analysts, including MEPS researchers. - more

  BHP Billiton Can Proceed With Philippines Nickel Mine - BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) will be allowed to pursue development plans for a Philippine nickel mine after an international arbitration panel ruled in the Australian miner's favor in a conflict with a local partner, Philippines Environment Secretary Jose Atienza said Wednesday. - more

  Steel, Aluminum Shipments Continue Downward Trend in December - Shipments of steel products from U.S. and Canadian metals service centers fell by nearly 30% for a second consecutive month in December, while inventories of the metal continued a steady decline in year-over-year comparisons, the Metals Activity Report from the Metals Service Center Institute shows. U.S. service center inventories declined again in December. - more

  Japan Dec crude steel output tumbles 28 pct yr/yr - Japan's crude steel output tumbled 28 percent in December from the same month a year earlier, touching its lowest in nearly a decade as a deepening economic recession slashed demand for autos, construction machinery and other products. - more

  • Market Tendency On Imports Of Ferro-Alloys At 15th January 2009 = Developments Of Prices For Ferro-Alloys, After Lunar New Year In China Was Over, Are Marked - more here

  Indonesia sees mine investment below $1 bln in '09 - Mining investment in Indonesia may drop below $1 billion this year and there may be no fresh projects as metal prices fall and miners await details from a new mining bill, a senior industry official said on Wednesday. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Jan 21 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Tuesday, January 20

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 4 to 872. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Asian Stocks, U.S. Futures Slump as Recession Concern Worsens; HSBC Drops // China Faces Worst Unemployment in Decades as Economy Cools, Exports Slump // European Stocks Decline for Second Day; Logitech, BNP Paribas Shares Fall // Royal Bank of Scotland Will Be Guinea Pig for `Creeping Nationalization' // U.S. Stocks Fall on Profit Concern; State Street, Wells Tumble  // Obama Becomes 44th U.S. President With Call for Leadership, Responsibility
  • The US Dollar continues to trade higher against the Euro, currently by about 1.3%. NYMEX crude oil is nearly 6% higher this afternoon, nearing the $39/bbl mark. Gold is trading about 2-1/2% higher, while base metals ended mostly lower. Indicator charts reflect nickel made a comeback in late afternoon trading, before starting to losing steam at the close of the trading day. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $5.24/lb . BDI crept up overnight, as did nickel inventories stored in LME warehouses. Sucden's day old chart shows yesterday's trading crept above the trendline's, and today's trading will not change this (here). Financials are beating the world markets up - again. Wall Street started the day lower, and has been slipping ever since. President Obama, in his inaugural address, got traders talking when he stated the following. "Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good."

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (WSJ) It has loads of subprime-mortgage bonds, souring commercial real-estate debt and collateralized debt obligations worth a fraction of their original value. This isn't Citigroup Inc. or Merrill Lynch. It is the Federal Reserve. - more
  • (Xinhua) XH Ji En Nickel estimates 2008 net to fall 90-100 pct
  • Steve Lawson of Marex Financial - "Steel prices continue to drift lower despite signs of slightly better activity in the physical market."
  • The White House View of the Economy - more   Economic Report of the President - more
  • Text of Barack Obama's inauguration speech - more

  Norilsk Nickel Expects 09 Rev At $8B; Down 50% From 07 - Russian mining and metals giant OAO Norilsk Nickel said revenue will fall by about half to $8 billion in 2009, given the decline in demand and prices caused by the global financial crisis.- more

  Analysis: New opportunities for China's Steel Industry - Chinese steel enterprises will get through the most difficult time and solve the long-existing problems in the industry with the latest support package announced by the State Council. - more

  Braemore's Aussie nickel project is viable - Confirmation that Braemore Resources’ Leinster nickel tailings project in Australia is viable had the platinum and nickel miner higher Tuesday. - more

  • Output increases for Nickel firm Minara - Minara Resources Ltd, Australia's second largest nickel producer, has delivered an increase in fourth quarter output and says the company remains focused on cost saving initiatives. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.17/lb  lower, as all base metals head south on a stronger dollar, which is trading over 1% higher against the Euro. Oil is trading lower, with NYMEX crude off nearly 6-1/2% and Brent spot off nearly 2%. In overnight trading Asian markets ended lower, with the S&P Asia 50 Index ending nearly 2-1/2% lower. European markets are lower and waiting for US markets to open, which futures show, will open lower.
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  We would like to hear your opinion on what you think the price of cash nickel will average in 2009 ($US).

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - "Metals ended up mixed yesterday, with most eking out modest gains, but aluminum was under relentless pressure, closing at its lowest level since September 2003. Trading on the whole was very quiet since US equity markets were closed, as were most North American commodity exchanges. Things are off to a different -- and more negative -- start today, as we are seeing broad-based declines in metals. This time, the group is being hit by both a stronger dollar and soaring LME stocks. Of the two variables, the dollar’s influence should not be minimized. The greenback climbed to $1.2921 against the Euro at one point earlier in the day, the strongest level since Dec. 10th. Sterling has also taken a beating, briefly breaking the $1.40 mark, before recovering somewhat. ... Of course, the major political event of the day, is President-elect Obama's upcoming inauguration. We still maintain that despite the current weakness, markets could stabilize somewhat over the current week, as the Obama administration rushes to unveil new proposals in an attempt to get ahead of the mounting economic crisis. Nowhere is the need more urgent than in the banking sector, where we suspect something more radical would be unveiled, perhaps along the lines of a government-sponsored entity to buy up nonperforming bank assets. ....We are currently at $11,025, down $250, and quiet. Charts suggest a gradual drift lower towards $10200. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • Saudi Basic Industries, the Gulf region's largest steel maker, has temporarily suspended steel operations in Saudi Arabia.
  • (Interfax) China's stainless steel production reached around 6.9 million tons in 2008, sliding by 4.25 percent from the 7.21 million tons recorded in the previous year, according to a report from the Stainless Steel Council of China Special Steel Enterprises Association (CSSC) on Jan. 19.
  • (Reuters) The world's top producer of nickel, Russia's Norilsk Nickel, forecast its 2009 revenue would fall by more than half and it would have to cut costs, as the global financial crisis hits demand. .... He did not provide more figures but said the company planned to halve its investment projects and to halt some foreign assets, namely in Australia and South Africa. It does not plan to cut staff in Russia.  - more
  • (Dow Jones) (Nickel) has traded as high as $13,550 this year after index reweighting gave it a boost, but BNP Paribas says that fundamentally there is unlikely to be any turnaround until 2H09, when China's stimulus plans hopefully trickle down to help construction sector, a key end-user of stainless steel. For now though, "nickel fundamentals remain weak as activity in the stainless steel sector is subdued."
  • (RMG) Metal prices will continue to fall during 2009, says Raw Materials Group in their yearly prognosis. The production cuts that have been made have not been enough to change the trend of falling prices.
  • (SBB) US stainless consumption down 12%, import share up
  • 'Black Swan Test:' big losers, right or left brains? - more
  • Chasing Bonds Rally Is 'Terrible Mistake': Jim Rogers - more

  Nickel and the perils of false dawns  - The LME "street" doesn't do prolonged recessions very well. A natural tendency to bullish exuberance has been accentuated by the extraordinary bull run of the last few years. - more

  Anglo halts production at Loma nickel mine  - Anglo American Plc has temporarily halted production at its Loma nickel mine in Venezuela, the firm said on Tuesday. - more

  No Guarantees We Will Survive-Seb - Tati Nickel Mining Company (TNMC) new general manager Sebetlela Sebetlela has lamented the fall in metal prices on the world market, saying it is a huge challenge for the mining industry. - more

  General Review Of Nickel In 2008 And Its Outlook For New Year = Boom For Material Resources Was Over, Nickel Price Is Moving On Realities Of Supply / Demand - A fever for the boomed material resources as continued for 3 calendar years has gone away and nickel price is anticipated to move in 2009 on the realities of its supply and demand. - more here

  Eramet wins permit for N.Caledonia nickel deposits - Eramet ERMT.PA. has won an exploration licence for two nickel deposits in New Caledonia that could potentially double its output of the metal, the French mining group said on Tuesday. - more

  LME volumes seen firm in 2009, but no new record  - Trading activity on the London Metal Exchange will be boosted by investors and high volatility this year, but volumes are unlikely to beat last year's record because producers and consumers are expected to stay away. - more

  Nickel miner facing collapse - The depressed nickel price has left the Zambian nickel miner Albidon on the brink of collapse while its peers struggle to remain profitable. - more

  BHP workers will know worst today - The anxious wait for BHP Billiton's global workforce — on the depth of cut-backs in response to the collapse in commodity prices — ends today with the release of the group's December-quarter report. - more

  Global crisis hits $1.7B mining projects - The global financial crisis and other factors have stalled the development of key mining projects in Southern Mindanao, a government official has said. - more

  Steelmaker Evraz sees full production in 2009 -paper - Russian steelmaker Evraz Group raised output in January and will probably return to full production this year, its co-owner Alexander Abramov said in an interview with Vedomosti newspaper published on Tuesday. - more

  China Watch: Stimulus Is Working, Steel Demand on the Rise - According to a China's Sina.com report that the first massive stimulus package in the world, China's $680B stimulus is making progress, the economy has shown signs of recovery at the end of 2008. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

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

Monday, January 19

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 13 to 868. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Asian Stocks Gain on Government Efforts to End Credit Crisis; Honda Rises // European Economy to Contract for First Time Since Introduction of the Euro // Stocks in Europe Decline; Royal Bank of Scotland, BASF, Barclays Retreat // Russian Gas Shipments to Europe Will Resume Under 10-Year Ukraine Contract //
  • The US Dollar continues to trade higher against the Euro, by 1-1/2%. Nymex crude oil is trading 5.42% lower, around $34.50/bbl, and Brent Spot is trading 1-1/2% lower around $43/bbl. Metals ended mixed, but mostly higher. Not typical in that a higher dollar and a falling equity market is typically a double whammy that metals have to contend with. Indicator charts show nickel started higher this morning, slipped to a low in early afternoon trading, then resumed a climb until late, when it bounced pretty good. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $5.13/lb . Numerous media accounts are reporting Rusal's Oleg Deripaska and Norilsk's Vladimir Potanin want Russia to take partial ownership of a proposed merger that could create a mega mining company. We would be curious to know if this is really what these companies want, or is this what Russia wants? Whichever it is, the Russian's way of doing business tend to keep things interesting. Australia media is a buzz with speculation BHP may be forced to shut down Ravensthorpe. This would be an embarrassing setback for BHP and reflect poorly on the long term security of laterite nickel mining. Nickel inventories stored in LME warehouses gained over the weekend. We have seen a shift in inbound flow since the first of the year. Not sure if this has anything to do with the holiday break, but typical inflow is nearly always Rotterdam first, other warehouses second. This year, Rotterdam stock has fallen slightly, while the Singapore warehouse is seeing the majority of the inflows. The BDI slipped again, but the downtrend appears to be slowing. Wall Street is closed today for Martin Luther King's birthday, and the U.S. gets a new President tomorrow at noon.  

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Xinhua) Xu Lejiang, chairman of China's top steel maker Baosteel Group, parent of Baosteel, expects the domestic demand for steel products remain soft in 2009 although the government has introduced a 4-trillion-yuan economic stimulus package which includes huge investment into steel-consuming projects such as railway construction.
  • The Growing Foreclosure Crisis - more
  • US Airways 1549 - video of crash, seconds after the crash, and rescue boats arriving - here

  BHP to come clean on damage to output from global crisis - BHP Billiton's reluctance to detail production hits forced by the global financial crisis will come to an end tomorrow with the release of a warts-and-all production report for the December quarter. - more

  Commodities and China face hard landing - The still weakening economic picture in China is placing a bleaker outlook for commodities. Major commodity export countries, particularly connected to iron ore and coal, are likely to face a sharp fall in demand. - more

  Strong foundations for metals price recovery - Mining output cuts and shelved investment plans are laying the foundations for a strong metals price recovery when the world eventually returns to growth, fund manager BlackRock said. - more

  Steel makers to push for 15% import duty - Steel majors like SAIL, Tata, JSW and Essar may push for a higher import tariff on steel at a meeting convened by the government tomorrow, even as the dip in foreign arrivals has weakened the case for duty hike. - more

  Fortescue to stand on benchmarking sidelines - Fortescue Metals may be the self-proclaimed "new force in iron ore" but it has turned down the chance to be a force in this year's benchmark pricing negotiations. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.04/lb  higher. Dollar is trading nearly 1-1/4% higher against the Euro, while crude oil is trading over 2-1/2% lower. Metals are trading mostly lower. In overnight trading, Asian markets closed slightly higher, and European markets are lower. US markets are closed for a holiday.  Lot of speculation going on in Australia about the future of mega nickel mine Ravensthorpe. With quarterly results due out Wednesday, some analysts expect BHP to close the mine if it has been unable to get out of the red due to low nickel prices.  
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  "Metal prices ended up mixed on Friday, as some stability returned to the US stock market, although banking stocks were still very wobbly. However, poor macro data kept the upside in check, with industrial production numbers for December falling by 2%, almost double the prevailing estimates.  ... We have started the week on a down note in metals, as markets await the inauguration of President-elect Obama tomorrow. ... We are currently at $10,950, up $95, and very quiet. Charts suggest a gradual drift lower towards $10200 support, with more major support evident at $9300." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Interfax) Nickel pig iron business still profitable despite economic downturn -Qixin Nickel president - more
  • (Yieh) Japanese stainless steel scrap prices has increased by ?15,000/ton in January since the end of last year, but the stainless steelmakers are still remaining their purchasing prices unchanged.
  • (Reuters) Baoshan Iron and Steel Co Ltd has raised its sale prices for major hot-rolled and cold-rolled steel products for March by 300 yuan per tonne from February levels, a source with direct knowledge said on Monday. - more
  • (Bloomberg) Russia’s government may gain a blocking 25 percent stake in a new metals and mining holding based on OAO Norilsk Nickel and without United Co. Rusal, Vedomosti said, citing unidentified people familiar with talks.

  Sumitomo Metal Mining to Extend Metals Production Cut  - Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Japan's top nickel producer and second-largest copper smelter, plans to extend metal production cuts to June because of slumping demand, a company executive said. - more

  Stainless steel producers want nickel duty abolished - Concerned that the import duty on ferro nickel has made it dearer by Rs 2,400 a tonne and was reducing the competitiveness of domestic stainless steel industry, the stainless steel producers have pleaded with the Steel Ministry to recommend abolition of the said duty. - more

  • Steel makers want 5 pc import duty on ferro-nickel scrapped - The Indian Stainless Steel Development Association, the body representing domestic manufacturers of the alloy, has sought removal of five per cent import duty levied on ferro-nickel. - more

  Macquarie Cuts Price Forecasts for Metals, Coal on Demand Slump - Macquarie Group Ltd. analysts slashed price forecasts for copper, aluminum, coal and iron ore as last year's slump in commodities is expected to extend into the first half of 2009.  - more

  Metals Insider: Exit index funds, re-enter gloom - The passage of the index funds' annual re-weighting exercise and a collective refocusing on the dire state of metals demand led to a topsy-turvy week's trading in the LME complex. - more

  Plunging consumption dampens LME moly contract launch: sources - Plunging molybdenum oxide consumption in Japan has dampened earlier expectations for the London Metal Exchange molybdenum oxide contract launch later this year, market sources said Monday. - more

  South Africa: Chrome Stockpiles Worry Xstrata - The suspension of 80% of the Xstrata-Merafe joint venture's ferrochrome capacity may not be enough, considering the buildup of ferrochrome stockpiles and the slowdown of production in the stainless steel industry, Samancor Chrome chairman Dankor Konchar said on Friday. - more

  Analysts: Vale, Baosteel scrapped CSV slab project due to lack of credit - Brazilian market analysts say diminished credit was the main reason that Chinese steelmaker Baosteel and Brazilian miner Vale decided to scrap the 5Mt/y Companhia Siderúrgica Vitória steel slab project. - more

  MMK Says Not Buying Mechel Coal -Mechel, majority-owned by billionaire Igor Zyuzin, halted deliveries of coking coal to Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works last month after the two failed to agree on a price and 1 billion rubles ($31 million) of bills were left unpaid. - more

  • Russian tycoons plan state-backed metals giant - Two Russian metals billionaires have proposed the creation of a mining giant part-owned by the Kremlin that would wipe out existing debts and rival the world's top miners, a spokeswoman for Vladimir Potanin said on Monday. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

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

Sunday, January 18

  Commodity/Economic Comments
  • (TASS) The lead world chromium producer Xstrata has stopped 80% of its Xstrata-Merafe Chrome Venture capacities due to demand decrease, the company reports. 17 ferrochromium furnaces of the total capacity 1.37 mln tons a year are stopped including 11 furnaces that were stopped on 1 December 2008. The company has not dismissed the staff relying on a quick market recovery.
  • (Yomiuri) Japan - A record 16.2 percent fall in the amount of machinery orders in November from the previous month is an indication of the unwillingness to invest in plants and other facilities expressed by the corporate sector in recent months ... In November, orders at many heavy industrial companies have more than halved from the previous month. Orders at steel plants fell 52.9 percent, and those for oil and coal products fell 54.7 percent and those of chemical makers fell 51.4 percent.
  • (Times) Output from US factories dropped by 2 per cent last month, leaving it down by 7.8 per cent on a year earlier, in the sharpest annual fall suffered since September 1975, an indication of the deepening malaise in American manufacturing.
  • (Reuters) For the world monetary system, the financial crisis which erupted in the summer of 2007 is a cataclysmic shift that will prove every bit as significant as the outbreak of the First World War (which heralded sterling's demise as a reserve currency) and the suspension of gold convertibility in 1971 (which marked the end of bullion's monetary role). - more
  • (Angel Commodities) Nickel prices would be tied to the fate of Steel industry and we expect the prices to trade in the range of $ 8,500 /tonne to $ 20,000/tonne at LME and Rs. 400 / kg to Rs. 960 / kg in domestic markets. (comment - somewhere between $3.85/lb and $9.07/lb?? Now that's the way to forecast without sticking your neck out too far)
  • NMA Mining Week - pdf here
  • Emirates Business - Tanker owners are expecting charter rates on most voyages to firm up in the coming days as the practice of storing crude oil on supertankers reaches record levels, said senior industry players and analysts. More than seven per cent of the current total fleet for VLCCs (very large crude carriers) has been booked for crude oil storage Oil producers, refiners and several investors are putting surplus volumes in floating storage in the hope that crude oil demand and prices will rise sharply in the next four months, a practice widely referred to as contango

  Nickel strengthens on pick up in industrial demand - New Delhi: Nickel prices on Saturday rose further by Rs 5 per kg in the national capital today on increased industrial demand.  - more

  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Jan 17 - more

  BHP's Ravensthorpe mine on brink as nickel price falls - Speculation is growing that BHP Billiton is about to take a tough decision on the future of its $2.2 billion Ravensthorpe laterite nickel mine in Western Australia. - more

  • Rio staff reeling on horror week - Rio Tinto is moving quickly to deliver the first of 14,000 job cuts it has promised the market as it battles to deal with its debt load at a time of weak commodity demand. - more

  Japanese steelmakers postpone 2009 nickel contract renewals - Japanese specialty steelmakers are postponing renewals of annual nickel supply contracts with producers as their metal consumption falls in a weak economy, market sources said Friday. - more

  LME Nickel Prices Up, New Asian Biz Afoot For Stainless CR Sheets - With an advance in LME nickel prices, the Asian stainless steel market for Ni-based CR sheets is reacting with some moves. LME nickel prices moved up to US$5.60/lb Jan 2 and to a level of US$6.00/lb Jan 6 from US$4.30-4.40/lb Dec 23 last year.  - more

  US steel sector backs 'American Steel First Act' - The Buy America Coalition expressed its support Friday for "The American Steel First Act," legislation introduced Thursday to the US Congress by Representatives Pete Visclosky (Democrat-Indiana) and Tim Murphy (Republican-Pennsylvania). The coalition consists of the American Iron and Steel Institute, the Committee on Pipe and Tube Imports, the National Steel Bridge Alliance and the Steel Manufacturers Association. - more

  Bear market is expected to force metals prices even lower in 2009 - The six-year bull run in commodities definitely is over: World prices of base metals dropped by an average 30% in 2008 as end-use markets went into a second-half demand depression. - more

  Steel prices likely to decline further - Dubai: The price of steel is expected to decline further in the first quarter of this year, according to industry officials. - more

  • Nippon predicts global steel industry may need 2-3 years to recover from the current downturn - Japan's Nippon Steel believes the global steel industry may need two to three years to recover from the current downturn, its chairman said. - more

  Vale, Baosteel cancel US$5-billion steel project amid downturn - The slowing global economy has prompted Brazil's largest miner and China's second-biggest steelmaker to cancel plans for a US$5-billion steel slab plant in southern Brazil, costing thousands of jobs, the Brazilian miner said Friday. - more

  Oligarch turns to Rothschild over Rusal debt - United Company Rusal, the aluminium giant in effect controlled by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, has called in the London office of investment bank Rothschild to restructure its $14bn (£9.5bn) debt burden. - more

  Historical Statistics for Mineral and Material Commodities in the United States - links here

  Baltic Dry Index

  • Downturn will be brutal but short-lived, says broker  - A gathering of gloomy members of the Hong Kong Shipowners’ Association had to take what consolation they could from the financial crisis when a panel of industry experts told them it would be brutal but relatively short-lived.- more

Friday, January 16

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 27 to 881. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Asian Stocks Rise, Pare Weekly Loss, on Weaker Yen, China Stimulus Report // Yen, Dollar Fall as U.S. Bank Bailouts Reduce Haven Appeal of Currencies // Singapore's Exports in December Post Biggest Decline in Almost Seven Years // Barclays Plunges 25% on Concern `Bad Bank' Would Leave It at Disadvantage // European Stocks Rise, Led by Rio; Stoxx 600 Gains First Time in Eight Days // Paulson, Bair Advance Idea of `Aggregator Bank' to Remove Illiquid Assets // Bank of America Has First Loss in 17 Years, Gets $138 Billion U.S. Bailout // Stocks in U.S. Decline After Bank of America Rescue Fails to Boost Banks
  • The Dollar is still trading lower against the Euro, but not nearly as much as earlier this morning; now down by 6/10 of 1%. Base metals ended mixed as the dollar strengthened, while precious metals gained. Indicator charts show nickel opened higher, climbed a little in morning trading, then drifted thru the afternoon. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $4.92/lb .  Nickel inventories stored in LME warehouses slipped overnight, but for the week gained a few hundred tonnes. The Baltic Dry Index fell again, but ended the week 10 points higher. The volatility index shows the market is a little calmer than yesterday, but still trading is lower. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel has entered a period of sideway trading (chart here). No real news out since our morning update, so we posted a few charts courtesy of Macquarie Research. Hat's off to Sully Sullenberger. If the U.S. Congress can bring our economy into half as soft a landing as you did that commercial jet into the Hudson River, then we might all get thru this with some minor bruising. Then again, everyone got off safely and the plane eventually sank... so maybe not the best analogy we've ever done. Have a restful and safe weekend and we hope to see you back again next week.  

Courtesy Macquarie Research

  $3.8b nickel refinery planned for central Qld - The State Government has approved plans for Australia's largest nickel refinery to be built in Gladstone in central Queensland. - more

  Russia Prepares To Rival Rio And BHP - A merger of Russian miners could be unwelcome competition for beleaguered European miners.  - more

  Chrome cuts sting Merafe - Merafe Resources shares fell hard on Friday after it said ferrochrome production at its joint venture with Xstrata would be further curtailed, bringing the reduction to 80% of installed capacity. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.12/lb higher. At the moment, all base metals , except aluminum, are trading in the green. One reason, if not the sole reason, is the US Dollar is trading lower against the Euro this morning, down by 1.2%, and falling. In overnight action, Asian markets bounced back from yesterday's losses, with a nearly 2% gain, and European markets are trading around 2% higher this morning, as well. Even Wall Street looks to have a better opening, with futures forecasting a triple digit opening in the green. What has traders in a better mood today than they have been most of the week? The US government has come to the rescue of the financial system yet again, with a $20 billion  loan to Bank of America and guaranteeing losses on over $400 billion of assets of Citigroup and Bank of America. According to Barry Ritholtz of the "Big Picture", Citigroup and Bank of America have now received loans and guarantees in excess of their total worth. Believe it or not.   
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  "Metal prices lost modest ground on Thursday, but were off the worst levels of the day, as the dollar weakened, while US stocks recouped most of their losses from much steeper declines. The focus for much of the day was on the US stock market and on banking stocks in particular. ... Should we see nothing else break over the next few days, we could see a somewhat better tone set in for metals as US equity markets. Right now, stock futures are pointing towards a modestly higher opening, and we are seeing corresponding advances in metal prices. Energy markets are also higher, while the dollar is weaker today, now trading at close to 1.33 against the Euro.  ... Finally, yesterday’s Financial Times reports that investors withdrew a net $150 bln from hedge funds during the month of December, this despite moves by dozens of funds to halt or suspend redemptions. The FT further noted that the record December figure was equivalent to about 10% of industry assets. We see no reason for redemption actions to stop over the short-term, and this should keep rallies in a variety of markets in check, best exemplified by the January retreat in the US equities. However, at some point, investors who want out will be out, helping stabilize the pendulum somewhat, and perhaps setting the stage for a broader-based market recovery later in the year. We will have more to say on this subject in the next two weeks when we present a longer-term piece on the 2009 macro and metals outlook. .. We are currently at $11,100, up $405, and quiet. Charts suggest somewhat further gains from here, as a short-term upchannel has held up this week, and we could see a move off it. " (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (WSJ) The Kremlin is considering a plan to merge some of Russia's largest metals companies into a conglomerate in which the government would take a substantial minority stake, in exchange for writing off some of the crushing debts of the tycoons who control the companies, according to people familiar with the discussions. A combined metals company would have annual revenue of as much as $40 billion, and give Russia a player to rival global giants like BHP Billiton.
  • Hanging up the commodities boom hat - more
  • Why hedge funds are liquidating commodities - more

  Govt approves $3.8b Gladstone nickel refinery - Australia's largest nickel refinery has been approved by the Queensland government. - more

  Merafe suspends 6 more ferrochrome furnaces - South Africa's Merafe Resources said on Friday it would temporarily suspend a further six ferrochrome furnaces, raising the cuts in annual production to 1.37 million tonnes or 80 percent of output. - more

  • Chrome cut, price outlook stings Merafe - Merafe Resources shares fell hard on Friday after it said ferrochrome production at its joint venture with Xstrata would be further curtailed, bringing the reduction to 80% of installed capacity. - more

  BHP’s Coking Coal Exports at Australian Port Drop 20%  - The BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, the world’s largest coking coal exporter, shipped 20 percent less of the fuel from its largest Australian port last month amid a slump in demand for the steelmaking material. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending January 10, 2009, domestic raw steel production was 1,062,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 44.5 percent. Production was 2,154,000 tons in the week ending January 10, 2008, while the capability utilization then was 90.3 percent. The current week production represents a 50.7 percent decrease from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending January 10, 2009 is up 22.7 percent from the previous week ending January 3, 2009 when production was 866,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 36.3 percent.

  • Actual Cargoes Of High Carbon Fe-Cr In USA Are Turning To Scarcity = Pipeline Stocks Have Tightened, Opinion To Bottom Out By 80 US-Cents Per Lb. Of Cr - more

  No Short-Term Positives For Commodity Prices - Commodities enjoyed a positive start to 2009, but as Barclays Capital points out, this is quickly fading. - more

  Sumitomo Developing Lithium, Nickel Abroad - Sumitomo Corp. is bolstering efforts to secure natural resources used in rechargeable batteries before shortages predicted for the future materialize. - more

  Job losses in mining sector to be widespread  - Job losses in SA’s mining sector in 2009 will be widespread as companies restructure their operations in view of weaker demand and lower resource prices, consultancy Frost & Sullivan said on Friday. - more

  Comment - Whether its politics or not, some of the statements these Congressmen made during the last stimulus debate, and now this one, are very disconcerting. For instance, yesterday, The Hill reported the following .... "House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) also told reporters it may not be the last effort to use big government spending to spur the economy. “This represents the largest effort by any legislative body in the world to take government action to prevent economic catastrophe,” Obey said, “and even that may be insufficient alone.” (source) What the heck? Are we in a severe recession or teetering on the edge of financial disaster? Is this a legitimate statement or just another "weapons of mass destruction" political scare tactic for we, the ignorant masses? And here is more butter for your morning toast .... Depression ahead, prepare for stock rout: SocGen - Societe Generale said on Thursday that the United States' economy looks likely to enter a depression and China's could implode. - more Good grief.

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Jan 16 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Thursday, January 15

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 12 to 908. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Japan Machinery Orders Fall by Record 16.2% as Exports Collapse  // U.S. Initial Jobless Claims Rose to 524,000 Last Week // Stocks in U.S. Retreat as Banks Seen Needing More Funds; Citigroup Drops // Asian Stocks Slump as Japan Machinery Orders Sink; Advantest, Samsung Fall // Trichet Signals ECB May Cut Interest Rates in March as Recession Deepens // Stocks in Europe Decline; HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Infineon Technologies Drop (MarketWatch) Bears throw Dow 8,000 bash
  • US Dollar is trading 1.1% higher against the Euro after the ECB cut a key rate by 50 points. Crude oil has slipped under $34/barrel and is down over 10%.... just today. Precious metals are trading lower, and base metals ended mostly lower. Nickel started the morning lower according to indicator charts, rebounded in early afternoon trading, before sliding nearly $400/tonne in a few hours, and then rebounding a little before the close. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $4.85/lb and rising. Nickel inventories gained slightly overnight, and the Baltic Dry Index finally ran out of gas overnight, showing a 12 point drop today. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel trading thru yesterday (here). Volatility continues to climb, ending below 50 last night, but is presently at 55 and rising. Nowhere near its 80 point high's of October 27th and November 20th of last year, but dangerously high, nonetheless. European markets ended today's trading lower, and here in the States, Wall Street is trading in the red. The Dow fell as low as 8000 earlier in the session, a mark that bears a big psychological explanation point, but the market has bounced back from that point since. Just eight days ago the Dow was reaching for the 9200 level. Another half million plus American's lost their job last week, a number that would have staggered us just a few months ago, but one we seem to have grown numb too since. Unless, of course, we are one of the half million. The media, who loves to crunch numbers, is noting that if the Dow ends lower for the seventh time today, it will be the longest losing streak the market has had since the early October 2008 slide (8 days) in reaction to Lehman Brothers folding. With nothing but bad news to share, we thought we would leave you with a few words from the song 'Roadhouse Blues' by the Doors - "Well, I woke up this morning, And I got myself a beer. The futures uncertain, And the end is always near. Let it roll, baby, roll." (listen)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Dow Jones) The Russian government is generally supportive of proposals by the country's top metal producers to support prices that have been falling by cutting export duties on nickel, copper and aluminum products and creating a state strategic metals reserve, people familiar with the matter told Dow Jones Newswires Thursday.
  • (Dow Jones) Russian miner OAO Norilsk Nickel has resumed operations at its Tati mine in Botswana, which was temporary closed Dec. 24, the company told Dow Jones Newswires Thursday
  • (The Times) ArcelorMittal's currently idled Riverdale, IL finishing plant will resume steel operations in two weeks.

  NMDC sees iron ore demand rising by January-end - After registering an over 35 per dip in iron ore sales during the last couple of months, state-run mining giant National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) sees demand picking up by the end of January on the back of steps taken by the public sector firm. - more

  Paul Skinner to step down as chairman of Rio Tinto - Paul Skinner is to step down as chairman of Rio Tinto, the Anglo-Australian miner, amid speculation that he will move to head the board at BP this year - more

  • Rio warns of further cuts as global slump hits iron ore - Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto warned of further cutbacks on Thursday, announcing an 18 percent slump in fourth-quarter global iron ore output on the back of slowing global demand. - more

  ThyssenKrupp bosses on trial over fire deaths - Six ThyssenKrupp managers went on trial Thursday for the deaths of seven employees in a 2007 accident at the German steelmaker’s plant in Turin that highlighted Italy’s poor record on workplace safety. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.05/lb lower in what indicator charts show has been a morning of very choppy trading. Base metals are trading mostly lower this morning, as the US Dollar continues to gain against the Euro (up 3/4 of 1% this morning so far). Crude oil is trading down 2-1/2% at $36.50/barrel. Asian markets ended sharply lower overnight, and European markets are trading slightly lower this morning. US futures show a lower opening for Wall Street today as more bad news is published. This morning, MarketWatch reports "First-time applications for state unemployment benefits rose 54,000 to a seasonally adjusted 524,000 in the week ending Jan. 10, the Labor Department said Thursday." Bank of America, who's CEO was interviewed on CBS' 60 Minutes last year, and dismissed it ever needed the billions in TARP money the government 'forced' them to take... is now apparently asking the government for some more. Steve Cheng, associate director at Shenyin Wanguo, told MarketWatch the market was sliding again because, "People tried to talk themselves into investing in the market, but the global economic situation is only getting worse. Now they're starting to see the picture and can't fool themselves. So, they've started selling all over again." VIX, the volatility index, managed to close below 50 late yesterday, but its rise had not been seen since December.   
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  "Metals fell hard yesterday, pulled lower by softer energy prices, weakening US equity markets, and poor US macro readings. In the latter regard, December US retail sales fell by 2.7%, more than double the 1.2% expected, and extended the sales decline to six consecutive months. Plunging gas prices had a major impact on the figures, but even stripping out auto and gas sales, sales were off by 1.5% from November levels. Out of Europe, Eurozone industrial production plunged for the seventh month running in November. Far from moderating, the continued deterioration in the global macro statistics is lending more credence to the argument that another leg lower in most financial and commodity markets could be coming. ... These concerns are still hovering over the markets today, and contributing to the modest losses we are seeing in metals as of this writing. Copper and ali are leading the group lower, off by $45 and $30, respectively right now, and with the last of the index rebalancing over today, we suspect prices could remain on the defensive for the balance of the week. In terms of economic news, there will be a key vote on the second installment of the TARP money later today. Should we get an unexpected no vote, the backlash in the equity markets will be severe, and undoubtedly will spill over into commodities. Conversely, a yes vote can stabilize the market somewhat, but given the litany of other problems out there, we do not expect to see a major “relief rally” to set in. ... We are currently at $10,680, down $170, and quiet. Charts suggest an eventual test of support at $9300.(read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Prime-Tass) Customs: Russia’s nickel exports up 2% on year in Jan-Nov
  • (MNP) BHP Billiton says it has no plans to lay off workers at its Ravensthorpe nickel operation.
  • (Rusmet) Chinese General Administration of Customs announced that China steel exports volumes in 2008 has decreased in 2008 by 12%
  • (ACNB) Nickel sector weakens below Moving Average (MA), with 50-day MA trailing its 200-day MA, crashes 6.7% January 15, 2009 16:00:00 AEST
  • (Dow Jones) Norilsk: Restarted Production At Tati Nickel in Botswana

  Slight nickel price increase is expected to dissipate soon- With stainless steel production down, nickel is about to fall again - more

  Base metal earnings to take hit but future prospects improving - The fact that commodity prices were hit hard in the fourth quarter is no surprise to anyone. Molybdenum had it the worst, falling 53%. - more

  US bulk ferroalloys prices stable in quiet trade - There were growing signs that most of the US bulk ferroalloys market has found something of a floor after widespread and large falls in the fourth quarter of 2008. - more

  $60bn mining projects under threat - Many Australian mining groups' projects are in doubt due to factors such as falling commodity prices and the global credit crunch. - more

  Baosteel To Start 2nd Round Of Iron Ore Talks Next Week - China's Baosteel Group Corp., which represents domestic steel mills in annual talks with key iron ore miners, said in a closed-door meeting Thursday that it will start a second round of talks next week. - more

  • BHP May Secure Lower-Than-Expected Iron-Ore Price Cut  - BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, and Rio Tinto Group, may secure a lower than expected decline in annual contract iron ore prices as demand rebounds in China amid the start of annual price talks. - more

  Corus to pay half salaries to about 1,000 workers in UK - Facing liquidity crunch, Tata's owned European steel major Corus has decided to pay half salary to about 1,000 of its employees in four UK plants to save costs. - more

  • Austria's Voestalpine to cut employee work hours - Austrian steel maker Voestalpine AG will reduce working hours for about 10 percent of its 42,000 employees because of the global economic downturn, the company said Wednesday. - more
  • Salzgitter Orders May Rise as Client Stockpiles Wane - Salzgitter AG, Germany’s second- biggest steelmaker, said orders may start to recover as clients run stockpiles down to a “low point” in the second quarter.  - more
  • As a weakening global economy continues to hit key steel-consuming industries such as construction and automotive — denting international steel prices — some traders in Egypt have reportedly lined up to import thousands of tons of steel. - more
  • Lakeside Steel Inc. of Welland, Ont., to lay off 61 employees  - Lakeside Steel Inc. says it is laying off up to 61 hourly employees at its manufacturing site in Welland, Ont. - more

  Posco Says Chief Executive Lee to Depart Next Month  - Posco Chief Executive Officer Lee Ku Taek said he will step down as the world’s second-biggest steelmaker by market value needs new leadership to cope with the global recession. - more

  • POSCO sees no price cut until iron ore talks over - South Korea's POSCO (005490.KS) said on Thursday it had no plans to cut domestic steel prices for the time being as it had yet to negotiate raw material purchase deals for a new fiscal year starting in April. - more

  Historical article (2002) The world nickel market could witness a supply deficit as early as 2003 owing to limited new sources of supply, representatives from world nickel miners said. - more (interesting to note the mines that were going to keep the world in balance over the last few years, are still not open for business today)

  Shipping rates hit zero as trade sinks - Freight rates for containers shipped from Asia to Europe have fallen to zero for the first time since records began, underscoring the dramatic collapse in trade since the world economy buckled in October. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Jan 15 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Wednesday, January 14

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up

  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 9 to 920. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Global Confidence Improves on Rate Cuts, Fiscal Stimulus Plans  // European Stocks Decline, Led by Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Siemens  // Asian Rate Cuts, Spending to Propel Recovery, Economists Say  // China Passes Germany to Become Third-Biggest Economy  // Asian Stocks Gain for First Time in Five Days; Fujitsu Climbs // VIX Heads for Highest Close Since Dec. 16 as Bank Stocks Drop // U.S. Economy: Retail Sales Decline for a Sixth Month // U.S. Stocks Drop on Retail Sales Slump; Citigroup, Macy’s Fall
  • Apparently the only thing on the rise in the Western Hemisphere today, was traders blood pressure, as the volatility index rose over the 50 mark once again (chart here). The Euro continues to slump against the Dollar, down .15%. Crude oil is trading down off earlier lows and down by 2.25%, at $36.50/barrel. Precious metals are trading lower, and base metals traded in London, ended lower. Nickel fell hard early, floundered in mid afternoon  trading, before spiking in late trading, and recovering much of the days losses. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $4.90/lb . Nickel inventories fell overnight, by less than they gained yesterday. The Baltic Dry Index was up again today, but the gains appear to be slowing. So far today, Wall Street is taking a beating, with the Dow, S & P, and NASDAQ all down over 2%. Posted a few updated price forecasts for nickel on our forecast page (here) . Credit Suisse and BMO forecast an average annual price at $5.70/lb and $5.75/lb in individual reports. Dow Jones and Bloomberg both typically run annual analyst forecast polls at the end/beginning of the year, and if they published any numbers this year, we apparently missed them. We don't believe either ran such a poll recently, but if anyone saw one in the last few weeks, we would appreciate a link or a copy of the article to share with the other readers. And speaking of possibly missing things, we missed this from November, primarily because we don't pay much attention to neo-bears, anymore than we do neo-bulls. Bull or bear, when they are out of their cage, you still have to shovel what either left. We found this on a blog a few days ago, and thought we would share it with you. Regardless of what you think of the guy and his pontifications, notice "where" Fox News held this interview. What he had to say could definitely drive a person to drink(video here).

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Reuters) The Dow-Jones-AIG (nyse: AIG - news - people ) index began its annual reweighting on Jan 9, and runs until Jan 15. Re-weighting the S&P GSCI index started on Jan 8 and ends on Wednesday.
  • Michael Widmer, analyst at BNP Paribas - ""The index buying in the market is gradually fading out ... and fundamentally demand for metals is extremely weak."
  • (Russian media) According to China Customs, Chinese exports of steel products from January to December 2008 amounted to 59.23 million tonnes, which is 5.5% lower than in 2007 (62.65 million tons).
  • (Townhall) A Peruvian labor federation says 5,460 mining and steel workers have lost their jobs since the start of November as sinking global mineral prices hammer the mining sector and stall new investments.
  • A Chinese Depression? - video here

  China says to help steel firms by stepping up consumption, flexible policies  - China will step up consumption of domestic steel products and also help steel firms stabilize their overseas market share through flexible export-tariff policies, the State Council said. - more

  Weak near-term metals and mining outlook will turn positive in H2/09-BMO - Physical gold has performed surprisingly well in recent months, a trend which BMO Capital Markets analysts say could stretch well into 2010. - more

  Steely minor metals to lead recovery -JPMorgan - Minor metals used for steel production are in pole position to lead an industrial metals recovery due to infrastructure projects in emerging markets, a JPMorgan fund manager told Reuters. - more

  Mining Companies to Merge as Shares Tumble, Jefferies Says - Mining companies will take advantage of a rout in stock prices to buy smaller competitors this year, bolstering reserves and output, Jefferies Group Inc. Managing Director Bill Hunter said. - more

  Recession expected to linger into mid-year - Nearly 70 percent of distributors expect the current recession to last at least six more months, according to an exclusive survey conducted by Industrial Distribution in December. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.35/lb lower. The US dollar is trading about 1/5 of 1% higher against the Euro this morning, and crude oil has so far been trading between $38 and $39/barrel and is lower by 1.7%. Metals are all mostly lower, but some just barely. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended slightly higher, the first time it has gained in the last five. European stocks continue to slide, with the Bloomberg European 500 Index down 2% at the moment. US futures indicate a 100+ point drop at the opening, after a dismal December retail sales report found seasonally adjusted retail sales in the U.S. dropped 2.7% in December.   
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  "We had quite an impressive snap-back yesterday. The day's earlier declines were pared over the course of the US session, leading to a firmer close by the end of the day in all the metals, except for ali, which closed practically unchanged. Some fund nibbling and traces of index buying contributed to the firmer close. However, the gains are being reversed today, as selling hit the Asian markets, carrying over into the LME session. The indecisive “up/down” trading days we have been seeing in metals so far this week is indicative of the confused picture that is confronting the metal markets on both the micro and macro side of the equation. On the one hand, prices are attempting to stabilize into a trading range given the steep production cuts and amidst hope that massive stimulus programs being unlashed around the world kick-start demand. On the other hand, LME stock levels continue to increase, telling us that producers are still not slashing production fast enough to get ahead of imploding demand. On the macro side, there is no evidence that things are getting better, and if anything, they seem to be getting worse..... Out yesterday, we did see the US trade deficit narrow sharply in November to $40.4 billion from $56.7 billion in October. The good news here is that the drop in the deficit will help limit the decline in fourth quarter growth and, with some carry-through, may also boost first quarter growth as well. The bad news is that the data clearly reflects a sharp contraction in global trade flows. Part of this contraction could be attributed to lower commodity prices, but the sharp drop in both imports and exports indicates that the weakness extends beyond statistical explanations.  ... We are currently at $10,675, down $600, and struggling. Charts suggest an eventual test of support at $9300.(read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (AP) The Treasury Department says the federal government already has run up a record deficit of $485.2-billion (U.S.) in just the first three months of the current budget year.
  • (ACNB) Nickel sector weakens below Moving Average (MA), with 50-day MA trailing its 200-day MA, drops 0.01% January 14, 2009 16:00:00 AEST
  • Commodities luring speculators - more
  • Every commodity crash has a silver lining - more

  Japan NSSC may skip Q1 S.Africa ferrochrome shipments - Japan's Nippon Steel & Sumikin Stainless Steel Corp (NSSC) may skip lifting January-March shipments of ferrochrome from South Africa due to weak demand, a company official said on Wednesday. - more

  Thai Thainox declines comment on POSCO bid talk - Thainox Stainless , Thailand's largest stainless steel producer, declined comment on Wednesday on a newspaper report that it was in talks to be acquired by South Korea's POSCO. - more

  Baosteel Closed Six Furnaces on Low Demand, Shanghai News Says - Baosteel Group Corp. closed six blast furnaces since October after demand fell, the Shanghai Securities News reported, citing unidentified officials at the company. - more

  • 60 pct of Chinese steel plants predict 30 mln t increase in output for 2009 - Statistics released by China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) Wednesday show that about 60 percent of its member enterprises have mapped out their 2009 production plans, predicting an increase of 30 million tons in accumulative output in the new year. - more
  • (Reuters) China will strictly control total steelmaking capacity and allow no new steel capacity expansion projects, the State Council, China's cabinet, said. The State Council, which met to agree measures to support its carmakers and steel mills, also said it would adopt a flexible tax policy on steel exports to stabilise China's share of the global steel market.  - source

  1000 mine jobs gone - The global economic downturn has now cost 1000 mining jobs across the region in the past six months, according to the Nationals MP John Cobb - more

  Top executives of MMC Norilsk Nickel to visit Norilsk and Krasnoyarsk on January 14-16 - The management team of OJSC MMC Norilsk Nickel (“MMC Norilsk Nickel” or “the Company”) will visit the cities of Norilsk and Krasnoyarsk on January 14-16.- more

  • Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has met owners of the country's major metals firms to discuss the impact of the financial crisis on the sector, metals giant Norilsk Nickel said on Wednesday. "As far as I understand, certain orders to the government were to be issued upon the meeting's results, but their contents may be confidential," a Norilsk spokeswoman said, adding the meeting took place on Tuesday but giving no further details. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

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

Tuesday, January 13

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 22 to 911. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Bernanke Says Stimulus May Be Inadequate, Signals Asset Buying, Guarantees // Hedge Funds Lost $350 Billion Last Year, Most on Record, Amid Market Rout // Asian Stocks Fall Most in a Month as Commodity Producers, Automakers Slump // China's Money Supply, Bank Loans Surge as Government Counters Export Slump // European Stocks Fall for Fifth Day, Paced by Rio, Barclays, France Telecom // Gas Shipments Halted for Seventh Day as Russia, Ukraine Blame One Another (Reuters) IMF chief-global econ worsening, downbeat on forecast
  • We didn't have a complete about face from this morning, but we came mighty close. After the government's announcement that the US trade deficit for November was lower than expected, the US Dollar continues to trade higher against the Euro, by a little over 1%. Crude oil, which was trading lower this morning, is now trading higher, after Saudi Arabia announced plans to cut production below its OPEC target. At press time, crude oil is over $38/barrel, up 1-1/2%. While precious metals are trading mostly lower on the higher dollar, base metals did a flip flop from this morning's red opening, and ended mostly in the green. This was primarily due to traders making final buys before index reweighting concludes, although after yesterday's drop, technicals showed the nickel market deeply oversold. Indicator charts show nickel started well below its closing yesterday, and after floundering for a footing early, took off in afternoon trading and ended the session still gaining. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $5.10/lb .  Sucden's day old chart shows the degree of yesterday's fall (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index grew for a sixth consecutive day, while nickel inventories did the same, but not by much. Dow Jones, in an article earlier today, noted "Some analysts said the gloom in the market had already been largely factored into base metal prices so that will put a floor to losses. However, the poor macroeconomic readings will put a cap to rallies, they said, so prices could trade in a volatile sideways pattern in the coming weeks." The TED Spread slipped under 100 (chart), but the volatility index is on the rise again (chart). Wall Street appears to be on hold today, with the Dow jumping around yesterday's close.   

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Dow Jones) U.S. nickel exports fell 9.0% in November from the previous month, but was up 157.6% from the previous year, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday (more). ..... U.S. nickel imports fell 28.9% in November from last month, and was down 23.8% from the previous year, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday (more).
  • (Reuters) The U.S. trade deficit shrank nearly 29 percent in November, the largest amount in 12 years, as weak consumer demand and plummeting oil prices caused imports to sink by a record amount...... Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist with Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts - "'It is slim comfort that the U.S. cut its demand for imports more rapidly than the rest of the world cut its demand for U.S. exports. That might cushion the U.S. downturn a little, but it is not a route to recovery.'
  • (XFN) China exported 59.23 mln tons of steel products in 2008, down 5.5 pct, while imports declined 8.6 pct to 15.43 mln tons, the General Administration of Customs said. Iron ore imports in 2008 totaled 443.56 mln tons, up 15.9 pct, while imports in December were 34.53 mln tons, little changed from 34.20 mln a year earlier. (more)
  • (from WSJ article 1/109 "Steel Industry, in Slump, Looks to Federal Stimulus") Then there are the wholesalers, known in the steel industry as service centers. They buy in huge quantities from the mills, building up inventories and selling to customers like a construction company that needs I-beams to build a shopping center, or a manufacturer of auto parts in need of steel tubing. Until recently, the inventories were bought on credit, and the service centers constantly replenished these stockpiles as steel was sold to end users. But now the service centers, unable to borrow money easily and reluctant to borrow anyway in these hard times, have stopped buying from the steel mills. They are selling off their inventories instead, raising cash in the process. It is a tactic that annoys Mr. DiMicco, the Nucor chief, no end. “They don’t want to be without cash when they go into whatever the black hole is that is being created by the financial crisis,” he said, and faulted the nation’s lenders for collecting billions in government bailout money and then, in his view, refusing to lend it to the service centers on reasonable terms. “Credit completely dried up,” Mr. DiMicco said, “and it is still hard to get.”
  • IMF chief says global slowdown worsening - more
  • The Terrible Lessons of TARP - more
  • Mittal: a clue to manufacturing - more

  Steel prices only temporarily depressed: economist - Steel prices could post a 10% recovery in the short term, according to A.S. Firoz, former chief economist for India's Ministry of Steel, speaking Tuesday at Asia Business Forum's 4th Annual Steel conference in Singapore. - more

  China's export of stainless steel kitchen ware in November 2008 - China exported 24,644 tons of stainless steel kitchen ware valued at 130.663 million US dollars in November 2008. The export in January-November reached 2,810,190 tons valued at 1,420.077 million US dollars, down 6.0 percent and 2.1 percent respectively year on year. - more

  Many photo's of architectural use of stainless steel - here and many more photo's here

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

  • Indicators at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.06/lb lower, but recovering from earlier losses. All other metals, across the board, are trading lower. US dollar is trading nearly a full 1% higher against the Euro this morning, and crude oil is under $37/barrel, down 1.1/2%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended slightly lower. European markets are much lower today, while US futures show another negative opening.     
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  "Metals continued to lose ground yesterday, as opening gains in Shanghai receded by the time London markets opened, with the heavier selling setting in after US trading commenced. ... With respect to the current session, we are seeing a similar pattern to what we saw yesterday. Early gains in Shanghai faded early on, eventually leading to a limit-down session, and we are now looking at modest losses in LME markets. ... We are currently at $10,423, down $302, and holding up relatively well after the steep selloffs seen over the past two sessions. Charts suggest an eventual test of support at $9300. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • Simon Toyne, analyst with Numis Securities - "We believe it is optimistic to expect supply discipline to maintain prices above the cost structure in oversupplied markets."
  • (Xinhua) China Dec iron ore import up 0.96 pct on year, vs 19 pct, customs
  • (Yieh) Bolstered by the soaring LME nickel price, Taiwan's Yieh United Steel Corp. (Yusco) decided to raise its domestic price for 300 series stainless steel by NT$3,000~6,000/ton for January. Yusco has also increased its export prices by US$100~200/ton.
  • (Yieh) Yieh is reporting that due to European anti dumping tariff's, 2 out of 3 fastener producers in China has either shut down, or is danger of closure.
  • (WSJ) China imported 34.53 million metric tons of iron ore in December, up 6.2% on a month-to-month basis and 0.96% year-to-year, preliminary data provided Tuesday by the General Administration of Customs showed. Iron-ore imports rose 15.9% in 2008 to 443.56 million tons.
  • (AC) Nickel sector weakens below Moving Average (MA), with 50-day MA trailing its 200-day MA, plummets 3.3%
  • (JMB) Japanese major steel makers will start iron ore price negotiation in the week with Australian and Brazilian miners for fiscal 2009 starting April.
  • China’s money supply and loans jumped more than economists estimated in December after the government widened efforts to insulate the economy from a collapse in export demand. - more
  • Exports fell two months in a row for the first time in a decade, reflecting the impact of the global financial crisis on the "workshop of the world".- more
  • Economists slashed forecasts for U.S. growth in 2009 and projected Federal Reserve policy makers won’t be able to start raising interest rates until 2010, according to a monthly Bloomberg News survey. - more

  ASA Says Ferrochrome Price Talks Delayed as Demand Weakens - ASA Metals, the Chinese venture that produces ferrochrome in South Africa, said talks to set first- quarter prices will start later than normal as demand sags. - more

  China Said to Start Iron Ore Talks With Rio Tinto - Baosteel Group Corp., China’s biggest steelmaker, started annual iron ore contract talks with Rio Tinto Group yesterday amid expectations prices may plunge, two company executives said. - more

  • China domestic steelmaking raw material markets continue recovery - The prices of Chinese steelmaking raw materials, including iron ore, scrap, and coke, have climbed up slightly on stronger downstream demand, industry sources said. - more

  CNCEC inks a $440m nickel contract in Turkey - Tianchen, a subsidiary of China National Chemical Engineering Co (CNCEC), has signed a $440 million Design-Build contract with the UK-based European Nickel PLC on a nickel project in Turkey. - more

  Asian steel producers face competition, may move to protectionism - Asia's steel industry faces challenges for producers in the coming years, A.S. Firoz, chief economist for India's Ministry of Steel, said Tuesday at Asia Business Forum's 4th Annual Steel conference in Singapore. - more

  Posco Says January Earnings May Be Worst in History  - Posco, Asia’s third-largest steelmaker, said January earnings will probably be the worst in its history after it cut output and demand fell because of the global recession. - more

  • POSCO CEO says may extend output cut until March- South Korea's POSCO (005490.KS), the world's No. 4 steelmaker, may have to continue its production cut through the current quarter, because it was unsure about a recovery in steel prices, its chief executive said on Monday.  more

  MLC to appeal against nickel export licence conditions - South-west Greens' MLC Paul Llewellyn plans to lodge an appeal against the conditions of the Esperance Port Authority's licence to export bulk nickel. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

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

Monday, January 12

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 17 to 889. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Wal-Mart Faces ‘Challenging’ First Half, Scott Says // Asian Stocks Drop, Led by Commodity Producers; Rio Tinto Falls  // China Risks Missing 8% Growth Target, Officials Say // India’s Industrial Production Unexpectedly Increases // European Stocks Drop for Fourth Day; STMicroelectronics Falls  // Euro Falls to One-Month Low on ECB Rate Outlook, Spain’s Rating // U.S. Stocks Retreat on Earnings Concern; Alcoa, Conoco Decline // Brazilian Stocks Drop on Lower Growth Prospects, Metals Slide
  • The Euro is fighting its way back from earlier losses against the US Dollar, but is still trading about 1/10 of 1% lower. Crude oil continues to slide, trading at its day lows, down 7% at under $38/barrel. Platinum remains the only metal to gain today, with the rest of the precious and base metals ending lower. In nickel's case, had it not been for an afternoon of calmer buying, the day would have ended dramatically lower on heavy mornig selling. Indicator charts reflect a swing of nearly $1500/tonne today from its start to daily low point. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $4.86/lb . Nickel inventories gained slightly overnight, while the Baltic Dry Index did the same. CRU forecast worldwide stainless steel production to fall again this year, after falling for the two years prior. The Macquarie Group, in a report today, forecast stainless-steel production for 2009 to be 24% lower than it estimated it would be in early 2008. Macquarie also forecast nickel production to fall 19% this year. Eramet announced it would produce 50,000 tonnes of nickel thru its Donaimbo smelter on New Caledonia this year, about what it did this year.

  Copper slips 6 pct, China purchase doubts weigh - Nickel sheds 15 percent to track copper - more

  Reports

  • 1/9/09 Weekly Scoreboard - pdf here
  • Weekly Commodity Price Report - pdf here
  • Commodity Price Update - pdf here
  • Weekly Forecast by SMM Specialist - here
  • Metals Report - pdf here
  • Eurometal Business Report - ppt here
  • Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Market report - pdf here
  • AIIS December 2008 Steel Market Import Survey - doc here

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Barclays Capital - "Nickel demand remains weak, especially stemming from the key stainless steel end-use sector and is likely to continue to depress prices despite the slew of initiated output cuts by producers."
  • Robin Bhar, metals analyst at Calyon Credit Agricole CIB - "Nickel was bid on DJ-AIG index buying, along with copper ... Now the focus is on the dire outlook for demand. ....We will be lucky to get any growth at all in stainless steel production(in 2009)."

  ASA says clients defer Q1 ferrochrome shipments - Some clients of South Africa's ASA Metals are deferring shipments of ferrochrome amid weak demand for stainless steel, a top official said on Monday. - more

  Steel price trend in 2009 early warning report (translated) - Shinkansen Editor's Note: In this paper, the author the exclusive authorized Shinkansen published works, the media and website reproduced the premise of the new Route and the written authorization of the author, and indicate the source for the West of the Shinkansen - translated version here

  Western Areas lifts nickel resource estimate - Nickel miner Western Areas says the mineral resource at its Spotted Quoll has more than doubled, eclipsing the size of the company's flagship Flying Fox mine. - more

  • OZ Minerals anxiously waits for lifeline loan - Troubled OZ Minerals is still waiting on a financial lifeline needed to keep its mines open, after shedding nearly $60 million in one week over Christmas. - more

  Radioactive Scrap Metal - pdf here

  Environment Watch: The intricate state of the overlapping mining area in Morowali - Cashew farmers, village leaders, a mining company and a governor have all become embroiled in a land and community dispute in Central Sulawesi, a classic study in how not to balance community needs and capital ventures. - more

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

  • Indicators at 10:30 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around  $.69/lb lower. All metals except platinum are trading lower today, as is crude oil and the Euro against the Dollar. Asian markets closed lower overnight, with European markets set to close lower. Wall Street is also lower this morning. Since relocating in late December, we are having difficulties finding "reliable" internet service. Thanks to Nuvox, we apologize for the late update.
  • Bloomberg morning metal news - more

  Stainless Steel Production Will Fall for Third Year, CRU Says - Stainless-steel production will fall for a third year in 2009 as steel mills use up stockpiles and demand weakens, according to London-based research company CRU.  - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - "We had a bizarrely strong performance in metals on Friday, as the sector was practically the only one that showed a gain compared to other markets. ... So how can one explain Friday's upbeat performance? We suspect that the buying we saw most likely resulted from continued index fund buying. With this kind of activity expected to be pretty much over by the end of the current week, metals will be hard-pressed to find another source of buying support to replace it. In fact, right now, we are now sharply lower across the board despite another surge in Shanghai trading overnight, with practically all of Friday's gains given back-- and in some cases, more.  ... We are currently at $10,525, down $1650, with nickel being among the bigger downside casualties today. Charts suggest an eventual test of support at $9300. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Bloomberg) China - Domestic steel prices have rebounded 43 percent to 4,073 yuan a metric ton from Nov. 13 after tumbling 52 percent from a record high of 5,957 yuan on June 5, according to the Beijing Antaike Information Development Co.
  • (Yieh) Bolstered by the soaring LME nickel price, Taiwan's Yieh United Steel Corp. (Yusco) decided to raise its domestic price for 300 series stainless steel by NT$3,000/ton for January.
  • (Asia Pulse) Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX:RIO), the world's second largest iron ore producer, has postponed a $A3 billion ($US2.1 billion) expansion to its Corumba iron ore mine in Brazil amid the global economic downturn.
  • Commodity Funds Could Take Another Scary Ride  - more

  Eramet: 2009 Nickel Output Target 50,000 Tons; Lack Of Demand - French mining and metals group Eramet S.A. Monday said it will cut output at its Doniambo nickel smelter in New Caledonia to 50,000 metric tons this year due to poor demand. - more

  Interview: India's Stainless Steel Exports To Slow On Year - India is expected to see a 20%-25% drop in exports of flat and long stainless steel products in the fiscal year to March 31, 2009 due to rising competition and slowing consumption, according to a top industry official. - more

  • Steel imports fall in Apr-Dec; case for import duty weakens - Imports of steel during the first nine months (April-December) of 2008-09 have fallen by 14 per cent to 4.8 million tonnes, a development that could weaken the industry's demand for increasing import duty.  - more

  Nippon Steel could cut output further in downturn - Nippon Steel Corp, the world's second-biggest steel maker, is likely to reduce output further as it struggles with weak demand and pressures for price cuts from battered auto makers in the downturn. - more

  POSCO sees January steel sales down 27 pct - South Korea's POSCO, the world's No. 4 steelmaker, expects its January steel sales to fall by around 27 percent to 1.9 million tonnes, hit by faltering demand, its chief financial officer said on Tuesday. - more

  Chinese steel mills seek payback over iron ore prices - Chinese steel mills are about to turn the tables on Australia by demanding a 40 per cent price cut in the price of iron ore shipped from the Pilbara. - more

  • Chinese Government Raises Value-Added Tax On Imports Of Raw Materials For Ferro-Alloys = Raised To 17%, Effective From 1st January 2009 - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

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

Friday, January 9

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 51 to 871. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Employers in U.S. Cut 524,000 Jobs Last Month; 2008 Losses Most Since 1945 // Stocks in U.S. Decline on Concern Job Losses Signal Recession Is Worsening // Asian Stocks Fall, Set for Weekly Decline, as Demand Slumps; Nissan Drops // Stocks in Europe Decline; Deutsche Postbank, Infineon, Natixis Shares Drop // Russian Natural-Gas Flows Still Halted Amid Delays in EU Monitoring Accord
  • The US dollar has slipped further, courtesy of job loss figures released by the Fed today; now trading down by nearly 1-3/4%. Crude oil has slipped below $40/barrel and is down over 6%. It still has room before it gets back down to its Dec 19th intraday low of $32.40. Base metals ended solidly higher, courtesy the faltering dollar. Indicator charts reflect some indecision on nickel traders today, with the market up at our morning post, then slumped back into the red on news of the US employment figures, then went green as the dollar fell. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day and first full week of the new year at $5.51/lb . For those who care, nickel is holding on to a tenuous lead ($100/tonne) over tin for the most expensive base metal traded on the London Metal Exchange, after having lost that distinction for some of 2008. Nickel inventories stored in LME warehouses slid again overnight, possibly reflecting a lack of shipments made during the holiday season. This happened at the beginning of last year and inventories fell till the middle of January. The Baltic Dry Index gained again, reflecting a possible uptick, however slight, in global raw material shipments. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel's downturn thru yesterday (here). The TED Spread continues to slip, down to 1.19, and the volatility index has crept back up into the 40 range, after falling into the high 30 range last week.  
  • For those of you who bought a house you could afford, read the contract you were signing, and have been making your mortgage payments on time, and have watched the value of that home fall for the last few years, there is a new word that you are going to be hearing a lot of in the coming weeks. "Mortgage modification". Even the banks, you know, the guys that have gotten the biggest chunk of the government's (TARP money) economic stimulus package to date, are crying "foul" - ("Bank group slams lawmaker mortgage deal with Citi" - more) And one other point. Yesterday we learned that the porn industry was going to ask the Fed's for $5 billion dollars in bail-out money. This is a distressing move in our opinion, because the porn industry has always been about doing themselves, but never screwing the taxpayer!! Now they have gone and joined all the other ho's. Oh well, have a restful and safe weekend and stay tuned for exciting clips from our newest production "Debbie Does Wall Street before Wall Street Does Debbie"!!

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Bits and pieces from this week's China media sources - Molybdenum concentrate prices rebound slightly as large mills make purchases. Ferrochrome prices are stable, and many plants are running under capacity with little activity expected before the Spring Festival.  India has cut its export price on friable chrome ore from $715 per tonne to $280 per tonne fob. Western-grade ferro-molybdenum prices rose slightly this week on buying interest.  Nickel market is stabile with any potential buyers taking a wait and see attitude.
  • (Dow Jones) European steelmakers Friday welcomed the European Commission's decision to put temporary duties on steel wire rods imported from China and Moldova, while questioning why the commission opposed duties on imports from Turkey.
  • Willem Buiter warns of massive dollar collapse - more
  • Billionaire steel tycoon Wilbur Ross in a recent interview with CNNMoney.com. - "They count as employed someone who used to have a high-paid manufacturing job, and now is working at a Wal-Mart or a Wendy's."
  • Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Economy.com - "The country is losing half a million jobs in a month, and if the government doesn't act quickly, there's no reason that wouldn't intensify."
  • Millionaires Say Advisers Failed Them in Crisis, Survey Shows - more
  • Paulson Bailout Didn’t Give Taxpayers What Goldman Gave Buffett  - more
  • (MarketWatch) The U.S. economic recession is set to deepen in the first half of the year, but could begin to show signs of improvement later in the year, Boston Federal Reserve Bank President Eric Rosengren said in a speech late Thursday.
  • Adam Drewnowski, the director of the Nutrition Sciences Program at the University of Washington in Seattle - "Obesity is a toxic result of a failing economic environment."
  • China Mining - Stainless mills may raise output - Some domestic mills were considering increasing stainless output from early January in view of a stable LME nickel price and the soaring bulk commodity prices such as crude oil. Tisco will continue to arrange production according to orders in January and Baosteel plans to raise output modestly.

  China industry association suggests reserving more metals - China Nonferrous Metals Association (CNMA) suggests the government purchase copper, zinc and nickel for reserve so as to rally the domestic nonferrous metals market and help related enterprises jolt out of operating difficulties. - more

  US steelmakers support Obama infrastructure stimulus program - US steelmakers are urging support of a multi-billion dollar infrastructure investment program proposed by President-elect Obama and Washington congressional leaders. - more

  • 'Buy American' Steel Clause Will Hurt U.S. - The U.S. steel industry wants any government stimulus package to require the purchase of American-made steel, a clause The Wall Street Journal warns risks a damaging long-term trade war and end up costing American taxpayers too much money. - more

  Who Participates in Commodities Markets? - There are two basic types of participants in commodities markets–hedgers and speculators. Hedgers seek to minimize and manage price risk, while speculators take on risk in the hope of making a profit. - more

  Brazil's mining giant suspends collective vacations - Brazil's mining giant Vale announced on Thursday the suspension of the collective vacations for 450 employees from a mine in Fabrica Nova in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:45 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.07/lb higher this morning, and the market has bounced out of the red within the last half hour. Other metals are mixed with industrial mostly higher. The US Dollar is trading slightly lower against the Euro, down .03% at publishing time. Crude oil is down 3%, and trading around $41/barrel. Asian markets ended lower overnight, while European markets are slightly higher. US futures is showing a slightly lower opening, but may turn around. According to a Fed report this morning, 524,000 US jobs were lost in December, about what was expected, but far better than many had feared after an earlier report this week by ADP. This puts the unemployment rate at 7.2%, the highest in 16 years.
  • Bloomberg morning metal news - more

  Crisis hits nickel demand hardest - NICKEL has been hit hard, with a long list of miners shutting down production in 2008 as prices probe record lows. - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - "Metals were weaker again on Thursday, with nickel, zinc, and copper leading the group lower, although lead bucked the trend, and closed higher. ... The real test for markets comes later today, when nonfarm payroll numbers are released. Expectations are calling for a 500,000-job decline. However, the lousy ADP report out Wednesday and relatively high weekly initial claims readings we have been seeing of late, suggest the number could come in on the higher side. As a result, we would remain cautious about going long metals at this point despite the bounce we are seeing right now. We don’t see much to account for the market’s steadier tone at present, as the dollar is practically unchanged. Shanghai markets were buoyant overnight and contributed to a stronger LME opening on hopes of further production cutbacks being in the pipeline. .. We are currently at $11,300, down $250, and so far trading within a very non-eventful $500/MT trading range so far today.(read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • Calyon metals analyst Robin Bhar - ""We've seen this before - people front-run the index re-weighting, but once they have made some profits they'll be looking to dump these positions."
  • Morgan Stanley - "We believe depressed stainless steel production rates will persist at least until 3Q 2009, when we forecast the start of a restocking cycle in stainless steel."
  • Lloyds List - Vale, the world’s largest iron ore exporter, has signed a $410m deal to build a 300,000-tonne iron ore terminal in Rizhao port, one of the biggest iron ore import ports in China.
  • METALS INSIDER: Will stimulus plans boost copper? - more
  • (SBB) China's stainless output and usage dropped 8% last year
  • (Yieh) Japan’s exports of stainless steel scrap dropped to 72,836 tons in November of 2008, down by 33.3 percent from October at 109,239 tons and down by 25.8 percent compared to the same period of 2007.
  • China Daily - Economist: China's economic recovery to 'start in H2'
  • India - Stainless steel imports decline by about 70 per cent in Dec  - The country's stainless steel imports dipped by 70% to 6,000 tonnes in December, weakening the industry's demand for raising import duty on the alloy.  - more
  • Miners see light at end of tunnel - Investors charged in to mining equities this week before retreating in the face of old threats, but they left a hint of optimism in a sector that some view as undervalued after a dramatic sell-off in the fourth quarter of 2008. - more
  • Searching for a Bottom in Industrial Commodities - more
  • Return of Confidence, and Commodity Inflation in 2009 - more

  * 2008 was a tumultuous year for nickel - What a difference a year makes. A year ago, few expected that, by the end of 2008, nickel prices would have slumped and hundreds of workers in the mining industry would have lost their jobs. - more

  Nippon Steel Said to Consider Deeper Output Cuts Amid Recession - Nippon Steel Corp., the world’s second-largest maker, may double its planned production cuts by closing a blast furnace for maintenance as the global recession damps demand. - more

  India investigates stainless-steel exporters - In November last year, India began an anti-dumping investigation on imported, cold rolled, flat stainless steel originating in or exported from several countries, including Thailand. India's concern is that its domestic companies will suffer because of cheaper imported stainless steel flooding its market. - more

  Indonesia to Need Letter of Credit for Commodity Sale  - Indonesia, rich in metals including tin, nickel, copper and gold, will insist on letters of credit for exports of key commodities to cover risk of payment defaults as the global recession deepens. - more

   China mills seek 40 pct cut in iron ore prices  - Chinese steel firms on Friday joined Japanese counterparts in demanding price cuts of around 40 percent for term iron in 2009, as mills look to cut costs amid faltering demand and huge cutbacks in output. - more

  AK Steel starts salaried employee layoff - AK Steel said on Thursday it was implementing a salaried workforce layoff plan due to the continuing economic downturn. - more

  African Eagle limits ops to Tanzania nickel project - Minerals explorer African Eagle Resources Plc said on Friday it would restrict its active operations to the Dutwa nickel project in Tanzania and seek partners for some other projects due to funding issues. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

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

Thursday, January 8

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 32 to 821. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Stocks in U.S. Decline as Retailers Cut Forecasts; Wal-Mart Shares Tumble // Fixed 30-Year Mortgages Fall to 5.01%, Lowest Since 1971, Freddie Mac Says // No Recovery for Real Estate as Speculators Dominate Increase in Purchases // Asian Stocks Decline, Wiping Out 2009 Advance; Lenovo, BHP Billiton Slump // Dollar Falls Before Report Forecast to Show Jobless Rate at 16-Year High // Stocks Drop in Europe, Led by Mining Companies, Retailers; BHP, Rio Slump // European Confidence Drops to Record; Unemployment Rises to Two-Year High
  • US Dollar has slumped during the day, trading down nearly 3/4 of 1% against the Euro. Crude oil is down nearly 2-1/2%, off earlier lows and trading around $42/barrel. Metals ended mixed with some gainers and some losers. And at least one big loser, primarily nickel. Indicator charts show nickel never stood a chance today, with a large decline in morning trading, a quiet afternoon, and a late sell off and rebound in kerb trading. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $5.23/lb . Unlike yesterday,  the session ended on a slight rebound, implying that tomorrow could go either way. Sucden's day old chart (here) gave analyst Nimit Khamar's comments as a close below 12,350 would indicate a further loss to 11,700/tonne. With nickel ending at $11,540, the technicals suggest a further drop, although the RSI and SStoch showed today's market opened deeply oversold, and thus could open even more so tomorrow. We are not experts on reading technical charts, but considering the fundamentals of nickel are in the toilet these days, this sporadic bout of speculation seems to even make trying to forecast the charts a fools journey. In Europe the lack of natural gas from Russia is causing problems for steel mills already suffering from the economic slowdown. The Baltic Dry Index had another positive day, while nickel inventories in LME warehouses, slipped again. In US news, the porn industry intends to ask for a $5 billion federal stimulus bail-out, Governor Sarah Palin's is blaming everyone for her defeat in the Presidential elections (her), Joe the ex-plumber's assistant is now a reporter in Israel for a conservative website, and a New York doctor is suing his ex-wife for a kidney he donated to her. He wants the kidney back - or $1.5 million dollars.    

  METALS-Copper eases, nickel down 7 pct as index re-jig starts - Copper and other metals fell on Thursday, with nickel down almost 7 percent, as worries about the global economy intensified and players took profits as the rebalancing of commodity indices started. - more

  Reports

  • World Bank Commodity Price Data - pdf here

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Morgan Stanley) "We believe depressed stainless steel production rates will persist at least until 3Q 2009, when we forecast the start of a restocking cycle in stainless steel.

  Some steelmakers may be stocking up moly, ferromoly: Asia traders - A handful of steelmakers in Asia appeared to have started stocking up molybdenum oxide and ferromolybdenum in the first week of January, in anticipation of higher prices, traders in South Korea and Japan said Thursday. - more

  Report: China scraps steel reserve plan - China has canceled its proposal to set up a steel stockpile, one of the planned major measures to help steel makers overcome current difficulties, the Wall Street Journal has reported. - more

  • China's iron ore consumption to reach 1.3 billion mt in 2020 - China's annual iron ore (grading 63-66% Fe) consumption is expected to reach 1.3 billion mt, and iron ore imports will represent around 40% of the country's needs in 2020, according to the 2008-2015 development plan for mineral resources issued Thursday by China's Ministry of Land and Resources.

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

  • Indicators at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.34/lb lower. The Dollar and Euro are playing tug of war this morning, with no clear trend set. At the moment they are fairly even, with the Euro ever so slightly ahead on news that the Bank of England cut their benchmark interest rate to 1.5%, the lowest since the central bank was founded in 1694. Crude oil continues to fall, down over 2% and trading in the upper $41/barrel level. Metals are mostly lower with palladium, platinum, and lead slightly in the green at the moment. Nickel is taking another bath, as all the recent hype about index rebalancing potentially helping nickel has lost some of its punch. In overnight trading, Asian markets took a beating, with the S&P Asia 50 index down nearly 5%. European is having its second down day so far, with the Bloomberg European 500 down nearly 2%. US futures show another hard opening for Wall Street, with the DJIA Index down 137 points on news that retail powerhouse and stock holder favorite Wal-Mart has scaled back earnings expectations, citing a worse-than-expected December performance. Wal-Mart has a track record of doing well when others are faltering, so when Wal-Mart announces lower sales, the ripple is felt throughout the market.       
  • Bloomberg morning metal news - more

  LME nickel falls 5 pct on baleful economy outlook - London Metal Exchange nickel futures fell more than 5 percent on Thursday as a New Year rally gave up ground to resurfacing pessimism about the world economy. - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - "Metals staged a reversal yesterday, but the declines were uneven, suggesting that index rebalancing is still at play. Nevertheless, after several days of steady gains, the reversal was significant, but not particularly surprising, as we cautioned in yesterday's commentary that the market had perhaps gotten ahead of itself given the prevailing macro picture.  ... The less-than-inspiring global macro backdrop cannot be emphasized enough at this stage-- with most of the world either at, or in, recession, and with LME stocks continuing to rise, (telling us that producers are still "behind the curve" in terms of cutbacks), the case for a sustainable rally in metals looks unpersuasive. Of course, from time to time, markets will see sharp bounces driven by such factors as index rebalancing, dollar weakness, or technical moves that may look impressive, but turn out to be equally deceptive. Some of these elements were on display in the post-Christmas bounce in metals, but having done quite a bit on the upside already, we suspect prices will take something of a breather, at least over the short-term. ... We are currently at $11,700, down $600; an attempt to break past $13,500 seems to have failed, and we are perhaps going to turn lower inside the range." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (ACNB) Nickel sector weakens below Moving Average (MA), with 50-day MA trailing its 200-day MA, crashes 6.3% January 08, 2009 16:00:00 AEST
  • (Yieh) Due to sluggish demand, India's chrome ore export price is likely to drop by 50 percent to FOB US$300-400/ton, at the same time, the association of Federal Indian Minerals requests the government to cancel the chrome ore export tax.
  • (JMB) Japanese major 5 steel makers including Nippon Steel and JFE Steel are expected to expand the production cut up to 10 million tonnes in the second half year to March 2009 from the first half year to meet the lower demand and to reduce overstock.
  • (Interfax) China has asked the world's top three iron ore miners to base this year's annual iron ore benchmark price negotiations on 2007's agreed price level, a senior official with the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) told Interfax on Jan. 7.
  • Slovak firms curb output due to gas supply cuts - more

  LME's "odd couple" stand out in the gloom - The second half of 2008 brought with it a total capitulation of industrial metal prices. Gains accumulated over the preceding three-year bull rally were surrendered in as many months. - more

  Stainless steel imports decline by about 70% in Dec - The country’s stainless steel imports dipped by 70% to 6,000 tonnes in December, weakening the industry’s demand for raising import duty on the alloy. - more

  No sign of recovery in US ferroalloys at start of New Year - Hopes that the start of a new year would bring about a recovery in bulk ferroalloy prices in the US market were quickly dashed, as a consumer purchase of high-carbon ferrochrome this week for first quarter delivery quickly helped knock more than 10 cents/lb off the spot market. - more

  Metals Prices to Be Lower in 2009 on Weak Demand, Goldman Says - Metal and coal prices are expected to average “considerably lower” in 2009 as demand plunges in a global recession and producers can’t cut supply fast enough, Goldman Sachs JBWere Pty said. - more

  • BofA-Merrill Lynch resume mining/metals coverage in bearish tone - Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Research resumed its coverage this week of metals and mining equities in the US market "with a negative fundamental bias," according to a January 5 report shared with Platts Wednesday. - more

  New Caledonia’s northern nickel project has new investors - One of New Caledonia’s world class nickel mining project, Koniambo, in the North of the main island of New Caledonia, has secured a new string of investments, less than three months after other banks had decided to pullout, citing the global financial crisis. - more

  China Seeks Early Ore Accord Before Demand Rises, Westpac Says - Chinese steel mills want an early conclusion of iron ore contract price talks with suppliers such as Rio Tinto Group before demand increases because of a government- driven expansion program, said Westpac Banking Corp. - more

  • China industry body urges state to buy metals  - China's state reserves should buy copper, zinc and nickel, to help metals producers hit hard by the economic slowdown, the China Nonferrous Metals Association has proposed to the central government, state media said on Thursday. - more

  Market Tendency On Imports Of Ferro-Alloys At 26th December 2008 = How To Develop Prices Of Ferro-Alloys In Spring 2009 Is In A Maze - more

  Rio Cutting Kestrel Coal Output 15% on Reduced Demand  - Rio Tinto Group, the world’s third- largest mining company, will reduce output from its Kestrel coal mine in Australia by 15 percent because of reduced demand - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

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

Wednesday, January 7

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 14 to 789. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Stocks in U.S. Drop as Job Losses More Than Estimated; Alcoa Shares Slide // Asia Stocks Rise on Speculation U.S. Spending Will Boost Growth; Rio Jumps // Asian Economies to Have V-Shaped Rebound After `Apocalypse,' BNP Predicts // European Stocks Fall for First Time in Seven Days; Rio Tinto, ASML Decline // Russian Gas Shipments to Europe Through Ukraine Halted in Freezing Weather // Industrial Companies Prepare for Gas Shortages Amid Russian Supply Dispute (Reuters) Budget deficit to hit $1.2 trillion (MarketWatch) 'We're seeing enormous layoffs take place now that might have been spread out over the next six or nine months in previous downturns.' - Joel Naroff, TD Commerce Bank
  • The US Dollar continues to falter against the Euro, trading lower by 1-1/4%, and off session lows. Crude oil is slumping, down nearly 9% to under $45/barrel. Precious metals are trading mixed, while base metals ended mostly lower. While most had an uneventful day,  tin and nickel got whacked as the index rally fizzled. In a market wrap-up today, Dow Jones noted "The new year's rally in base metals finally lost some steam Wednesday as fundamentals began to reassert themselves, analysts and traders said. Indicator charts show nickel spent a day stair stepping down, and at teh days end, showed no signs of a reversal. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $5.58/lb . ADP unemployment numbers out of the US today were brutal, and served as a reminder to world markets that the Obama stimulus package, when it arrives, will take many months to have any positive effects. In the mean time, as the Fed minutes released yesterday noted, things are going to get worse before they get better. The Fed will release their official December employment report on Friday, and U.S. President-elect Barack Obama said on Monday that he expected the unemployment figures to be "sobering".  Besides this report, we will see reports on chain store sales, consumer credit, and wholesale trade over the next few days. The BDI sparked some interest by rising by 14 points overnight, and LME nickel inventories gained a little; nearly enough to offset yesterday's loss.

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Barclays Capital - ".. recent macro data coming in to the downside and LME stocks still rising we see little reason for price strength to be sustained."
  • Standard Bank metals analyst Leon Westgate - "I think basically the rally's run out of momentum...Various metals hit technical resistances and have fallen."
  • (Marketwatch) Japan's top steel maker, Nippon Steel & Sumikin Stainless Steel Corp., said Wednesday it would suspend some thin-sheet production lines for at least six months, as demand from homebuilders and electronics makers drops, the Nikkei newspaper reported. NSSC -- a joint venture between Nippon Steel Corp. said the closures would begin in February and could continue longer than six months if demand remains weak, according to the report.

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

  • Indicators at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.23/lb lower. Euro is rebounding against the US Dollar today, trading 1-1/2% higher. Crude oil is currently down, trading in the $48/barrel level, after reaching $49 earlier. Metals are mostly higher, with gold, silver and nickel all down at the moment. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended mostly softer, as is European trading today. US futures show Wall Street will open in a foul mood, after Market Watch reports "U.S. private-sector firms shed 693,000 jobs in December, far worse than expected, according to the ADP employment index released Wednesday." The reason for nickel's sudden rise in price over the past few days, has been credited to index rebalancing that is set to happen in a few weeks. It is interesting to note in this article that it is estimated nickel will make up a
    smaller" part of the index, not larger as traders appear to be betting on. Article here If this index forecast pans out, we could potentially see some very unhappy traders in London, and the price of nickel could fall as fast as it has risen.
  • Bloomberg morning metal news - more

  Base metals' march falters as index effect fades - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - "Metal prices continued to push higher yesterday, but apart from index rebalancing, which apparently could last until the middle of this month, we see little else that can explain the sharp advances. We have been friendly towards metals at the start of the week, but the speed of the ascent has been surprising, and at this point, we would rather not chase the rallies much further. In our view, index rebalancing is not going to be a viable substitute for end-user metal demand, which is still flat on its back, and neither will it make a dent in rising LME stock levels, which were up again today, particularly for copper (by 7800 tons), and ali, (by just over 13,000 tons). ... We are currently at $12,900, down $350; a push to just under $14,000 could still be in the cards, but the complex seems to have trouble pushing beyond $13,500 for the moment, already tested twice this week." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) India's stainless steel mill, Jindal Stainless, decided to slow all its investments worldwide. The projects including a 2.6 million-ton ferro-nickel plant in Indonesia and a 60,000-tonne ferro- chrome unit in Vietnam.
  • (SBB) US stainless imports dive in December; off 10% for the year
  • (JMD) NSSC - To shut down equipment at Hikari and Kashima/ 2 cold rolling mills and 2 annealing lines, for half a year/ Prepared for 'prolonged significant production cutback'
  • Commodity doom and the African economy - more
  • Commodities Down, Hedge Funds Not Out As Market Looks To '09 - more
  • Recession pushes scrap steel, aluminum prices all around - more
  • End of Wall Street: What Happened - 3 part video presentation - here
  • Worst is yet to come, Fed acknowledges - more

  ThyssenKrupp steel unit sees orders rebound - paper - German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp expects incoming orders to rebound somewhat at the beginning of 2009, the finance chief of the group's main steel unit Peter Urban was quoted as saying by daily Handelsblatt. - more

  Canadian base metal miners enjoy New Year rally - Several Canadian base metal miners hit multi-month highs on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday, as stronger prices and improving expectations for steel demand helped revived some hope for a sustained rebound in the hard-hit sector. - more

  Nickel Industry Is Watching Results Of New Mining Law In Indonesia = COW For Investments By Foreign Enterprises Is Revoked And Shifted To Mining Permission - more

  India's iron ore exports in early December fall - India's iron ore exports in the first half of December fell 3.8 percent from the same period the year before, data showed, and traders said demand from China had picked up slightly. - more

  US weekly steel output ends 2008 near depression levels - The early 1980s were not good years for the US steel sector, and most recently, raw steel production in the US in the final week of 2008 dropped to levels not seen in the past 26 years, according to data reported Monday by the Washington DC-based American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above) (charts and archives)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (chart)
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here   (charts)
  • India Metals Prices - Delhi - Jan 7 - more
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Tuesday, January 6

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 3 to 775. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) U.S. Factory Orders, Home Sales Contract as Companies, Consumers Retrench // Stocks in U.S. Gain on Obama Stimulus Plan; Disney, Citigroup Shares Climb // Obama Is Said to Favor About $775 Billion for U.S. Economic Stimulus Plan // Most Asian Stocks Rise, Led by Electronics Makers; Utilities Drop on Crude // Indian Exporters Predict 10 Million Job Cuts by March on Global Recession // Toyota, Honda U.S. Sales Slump Ends Annual Growth Dating From Mid-1990s // European Stocks Rise for Sixth Day; Rio Tinto, Next, Debenhams Shares Gain // Euro Drops to Lowest Level in Three Weeks on Speculation ECB to Cut Rates // U.K. Services, Confidence Shrink; House Prices Drop by the Most Since 1991
  • Since this morning, the US Dollar has backed off some of its earlier gains against the Euro, now trading 1.1% higher. Crude oil has slipped back below $50/barrel, but not by much. Precious metals are trading mixed, but base metals ended trading solidly higher. Nickel had another gainer, and indicator charts show it spent much of the first part of the session on the climb, while falling back some before the end. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $6.01/lb .  It appears that some of the other metals have started to play catch-up to nickel, which started increasing in price last week on index restructuring speculation. One of the benefactors to this increase are those holding junior mining stock. These stocks were pummeled in the latter part of 2008, but have had a few bullish days lately. Sucden's day old chart shows yesterday's slowdown failed to stick in today's trading (chart). The Baltic Dry Index continues to drift, with no clear direction established. Most metal analysts seem to agree that this increase in nickel pricing is a temporary situation. Based on the fundamentals, we would have to agree. But, we readily admit that we do not fully understand the whole fund re-indexing situation and its overall impact on the market, and therefore aren't sure how the funds may be looking at this. We saw a similar event last January, but it saw no where near the overall affect on pricing as it is having this year. So will it stick? Or, as Ed pointed out in his notes this morning, will we see $6.30/lb before the market calms down? And if it doesn't hold over the next few weeks, how far is the downside? Stay tuned.     

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Robin Bhar, senior metals analyst at Calyon Credit Agricole AB in London - "We see a price rise and then a price fall next week. Everyone's gloomy, we don't know whether we're facing a depression or a recession, or what."

  Stainless steel prices falling again due to weak demand at the end of 2008  - Stainless steel prices continue to decline, not only because of falling demand and collapsing surcharges but also because buyers have stopped purchasing any product at this moment.  - more

  2010 ‘mining country’ aspiration at risk - The bid to elevate the Philippines to "mining country status" — or a country with minerals accounting for at least 6% of total exports — by 2010 is threatened by declining domestic mineral production amid dampened metal prices, government and industry officials said. - more

  China to implement agent system for iron ore import - China Business News reported that China's Iron and Steel Association takes its trump card like measure so as to trim its chaotic imported iron ore market. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.24/lb higher, and possibly peaking for the day. Base metals are all trading solidly in the green, despite the fact that the US Dollar is having another big day against the Euro, up 2% this morning. Crude oil broke the $50/barrel mark this morning, and is up 4%, while precious metals are mixed. Overnight, Asian markets closed slightly higher, and European markets are solidly higher this morning. Even futures show Wall Street will open solidly in the green. Traders around the world are expressing their hopes that the Obama economic stimulus plan will turn the world economies around, and the proposal appears to be getting more coverage in foreign media, than in our own. In a reversal of recent news, the Baltic Dry Index rose by 3 points, and nickel inventories in LME warehouses fell a little.   
  • Bloomberg morning metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - "In yesterday's commentary, we expressed some optimism that metals could do somewhat better over the course of this week, particularly if both the energy and US equity sustain their recent gains. Another looming positive, we thought, had to do with market perceptions discounting a growing bipartisan consensus around a massive stimulus program coming out of the Obama administration. While metals did not exactly rally yesterday, they did pare earlier losses, and seem to be making up for lost ground today. In fact, Shanghai markets have closed limit up, with copper trading to be suspended tomorrow, as prices have already risen by the allowable limit for three days in a row.  ... Where to from here? Unless the macro headlines start to improve, we suspect that the kind of bounces we are now seeing in metals would be, at best, rallies in a bear market. Having said, this particular bear could be getting somewhat long in the tooth, and might transform itself into a sideways ranging market before long, but again, this very much depends on the macro data that will be released in the weeks ahead.  ... We are currently at $13,325, up $475, and close to our highs for the day; we expect nickel to do slightly better from here, and would not rule out an advance to just under $14,000, the topside of a 2 1/2 month trading range."(read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Interfax) Iron ore stockpiles at China's 22 major ports stood at 60.15 million tons on Friday, Jan. 2, down 1.3 percent from Dec. 26, while Indian iron ore stockpiles decreased by 8.16 percent to 13.17 million tons, according to figures released by Shanghai-based Mysteel.
  • (Interfax) Taiyuan Iron and Steel (Group) Co. Ltd. (TISCO), China's largest stainless steel mill, plans to produce around 2 million tons of stainless steel products in 2009, although it is not very positive about Chinese demand, a TISCO official told Interfax on Jan. 6.
  • (Yieh) Taiwan’s Yieh United Steel Corp. (Yusco) has announced a temporary halt to its shipments, except for scheduled shipments; this situation was triggered by nickel recently shooting to above US$13,000/ton, from the previous price of US$9,800/ton. Besides, stainless steel prices are likely to increase, if nickel prices don’t fall in a week, the company added. Yusco is taking a careful wait-and-see attitude.
  • (Yieh) According to the report from the World Steel Association (worldsteel), the world crude steel production for the 66 countries was 89 million metric tons in November, which was about 19 percent lower than the same month in 2007.
  • (Interfax) Jinchuan to increase nickel production to 125,000 tons in 2009
  • A fledgling return for risk - more
  • Beware, commodity index rebalancing ahead - more

  New Caledonia’s SMSP secures more loans to build Koniambo project - New Caledonia’s SMSP mining company has secured more funding for its Koniambo nickel project in the territory’s north. - more

  Chromex Cuts Chrome Output From African Mine to 10,000 Tons - Chromex Mining Plc, a chrome mining company operating in southern Africa, cut production at the Stellite mine to 10,000 metric tons of ore a month. - more

  POSCO may cut steel production - POSCO Co Ltd, the world's No. 4 steelmaker, said on Tuesday it might cut steel production further in the current quarter to cope with slumping demand from automakers and electronics manufacturers. - more

  JFE wants iron ore prices to fall to 07/08 levels - JFE Steel Co wants prices of iron ore and coking coal for term supply in the 2009/10 business year to fall to at least 2007/08 levels due to a precipitous decline in steel demand, president Hajime Bada said on Tuesday. - more

  Base metals demand could pick up in H2 – Fitch  - Although growth in the global base metals sector was expected to slow over the next 12 months, ratings agency Fitch Ratings stated that improvement in credit availability and implementation of fiscal stimulus programmes could result in stronger demand in the second half of 2009. - more

  No limit on nickel emissions - Esperance Port Authority has been issued with a licence which fails to limit the amount of cancer-causing nickel dust that can be emitted from the port. - more

  FACTBOX-Production cuts by major global steel firms - Following is a timeline of announcements of output reductions made by steel companies in recent weeks: - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending January 3, 2009, domestic raw steel production was 866,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 36.3 percent. Production was 2,128,000 tons in the week ending January 3, 2008, while the capability utilization then was 88.7 percent. The current week production represents a 59.3 percent decrease from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending January 3, 2009 is up 8.3 percent from the previous week ending December 27, 2008 when production was 800,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 33.5 percent.

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

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

Monday, January 5

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 1 to 772. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Stocks in U.S. Drop on Earnings Concern; AT&T, JPMorgan Chase Shares Fall // Ford, Honda December U.S. Sales Slump More Than 30% as Consumers Retrench // Pequot's Wien Sees 33% Gain in S&P This Year, Rallies in Crude Oil, Gold // Asian Stocks Climb for Eighth Day on Government Stimulus; Nintendo Gains // Honda, Toyota Lead Decline in Japan Vehicle Sales as Recession Cuts Demand // Dollar Rises to Three-Week High Versus Euro on Prospects for U.S. Stimulus // European Stocks Advance for Fifth Day; Nestle, EADS, Xstrata Shares Climb // German Government Considering Two-Year Stimulus Plan Totaling $68 Billion (AP) Construction spending falls less than expected (WSJ) Japan's Auto Sales Skid to 34-Year Low
  • The US Dollar maintained its earlier gains against the Euro, and is still trading 2-3/4% higher. Crude oil has had a volatile day, with trades ranging from $45.55 to $48.50/barrel and is currently trading around $47.50. Metals, except for platinum and zinc, ended, or are trading lower. Nickel had a volatile day as well, with session trading dipping by early afternoon, and then recovering. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $5.83/lb . News that Jinchuan was increasing nickel production despite the low price, and the rising dollar helped handcuff nickel traders today, but we don't expect the bulls of last week to disappear completely. Sucden's day old chart shows the recent speculation the commodity indexes re-weightings have brought to nickel trading (chart here). LME inventory changes were positive, albeit a non factor today, and the Baltic Dry Index has drifted so far this year, with a combined change over two days totalling 2 points.  

  Reports

  • Weekly Commodity Price Report - pdf here
  • Weekly Forecast by SMM Specialist - here
  • Weekly Outlook - pdf here

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Market observers said copper and other metals may resume their rally in coming days because of the annual commodity indexes re-weightings, although all agreed fundamentals remained dire.
  • (China Business News) - Mr Qi Xiangdong deputy GS of China Iron & Steel Association - "Domestic steel prices have fallen to 1994 levels and the chill winter implies the market warming up is not far."
  • (Dow Jones) The European Union widened its steel trade deficit in tonnage terms during the third quarter compared with the previous quarter as Chinese steel imports more than doubled, figures provided by U.K.-based Iron and Steel Statistics Bureau Ltd. showed Monday.
  • (Wall Street Journal) - The current U.S. recession, with no end in sight, threatens to be the longest since 1933, and that helps explain why investors are having so much trouble gauging the stock market. ... Since the Great Depression, only two recessions have run longer than this one, the first ending in 1975 and the other in 1982. Each lasted 16 months, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the government-designated recession tracker.”
  • (Dow Jones) Monthly Chinese mill steel exports fell in November to their lowest level since June 2005 while imports dropped to their lowest level since February 2000, the U.K.-based Iron and Steel Statistics Bureau Ltd said Monday.
  • (RTT) Cotton & Western Mining says iron ore price is now down to near 2004 annual fixed contact price
  • Labour talks continue as strike threatens B.C. ports - more

  According to AK Steel's monthly surcharge report, nickel averaged $4.3937/lb in December ($4.85/lb in November), molybdenum averaged $9.60/lb ($10.00/lb in November), chrome averaged $1.032/lb ($1.54/lb in November), and iron averaged $235/GT ($145/Gt in November) in December. You can compare these figures over time on our excel spreadsheet here, and check historical surcharges here

  • AK Steel Announces February 2009 Surcharges for Electrical and Stainless Steels - AK Steel has advised its customers that a $165 per ton surcharge will be added to invoices for electrical steel products shipped in February 2009. - more

  Asia top nickel producer Jinchuan to increase output in 2009 despite dull market - Jinchuan Group Ltd. (JNMC), Asia's largest nickel producer located in Gansu province, northwest China, announced Sunday that it would expand its production scale so as to lower costs in 2009, in spite of the dull nickel and copper market. - more

  A debt of $34 billion  - A debt of $34 billion to the state court in the accounts of New Caledonia, and in the greatest silence, for years. Born of a change in taxation of nickel occurred in 1975, this sum is heavy today challenged by local politicians. - translated version here (original French here)

  London Metal Exchange Trading Jumps to Record in 2008 - The London Metal Exchange, the world’s largest copper market, said trading rose 22 percent last year for a fourth consecutive record, paced by nickel and lead. - more

  Cuba Nickel Strong, Competitive - The Cuban nickel industry in 2008 upstaged the tourism sector with 70,400 tons mined for returns of 5.5 billion dollars. - more

  Rio Tinto restarts Australian iron ore mines - World No. 2 iron ore miner Rio Tinto Ltd/Plc is restarting its iron ore mines in western Australia after a two-week closure to cut production by about 10 percent due to lower demand from steel mills in China. - more

  December steel prices indicate that the market may have reached rock bottom in November. - The price of steel last month showed an increase for the first time since it plummeted in July. - more

  Eskom says smelter shutdowns caused large tumble in power demand - South African utility company Eskom said Monday that the shutdown of smelters through the credit crunch has caused power demand by the country's biggest users to tumble - but the national power generator still can't say when full power will be given back to the mines. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:50 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.16/lb lower with news that China nickel producer Jinchuan will increase nickel production despite lower prices. This has offset news that the Chinese PMI rose slightly in December, and forced some traders to take some profits from the recent price rise.  Indicator charts show nickel is currently off session lows though.  Metals, both precious and base, are trading lower this morning, as the Dollar makes a big morning jump on the Euro, currently trading 2-1/2% higher. Crude oil is also trading lower, down nearly 3% and just under $46/barrel. Overnight, Asian markets ended solidly higher, while European markets are higher, but without as much as enthusiasm. US futures show a slightly lower opening.   
  • Bloomberg morning metal news - more

  LME nickel falls almost 5 pct on China output rise - London Metal Exchange nickel fell 4.9 percent on Monday, sliding after China's Jinchuan said it planned to boost metal output by almost 20 percent this year, despite soft market conditions. - more

  Nickel Gains Most Since 1987 in London on Index Speculation - Nickel gained the most since at least 1987 in London on speculation index funds will buy more industrial metals this month to reflect annual re-weightings in their benchmarks. Zinc and copper also advanced. - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  "Metal prices soared again on Friday in very thin market conditions and on continued speculation about index rebalancing. Nickel took the lead, jumping by almost 16%, while copper and tin were also very strong, rising by about 8% on the day. ... Despite a possible upside bias in metals over the course of the week (notwithstanding today’s rather sluggish opening), it is difficult to get too excited about prospects going forward, and the best we can hope for, is for a trading range to replace the relentless bear trend evident in most complexes. We say this in view of the fact that the US economy has yet to turn the corner, in that consumer spending, labor markets, corporate earnings, and manufacturing activity, are all moribund. In addition, while interest rates and credit spreads are heading lower, there seems to be no noticeable improvement in loan activity, not that surprising given that we seem to be falling further into recession. Not helping matters much either, is the fact that the slowdown in the US is not being offset by growth in other global economies. Instead, as we have been noting in our commentary, and as the Wall Street Journal chart reproduced in our attachment also shows, global economies are dovetailing the US slowdown, thus robbing the metals sector of non-US demand. ... We are currently at $12,375, down $825, and giving up a good portion of Friday's gains. A story out overnight, that Jinchuan Group plans to increase output of nickel, copper, and cobalt in 2009, did not sit well with the market today, and is contributing to the current decline. Jinchuan expects to produce 125,000 tons of nickel this year, up nearly 20% from the 104,600 tons produced in 2008. Nevertheless, we still expect nickel to do slightly better from here, before it fades and would not rule out an advance to just under $14,000, the topside of a 2 1/2 month trading range." (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Interfax) China's Ministry of Commerce and the General Administration of Customs jointly announced on Dec. 31 that China will reinstate copper, nickel, cobalt and aluminum tolling on Feb. 1, 2009, in order to boost the country's foreign trade growth.
  • China to resume tax-free policy on copper, nickel, aluminium - China will resume a tax-free policy on imports of concentrate for copper, nickel and cobalt from Feb 1, a statement on the Ministry of Commerce's website said. (www.mofcom.gov.cn) - more
  • (Yieh) China Metal Material Circulation Association said that China's stainless steel output reached 7.1 million tonnes in 2008, down by 6% YoY in comparison to 2007.
  • Xinhua - Jinchuan Group Ltd, China's top nickel producer, said it plans to increase output of nickel, copper and cobalt in 2009, despite a weakening global economy. Jinchuan expects to produce 125,000 tonnes of nickel this year, up nearly 20 percent from 104,600 tonnes in 2008, a statement on the company's website (www.jnmc.com) said.
  • Expert Commodity Picks for 2009: Jim Rogers and Marc Faber - more
  • Base metals may remain volatile - more
  • Global metal prices expected to firm - more
  • Falling metals prices will hit Africa hard - more

  Tumultuous year for nickel - Nickel prices plummet, workers laid off, mines shuttered - more

  Nickel trade lackluster in Asia despite LME prices rising 30% - Nickel trading activities were lackluster in Asia Monday despite London Metal Exchange nickel prices rising 30% last week, South Korean and Japanese market sources said. - more

  Japanese base metal producers raise list prices on LME gains - Japanese base metal producers raised domestic list prices effective Monday following the rise in the London Metal Exchange prices over the Japanese new year holiday period last week. - more

  Domestic Price Of Ni-Based Stainless Scrap Passes Over To New Year On Yen 70,000 - 75,000 / Ton = Owing To Reduced Production Of Stainless Steel, Demand For Purchases Of This Scrap Has Been Still Depressed - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

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

Weekend Brief, January 4

  Papua New Guinea and China's New Empire - As he completes nearly seven years as The Globe and Mail's Beijing bureau chief, Geoffrey York says the most striking change is the boom in Chinese trade, aid and influence around the world, especially in places the West has neglected or rejected. For an in-depth look, he visits a $1.4-billion nickel and cobalt mine that a Chinese company has made spring from the wilderness in the Pacific – but not without serious conflicts - more

  Reports

  • Chart Store Weekly Scoreboard - pdf here
  • Chart Store Monthly Scoreboard - pdf here

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (MySteel) It is reported that more steel mills have returned to the market in light of the reviving demand bolstered by the stimulus packages released by the central government. .. Statistics shows that 19 steel manufacturers have declared to carry out maintenance in September and the number increased to 28 in October then falls to 27 in November. News learned that 5 steel mills have resumed their production lines in December including Tiantie Chongli Steel Making Company, Jiugang Hongxing, Lingyuan Steel, Pangang and Fujian Sanming Steel. Tiantie Steelmaking Plant aims to run at full capacity in next Jan.
  • Price slump iterates end of mining boom - more

  Nickel sees strong rally - Nickel rallied strongly this week on expectation of greater demand from steel companies, for which it forms a key raw material. The industrial metal gaining weightage in a popular international commodity index basket also triggered enhanced investor interest. here was also technical buying coming at low levels, said the analysts. - more

  • AISSIA against on anti-dumping duty on stainless steel - All India Stainless Steel Industries Association (AISSIA) has urged the Government not to impose the proposed additional 20 per cent anti-dumping duty on any cold roll stainless steel. - more
  • Steel producers to give discounts instead of slashing prices - Domestic steel producers are looking at giving discounts of up to Rs 1,500/tonne on certain steel products to selected customers instead of slashing prices of all the products this month. - more
  • Call for Increased Steel Tariffs - Managing director of Isfahan Steel Mill called for increasing steel import tariffs in light of reduced demand and falling prices in world markets. - more

  Global Steel Production & Pricing Under Pressure Through 1H'09  - According to Fitch Ratings' 2009 global steel outlook report issued today, Fitch expects the current sharp contraction in steel demand to continue to weigh on steel production and pricing through the first half of 2009. - more

  Iron ore spot market pricing starts the new year on stable note - Imported Chinese iron ore spot prices started the year on a steady note, as trading was minimal with many traders still out on vacation. As such, the Platts reference price of 62/62% Fe-content iron ore fines was unchanged at $70/dry metric ton CFR North China. - more

  • Chinese steel exports to major destinations - chart
  • Chinalco: China resource industry sees opportunity amid global crisis - Some Chinese mineral giants see the global economic slowdown as a blessing in disguise. - more
  • Analysts see sluggish Chinese market despite price rebound - Xinhua.net reported that domestic large mills including Baosteel have lifted their ex work prices for next February alongside the rebounding market prices and the moves have helped restore market confidence. - more

  US steel industry on brink of collapse - The US steel industry is in collapse and looking for a massive government investment program of up to $US1 trillion ($A1.42 trillion) to stimulate demand for the key commodity, a report said on Friday. - more

  • Post-production metal prices driven down - At least the scrap metal coming out of the presses at Jagemann Stamping still has some worth. - more

Friday, January 2

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 1 to 773. (chart) (chart 2)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) U.S. Manufacturing Shrinks at Fastest Pace Since 1980 as Recession Spreads // Stocks in U.S. Advance on Stimulus Expectation; GM, Citigroup Shares Climb // India Cuts Interest Rates, Unveils Second Stimulus Package to Spur Growth // Asian Stocks Advance on Optimism Government Policies Will Bolster Earnings // Euro Falls to Two-Week Low Versus Dollar on Drop in European Manufacturing // Stocks in Europe Climb, Rebound From Record 2008 Drop; Rio, Carrefour Gain // European Manufacturing Shrinks at Record Pace, Signals Deepening Recession // November ISM Index - here
  • Dollar continues to trades about 3/4 of 1% higher, while crude oil has reversed an earlier slide, and is now trading over 6% higher, at $46.00/barrel. Metals ended higher, on short covering and speculation that upcoming index restructuring will be favorable to metals beaten down over 2008. Indicator charts show nickel started strong this morning, trading over $6/lb at one point, before backing off a bit and steadying. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $5.96/lb ($13,150/tonne). MF Global's Ed Meir noted this morning "However, we see this move as primarily short covering in thin conditions, and expect much of these gains to recede over the course of next week when participants return and conclude that the macro landscape looks depressingly unchanged from where they left it." With no technical or fundamental change in place (Ed has RSI at 62, with LME inventories growing overnight by over 400 tonnes), the last three days of increase can only be surmised as speculation on possible shifting index allocations and short covering. In 2008, we saw this same bout of speculation, but it came a little later and closer to the actual index change decisions, which will be made by the second or third full week of January.

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

  • Indicators at 7:30 am CST show 3 month nickel selling around  $.57/lb higher, but off earlier high's. Traders are betting heavily that nickel will benefit from the fund index re-shuffling's. Except for gold, all other metals are higher this morning, and the US Dollar is also trading higher against the Euro, by nearly a full percent. Crude oil is trading lower, by over 2-1/2%, and is trading for around $42.30/barrel at the moment. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended mostly up, although Australia and China ended lower. European markets are higher this morning, and US futures show a slightly lower opening.

  Nickel Advances to 2-Month High in London on Index Speculation - Nickel rose to a two-month high in London on speculation index funds will buy more industrial metals this month to reflect annual re-weightings in their benchmarks. Zinc and copper also advanced - more

  • Nickel soars ahead of index re-jig, tin jumps - Nickel soared almost 13 percent on Friday on buying ahead of annual rebalancing by major commodity indices, while copper firmed and tin jumped more than 8 percent. - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments -  "There was a surprising surge in commodity prices late in the day on Wednesday, just as most participants were closing the books on 2008. Oil, in particular, was extremely strong, rallying by about $6 a barrel, and helping pull some of the base metals up along with it. ... Although some of Wednesday's gains are being rolled back today in energy, where crude is off by about $3.00 on resumed Russian-Ukrainian talks, base metals are still strong. However, we see this move as primarily short covering in thin conditions, and expect much of these gains to recede over the course of next week when participants return and conclude that the macro landscape looks depressingly unchanged from where they left it. ... We are currently at $13,000, up $1300, with nickel being talked about as a possible beneficiary of index reconfiguration. The current move could take prices to just under $14,000, the topside of a 2 1/2 month trading range; we would be inclined to go short nickel at that level."(read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • China raised the VAT rate for minerals two months ago to ease the burdens of producers. These took effect Thursday. The VAT rate for such mineral imports as copper ore, nickel ore, aluminum ore as well as ore concentrates was raised to 17 per cent from 13 per cent, according to the Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation.
  • China Purchasing Development Report - pdf here
  • After worst year ever, commodities may lag recovery - more
  • How commodities would perform in 2009 - more
  • China turns screws on iron ore giants - more
  • UAE - Construction activity falls by 85 pct in 12 months as projects fail to secure funding - more
  • China: Manufacturing PMI recovers slightly in December - pdf here

  (Antara) Indonesian Antam to cut Ferronickel Production by 30% in 2009 - Indonesian state-owned mining company PT Aneka Tambang (Antam) said it will cut its ferronickel production by 30 per cent this year as it hopes to curb a downward trend in the commodity's price. Antam would rely more on gold and bauxite production for income more on gold and bauxite as ferronickel prices were not expected to improve this year, Antam president Alwin Syah Loebis said.

  Jindal Stainless buys chrome ore assets in Middle East, Europe - Jindal Stainless (JSL), the country’s largest stainless steel maker, has acquired chrome ore assets in the Middle East and Europe. - more

  China moly oxide, ferromoly trade quiet on poor overseas demand - Chinese molybdenum oxide and ferromolybdenum trade remained quiet this week due to the New Year holidays and poor overseas demand, industry sources said Friday. - more

  Mining union urges Xstrata to reveal financial situation - The mining union says it will today urge Xstrata to offer voluntary redundancy packages to sacked workers. - more

  Commodity Boom Turns Bust in 2008 as Worldwide Economy Crumbles - Commodity prices in 2008 plunged the most in five decades as demand for energy, metals and grains tumbled in the second half because of the recession. - more

  Kremlin Intervention, China Demand to Stabilize Russian Nickel Producer - Russia’s leading mining company, and one of the leading suppliers of nickel to China’s stainless steelmills, may be facing further revenue and profit cuts in 2009, as the international nickel price continues to fall, and inventories of the metal grow. - more

  Steel Industry, in Slump, Looks to U.S. Stimulus - The steel industry, having entered the recession in the best of health, is emerging as a leading indicator of what lies ahead. As steel production goes — and it is now in collapse — so will go the national economy. - more

  • US steel industry urges 'buy America' recovery plan - The ailing U.S. steel industry is pressing President-elect Barack Obama for a public works plan that could be worth $1 trillion over two years to boost flagging demand for U.S.-made steel, the New York Times reported in Friday's editions. - more
  • Pittsburgh-area stainless steel plant lays off 200 - President of the USW Local 1212 at Midland Steve Clutter says only about 10 of the 230 people who had worked at the plant still have jobs. - more
  • Earthquake drill finds weaknesses in steel high-rises - Simulation of a massive Southern California quake suggests about 5 such buildings would collapse. But many engineers say other buildings are riskier and should receive priority in retrofit plans. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

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

Previous day / December Archives


Chart Info Delayed 1 Day

Chart temporarily down

Chart temporarily down


Translate this page to French | German | Spanish | Italian | Portuguese | Chinese | Japanese | Korean | Russian


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

Site Sponsors

Your banner here

Daily Reports

Platt's
UBS Daily
MF Global
BNP Paribas
Macquarie Bank
Reliance Money
Commonwealth Bank

12/2 Market Prices
not official prices

Ferromolybdenum (65-70%)
$16.50/lb
 

12/10/08
Moly Oxide (>51%)
$9.75/lb
 
Source

Ferrochrome(60-65%)(HC)
$1.62/lb
 

Ferrochrome (LC)
$4.45/lb
 

12/2 US Scrap Price

Stainless Steel (LTL/ton)
$.24/lb
 

Media

Bloomberg TV
Bloomberg Asia
CNBC TV18
CNBC Metals
Resource Radio
Korelin Economics

Other Sites

US Stainless Scrap Prices
Baltic Dry Bulk Index
Nickel Mining Stock
Stainless Steel Videos
USGS Mineral Reports
Industrial Metals Index
Nonferrous Metals Index
China Commodities Index
World Disaster Info
Investor Guide
Recession Recovery

Today's Market

World Economic Calendar
USA Economic Calendar
Live Commodity Prices
World Stock Markets
North/South America
Europe Markets
Asia/Pacific
TED Spread
LMEX Index
VIX Index
US Futures

Blogs

Nickel Mine Closures
China FerroMolybdenum
China Financial
Big Picture
D Short
EconMagic
Econompic Data
Worldwide PMI

Price of Nickel

Nickel Graph Temporarily Down

1 and 5 year nickel chart

Sempra Delayed Price
Daily Commodity Prices

Sucden's Evening Base Metals Report

Site Pages

Nickel Price Charts/Forecasts
Stainless Steel Graph/Charts
Stainless Steel Surcharge
Nickel/Stainless Research
Stainless Steel Literature
Make your own charts
Nickel Price Archives
Ferrochrome Facts

Prices/Analysis


Shanghai
Shida Morning Post
Shanghai Metal Price Index


India MCX
India Infoline

Central Japan

Archives

2014
January February March
April May June July August
September October
November
2013
January February March
April May June July August
September October
November December
2012
January February March
April May June July August
September October
November December
2011
January February March
April May June July August
September October
November December
2010 and prior

2014
January February March
April May June July August
September October
November
2013
January February March
April May June July August
September October
November December
2012
January February March
April May June July August
September October
November December
2011
January February March
April May June July August
September October
November December
2010 and prior






Stainless Steel MSDS
USGS Nickel Information
USGS Chromium Information
USGS Molybdenum Info
Tariff Codes (many countries)

Nickel Publications at Amazon

ASTM F593C, F593D, F593G, F593H,
304 and 316 Stainless Steel Hex Bolts
and ASTM F594 Stainless Hex Nuts
In stock - contact the author for current pricing and availability

Contact author  /   EStainlessSteel Home Page

Your free daily news source for nickel, molybdenum, ferrochrome, chromium, iron ore and stainless steel market prices and news.

Any reproduction in whole, or in part, without permission from the author is prohibited.
© 2003-2014