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Daily Nickel Market News & Stainless Steel Prices

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Nickel Prices

Tuesday, January 31

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 22 to 680. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Premier Wen Jiabao Says China Should Allow People to Criticize Government // China Repo Rate Declines Most in Six Months After Cash Injection by PBOC // Shanghai Index Posts Best January Since 2009 Amid Pension-Fund Speculation // China Yuan Set for Worst Month in 18 Years as Policy Makers May Slow Gains // Europe Moves Toward Greek Rescue Confrontation as Leaders Seal Fiscal Pact // German Unemployment Declines More Than Forecast to Two-Decade Low: Economy // Syrian Troops Push Deeper Into Damascus Suburbs Before UN Resolution Talks // Stocks in Europe Advance, Posting Best Monthly Start to a Year Since 1998 // Google’s Android Falls Out of Favor as Holiday Buyers Pick Apple’s IPhone // Consumer Confidence Decline in U.S. Points to Cooling of Growth: Economy // U.S. Stocks Retreat as 10-Year Treasuries Reverse Decline on Economic Data
  • The Euro took a dive after US consumer confidence came in unexpectedly lower, and is now trading against the US Dollar over 1/2 of 1% lower. NYMEX crude is down slightly and trading at $98.75/barrel. Gold is up nearly 2/10 of 1% and silver is down over 8/10 of 1%. Base metals also ended mostly lower, with only tin pulling off a gainer day. Indicator chart show nickel was doing very little until the Euro began to drop, and then nickel slumped hard, and then went back to doing nothing much. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $9.46/lb. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell for a second day and now total just over 94,500 tonnes. US consumer confidence fell in December, the Chicago Institute for Supply Management gauge of business activity fell in December, and yesterday, we got word that US consumer spending did very little in December. Most of the EU countries agreed in principal, to quit spending so much, and rumors are Greece is about to come to an agreement with creditors that will insure it can borrow more to make a debt payment. The Euro seemed to be the main driver for metals traders today, especially for those trading nickel, and as it fell on consumer reports, do did the traded price of nickel. Nickel was $8.49/lb on the last day of December, and ends January nearly $1/lb higher.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Jittery Consumers Equal Bigger Savers - more
  • Fiscal Adjustment: Too Much of a Good Thing? - more
  • Dallas Area Manufacturing Expands - more
  • Vital Signs: Truck Shipments Growing - more

  Merafe's ferrochrome output falls - Merafe Resources' attributable production of ferrochrome declined to 263,000 tonnes in the year ended December 2011 from 300,000 tonnes the previous year. - more

  WTO Rejects Chinese Appeal of Ruling Against Mineral Curbs - World Trade Organization judges rejected China’s appeal of a ruling that found restrictions on exports of nine raw materials break global rules and give the country’s manufacturers an unfair edge over competitors. - more

  Move to overhaul Judiciary gets nod - The Aquino administration’s campaign to overhaul the Judiciary will be beneficial to the economy, a Cabinet official said. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.01/lb higher, with other London traded base meals higher as well. The Euro is trading 1/3 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is nearly 1-1/2% higher and at $100.23/barrel. Gold is up nearly 1/2 of 1% with silver up the same. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up just over 1/10 of 1%. European markets are trading higher and US futures are higher as well. Nickel stockpiles fell for a second consecutive time yesterday. Nickel trading is showing some strain today and not as bullish as it has been.
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Heads for First Monthly Gain in Three as Tin Beats Peers - more
  • LME Morning - Metals advance on improved eurozone mood, set to end month on upbeat note - more
  • Reuters morning - Copper gains on Greek debt talks hope, stronger euro - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Copper retreated from a four-month high yesterday after a week-long Chinese holiday failed to bring out any fresh buying. More importantly, the lack of progress out of Europe pressured the Euro, weakening commodity markets in the process. In fact, nothing seems to matter much in most markets right now, except for what happens in Europe and by extension, to the Euro -- something we don’t see changing much for at least the next few months. With respect to today's developments, Monday's EU summit meeting is now over, with 25 out of 27 states agreeing to sign a pact calling for stricter budget discipline. Apparently, the European Court of Justice will be empowered to impose sanctions on fiscally deviant countries, with penalties either being a lump sum or taking the form of a penalty (up to a certain amount). Only Britain and the Czech Republic refused to sign the so-called fiscal compact. "To write into law a Germanic view of how one should run an economy and that essentially makes Keynesianism illegal is not something we would do" one British official sniffed. ... All of today’s developments –or the lack of any new ones -- have helped strengthen the Euro, where we now are trading at $1.3170. Metals are higher as a result, as are precious metals and oil, with Brent tacking on an additional $1.40 to trade at just over $112 a barrel. US stocks are expected to open higher as earnings reports continue to stream out. Of the 172 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported results since January 9th, about two thirds have beaten estimates, this according to data compiled by Bloomberg. .... In terms of our outlook, we wonder whether metals are starting to overreach somewhat at this stage given that they have had a good run for most of the month, having already discounted the improving tone in the European debt markets and the robust Chinese trade figures from last month. It remains to be seen where we go from here, especially now that Chinese players are back. In our view, they will be unlikely to pick up metal at such elevated levels. .... Nickel is at $21,201, down $104, and the only metal that is down so far today. Prices are still trading above the short-term downchannel highlighted in yesterday’s chart. .... Domestic melting-grade nickel premiums have fallen to between 20 and 30 cents per pound due to weak interest in the spot market, trade sources tell AMM. The plating-grade market, however, is seeing steady pricing in the $.60-$.95/pound range. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Yieh) China crude steel production was around 45.5% of global output in 2011. It stands in front of the line to take most important position for global steel industry.
  • (Interfax) Jilin Jien Nickel Industry Co. Ltd. (Jien) has agreed to acquire Canadian miner Goldbrook Ventures Inc. for a total consideration of CAD $100 million ($99.59 million), the Jilin Province-based firm announced Jan. 30.
  • (Interfax) The average asset-liability ratio of China's 77 largest steelmakers could climb as high as 70 percent in 2011, up from 64.03 percent the previous year, as the industry struggles with low margins and high interest rates, Umetal analyst Hu Yanping told Interfax Jan. 30.
  • (SSC) TISCO produced 3.02 million tonnes stainless steel in 2011,increased by 11.03% compared with 2010, which made TISCO become the biggest stainless steel production company for the third time since 2009. TISCO plans to produce 3.1 million tonnes stainless steel in 2012.
  • (SSY) According to the latest data from the China Iron and Steel Association, the country's daily crude steel production from the 01-10 January rose 3.9% from the last ten days of December to 1.691 Mt, rebounding to the highest level since late October.
  • Wen: Government debt safe, controllable - more

    Vale suspends underground mining operations in Ontario - Brazilian mining giant Vale SA has suspended all underground mining operations at its nickel-copper mines in Sudbury in Northern Ontario following the death of a miner in an accident on Sunday. - more

  Norilsk says nickel output may rise this year - Russia's Norilsk Nickel said on Monday its nickel output could recover slightly this year, although analysts said the world's largest producer of nickel and palladium could delay ramp-ups of its international operations on cost concerns. - more

  Nonconventional nickel hopeful touts 'game changing' deposit - A Vancouver-based explorer is hoping to dig up naturally occurring stainless steel at its Decar Project in north-east British Columbia, and aims to have a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) on what could be “game changing” for the nickel industry by year-end. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending January 28, 2012, domestic raw steel production was 1,897,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 76.8 percent. Production was 1,790,000 tons in the week ending January 28, 2011, while the capability utilization then was 73.2 percent. The current week production represents a 6.0 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending January 28, 2012 is down 0.7 percent from the previous week ending January 21, 2011 when production was 1,911,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 77.3 percent.

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Monday, January 30

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 24 to 702. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Hedge Funds Lift Bets to Two-Month High as Rally Accelerates: Commodities // Yuan Gains After Weeklong Lunar New Year Holiday on U.S. Fed Easing Pledge // Greek Debt Talks Risk Deflecting EU Summit Focus From Crisis-Fighting Plan // Euro-Area Debt Sales Top $43 Billion in Week as Fitch Threatens Sentiment // Confidence in Euro Area Increases at Slower Pace Than Estimated: Economy // Global Economy, Recession Risk Are Bankers’ Main Concern, Survey Reports // Most Emerging Stocks Decline on China Policy Caution, Europe Debt Outlook // EU Stumbles Over Greek Aid Package as Merkel Signals Debt-Agreement Delay // Stocks in Europe Fall Most in Six Weeks; BNP Paribas Tumbles on French Tax // Obama Economy Recovery From Bush Collapse Proves No Morning in America Yet // Goldman Sachs Among Banks Lobbying to Exempt Half of Swaps From Dodd-Frank // Consumer Spending in U.S. Stalls as Americans Save // Longest S&P 500 Valuation Slump Since Nixon Discounting Record U.S. Profit // Stocks Drop With Euro, Commodities as Greece Opposes Financial Oversight
  • The Euro continues to trade lower against the US Dollar, now by 7/10 of 1%. NYMEX crude si down 1/3 of 1% and trading at $99.23/barrel. Gold is off more than 4/10 of 1% while silver is off 1.1%. Bae metals ended the session lower as well, with the European concerns back in traders minds. Indicator charts show nickel fell sharply early, then traded in a narrow band that went no where for the rest of the session. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $9.66/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell on Friday and now total just under 94,800 tonnes. It would appear that Finland based Outokumpu will soon become the world's largest producer of stainless steel, after today's agreement with ThyssenKrupp. Did anyone have time to memorize the name Inoxum? That is the name ThyssenKrupp gave its stainless steel division back at the end of September, when it became apparent it was looking to unload that side of its steelmaking business. The bears won today's nickel pricing battle, but it may turn out to be no more than a minor victory. Charts show an initial drop in line with the Euro's drop, but after that, trading was within a very narrow band. Technical's can be unpredictable, but still show an upward trendline is fairly set. With China returning to work, traders will also be looking for clues on whether the Chinese will be buying or not.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • China's top auditor sees fiscal, financial risks - more
  • Number of the Week: Dismal New Home Sales in 2011 - more
  • Outsized Impact of Inventories on GDP Growth - more
  • Consumers More Upbeat in January - more
  • Economists React: GDP ‘Less Impressive Than It Looks’ - more
  • GDP Post Mortem: Less Than Meets the Eye - more

  Outokumpu to buy Inoxum in 2.7 bln euro deal - paper - Outokumpu will buy ThyssenKrupp's stainless steel unit Inoxum for around 2.7 billion euro ($3.5 billion) in a cash-and-share deal that will see Germany's biggest steelmaker take a minority stake in its Finnish rival, German daily Die Welt newspaper reported on Monday. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.11/lb higher, with other London traded base metals lower as well. The Euro is trading 8/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down 1/2 of 1% and trading at $99.05/barrel. Gold is down 8/10 of 1% and silver is lower by 2.2%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China returning after a week vacation and falling nearly 1-3/4%. European markets are trading lower this morning on Greece concerns, and US futures show Wall Street may open on the downside. Nickel stockpiles fell on Friday.
  • Reuters morning - Copper sinks as Greek woes dash demand hopes - more
  • LME Morning - Metals easier, correction unfolds as wider markets slacken - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Metal prices slipped in light volume on Friday after fourth quarter US GDP figures came in somewhat softer than expected, prompting fears that the US expansion was at best decent, but certainly not overwhelming. Growth clocked in at 2.8%, slower than the 3% forecast, and although this was the first reading that exceeded 2% all year, the expansion remains stubbornly below the 3% pace that most economists say is needed to make a serious dent in the unemployment rate. The report also showed that most of the growth was due to a surge in inventory replenishment by businesses, while consumer spending was fueled in part by drawing down savings, two development unlikely to be sustained going forward. ..... News of the Greek impasse and sloppy trading in the European debt markets is pressuring various complexes today; the Euro is off a full cent, now at $1.3110, and we are seeing sizable retreats in base metals, precious metals, and US stocks. Italian bonds have declined in Monday trading, while France auctions as much as 8.3 billion Euros of bills later today. In the meantime, Portugal’s 10-year bond yield climbed to a Euro-era record 16.09%, while the cost of credit-default swaps for the country’s paper rose to a record high. EU leaders are meeting today to continue their discussions on Greece, sign off on a permanent rescue fund, agree on a balanced budget rule, and draw up proposals for creating jobs.  .... Nickel is at $21,350, down $350. The complex has broken out of its short-term downchannel, and charts suggest that we still have more room to go on the upside, assuming the current decline does not accelerate. (See our attachment). (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Yieh) Taiwanese Yusco has lifted its latest stainless steel prices today for February due to soaring cost on LME nickel price. The export prices of stainless steel 300 series and 400 series will go up by US$250~280/ton and US$30~50/ton respectively.
  • (Yieh) LME nickel price climbs back around to US$700~730/ton, Taiwanese stainless steel plants said,” It’s the 1st day after Chinese New Year Holidays, the orders may come after soon as when the hiking nickel prices, the stainless steel demand will go larger if mill YUSCO or Tang raise up the stainless steel price for February.
  • China Imports and Exports of Base Metals in December 2011 - more
  • (Macquarie) In 2011, China’s chrome ore imports increased by 9% YoY to a new record of 9.4mt gross weight. In contrast, China’s ferrochrome imports fell by 1% and at 1.8mt were 17% below their peak in 2009. As the country’s stainless steel continues to rise, it is choosing to source more of its increasing demand for chrome units from overseas ore and to produce chrome alloys domestically, with important implications for producers elsewhere, especially in S. Africa.
  • OECD Report: Linking Income Distribution With Growth - more
  • Sino-US trade tensions may increase - more

  Norilsk Sees Nickel Output Rising 3.4%, Copper Falling This Year - OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, world’s largest producer of the metal, said nickel output may rise as much as 3.4 percent this year after dropping 0.8 percent last year, while copper mining may extend declines. - more

  ThyssenKrupp, Outokumpu Resume Inoxum Talks Monday -Report - German steelmaker and engineering group ThyssenKrupp AG will resume negotiations Monday to sell its stainless-steel unit Inoxum to Finnish rival Outokumpu Oyj, German daily Handelsblatt reported Monday, citing unnamed people close to the negotiations. - more

  Lockerby Mine in full production by end of the year: First Nickel - Lockerby Mine will be producing by the middle of 2012, and perhaps be in full production by the end of the year, First Nickel Inc has announced. - more

  MMTC (India) Lowered Chrome Ore Price For Export = The prices for exports during January through March 2012; US$270/ton for the concentrates = MMTC of India revised the reserve prices for exports during January through March of the chrome ores/concentrates. - more

  Effective with shipments March 1, 2012, North American Stainless is increasing prices for all 201 series, 301 series, and 430 grade Cold Roll products. The effective increase will be achieved by reducing the functional discount by (2) discount points. In addition, Automotive grade base prices will increase by $.04 lb. All applicable surcharges will remain in effect as outlined on our company website. This increase is necessary to support further investment in our business. Please contact your Regional Sales Representative with any questions. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Friday, January 27

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 27 to 726. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Home Prices Must Fall 30% to Reach ‘Reasonable’ Level, Lawmaker Says // Oil Markets Seen Withstanding Iran Attack Shock in Global Investor Survey // Japan Consumer Spending Revival Supports Growth as Exports Slide: Economy // Russia May Drop Planned 20% Tax on Eurobond Coupon Payments, Barclays Says // Spanish Unemployment Reaching Highest in 15 Years Pressures Rajoy: Economy // Stocks Drop in Europe as U.S. GDP Misses Estimates; BNP Paribas, BP Fall // Ford Falls Short of Estimates While Reporting Biggest Profit in 14 Years // Growth of U.S. Economy Less Than Forecast as Consumers Cut Back: Economy // Fed’s Dudley Sees ‘Significant Impediments’ to Economic Recovery This Year // Stocks Fall, Commodities Erase Gains as U.S. GDP Growth Trails Estimates
  • The Euro is now trading at 1/2 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down over 1/10 of 1% and trading at $99.59/barrel. Gold is up 2/3 of 1% and silver is up nearly 1.2%. Base metals ended the session mostly lower. We said mostly, because the nickel bull has yet to be roped. Indicator charts show nickel opened lower, went profitable, then fell as US GDP numbers disappointed, only to climb back in the black as the Euro gained. For the day and week, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $9.84/lb .  This is a gain of $.05/lb on the day, $.56/lb on the week, and $2.28/lb higher than a month ago today. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose a fifth straight session and now total just over 95,000 tonnes. Reuters published the long term annual average nickel forecasts of 30 metal analysts today for 2012 and 12013 and the mean average prediction for 2012 was $9.05/lb and for 2012, $9.84/lb. Forecasts for 2012 ranged from a low guess of $7.88/lb to a high of $10.43/lb. Nickel continues its bullish run and we can not help think back to the old saying "be greedy when others are concerned, and concerned when others are greedy". Obviously the IMF lowering their worldwide economic growth forecasts have no bearing on the potential use of nickel throughout the world. And apparently things are suddenly better in the Euro region?? The LME warehouse stockpiles growing again apparently no longer hints to us that current demand might be lower than supply. Oh yes, we forgot Chian was closed all week for holiday. And in the mean time the traded price of nickel has made the production of pig nickel profitable again. No use firing those furnaces up earlier in the month, when everyone is heading home for a week, but now that everyone is heading back to work....??? And this week we learned that one of the world's biggest producers of steel, wants to sell its stainless steel division. What do they know? Or think they know? Is the paint even dry on their brand new US plant in Alabama? At least one old saying is holding true. "Don't fight the trend because it is your friend". Guess we will see if that holds up as well in February as it did this month.
  • Have a safe and relaxing weekend!

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • RBS Capital Markets - "With the market expected to be in surplus for the remainder of our forecast period, we expect marginal costs to be a key determinant of prices. Based on the historical inventory/price relationship and our cost work, we see fundamental price support in the $8.50/lb to $9.00/lb range. In 2012 and 2013, we expect prices to remain within this range to limit production increases and balance the market. We forecast an average price of $8.25/lb in 2012, $9.00/lb in 2013, $10.00/lb in 2014, and $11.00/lb in 2015."
  • Universal Stainless Reports Fourth Quarter 2011 Results - more
  • Business Sector Is More Open for Business - more
  • Hispanics More Optimistic Despite Deep Economic Pain - more
  • New-home purchases fall, 2011 worst ever for sales - more
  • Economists vs. Americans - more
  • Where Are the Jobs? - more
  • The iPhone Economy - more
  • China - The paradox of prosperity - more

  Thyssen to decide on stainless next week: sources - German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp's supervisory board is to decide on a possible sale of its stainless steel unit to Finnish group Outokumpu in an extraordinary meeting next week, two people familiar with the negotiations said. - more

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

  • Indicators at 6:50 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around no change , with other London traded base metals mixed and quiet. The Euro is trading nearly 3/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up 1/2 of 1% and trading at $100.19/barrel. Gold is up 1/4 of 1% and silver is up over 1/10 of 1% higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended slightly higher, with China closed but returning on Monday. European markets are trading lower this morning, while US futures are slightly higher at the moment. Nickel stockpiles continued to grow on Thursday.
  • Reuters morning - Copper up on Greek debt hopes, demand prospects - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals rally restarts after brief pause, unfazed by eurozone fears - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Metals continued to barrel higher on Thursday, with copper rising more than 2% to a four-month high; gold rose to a 6 1/2 week peak and energy prices also experienced good gains. The US stock market sat the session out, closing the day with a slight loss, although it is on track for one of its best January's in years. The Euro was firm for most of the day; despite selling off to $1.31 by the end of the session, it almost touched a five-week high of $1.32 at one point. There is not much new that we can add to what we have been saying in recent commentary; with the dollar under pressure, we are seeing “risk on” trades seep into a number of commodity complexes and base metals should be a prime beneficiary in this regard. In addition, Wednesday’s Fed statement should provide additional “staying power” for a stronger Euro, something we expect to see last well into next week. Of course, longer-term uncertainties in Europe still hover overhead, but for the time being, investors seem to be discounting some sort of a resolution for Greece, while the continent as a whole is expected to muddle through. We are not sure that such complacency is warranted, but if things do take a turn for the worse, it likely will be sometime down the road, likely by the start of the second quarter. .... Finally, Reuters compiled its long-term price forecasts from at least 30 different analysts for both 2012 and 2013; we present the consensus forecasts in our attachment. .... Nickel is at $21,610, up $10. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Woodside halts production as Cyclone Iggy intensifies off West Australian coast  - more
  • Commodities: Are copper, crude, nickel good portfolio bets? - more
  • How to elude the Fed's attack on savers - more

  Analysis: Metal prices: Lackluster - Positive sentiment on the IMF’s move to increase European bailout by US$600 billion, which brought all commodity prices up year-to-date (exhibit 1), is not warranted in our view, given weak metal demand on China’s lower consumption and a worsening world economic growth outlook. - more

  Thyssen labour rep seeks pledge on stainless jobs - ThyssenKrupp Deputy Chairman Bertin Eichler told workers he would only agree to a sale of the German steelmaker's stainless steel business to Finland's Outokumpu if the unit's sites and jobs were safeguarded. - more

   Anglo More Than Doubles 4Q Nickel Output On Brazil Investment - Globally diversified mining company Anglo American PLC said Thursday its production of nickel contained in ferronickel, a raw material used in stainless steelmaking, more than doubled in the fourth quarter after the start-up of new installations in Brazil. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Thursday, January 26

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 31 to 753. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Police Open Fire on Tibetans as Violent Protests Spread, Xinhua Says // South Korea’s Economic Growth Weakens as Exports Sink on Europe: Economy // Sarkozy Presidential Rival Hollande Would Lower Retirement Age, Lift Taxes // Putin Ratchets Up Anti-U.S Rhetoric as Russia’s Kremlin Race Intensifies // European Stocks Advance to a Five-Month High; Stoxx 600 Enters Bull Market // Factory Jobs Obama Wants for U.S. Probably Won’t Return in Large Numbers // Bernanke Makes Case for Further Asset Purchases as Fed Sets Inflation Goal // Gain in U.S. Durable Goods Orders Lifts Business Spending Outlook: Economy // Treasuries, Commodities Advance on Fed Bond-Buying Bets as Dollar Weakens
  • The Euro is now trading nearly 1/3 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up 1-1/4% and trading at $100.62/barrel. Gold is up 8/10 of 1% and silver is up 1%. Base metals ended the session much higher for a second day, but noe could match tin's $.73/lb jump. Indicator charts show nickel didn't start as strong as the most of the other base metals, but in its bid to catch up, it's 3% daily gain was higher than most. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $9.79/lb . Stockpiles of nickel rose for a fourth consecutive day on Wednesday and now total just over 94,450 tonnes. The Fed sent a telegram yesterday and said 'We realize you saver type's haven't been able to make any money in CD's or savings accounts for quite awhile now, but that's going to last a few years more. So you might as well quit the whole saving for a rainy day thing and start gambling with it, if you ever want it to grow again. And by the way, buying rocks with minerals is a good place to gamble.'  Based on today's market action, quite a few were listening. Remember this in a few years when the government is whining about how little American's save.

  Reports

  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Ugitech Stainless Steel Surcharges February - pdf here

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • IMF Urges ECB to Expand Its Balance Sheet to Tame Crisis - more
  • Parsing the Fed: How the Statement Changed - more
  • What We Do With The Debt Matters - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.20/lb higher, with other London traded base metals much higher on The US Fed's promise to keep interest rates low into 2014. The Euro is higher against the US Dollar by nearly 3/10 of 1%. NYMEX crude is up 1.4% and trading at $100.78/barrel. Gold is up 1/4 of 1% while silver is 1/3 of 1% higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China closed for holiday. European markets are trading higher this morning and US futures show Wall Street should open higher as well. Nickel stocks rose again on Wednesday.  
  • Reuters morning - Copper up 2 pct after Fed signals stimulus - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals technically overbought but rally shows no sign on slowing - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Metals pushed higher yesterday in what has now become a familiar pattern in a number of commodity markets, namely, gradually rising prices as trading shifts from Asian to European to US theatres. Today's action is notably different in that we have started off sharply higher almost from the outset of Asian trading thanks to a surging Euro. The currency has found a new lease on life on account of a Federal Reserve’s policy statement out yesterday. In it, the central bank said it would keep interest rates low for far longer than previously expected (to 2014), while setting for the first time, a long-term inflation target of 2%. This is providing a “green light” for bond bulls to drive rates lower still considering that against such a target, the US 30-year bond is yielding 3%. The Fed also released individual policy makers’ forecasts for the federal funds rate; these show that Fed governors expect rates to rise by 2014, an indirect admission that growth will be sluggish until then. Indeed, should the economy turn south before that time, the Fed said it is prepared to provide “further monetary accommodation if employment is not making sufficient progress towards our assessment of its maximum level, or if inflation shows signs of moving further below its mandate-consistent rate” (i.e., if deflation sets in). .... The Fed statement is also significant in that it encourages the vast amounts of money now sloshing around the system to find –and stick to -- higher yielding investments in the months ahead. Commodities will be a natural beneficiary in such a scenario, although there is always the danger that should the chase get too intense, higher prices will eventually sow the seeds of their own destruction. No where is this more true than in the case of energy, where another spiral could lead to higher interest rates and slower growth. .... Although we think the Greek situation will likely be settled one way or another in the days ahead, potentially helping the commodity complex even more, we think the more important issues remain unresolved. These include the urgent need to send clear signals with respect to policy initiatives, beefing up the financial firepower of the stabilization funds, and addressing how exactly the authorities intend to make Europe grow again.  .... Nickel is at $21,400, up $475, and looking very firm today. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (SN) German steel and engineering group ThyssenKrupp considers closing down its stainless steel plants in Bochum and Krefeld, putting about 1,000 jobs at risk, news agency Dpa reported on Wednesday, citing company sources.
  • Container Lines Steam Slower to Restore Profit - more
  • PNG military mutiny is over, says prime minister - more

  Stainless surcharge calculation changes make no difference: service center - Changes in the US alloy surcharge mechanism that were introduced in third-quarter 2011 have not made any difference in the buying habits of service centers or their customers, a spokesman for a Connecticut-based service center said Wednesday. - more

  Outokumpu, ThyssenKrupp meet with German labour over deal - Finnish steel group Outokumpu and German sector player ThyssenKrupp AG, looking to combine their stainless steel operations, have exchanged views on their plan with German labour representatives, Reuters cited two informed people as saying. - more

  Nunavik’s Raglan mine hopes to catch wind - Nunavik’s Xstrata’s Raglan mine hopes the alternative to its diesel dependence may be blowing in the wind. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Wednesday, January 25

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 23 to 784. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Apple ‘Didn’t Bet High Enough’ on China Demand for IPhone 4S, Cook Says // Asia to Boost West African Crude Imports on Cheaper Brent, China Demand // Japan ‘More Than Hollowing Out’ With First Trade Gap Since 1980: Economy // Thailand Cuts Key Rate to Support Recovery From Floods Amid Global Slump // ECB Said to Oppose Losses on Its Greek Debt as Lagarde Presses Governments // U.K. Teeters on Brink of Recession as King Signals More Stimulus: Economy // U.S. Special Forces Free Hostages in Somalia in Pre-Dawn Helicopter Raid // European Stocks Drop; Ericsson, Novartis Slide as Earnings Miss Estimates // Apple’s Profit More Than Doubles as IPhone Demand Fuels Sales; Shares Jump // Delta Profit Surpasses Estimates as Higher Fares Outpace Rising Fuel Costs // Capitalism Seen in Crisis by Global Investors Citing Widening Inequalities // Contracts to Purchase Existing U.S. Homes Hold Near 19-Month High: Economy // Treasuries Extend Gain After Fed Says Rates to Stay Low Amid Unemployment // Fed Says Benchmark Interest Rate Will Remain Low Until at Least Late 2014 // U.S. Stocks Erase Losses as Fed Sees Low Rates
  • The Euro is now trading 2/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crud eis up 3/10 of 1% and trading at $99.26/barrel. Gold is up nearly 1-3/4% while silver is higher by 3.2%. Base metals ended the session higher as well. Indicator charts show nickel opened higher but headed south as the Euro fell. When it appeared the Euro had fallen about as far as it was going to for the day, nickel began to gain, and while the Euro went positive after LME markets had closed, nickel came out the biggest gainer for the day. After market trading shows nickel continuing its rise. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $9.49/lb . The last time we saw nickel trading around $9.50/lb was last September. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses spiked again on Tuesday, and now total just over 94,100 tonnes. With no real news to guide fundamentals, if one owns nickel stock, then the day is best spent sitting back in your chair and watching your net worth grow. For the rest of us, especially those who work in the stainless steel industry, it is time to watch the hopes of price stability evaporate - yet again. on technicals, the market appears to want to head back up where it spent the first six months of last year - in the $10 - $11/lb range.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • First Nickel Up 5%; Provides 2011 Progress Update, Guidance for 2012 - more
  • Economists React: U.K. Flirts With Another Recession - more
  • Forecasters Forecasting Forecasts - more
  • EU Crisis Road Map: Key Milestones Ahead - more
  • The end of mutual funds is coming - more

  Cliffs decision may come in the spring: mayor - Cliffs Natural Resources may decide where to put its $1.8-billion ferrochrome processing facility by early spring, Mayor Marianne Matichuk said at a Rotary Club gathering on Monday. - more

 Allegheny Tech profit more than doubles - Allegheny Technologies Inc.'s ATI -7.78% fourth-quarter earnings more than doubled as higher sales helped the metal processor blunt the impact of higher steel costs, though results missed expectations. - more

  AK Steel reports loss for 2011 despite year’s game-changers - AK Steel Corp. reported Tuesday its third-straight year of net losses of a total $155.6 million for 2011. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.02/lb lower, with other London traded base metals lower as well. The Euro is trading 2/3 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude futures are down over 8/10 of 1% and trading at $98.12/barrel. Gold is down 8/10 of 1% and silver is lower by 1-1/4%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended slightly higher, with Chinese markets on a holiday shutdown. European markets are trading lower this morning and US futures are lower as well. Nickel stockpiles rose by over 1200 tonnes on Tuesday.
  • Reuters morning - Copper slips from 4-month high as euro weakens - more
  • LME Morning - Metals settle back from new rally highs, look to build on advances - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Copper erased early losses to finish higher in Tuesday trading despite the continued impasse in the Greek talks; most other markets finished mixed in quiet trading. We get the distinct impression that the markets are not selling off more aggressively, as investors are clinging to the hope that some sort of compromise will eventually emerge out of Greece. However, as the days drag on with no breakthrough in the offing, this assessment will be more difficult to justify. Today, for example, there was another wrinkle, this having to do with whether the ECB itself is prepared to take a haircut on its Greek bonds. The ECB claims that its debt was acquired for stabilization purposes and so taking a loss on its bonds will tarnish its portfolio and compromise its lending mandates going forward. As a way out, it is said to considering swapping its holdings into the stabilization fund for either new bonds or cash, but either way, someone has to make up this difference. The fact that the ECB is not prepared to share the pain -- along with everyone else -- is frankly astonishing, as this is the kind of thinking that does not generate much confidence in the overall process.  .... We are seeing signs of mild selling in the markets right now, with the Euro back below $1.30, while on the commodity side, energy and gold are both down, while base metals are mixed. The Dow is expected to open lower, although NASDAQ is called higher after a stellar earnings report from Apple, which blew past estimates and was up by about $30 a share in after hours trading. Outlook-wise, whether markets bounce back over the course of the day, as they did yesterday, remains to be seen, but the clouds out of Europe still hang overhead and make the case for continued caution over the short-term. ...  Out of the LME, the exchange will hold a meeting in two weeks time to discuss a recent board decision to raise trading fees. "There are quite a few people angry with the executives so I guess the question is does the LME have a good story to tell when it comes to that meeting or does it fail to persuade the people that there is a convincing case? I'm not sure what the answer is," a category two LME member told Reuters.  ... Nickel is at $20,650, up $25, and holding steady. .... Bloomberg reports that Norilsk is planning for a decline of about 17% in nickel and a 13% drop in copper from last year’s average, this according to two people with knowledge of the matter. Specifically, Norilsk is using an average price of about $19,000 a metric ton for nickel and $7,700 a ton for copper in its 2012 budget. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (ATA) The American Trucking Associations' advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose 5.9% over the previous year, the largest annual increase since 1998.

  ATI Allegheny Ludlum Releases Sheet and PRS Price Announcement - Effective with shipments beginning Monday, February 13, 2012, ATI Allegheny Ludlum is increasing prices by approximately 5%-12%. This increase is achieved by: - pdf statement

  Shipments See Double-Digit Growth in 2011 - U.S. service centers shipped 40.7 million tons of steel in 2011, an increase of 14.2 percent over 2010, according to the latest data from the Metals Service Center Institute, Rolling Meadows, Ill. - more

  New Caledonia-based miner eyes Vanuatu limestone imports -  Traditional New Caledonian land owners of the Vale nickel plant are in Vanuatu as part of a team seeking to negotiate the import of Vanuatu limestone. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Tuesday, January 24

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 34 to 807. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Bank of Japan Cuts Economic Growth Forecasts, Keeps Key Rates Unchanged // India Unexpectedly Cut Reserve Ratio as BRIC Nations Act to Protect Growth // Asian Stocks Maintain Gains as Stalemate Emerges Over Greece’s Debt Crisis // EU Calls for More Bondholder Concessions as Greece Seen Going ‘Off Track’ // Societe Generale, Credit Agricole Cut by S&P in Wake of France’s Downgrade // EU Hits Iran With Oil Ban, Bank Asset Freeze in Bid to Halt Nuclear Plan // Egypt’s Wounded Revolutionaries Regroup to Defy Army a Year After Uprising // Stocks in Europe Drop as Greek Debt Talks Reach Impasse; French Banks Fall // IMF Cuts Global Growth Forecast as Europe’s Debt Crisis Threatens Recovery // Jobless Rate Fell in 37 U.S. States in December While Payrolls Rose in 25 // Stocks Drop on Greek Debt-Swap Stalemate as Commodities, Euro Erase Losses
  • The Euro is now trading slightly higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude si down over 8/10 of 1% and trading at $98.73/barrel. Gold is down over 1/2 of 1% while silver is lower by more than 3/4 of 1%. Base metals ended the session mostly higher. Indicator charts show nickel opened higher, then slipped. When it fell below the old support of $20,300 tonne, it was off to the races. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $9.36/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose for a second consecutive day and now total just under 92,900 tonnes. Cancelled warrants nearly doubled overnight and measure just shy of 4%. Ed Meir of FC Stone reported that yesterday's close was in fact bullish and he sets next resistance line at three pennies shy of $10/lb. You would think that when the International Monetary Fund revises their global growth outlook down for a second time in the last four months, commodity traders might be concerned. If they were, it was not apparent in today's trading. All it took for nickel buyers to get inspired was to fall below last weeks resistance line in time for official prices to be set. And now, around the world, stainless steel buyers and sellers are asking themselves why. Why is nickel all of a sudden rising so sharply? There are numerous analysts out there being paid many thousands of dollars every year to explain just this sort of thing. And while this is a free site, we will let you in on a little trade secret. No one really has a freaking clue.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • What’s Going on With Debt in U.S.? - more
  • Guest Contribution: Year of the Dragon Present Choices for China on Trade - more
  • Behavioral Pricing: A consumer’s worst nightmare, a merchant’s dream - more
  • The Dangerous Notion That Debt Doesn’t Matter - more

  Int'l Ferro sees full output in Q1 on likely restocking - International Ferro Metals Ltd expects full production in the first quarter on ferrochrome restocking by steel mills, and aims to generate cash in the same period despite rising input costs and weak prices, sending its shares up 10 percent. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.02/lb lower, with most London traded base metals lower this morning. The Euro is trading 1/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar at the moment. NYMEX crude futures are trading over 1/3 of 1% lower, and at $99.20/barrel. Gold is down 2/3 of 1% and silver is down 1-1/3%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended slightly lower, with China closed for Spring Festival. European markets are trading lower on Greek default concerns and US futures are lower as well. Nickel stockpiles grew slightly on Monday.
  • Reuters morning - Copper dips, but near 4-month high as euro rises - more
  • LME Morning - Metals mostly advance but stickiness seen at highs - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Metals finished higher yesterday, as optimism towards a near-term Greek debt deal helped keep the Euro above $1.30 for most of the day and close to a three-week high. Copper was particularly firm, both on account of yet another decline in LME stock holdings, as well as an International Copper Study Group report that highlighted a 296,000-ton deficit generated during the first 10 months of last year. Although the deficit was less than the 439,000 ton shortfall reported in 2010, the ICSG data suggests that yet another deficit will likely materialize this year as well given that supply remains relatively unresponsive against high prices and a steady demand backdrop. .... A few factors that came out over the course of the day yesterday had the potential to do more serious damage to the markets, but did not amount to much except to perhaps force the Euro back below $1.30. For starters, Eurozone finance ministers rejected an offer made by private bondholders on new Greek debt, saying that the proposed 4% rate on replacement bonds was too high, sending the negotiators back to the drawing boards. Germany also denied a report in the Financial Times that it would accept an increase in the size of the proposed bailout funds to 750 billion Euros in return for tougher budget EU rules. None of these setbacks seem to be spilling over into the current session, as most markets are steady right now, with the Euro now over $1.30. Although investors are still in the dark on Greece, we suspect they are likely discounting an eventual agreement. In addition, macro news out of Europe is helping the steadier tone. In this regard, a survey out earlier in the day showed that European services and manufacturing output strengthened in January to a five-month high of 50.4 from 48.3 in December. In our markets, copper is off right now, losing about half the gains it made yesterday, but the rest of the group is sporting only modest losses. Energy prices are slightly lower, and we are looking at a lower opening for the Dow as well.  .... In LME news, the Exchange said it has launched eight swap contracts for all its non-ferrous metals. The contracts will allow players to hedge average monthly prices with an on-exchange contract that can be financially settled, as opposed to requiring physical delivery. "LME swaps respond to the needs of the physical industry. Users will benefit from the same default risk protection offered by other LME contracts," Chris Evans, the LME head of business development told Reuters. .... Nickel is at $20,300, down $5, but remains in breakout mode. We see next resistance at $22,000 (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (SN) German trade union IG Metall intends to organise a mass protest against planned majority sale of ThyssenKrupp's stainless steel unit Inoxum to Finnish peer Outokumpu, IG Metall's spokesman said today.
  • (RCN) Ring of Fire Resources Inc. announced is has started drilling on the Kingsmill nickel target at Project 81 in Canada.
  • Vale - When the world’s second largest diversified mining company Vale acquired the iconic Canadian nickel miner Inco five years ago it was the beginning of the largest investment in Canadian mining in the country’s history, as Cory McPhee explains to Gay Sutton. - more
  • AK Steel vice president to retire - more
  • IMF chief urges action to avoid ‘1930s moment’ - more

   AK Steel Announces Stainless Steel Price Increase - AK Steel said today that it will increase base prices for all 200, 300 and 400 series flat rolled stainless steel products, effective with shipments on March 4, 2012. AK Steel said this increase will be achieved through a reduction in the functional discount of two percentage points for cold rolled and hot rolled products. Base prices of automotive exhaust grades and bright anneal finishes will increase by $.04 per pound. - more

  European stainless steel surcharges increase for February - European stainless steel surcharges for February will be higher, producers announced, as prices for raw materials have increased on the back of moderate restocking and renewed risk appetite that has driven nickel higher on the London Metal Exchange. - more

  San Miguel Evaluating Nickel Project In Southern Philippines - San Miguel Corp. (SMC.PH), a Philippine food and beverage conglomerate that is diversifying its operations, is evaluating a possible investment in a nickle mining project in southern Philippines, the firm said Tuesday. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending January 21, 2012, domestic raw steel production was 1,911,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 77.3 percent. Production was 1,790,000 tons in the week ending January 21, 2011, while the capability utilization then was 73.2 percent. The current week production represents a 6.8 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending January 21, 2012 is up 1.4 percent from the previous week ending January 14, 2011 when production was 1,884,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 76.2 percent.

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Monday, January 23

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 21 to 841. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Snow From Xinjiang to Coast Snarls World’s Biggest Human Migration // Warren Buffett Strums for New Year Gala as China Welcomes Year of Dragon // Asian Stocks Swing Between Gains, Losses on European Debt, U.S. Outlook // Asian Stocks Advance as U.S. Rising Housing Trumps European Debt Concern // Euro Strengthens to Two-Week High Against Dollar Before EU Leaders Meet // European Banks May Deepen Their Dependence on Unlimited Central Bank Loans // Finance Ministers Meet on EU Crisis Solution as Greek Debt Swap Unresolved // Italian, Spanish Bonds Advance as EU Finance Ministers Meet; Bunds Decline // Europe Will Ban Iran Oil Starting July 1 to Boost Pressure on Nuclear Plan // Europe Stocks Cheapest to U.S. Since ’04 as Net Rises Amid Recession Worry // Stocks in U.S. Decline After Three-Week Rally as Euro, Commodities Advance
  • The Euro is currently trading 2/3 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up nearly 1-1/2% and trading at $99.77/barrel. Gold is up nearly 1/2 of 1% while silver is now trading nearly 2/10 of 1% lower. Base metals ended the session higher - except for nickel. Indicator charts show nickel opened higher and rose sharply at the start of today's session, held its gains for most of the day, only to fall sharply at teh end of the session. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended today's trading at $9.21/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose sharply on Friday and now total over 97,750 tonnes. The one day gain was more than enough to offset the prior five days of losses. Today's close is interesting in that $9.21/lb is Ed Meir's resistance line, which has been breached once. A second close above this line would have sent a strong signal of further gains. A close below this could have sent an equally strong signal that further gains may have been in trouble. A close at the resistance line? We aren't schooled enough in this form of trading to know what exactly this signals, but unless Greece does something stupid and defaults, we don't really see any reason why traders would be thru with nickel. For the last two years, the traded price of nickel has rose while the Chinese were on Spring Festival break, so the closure of Chinese markets should have little impact on the markets, besides volume. Cancelled warrants are trading below 2% again, and have for 5 of the last 6 sessions.

  Reports

  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Allegheny Ludlum February Stainless Steel Surcharge - more

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Thin volumes and the triggering of stops have exacerbated the move higher in the base metals, says Standard Bank analyst Leon Westgate.
  • (USSA) According to Spetsstal's estimate, Russia's aggregate volume of imported stainless steel products from January to November 2011 rose by 26.4% YoY to 223,455 tonnes. Imports of STS flats rose by 28.7% YoY, longs up by 55.0% YoY, wire up by 20.5% YoY and slabs ingots up by 112.0% YoY. Imports of STS seamless and welded tubes decreased by 13.1% YoY and 1.6% YoY, respectively.
  • IMF’s Lagarde Sounds Alarm Over Europe - more
  • Number of the Week: When Will Fed Raise Rates? - more
  • Job Market Takes Baby Steps Toward Recovery - more
  • Will the Collapse of the Shanghai Composite Drag On? - more
  • Did Gingrich’s Win Break the Paradigm? - more

  London Metal Exchange May Add More Industrial Metal Swaps - The London Metal Exchange is considering adding industrial metal swaps settled against various periods, in addition to the monthly ones which were introduced today. - more

  Nickel will outperform Gold in next 12 months: Deutsche Bank - Nickel has been one of the worst performing metals at the London Metal Exchange (LME) for the past several months. - more

  Lawmaker wants oversight of Canadian miner’s contracts - The Chamber of Deputies plans to designate a special commission to oversee the mining contracts with the Canadian company Falcondo (Falconbridge), especially the Loma de Miranda Project to extract nickel in central Monseñor Noel and La Vega provinces, and to avert the destruction of more than 60 water sources which supply more than 20,000 people. - more

  Mindoro nickel project opposed - Filipino environment groups, backed by the Catholic Church, have expressed concern over the operation of the Mindoro Nickel Project. - more

  ThyssenKrupp says steel markets have weakened, no recovery soon - German steel and engineering group ThyssenKrupp said Friday that steel markets worldwide have weakened, and it does not expect a short-term recovery as recessionary risks linger, particularly in Europe, according to chairman Heinrich Hiesinger. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.11/lb higher, with other London traded base metals higher as well.  The Euro is trading over 1/2 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up nearly 9/10 of 1% and trading at $99.18/barrel. Gold is up 1/2 of 1% and silver is up 1-1/4%. In overnight trading, open Asian markets ended higher, with China closed for the week. European markets are trading higher this morning and US futures imply a higher opening for Wall Street. Nickel inventories rose sharply on Friday.
  • Reuters morning - Copper steady ahead of Greek debt talks - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Metals lost ground on Friday, but losses were rather modest, except for copper, which lost a substantial $145/ton as it retreated from a 4-month peak. A weaker Euro pressured the group after a round of indecisive debt talks with Greece weighed on sentiment. In this regard, negotiators flew out of Athens empty-handed on Saturday, leaving behind a technical team to work on more details, but it is unlikely that a deal will be clinched before today’s meeting of Eurozone finance ministers. From what we read, the talks have bogged down over the issue of how much of a coupon the new Greek bonds will carry, with Greece pushing for an 50 basis point reduction, while private bond-holders are sticking to their original offer of 4%. Existing bonds will be discounted by some 70%, higher than the 50% haircut that was initially thought to be in the cards. This greater reduction could generate further losses by some in the hedge fund community, as many have been picking up Greek bonds in recent weeks, betting that a 50% reduction was likely to be it. ..... The Chinese Lunar New Year lasts all this week, so Chinese markets will be closed, but the holidays did not get off to a good start, as heavy snow and rain pummeled much of China, hampering what a Bloomberg article “the world’s biggest annual human migration”. The Ministry of Railways added 289 more trains to accommodate the crush, while some 83.73 million people hit the roads yesterday despite the weather. ..... Also out of China, more detailed breakdowns of the latest metals imports figures were released on Friday, showing that imports of refined copper rose 18.3% in December versus the previous month, but that overall inflows fell 3% in 2011 on account of much lower intake seen during the first half of the year. China imported 406,937 tons of refined copper in December, up a whopping 77.9% from a year earlier and exceeding the previous monthly record from June of 2009. Part of the surge was attributable to an attractive arbitrage, which first surfaced in October, resulting in metal landing later in the year. Metal also came in on account of a restocking effort to replenish badly drained inventory levels, while other units were brought in and used as collateral to circumvent tight yuan lending rules. Finally, part of the surge could be explained by firms rushing to use up their December credit lines in order to receive close to the same allocation this year. Like copper, financing demand and improved arbitrage boosted imports of primary aluminum, zinc, and nickel last month, even as data showed domestic consumption of metals slowing heading into the year-end. Primary aluminum imports were up 50,943 tons in December, up 133.3% from a month earlier and 165% higher than December 2010 levels; refined zinc imports were at 54,118 tons for December, up 111% on the month and 53% on the year, while imports of refined nickel and alloys were up 2.1% on the month and 22% on the year. We run the relevant charts of various import categories at the end of our report. On a more global scale, the latest data from the World Bureau of Metal Statistics shows all base metals were in surplus between January and November of last year. The copper market recorded a 46,200-tonne surplus during the period, compared with a 61,900-tonne deficit in 2010. World refined output was 17.85 million tons, with total demand coming in at 17.81 million tons. Aluminum supply outstripped demand by 859,900 tons, a 34,000-tonne increase over the surplus recorded in January to November 2010. Lead was oversupplied by 40,200 tons in the January to November period, compared to a 32,900-tonne deficit in the same period in 2010. The zinc surplus was 484,000 tons after a 2.6% jump in refined output and a 1.3% jump in global demand growth. The tin market recorded an 800-tonne surplus, with global tin demand estimated at 345,700 tons, up 1.6% on 2010.The nickel market was in an apparent surplus of 9,200 tons. ..... Nickel is at $20,660, up $210 and seems to be showing signs of a breakout given that $20,300 will likely be taken out for two days running. We see next resistance at $22,000. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • World crude steel output increases by 6.8% in 2011 - more
  • (Dow Jones) ThyssenKrupp AG said Monday it is in talks with Finnish rival Outokumpu Oyj regarding a sale of ThyssenKrupp's stainless-steel unit Inoxum, naming for the first time a potential partner in its plan to divest the unit, as the German steelmaker and engineering group struggles to reduce debt and realign its portfolio.
  • American Institute for International Steel January 2012 Steel Market Survey - more
  • (RU) - Russian Zubitsky family withdraws from Ufaleinickel capital
  • Pay freeze to last until 2020 for millions - more

  Aluminium output cuts seen; less so nickel, zinc - Weak demand and price declines for metals in a lacklustre global economy will play a role in pushing aluminium makers to continue cutting production as well as encourage nickel and zinc producers to make cutbacks, albeit on a smaller scale. - more

   Speculators Raise Wagers on Higher Metals by Most Since July: Commodities - Speculators raised bets on higher metal prices by the most since July, turning bullish on copper for the first time in four months on signs of growth in the U.S., increasing demand in China and more confidence in Europe. - more

  Molybdenum: Review Of 2011/Outlook For 2012 = 2011 market turned around to oversupply as China held off buying = As explained by the price drop during the second half, 2011 was a year of oversupply as a whole. - more

  Negotiations On Ni-series Cold Stainless Sheets Started At $3,100 C&F For Mar. Shipment - According to a source familiar with the matter, the Japanese mills of cold-rolled Ni-series stainless steel sheets for Asia including China have started at $3,100 C&F with a markup of $200 per tons for March shipment. - more

  7 % of world nickel to come from PH - When the second nickel processing plant of Nickel Asia goes on stream by early 2013, the Philippines would account for 7 percent of total world nickel production. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Friday, January 20

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 31 to 862. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China’s Manufacturing Contraction Boosts Case for Monetary Easing: Economy // China’s Stocks Rise, Capping Second Weekly Gain, on Bank Lending Optimism // Korean Shipyards Plan to Buy 12% Less Steel Plate, Deepening Posco Slump // Asian Stocks Rise as Korean Won Gains on Stronger Economy; Rubber Climbs // U.K. Retail Sales Increase as Price Cuts Provide Temporary Boost: Economy // Europe Luxury-Goods Stocks May Benefit as Weaker Currencies Boost Earnings // SocGen Joins BNP Paribas in Cutting Jobs as French Banks’ Ambitions Wilt // European Stocks Drop From Five-Month High; Saint-Gobain, BP Lead Decline // Technology’s Stalwarts Exceed Analysts’ Estimates While Google Disappoints // December Sales of Existing U.S. Houses End 2011 on a High Note: Economy // S&P 500 Falls From Five-Month High as IBM Lifts Dow Average; Euro Weakens
  • The Euro is now trading 3/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down over 1-1/2% and trading at $98.86/barrel. Gold is up nearly 1/2 of 1% while silver is up nearly 3.2%. Base metals ended today's session mostly lower. Indicator chart show nickel opened higher, then fell back to unchanged territory, when after US markets opened higher, it spiked for a second day, then falling back a $200/tonne before close. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day and week at $9.28/lb , and its first close above Ed Meir's line of resistance. Unless something dramatic happens over the weekend, we could easily see a second close above the line of resistance on Monday, which would signal further gains are highly possible. On the other hand, an inability to stay above the line for a second session, could signal a stall or a decline in prices. Chinese markets are closed next week for Spring Festival. Based on nickel's price movement during this holiday over the past two years, this holiday break should have little effect on the nickel market, or its bullish trend. Stockpiles fell for a fifth session and now total just over 91,650 tonnes. Another very bullish week for nickel that saw the price rise by over 4% means higher stainless steel prices are just around the corner.
  • Thank you for visiting the site and have a safe and relaxing weekend! 

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • National Post sports writer Joe O'Connor on the tragic death of Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke - "Her death stings, because it is unfair, because Sarah Burke was too young and too smart and too pretty and too warm and too well-liked and too remarkable, as an athlete, to leave us so soon."
  • At One Think Tank, Two Opposing Views on the Euro-Zone Outlook - more
  • U.S. Leads Other Nations in Deleveraging - more
  • Housing Market Shows Signs of Life - more
  • 13 Signs of a Bull Market - more

  Steel mill losses overshadow ThyssenKrupp shareholders' conference - German steel giant ThyssenKrupp won't see a profit from its new overseas operations this year, company CEO Heinrich Hiesinger has told shareholders. Reports say a sell-off of the loss-makers could be imminent. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading unchanged , with other London traded base metals lower and quiet. The Euro is currently trading 4/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude futures are down over 1/2 of 1% and trading at $99.85/barrel. Gold is down nearly 6/10 of 1% and silver is down over 3/4 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up nearly 1-1/2%. European markets are trading slightly lower this morning, while US futures have yet to point in a direction. Nickel stockpiles slipped for the fifth straight session.  
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Bears Retreating as Prices Rebound the Most Since 1987: Commodities - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals pause for breath after solid week of gains - more
  • Reuters - Copper falls on China data, still near 4-month high - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Copper hit four-month highs on Thursday, while the rest of the metals also showed good gains. Key technical resistance levels were breached in a number of complexes, presumably leading to short-covering setting in as well. Nickel was particularly strong after a Bloomberg story circulated saying that Norilsk may be contemplating “slight” production cuts this year in light of weakening demand. Outside of that, the same set of variables that were propping up the markets earlier in the day, held in place -- the stronger Euro, which got to a two-week high of $1.2970, and better performing European bond markets. There was no “new news” out of Greece either; the government and private creditors made progress during talks on Thursday over a debt swap scheme and negotiations are continuing today. Reports we are seeing now suggest that the two sides may announce a final agreement at a joint finance ministers meeting on Monday.  .... Right now, we are lower in most commodity markets, as a round of profit-taking is apparently setting in. The Euro is a touch easier, although still trading above $1.29. Oil prices are off by about $.40 a barrel, and there are modest losses in all the base metals, except for tin. Barring an absence of any major bearish headlines, losses will likely be held in check today, but we could open firmer coming into Monday’s session, presumably as markets discount a successful Greek agreement and bid the Euro up in the process. However, one must not get too swept up in the upside euphoria, as markets are capable of turning on a dime given the still unresolved long-term debt situation in Europe and the fact that no one has a clear sense of just how much of a slowdown the Chinese are experiencing. .... Nickel is at $20,175, down $25; we did get above $20,300 earlier in the day, but backed off. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Yieh) According to statistics released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Japan’s hot rolled (HR) stainless steel output in November, 2011 totaled 215,560 tons, decreasing by 15% from a month earlier.
  • Copper prices set to slide in 2012 - more
  • China's urban jobless rate at 4.1% in 2011 - more

  ThyssenKrupp signals no quick exit from Americas - ThyssenKrupp warned shareholders it would take time to turn around its loss-making Steel Americas arm, with improvements expected only later this year, but signalled it was not planning a sale or quick exit from the beleaguered unit. - more

  Ural nickel plants are threatened to be turned into museums - The Sverdlovsk regional government is working out a plan for upgrading the nickel industry. - more

   Japan Imported Ferroalloy Market Report; January 16, 2012 = Increasing momentum toward ferrochrome price rise = Market outlook in Japan of the imported ferroalloys as of January 16, 2012 is as follows - more

  Australian Nickel Miner Seeks Investor - Low nickel prices are giving Australian miners few reasons to cheer in a year that marks the centenary of the discovery of stainless steel. - more

  Norilsk Climbs First Day in 3 as CEO Says No New Offer to Rusal - OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel climbed for the first day in three after the country’s biggest mining company said it won’t make a new buyback offer to United Co. Rusal (RUALR) and nickel prices climbed. - more

  • Norilsk Wants Nickel Output Growth of 50% by 2025 - Russia's largest nickel maker, Norilsk Nickel, plans to raise production by 50 percent and copper output by 150 percent by 2025, General Director Vladimir Strzhalkovsky said late on Thursday. - more

  ZESA killing us: Chrome producers - Zim Alloys and other chrome producers have joined forces to engage Acting Vice President Joice Mujuru in a bid to compel ZESA to slash industry power tariffs. The stakeholders say the ferrochrome industry has been rendered unviable by the charges. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Thursday, January 19

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 33 to 893. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Said to Consider Easing Lending Constraints, Capital Rules for Banks // Developers Slow China Home Sales as They Face Their Worst Year Since 2008 // Yuan Snaps Two-Day Advance on Speculation China Will Slow Currency Gains // Philippines Cuts Key Rate for First Time Since 2009 as Growth Outlook Dims // Asian Stocks, Oil Gain on Signs China Will Increase Lending; Gold Advances // Euro Rises to Two-Week High After Spain Sells Debt; Aussie Dollar Weakens // Borrowing Costs Drop as France Joins Spain in $18.8 Billion of Bond Sales // King Confronts U.K. Jobless Specter Overshadowing Inflation Boon in 2012 // European Stocks Rise as Spain, France Sell Bonds; Commerzbank Shares Climb // Bank of America Swings to Fourth-Quarter Profit as Lender Rebuilds Capital // Four-Year Low in U.S. Jobless Claims May Bolster Spending in 2012: Economy // S&P 500 Rallies Most Since ’87 as Bernanke Economy Weathers Europe Concern
  • The Euro is trading over 4/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down over 4/10 of 1% and trading at $100.15/barrel. Gold is down nearly 4/10 of 1% and silver is down 2/10 of 1%. Base metals ended the session higher on a stronger Euro. Indicator charts show nickel opened higher and was a slow quiet uptrend until late in the session, it suddenly jumped. For the day, Dow Jones reports nickel was the day's clear winner, and ended at $9.16/lb , and a return above $20,000/tonne. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell on Wednesday and now total just under 91,800 tonnes. European markets were in a cheery mood today, as bond holders once again sent a big snub to the S&P, and European debt auctions went much better than expected. With that the Euro rose, which gave nickel an initial boost, but does not account for the late afternoon spike in today's trade. That was most likely due to the largest nickel miner in the world, Norilsk, reporting it may cut back on some nickel production this year. The price closed about $150/tonne shy of FC Stone analyst Ed Meir's resistance line, and it's the first close for nickel above the $9/lb line since October of last year. Did we mention nickel is in a bull market?

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Warm Weather Probably Making Data Look Better Than Reality - more
  • Falling beneath the threshold - more
  • St. Louis Fed Says CBO Doesn’t Forecast Deficits Well - more
  • Wall Street Justice System Is a Kangaroo Court: William D. Cohan - more
  • Measuring the Top 1% by Wealth, Not Income - more
  • About Those Eight Million “Lost” Jobs… - more

  Nickel Climbs to 12-Week High on Chinese Demand Expectations - Nickel climbed to a 12-week high in London on speculation economic growth in China will boost demand for the metal used mostly in stainless steel. - more

  Russia's Norilsk plans production cut in 2012 - CEO - Russian miner Norilsk Nickel is expecting to reduce production this year to adapt to a slight fall in global metals demand, its CEO said on Thursday, but does not see a slump into another global economic crisis. - more

  Service Center Shipments Show Double Digit Year Over Year Growth  - December service center shipments grew at slightly higher levels for both steel and aluminum in Canada. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.11/lb higher, with all London traded base metals trading higher. The Euro is up 1/3 of 1% against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude futures are up 1-1/3% and trading at $101.95/barrel. Gold is up 3/10 of 1% while silver is 1.1% higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher with China up nearly 2%. European marekts are trading higher this morning, while US futures show Wall Street should open higher as well. Nickel stockpiles fell on Wednesday.
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Climbs on Speculation China May Relax Curbs on Credit - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals jump on increasing optimism in global markets - more
  • Reuters - Copper rises to 4-month high on IMF hopes, euro - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Metals continued to push higher yesterday, although aluminum proved to be an exception, closing with a slight loss. The Euro made modest gains against the dollar and was the main driver behind the advance. Reports about a requested increase in the International Monetary Fund's lending capabilities by about $500 billion, (mentioned in Wednesday’s note), reassured investors as well, although it remains to be seen which countries will be in position to cough up such large chucks of money.  .... We are seeing a much stronger tone to metals again this morning, as the advance in the Euro to just under $1.29 is sparking a number of markets, including energy, gold and European equities. The euro has firmed on yet more evidence of calmer credit conditions in the European bond markets. In this regard, French borrowing costs dropped after an auction was held earlier today, while Spain also reported that it had sold more bonds than planned at its auction. Markets are also watching negotiations now going on in Greece, where the government is locked into a second day of talks with private creditors. Prime Minister Papademos is scrambling to reach an agreement on an acceptable haircut on Greek bonds, while also discussing terms for adequate replacement paper. The talks are tricky in that although a haircut is widely expected, the key is to structure it in such a way so as not to prompt the rating agencies to declare Greece to be in technical default. Although such a “work-around” strikes us as being nothing more than smoke and mirrors, we expect an ultimate agreement to be reached, since without an accord, the country will not receive a second bailout and will almost surely default on a March 20 bond payment of some E14.5 billion. Out of China, there are reports that the government is weighing plans to relax reserve requirements and possibly institute other easing measures in order to revive slowing growth, some of it alarmingly sharp in certain sectors. It remains to be seen whether any such announcement will come out over the weekend and prior to the start of the Lunar New Year holidays slated for next week. For now, the path of least resistance in base metals seems to be higher, as the calmer conditions in the European debt markets is allowing the Euro to strengthen, removing an important upside impediment. How long this will last remains to be seen, as things could unravel quickly, particularly if any one of the upcoming auctions falls flat. Having said that, this will likely not occur until sometime down the road and so in the meantime, the better tone in the European credit markets should offer support, as should the improving macro picture coming out of the US. In this regard, it is important to note that for the first time in a long while, we are seeing simultaneous improvements in three key sectors of the US economy -- housing, manufacturing, and labor. .... Nickel is at $19,720, up $225. - (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (MBN) Nickel market records 9kt surplus Jan-Nov - WBMS
  • (Interfax) Baoshan Iron & Steel Group (Baosteel Group) saw total earnings of RMB 18.7 billion ($2.96 billion) in 2011, down 20.8 percent on an annual basis, the firm announced Jan. 17.
  • (Yieh) According to statistics released by the US Department of Commerce (DOC), the US exported 39,349 tons of stainless steel in last November, decreasing by 14% from 45,732 tons in a month earlier.
  • Financial crisis: get ready for next wave - more
  • Chinese economy heads for soft landing in 2012 - more

  Voices Becoming Louder For Q2 FeCr Price Raise = Producers expect the benchmark to rise by US‘10 - 15/lb = Some major producers of ferrochrome are claiming, now more openly and in a louder voice, for an increase in the benchmark of Q2 (April - June) of 2012. - more

  Glencore sees first executive exit post-IPO - Commodities trader Glencore is set to lose one of its most senior executives, the first exit since its high-profile public offering last year, as part of a reorganization of its upper echelons, a source close to the company said. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Wednesday, January 18

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 48 to 926. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) December Home Prices in China Post Worst Performance Last Year on Curbs // China Said to Allow Banks to Increase First-Quarter Lending by 5% Over ’11 // Foreign Direct Investment in China Declines for Second Consecutive Month // Stocks in China Decline After Rallying Most Since October 2009 Yesterday // Indonesia Regains Investment Grade at Moody’s After 14 Years // Indonesia Sovereign Debt Rating Is Raised to Investment Grade by Moody’s  // World Bank Cuts Global Growth Forecast as Euro Region Contracts: Economy // Germany Cuts 2012 Economic Growth Forecast as Crisis Dims Export Outlook // IMF Said to Seek $500 Billion Boost to Insulate Economies From Euro Crisis // S&P Gets No Respect From Investors Accepting Lower Yields After Downgrades // Most European Stocks Gain as IMF Seeks Boost to Resources; Accor Advances // Goldman Sachs Profit Drop of 58% Beats Analysts’ Estimates on Lower Costs // Factory Production in U.S. Climbed by Most in a Year Last Month: Economy // Stocks in U.S. Gain Amid Technology Rally as Euro Strengthens on IMF Plan
  • The Euro is currently trading over 9/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is now trading flat and at $100.70/barrel. Gold is up nearly 1/2 of 1% and silver is up 1-1/2%.  Base metals ended the session mostly higher, but subdued. Indicator chart show nickel opened lower and traded choppy in a $350/tonne range. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $8.84/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME warehouses fell for a third consecutive session and now total just over 91,900 tonnes. Considering the strength of the Euro today, nickel 's trading, for a second consecutive day, leaned to the bearish side. Nickel maybe taking a breather in its most recent bull run, but considering its close on 12/16 at $8.41/lb, a close on 11/17 of $8.21/lb, and a close on 10/17 of $8.60/lb, the recent positive momentum looks less impressive. After falling below the 2% level for the first time since March of 2010, cancelled warrants rose above that level slightly today. We could be seeing a market trying to figure out how to adjust to recent fund re-indexing. The International Monetary Fund gave markets and the Euro a boost this morning by proposing to raise its lending ability by up to $500 billion. Positive economic news from the US helped keep the momentum positive.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Western Pa. man run over, killed by forklift carrying scrap; police call it 'tragic accident' - more
  • Worker is injured when his arm gets stuck in coiling machine - more
  • Decoding the IMF’s Statement About Its Resources - more
  • Campaign Renews Scrutiny of Growing Food-Stamp Program - more
  • Nearly Half of U.S Lives in Household Receiving Government Benefits - more
  • China’s GDP: How Bad Was It Really? - more
  • Vital Signs: Shipping Prices Are Falling - more
  • How the Fed Can Prevent the Next Financial Crisis - more

  First Nation, mining company sign deal - The Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation and Quadra FNX Mining Ltd. announced Tuesday they have signed an agreement that will govern the company's exploration work at its Victoria Mine property. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.02/lb higher, with other London traded base metals mixed. The Euro is 2/3 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude futures are up 8/10 of 1% and trading at $101.52/barrel. Gold is up over 1/10 of 1% and silver is up 6/10 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China down over 1-1/2%. European markets are trading slightly higher at teh moment, with US futures showing Wall Street may open higher. Nickel stockpiles fell on Wednesday.
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Rises as IMF Said to Seek $500 Billion Boost - more
  • LME Morning - Metals resume advances, IMF cash increase provides adrenalin boost - more
  • Reuters - Copper gains on euro strength, debt crisis eyed - more

  Reports

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

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Copper rallied to a three-month high on Tuesday, as investors continued to take heart from relatively buoyant European debt markets, a steadier Euro, and Chinese macro numbers, which although reflecting a clear deceleration, were not as bad as initially forecast. Decent macro data out of the US also helped the firmer tone after the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that manufacturing activity in the New York region expanded in January at its fastest pace in nine months. In addition to metals, other markets were stronger as well, with energy, gold, and US stocks all tacking on reasonable gains. .... We do have some color to add to the Chinese metals production data that came out yesterday. Reuters reports that the surge in output for a number of base metals was likely due to the rush by smelters to meet annual production targets, one unlikely to be repeated in January with the advent of the Lunar New Year holidays. In copper’s case, December output was up some 2% from November, the first monthly rise since a record high of 518,000 tons was hit last August. Primary aluminum output rose 3.6% in December from November levels, and was up 15.5% from a year earlier to 1.427 million tons, its first monthly increase in six. For the full year, aluminum production rose 11.2%. Smelter sources tell Reuters that aluminum production is expected to stay flat or rise in the first quarter of 2012, now a more likely scenario given that prices are moving higher.  .... Nickel had the biggest yearly output rise in 2011 among base metals for a second straight year due to expanded capacity of refined nickel and nickel pig iron. Information provider SMM estimates nickel output to be around 480,000 tons in 2011, of which 260,000-280,000 tons was produced in the form of NPI. Nickel output itself was up 34.4% on the year despite production dropping almost 13% in both November and December from October’s record high of 30,248 tons. Finally, tin production dipped 29% on the month and 37.6% from a year earlier to 9,056 tons in December 2011, the lowest monthly output since February 2009. Limited power supply in Yunnan cut production in December, although yearly tin output still rose 4.9% to 155,855 tons in 2011. .... Nickel is at $19,500, down $25, and quiet. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (WSS) Africa Eagle Resources is set to receive USD 5.5 million from the International Finance Corporation. The money will be used for a bankable feasibility study at the Dutwa Nickel Project in Tanzania.
  • (WSJ) BHP Billiton has used today's production report to lower some expectations on its profits due to issues with nickel and aluminium markets as well as industrial relations.
  • (JMD) Cold-rolled Ni stainless steel sheet market/ Expected to hit bottom in Kanto
  • (China) Property prices drop in more cities in Dec - more
  • China's crude steel output up 8.9% in 2011  - more
  • (SM) The American Forest & Paper Association released its December 2011 U. S. Containerboard Statistics Report today. Containerboard production was flat, gaining only 0.8% over same month last year.
  • La Niña shows some weakening - more
  • What the Next Decade Holds for Commodities - more

  China HCFeCr Market; Recovery On The Horizon = Some spot supply shortage from production cutbacks = Weak demand for high-carbon ferrochrome still continues before the New Year Holidays (January 22 - 28), but there seems a sign of recovery in demand as the production cutback which widened during December takes effect. - more

  Morgan Stanley cools on metals pricing amid 'uninspiring' prospects - Morgan Stanley downwardly revised its 2012 price forecasts for most metals and minerals, citing "uninspiring" prospects and the case for a stronger dollar, despite a slight improvement in the growth outlook reflected in recent economic indicators in the US and parts of Asia. - more

  Nickel producer has plan for expansion - Western Areas says it hopes to become Australia's second largest nickel producer by extending its domestic mines and starting production in Finland and Canada. - more

  Will Munali Nickel Mine rise again? - Munali Nickel Mine in Mazabuka, Southern Province, owned by Australian based Albidon was once a perfect deal which has now gone bust. - more

  Rusal Challenges Norilsk’s $4.5 Billion Buyback in Russian Court - United Co. Rusal (486), the world’s largest aluminum producer, filed a claim in a court in Russia’s Krasnoyarsk region challenging a $4.5 billion share buyback by OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel. - more

  No End in Sight for BNC Financial Woes - Bindura Nickel Corporation's financial problems continued into the New Year with no prospects of the company securing the funding it needs to restart operations. - more

  Fears for metal works with 50-year history in St Paul's regeneration row - The owner of a long-established family firm in St Paul's believes its future is at risk if it becomes overshadowed by a multi-million-pound regeneration project nearby. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Tuesday, January 17

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 39 to 974. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China’s Slowest GDP Growth in 2 1/2-Years Boosts Scope for Easing: Economy // China’s Urban Population Exceeds Rural for First Time in Nation’s History // China Home Sales Rise at Slowest Pace in Three Years on Government Curbs // China’s Stocks Rally by Most Since 2009 on Government Support Speculation // Commodities Face ‘Twin Macro Risks’ in Europe, China, Morgan Stanley Says // Asian Stocks Rise as Slowing China GDP Boosts Speculation of Policy Easing // Euro Advances as Spanish, Greek Borrowing Costs Decline at Debt Auctions // German Investor Confidence Jumps on Signs Crisis May Have Passed: Economy // European Stocks Rise on Outlook for China’s Growth; Rio Tinto, Afren Gain // Market Shrinks for First Time Since 2009 as U.S. Buybacks Top Stock Sales // Electricity Declines 50% in U.S. as Shale Brings Natural Gas Glut: Energy // Kraft to Cut 1,600 Jobs as It Prepares to Split Snacks, Grocery Businesses // Stocks in U.S. Advance as Commodity Producers Climb on China Policy Bets
  • The Euro is currently trading 1/2 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up 1-2/3% and trading at $100.33/barrel. Gold is up 8/10 of 1% and silver is up over 1/3 of 1%. Base metals ended the session higher as well. Indicator chart show nickel opened higher, but spent the day slipping as the Euro lost some of its earlier strength. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $8.86/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell for a second consecutive day and now total just over 92,000 tonnes. Markets got a boost early when China reported its fourth quarter GDP rose by 8.9%, which was better than expected. 2011 GDP figures showed China growth slowed to 9.2% in 2011, from 10.4% in 2010. Chinese stock markets rose by over 5% on speculation the Chinese government would take measures to ease money supply. German investor confidence rose more than expected. More Euro nations who saw their credit rating lowered last Friday, saw their borrowing costs lowered in auctions today. And the Empire State index rose higher than expected in the US. All bullish news and world markets responded accordingly. Considering the bullishness of most markets and despite the fact nickel ended trading at its second highest close this year, we were not impressed with nickel's trading strength today. It acted almost as if it had taken a back seat to other base metals and was trading strictly on the strength of the Euro, which waned as the day progressed. And speaking of waning we note the Baltic Dry Index, which slipped back under the 1000 reading today. It is not watched as closely as it used to, as it has apparently lost much of its ability to forecast world trade. But it is worth noting, none the less.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Barclays Capital Cuts 2012 Nickel Forecast 6% to $19,875/ton  ($9.01/lb)
  • Number of the Week: Applying for Unemployment Benefits - more
  • 2011: Disastrous Year For Mutual, Hedge Fund Managers - more

  Nickel To Be Removed from High-Value Canadian Coins - The Canadian government will introduce a composition change for their $1 and $2 coins, known respectively as the ‘loonie’ and ‘toonie’, in the March-April 2012 timeframe in order to save money in their production and distribution, as well as make them more difficult to counterfeit. - more

  Shareholders of Ufaleynikel terminated power of managing company ahead of time - At their EGM held on January 11, the shareholders of OJSC Ufaleynikel made a decision to terminate the authority of Industrial Metallurgical Holding Management Company LLC to be its sole executive body, ahead of time, the enterprise informed. - more

  Russia faces violent revolution if it doesn’t embrace democracy, billionaire Putin challenger declares - Mikhail Prokhorov, a super-rich tycoon challenging Vladimir Putin for Russia’s presidency in March, said his country faced the danger of violent revolution if it did not break conservative resistance and move quickly to democracy. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.07/lb higher, with all London traded base metals higher. The Euro is up nearly 1% against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude futures are up over 2% and trading at $100.73/barrel. Gold is up 1-1/4% and silver is up 1.6%. In o overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up nearly 5% on a better than expected Chinese economic report. European markets are trading higher this morning, and US futures show a much higher opening in store for Wall Street. Nickel inventories fell on Monday.
  • Reuters morning - Copper up after better-than-expected China GDP data - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals bolstered by positive Chinese data, stronger euro - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Metal prices rose on Monday as investors disregarded the lingering effects of the S&P downgrades and instead took solace from the fact that negative reaction in the markets was limited. Furthermore, although the Euro weakened slightly, it did not break down dramatically and this was also viewed as being reassuring. On the metals side, copper’s refusal to break much below $8,000 is perhaps attracting some technical buying, since this level was seen as resistance, but that now that it has been taken out, it is being viewed as something of a floor. Having said that, the forward spreads in copper seem to be weakening, particularly in the Shanghai market, where front-month copper fell into a discount against the nearby forwards yesterday, signaling that spot demand may be fading heading into the Lunar New Year.  Late in the day on Monday, S&P also cut its credit rating of the Eurozone's rescue fund by one notch to AA+ from triple-A, citing the fact that two of the EFSF's guarantors have now lost their top ranking. For its part, the EFSF said S&P’s move would not affect its lending capacity of 440 billion Euros, and emphasized that its short-term rating remains at AAA. However, the downgrade may lead to inevitable political bickering down the road when it comes to further financing for the fund, a likely outcome. In fact, the Germans already saying that since they were not the ones downgraded, they should not be expected to chip in more. In the meantime, the situation with Greece remains unresolved as negotiators head back to Athens this week to pick up where they left off and attempt to strike an agreement to avoid a default in March. None of this seems to be mattering to the markets right now, as we are up sharply across the board. The European markets seem to be pleased that a series of debt auctions went well, strengthening the Euro in the process (now at $1.2760, off from the intraday high of $1.2809) and providing a shot in the arm to both metals and energy. In addition, the Euro was buoyed earlier by the release of Germany's ZEW sentiment index, which rose to minus 21.6 from minus 53.8 in December, its second straight increase, al beit still in negative territory. The monthly point move, incidentally, was the biggest since ZEW started the index in December 1991. .... Nickel is at $19,530, up $105, but still encountering some resistance around the $20,000 level. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Interfax) China's crude steel production grew 4.57 percent month-on-month in December to 52.16 million tons, rebounding from a 13-month low the previous month, according to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) figures released on Jan. 17.
  • China's 2011 GDP growth slows to 9.2% - more

  Stainless Steel Prices To Rise 25 Percent in 2012 - MEPS forecasts that its benchmark, type 304, cold rolled Stainless Steel World Price will increase by $US850 per tonne over the next six months. - more

  Third quarter stainless steel production surprisingly strong: sets all-time-high - Preliminary figures released by the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) show that worldwide stainless steel crude steel production increased by 3.6% in the first nine months of 2011 compared to the corresponding period of 2010. - more

  TABLE-China's monthly base metals output - more

  Dealtalk:ThyssenKrupp close to sale of stainless steel unit - German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp is close to selling its stainless steel arm, a key plank of its restructuring effort, but a sale to rivals could involve a break-up of one of Europe's market leaders. - more

  Kennecott's High-Grade Mo Concs Sales Strategy In Japan = Metallurgical grade though Mitsubishi Corp., chemical grade through Rio Tinto Japan = Kennecott Utah Copper (fully owned by Rio Tinto) is to launch production and sales, with planned start-up in 2013, of high-grade (Mo: 65 – 66%) molybdenum oxide concentrates using Autoclave process facility. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending January 14, 2012, domestic raw steel production was 1,884,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 76.2 percent. Production was 1,790,000 tons in the week ending January 14, 2011, while the capability utilization then was 73.2 percent. The current week production represents a 5.3 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending January 14, 2012 is down 0.4 percent from the previous week ending January 7, 2011 when production was 1,891,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 76.5 percent.

  Victoria Mine even more promising than previously thought: Quadra FNX - Quadra FNX Mining announced Monday it has increased the resource estimate of its Victoria project in Sudbury by 16%. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Monday, January 16

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 40 to 1,013. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Economic Growth May Slow to 10-Quarter Low as Worse to Come: Economy // China Mouse-Click ‘War’ Begins as New Year Travel Overwhelms Rail Website // Carnival Slumps After Forecasting Cruise Ship Capsize May Cost $95 Million // Euro Decoupling as Draghi Rate Cuts Fail to Restore Correlation Confidence // Iran Threatens U.S., U.K., Israel After Assassination of Nuclear Scientist // Euro Falls After S&P Strips France of AAA, Reduces Eight Others’ Ratings // U.K. Home Sellers Lower Prices for Third Month as Recovery Stalls: Economy // Leaders Race to Salvage Euro Rescue Plans Rebuked by S&P Rating Downgrades // Greek Debt Swap Faces ‘Critical’ Phase as Discussions to Resume This Week // Stocks in Europe Advance as France Sells Treasury Bills; Carnival Tumbles // Hedge Funds to Draw $80 Billion in 2012, Most in Five Years, Barclays Says // U.S. Retail Sales Growth to Slow to 3.4% on Real Estate Slump, NRF Says //
  • The Euro is trading only slightly lower against the US Dollar after French debt bond rates fell on the back of the S&P rating drop. NYMEX crude is 1% higher and trading at $99.67/barrel. Gold is up 1/4 of 1% and silver is up 8/10 of 1%. Base metals ended the session mostly higher, but quiet. Indicator charts show nickel in a downtrend for the first 2/3 of the session and in an uptrend the latter 1/3. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $8.81/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell on Friday and now total just under 92,250 tonnes. Markets are awaiting major economic reports to be published in China tomorrow. Not much positive news is expected, but since China has shown its willingness to take whatever measures necessary to stimulate its economy, the worse the news, the more favorable world markets may receive the news. Europe dodged the downgrade bullet, at least for today. Friday's S&P downgrade of France was dismissed as French debt sold for less today than before the downgrade. US stock markets are closed today for Martin Luther King's Birthday, but futures are now higher.  

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Number of the Week: Applying for Unemployment Benefits - more
  • On Friday 13th, Euro Zone May Again Slay the U.S. Consumer - more
  • How Much of US Consumables Are Made in China? - more

  Vinalines Queen – Dangers of Carriage of Nickel Ore - The recent tragic loss of the supramax bulk carrier, Vinalines Queen, entered with the London P&I Club, has received wide coverage in industry media. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.10/lb lower, with other London traded base metals mixed and mostly quiet. The Euro is trading slightly lower against the US Dollar at the moment. NYMEX crude futures are up nearly 3/4 of 1% and trading at $99.42/barrel. Gold is up over 2/10 of 1% while silver is slightly higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China off 2%. European markets are trading slightly higher a the moment, while US futures are slightly lower. Nickel stockpiles fell on Friday.
  • LME Morning -  Base metals mixed, S&P downgrades priced in but eurozone issues remain - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Never a dull moment in the European credit markets it seems, even on a late Friday afternoon when not much is expected to happen. Instead, after rumors of potential downgrades were prevalent for most of the day on Friday keeping most traders at their desks, S&P came out after the close and lowered ratings for nine European countries. Most notably, the agency stripped France and Austria of their triple-A status, while also lowering ratings for Spain, Portugal and Italy, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia. It did, however, leave Holland's and Germany's triple-A ratings intact. As word of the downgrades spread on Friday, the Euro fell sharply, hitting an intraday low of $1.2623, its weakest level since late August 2010, but European and US stock markets recovered from earlier lows to finish only slightly down on the day; metals closed mixed, while energy prices finished with a loss.  .... Right now, things are relatively quiet in most markets. Metals are mostly higher, having made up earlier losses, as are energy prices, this despite the fact that the Euro is lower on the day, now trading at $1.2670 and hovering close to Friday’s low. In the European credit markets, French 10-year yields are flat and pegged at around 3.08% vs. the 3.82% high reached in mid-November. In addition, the ECB was thought to be in the market today, taking up some Italian and Spanish debt. .... Nickel is at $19,340, down $260; the complex seems to be running into resistance every time it closes in on the $20,000 mark.  ..... The spot nickel premium in China has dropped by around 25-47% since late December, with premiums for mainstream Norilsk plate at around $80-150 per ton in Shanghai and Ningbo, compared with $150-200 on December 23, according to trading sources. “Many people want to sell for cash as the Spring Festival is approaching, so prices have come down a lot,” a trader in Shanghai told Metal Bulletin. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Yieh) Taiyuan Iron & Steel Group (Tisco), the largest stainless steel producer in China announced to hike the domestic prices of stainless steel products for February deliveries in response to higher nickel prices, in spite of weak demand.
  • (TRI) Baosteel Stainless, the second largest stainless producer in China, has announced to cut the domestic prices of its stainless steel products for February 2012 shipments in response to weak spot market.
  • (Interfax) Steel buying interest in China is low in the run-up to the Chinese New Year, usually a season for stockpiling in anticipation of price rises following the holiday, Umetal analyst Yang Jingxian told Interfax Jan. 16. - more
  • Hedge Funds Wager Wrong Way as Prices Decline Most in a Month: Commodities - more
  • Commods funds target pockets of tight supply in 2012 - more
  • (China Daily) Q4 GDP growth expected to drop below 9% - more

  China to Curb Nonferrous Metal Production Growth Through 2015 - China will curb the expansion of smelters producing nonferrous metals including copper and aluminum in the five years through 2015 to reduce overcapacity and energy consumption. - more

  Universal Stainless Announces Base Price Increase on All Premium Melted Grades - Universal Stainless & Alloy Products, Inc. today announced a base price increase of 5% on all premium melted grades for products manufactured at its Bridgeville, Dunkirk and North Jackson facilities. - more

  Goldman Cuts Copper, Nickel Forecasts on Supply Prospects - Goldman Sachs Group Inc. lowered forecasts for copper, nickel and zinc prices on prospects for increased supply of the metals. - more

  FeCr Price Recovery Expected Soon = Prices in China rebounded already in December = Chinese local prices of charge chrome and high-carbon ferrochrome rebounded in December. In response to the curtailment by the domestic smelters, Chinese stainless steel mills raised their quotes for deliveries in December. - more

  Papua New Guinea: Death sparks new controversy over nickel mine waste dump - Tensions were high after a prominent supporter of the controversial Ramu nickel mine near Madang in Papua New Guinea died suddenly on January 3. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Friday, January 13 (yes Friday the 13th)

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 52 to 1,053. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Gold Hoarding Turns Traders Most Bullish in Two Months: Commodities // China’s Stocks Decline Most in a Week as Hopes for Monetary Easing Wane // China Foreign Reserves Have First Quarterly Decline Since Asian 1998 Crisis // India Said to Seek Higher Dividend From State Companies to Narrow Deficit // Novartis to Cut 1,960 U.S. Jobs, Take $1.22 Billion in Charges on Tekturna // Euro Weakens, Reversing Earlier Gains, After Italian Auction Disappoints // Germany Said to Keep AAA Credit Rating by S&P as France, Austria Risk Cut // Greece’s Creditor Banks Break Off Debt Negotiations, Raising Default Risk // European Stocks Decline Amid Reports S&P to Downgrade Euro-Area Countries // JPMorgan Fourth-Quarter Net Declines on Weak Trading, Matching Estimates // Holdout States May Combine Foreclosure Efforts as U.S. Loan Talks Drag On // American Consumers’ Confidence Gains in Sign Spending May Hold Up: Economy // Stocks, Euro, Oil Fall on Reports of ‘Imminent’ S&P Downgrades in Europe
  • The Euro is over 1% lower against the US Dollar on fears France and Austria are about to lose their S & P Triple -A rating. NYMEX crude is down over 1/2 of 1% and trading at $98.57/barrel. Gold is down over 1% and silver is off over 2.1%. Base metals ended the session mostly lower, and for the most part, quietly. Indicator charts show nickel rose early, but began to fall with the Euro shortly afterwards, only to recover some of the losses during the last hour of trading. For the day and week, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $8.88/lb . That is a drop of $.04/lb for the day, a gain of $.038/lb for the week, a gain of $.58/lb from a month ago, and a whooping $2.71/lb drop from one year ago. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose on Thursday and now total just over the 94,450 tonne level. Equity markets in Europe and North American fell today on concerns of a highly expected S&P downgrade of France and Austria. Considering the Euro fell over 1%, base metals showed their strength today. What next week will bring, is anyone's guess. Have a safe and relaxing weekend!

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) U.S. nickel exports rose 8.3% in November from the previous month, but was down 26.3% from the previous year, the Commerce Department reported Friday.
  • (Dow Jones) U.S. nickel imports fell 18.5% in November from last month, but was up 28.3% from the previous year, the Commerce Department reported Friday.
  • (ATI) Effective with shipments beginning March 1, 2012, a surcharge of $484 per ton ($24.20/cwt) is being added to grain-oriented electrical steel invoices. This surcharge is subject to monthly adjustment.
  • Vital Signs: Companies Increase Inventories - more
  • Still Plenty of Room for House Prices to Fall Globally, IMF Economist Says - more
  • Fed 2006 Transcript Highlights: Riding Housing Roller Coaster With Eyes Shut - more
  • Are Americans Getting Healthier? - more
  • Lackluster End to 2011 Raises Worries About First Quarter - more

  Indonesia's president orders mining permits review - Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered a review of all mining permits issued by local governments in an attempt to improve transparency and accountability in the sector, the cabinet secretary office said on Friday. - more

  Intex, Chinese partner to build Philippines’ first nickel plant - Intex Resources ASA has unveiled plans to build the country’s first refined nickel processing plant, as part of its partnership with a unit of China’s Jinchuan Group for its Mindoro mining project. - more

  Overcapacity looms large on steel sector: Fitch - An over-capacity situation looms large on the steel sector in the medium- to long-term as around 30 million tonne (MT) new capacity may go on stream by the end of next fiscal amid reduced demand, Fitch said today. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:15 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.03/lb lower, with other London traded base metals lower as well. The Euro is trading 3/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude futures are flat and trading at $99.11/barrel. Gold is down 1/2 of  1% while silver is off 1-1/2%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China down 1-2/%. European markets are trading higher this morning, while US futures are slightly lower at the moment. Nickel stockpiles grew on Thursday.
  • LME Morning - Copper speeds above $8,100/t, others consolidate advances - more
  • Reuters - Copper up on economy prospects, China holiday ahead - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Copper soared to a two-month high yesterday, breaking key resistance around $8000 a ton, as more buy-side money seems to be flowing back into metals. We attribute this buyerish tone to a noticeable easing of tensions in the credit markets, with the successful European bond auctions mentioned in yesterday's note being the most noteworthy. Investors were also pleased to note the drop in Chinese inflation rates earlier this week, leading to speculation that an imminent ease may be in the works. Besides the strong showing we had in copper yesterday, other metals also rallied strongly, except for aluminum, which curiously, closed with a slight loss after an earlier advance faltered. We suspect the euphoria generated in the aftermath of the Alcoa and Norsk Hyrdro cutback announcements may be fading since investors are perhaps concluding that other producers may have less incentive to join now that prices are on their way higher. This scenario is most applicable to the Chinese, who are notoriously fickle when it comes to adhering to any kind of short-term production restraints. In fact, we saw a story out on Reuters yesterday basically contradicting the Bloomberg story out the day before that Chinese production will drop over the course of the year. The Reuters piece quotes Chinese analysts Antaike as saying that Chinese production will not drop much at all over the course of 2012 unless aluminum prices stay below 15,000 Yuan for an extended period of time. Spot aluminum prices are now around 16,000 Yuan per ton, but did get to a low of 15,800 Yuan in November. .... Right now, we are generally lower in metals and well off earlier highs. Aluminum has been weak all day and is likely responsible for restraining the overall advance. The Euro is weaker as well, now trading at just under $1.28 on news that Italy's three-year debt did not draw as much demand as the Spanish sale did the day before. For it part, the ECB seems to be content with providing ample credit to the banking system, but has yet to take on more assets onto its own balance sheet. In December, the central bank lent a record $628 billion to various banks and expects to see “substantial demand” for its second batch of three-year loans that will be awarded on Feb. 29. It remains to be seen whether this particular recipe of flushing the market with liquidity and expecting the banks to do their share of bond buying will work; we have our doubts and expect another “confrontation” between the markets and the politicians sometime late in the first quarter. ..... Nickel is at $19,600, down $70, and still on track to hit $20,300 as the next upside target. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Interfax) Growth in nickel supply and a slowdown in the stainless steel sector will weigh prices for the base metal this year, analysts told Interfax this week.
  • (Yieh) Facing the CSC’s unchanged prices policy for steel wire and bar, some Taiwanese screw makers said they still faced difficult to receive orders from foreign buyers due to weak demand caused by the global economic crisis. However, most screw makers in Taiwan indicated CSC’s latest price policy is appropriate for the current market situation. If CSC cuts the prices further, it will only make buyers become more hesitate instead of pushing up the buys, some Taiwanese screw producers said.

  Nickel: China's NPI Production Under Forecasted Oversupply In 2012 = 16% of world nickel production was from NPI last year but likely to fall in 2012 due to price slump = Nickel market in 2012 is forecasted under oversupply situation. The biggest concern of the market is how the NPI producers will behave under such a bleak outlook of the 2012 market, as the output of nickel in NPI in 2011 was as much as 16% of the total world output of nickel. - more

  Eskom raises red flags on power use - Eskom has started raising red flags on power use and urged commercial and private consumers to reduce electricity consumption by 10 percent. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Thursday, January 12

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 88 to 1,105. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China’s Inflation Cools for Fifth Month, May Presage More Easing: Economy // China’s Auto Sales Growth Trails U.S. for First Time in At Least 14 Years // China Stocks Fall for Second Day as Profit Concerns Trump Easing Inflation // China May Idle Most Aluminum Capacity Since 2009 on Prices: Commodities // China Gets Cheaper Iran Oil as U.S. Picks Up Tab for Hormuz Strait Patrols // Infosys Cuts Dollar Sales Forecast, Citing Global Economy Outlook, Europe // India Industrial Output Rebounds, Giving Central Bank Scope to Hold Rates // Indonesia Holds Policy Rate at 6% as Currency Drop Revives Inflation Risk // Draghi Pauses Interest-Rate Cuts Amid Signs Economic Slowdown Is Abating // King Resists Adding Stimulus as Reports Show Resilience of U.K.’s Economy // Italian One-Year Yield Slides to 2.735% as Bill Sale Matches Target Amount // French Resignation to Losing AAA Shifts Focus to Size of Cut: Euro Credit // European Stocks Decline, Led by Tesco, Delhaize, WM Morrizon, J Sainsbury // U.S. Retail Sales Miss Forecasts in Sign Further Job Gains Needed: Economy // Home Seizures May Jump 25% This Year as U.S. Foreclosures Resume // Fed Officials Split Over Easing as They Prepare Interest Rate Forecasts // Fed Detection of Housing Weakness in August 2006 Triggered Rate-Rise Pause // Home Seizures May Jump 25% as U.S. Foreclosures Resume, RealtyTrac Says // Delhaize to Cut 5,000 Jobs as Food Lion Owner Shuts Stores in U.S., Europe // Vestas to Cut 2,335 Jobs Worldwide, More at Risk in U.S. Later This Year // RBS to Cut 4,800 Jobs as it Exits Mergers // ADM to Cut 1K Jobs, About 3% of Workforce
  • The Euro is 1% higher against the US Dollar at the moment. NYMEX crude is up 9/10 of 1% and trading at $101.78/barrel. Gold is up nearly 6/10 of 1% and silver is up over 1%. Base metals ended the session mostly higher as well, with only aluminumum faltering. Indicator charts show nickel was off the the races at the bell, and after cresting the $9/lb mark, it suddenly fell back hard, but resumed the uptrend late. For the day, three month nickel ended the session at $8.92/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME licensed warehouses fell on Wednesday and now total just under 92,350 tonnes. Less than positive economic news from the US and lingering European worries have equity markets quiet today, but base metals rose higher as fund index re-weighting kicked into high gear, and a higher Euro gave an additional shove. As expected, nickel traded over $9/lb for a short period today, before backing off some. Edward Meir has next resistance for traded nickel at $9.21/lb and Sucden puts it at $9.68/lb. For the time though, with index re-weighing coming to an end, we could $9/lb become a psychological line of resistance for awhile.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Business Travel Picking Up - more
  • Kocherlakota Shines Light on Mechanics of Fed Meetings - more
  • Lacker Sees Some Fed Actions as ‘Dangerous - more
  • Vital Signs: Still More Than 4 Job Seekers Per Opening - more
  • Little Change in Public's Response to 'Capitalism,' 'Socialism' - more
  • Philly Fed revision shows why not to overreact - more
  • What Does Wall Street Do for You? - more

  LCH.Clearnet says OTC trading regulation to push up member fees - LCH.Clearnet, the London-based clearing house active in over-the-counter steel, iron ore and freight market, is facing increasing costs from new global regulation requiring greater transparency for OTC derivatives, which is likely to increase member fees, a company official said Thursday. - more

  Molybdenum oxide prices edge higher, market eyes $14/lb - Molybdenum oxide prices edged higher again Wednesday as the market continued to make progress toward the $14.00/lb level last seen in late September 2011. - more

  Fort St. James Nickel to Benefit from New Technology - The owners of a nickel deposit near Fort St. James have partnered with UBC as part of a revolutionary mineral extraction project. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.08/lb higher, with all London traded base metals higher as well. The Euro is 4/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar at the moment. NYMEX crude futures are up 1-1/4% and trading at $102.11/barrel. Gold is up 7/10 of 1% and silver is up 1.8%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China slightly lower. European markets are trading higher this morning and futures show Wall Street may open higher as well. Nickel stockpiles fell on Wednesday.
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Extends Gain for Third Day on China Easing Speculation - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals hit fresh highs but rally expected to be short-lived - more
  • Reuters - Copper up on strong China import data - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Copper rose to a one-month high on Wednesday, as did aluminum, with both helping lead the rest of the group higher. The day was somewhat mixed in other markets, as gold, US stocks, energy all struggled before closing slightly higher. Euro worries were never far from the surface, and in this regard, Fitch warned that the impact of unresolved European debt issues could be serious and hinted at further debt downgrades. The euro did not do much, falling to a 16-month low of $1.2661 at one point. We suspect that metals have been doing better than other markets in recent days on account of the strong Chinese trade data for copper, while aluminum has also helped steady the complex, as it has looked entirely different ever since the Alcoa announcement. Right now, we are up sharply across the board in metals, as this week’s long-awaited Spanish and Italian debt auctions were successful, allowing most markets to breathe a little easier. The Spanish treasury raised 10 billion Euros, double its target, while yields dropped a whole percent. Italy also did well, paying less than half what it did a month ago to sell one-year paper, while its 10-year yield vs. German bonds fell below 500 basis points for the first time this year. European shares rose in response, as did the Euro, which is now trading at $1.2740. Much of the buying in today’s auctions could be attributed to banks taking advantage of cheap ECB money to play the yield differential, thus boosting trading income. In fact, this may be the preferred way of raising capital, (slow as it is), since doing equity offerings or selling investment assets (yet more bonds) could only make matters even worse. However, it remains to be seen how long this arbing activity could continue considering the huge amount of paper that looms down the pike. Spain, for example, needs to raise about 177 billion of Euros in 2012, while Italy plans to raise 450 billion Euros in both bills and bonds.  .... We expect metals to back off somewhat over the balance of the week, as the impressive advance has brought a number of complexes close to key resistance levels. We are also somewhat wary about the fact that the better mood in the European bond markets is not necessarily being picked up by way of a stronger Euro, telling us that investors still remain cautious. ..... Nickel is at $19,608, up $158 and on track to test $20,300 resistance. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Yieh) It’s reported that Taiyuan Iron&Steel Group (Tisco) posted that its total steel production in 2011 was at 9.9 million tons, soaring by 3.13% year on year.
  • Vale Will Lose 2 Million Tons of Iron Ore Because of Rains - more
  • Heidi lashes Port Hedland, tides to rise significantly - more
  • (China) Dec inflation dips to 4.1%, 2011 CPI at 5.4% - more
  • Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index Dec 2011 - pdf here

  Xstrata Chrome Division's Present And Future = Premus Technology in the East and UG2 feed in the West; 2 key factors for future growth = In a seminar for investors held recently Xstrata gave an outline of its Chrome Division's present and future. - more

  Laterite thinking at Horizonte - Junior miner Horizonte Minerals has increased the resource at its Araguaia nickel project in Brazil from 77m tonnes to more than 100m tonnes, including 24m tonnes of higher grade material that could greatly enhance the project economics. - more

  UPDATE 2-LME board to consider bids in late February - The London Metal Exchange has several serious potential bidders and will consider takeover proposals at its board meeting in late February, Chief Executive Martin Abbott said on Thursday. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Wednesday, January 11

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 65 to 1,193. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China’s Stocks Drop for First Time in 4 Days Before Inflation Data Release // Shirakawa Says Central Banks ‘Buy Time’ While ‘Structural Reforms’ Needed // South Korea May Join Indonesia Holding Rates as Currencies Fall: Economy // India Lets Starbucks, Ikea Open Wholly Owned Stores After Wal-Mart Reverse // Europe’s $39 Trillion Pension Threat Grows as Regional Economies Sputter // Germany on Brink of Recession as Euro Debt Crisis Damps Exports: Economy // Banks in Europe Resist Draghi Bid to Avert Credit Crunch by Hoarding Cash // European Stocks Decline From One-Week High; Repsol, Pirelli Lead Retreat // U.S. Job Outlook Brightens From Ohio Factories to Dakota Fracking: Economy // Bernanke Doubling Down on Housing Bet Asks Government to Help: Mortgages // Too-Big-to-Fail Definition May Expand to National Lenders, Shadow Banking // Stocks, Euro Drop on European Growth Concerns as U.S. Treasuries Advance
  • The Euro is trading nearly 6/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down 1/4 of 1% and trading at $101.98/barrel. Gold is up over 6/10 of 1% while silver is up nearly 2/10 of 1%. Base metals ended the session mostly higher, but off early session highs. Indicator charts show nickel opened higher this morning, but as the Euro took a dive, so did nickel.  For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $8.81/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose on Tuesday, and now total just shy of 92,850 tonnes. Considering the Euro fell to a 16 month low today against the US Dollar, metals looked strong again today. With a second close above the former resistance line, we expect nickel could hold its strength for awhile, with advances above $9/lb tempered mostly by European debt concerns. As Standard Bank put it ""Macroeconomic concerns continue to override metal specific fundamental drivers."

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Senate Republicans Criticize Fed on Housing Advocacy - more
  • ECB Loans Stabilize Market, Don’t Provide Much Stimulus - more
  • U.S. Economic Confidence Rises to Seven-Month High - more

  Manila's Nickel Asia to sell more laterite ore to China - The Philippines' largest nickel producer, Nickel Asia Corp, said on Wednesday it had signed a deal with a Mitsubishi Corp unit to sell about 800,000 wet metric tonnes (WMT) of saprolite and limonite ore to China this year. - more

  Zambian government to review mining policy: minister - Zambia is to review its mining policy to reduce bureaucracy in the processing and granting of mining rights and to improve regulation of the mining industry through development of the legislation which was stable, predictable and attractive to investors, Mines and Natural Resources Minister Wylbur Simuusa said Tuesday. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.06/lb lower but recovering, with other London traded base metals mixed and mostly quiet. The Euro is down over 4/10 of 1% against the US Dollar, and a recent sharp drop is having an effect on nickel trading. NYMEX crude futures are down nearly 6/10 of 1% and trading at $101.66/barrel. Gold is up over 1/2 of 1% and silver is up nearly 2/10 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China lower by 1/2 of 1%. European markets are trading lower this morning, while US futures are slightly lower at the moment. Nickel stockpiles rose again on Tuesday.
  • Reuters morning - Copper rises, China import data helps - more
  • LME Morning - Metals sweep to new multi-month peaks on technical buying, shrug off wider torpor - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Copper rose by more than 3% yesterday, leading the overall metals group higher, as stronger-than-expected Chinese copper import numbers gave the complex a shot in the arm. In addition, the suspension of smelting operations at the Pan Pacific copper smelter, Japan's largest, also provided the bulls more reason to buy. Reuters reports that trading volume picked up, with more than 53,500 lots trading in New York, up over 20% from the 30-day average. With yesterday’s Chinese copper trade number still very much the subject of market attention, some comment on this subject is appropriate. We do not exactly know what to make of the November/December surges in Chinese copper imports, as it does not square up with the unmistakable trend of a slowing Chinese economy. There are some suggestions that the import number could be skewed given seasonal tendencies, while others are suggesting that we are seeing some restocking going on after a rather sharp drawdown in Shanghai inventories taking place all year. Some Chinese consumers are perhaps taking in metal at lower prices in anticipation of a pickup in business, or on account of arbitrage action, while other importers may be using metal to obtain extra credit facilities from their banks. (Although the government has clamped down on this practice to some extent, it still may be going on). Whatever the case, we doubt that all this imported tonnage is being consumed immediately, as the macro picture in China does not justify such a sharply higher rising trend, especially given the slow-down evident in car sales, housing, manufacturing, and trade. We will see what the next month or two brings in terms of data, but for the time being, the December copper import tallies have certainly stabilized the copper market and are providing something of a floor for prices. Right now, metals are modestly lower and well off earlier highs. The Euro is back on the defensive, now trading t $1.27, and energy markets are lower as well, off by about $.70/barrel. US stocks futures are pointing to a 50 point decline for the Dow, but other than that, it is a very slow news day. Investors will be waiting for the results of the Spanish and Italian debt auctions scheduled for tomorrow, where some $22 billion of debt will be auctioned off, the first significant offering of the New Year. Germany sold 3.1 billion Euros of five-year debt earlier today after receiving almost triple the amount of bids. In the meantime, the country’s Federal Statistics Office said the German economy probably shrank in the fourth quarter from the third, and that EU growth likely slipped as well.  .... Nickel is at $19,215, down $290, but we have managed to take out resistance around the $19,150 mark. The next stop seems to be $20,300 on the charts. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Yieh) According to statistics released by China Iron & Steel Association (CISA), its member steel enterprises’ average daily crude steel output totaled 1.4646 million tons in the second half of December, 2011, down by 3.87% from a half month earlier.
  • (JMB) NSSC to Leave Flat Stainless Steel Price Unchanged for January
  • Small Business Confidence Rises for 4th Consecutive Month - more
  • (China) Trade surplus continues declining trend - more

  Nickel Asia shipments in 2011 increase by 51% - Nickel Asia Corp., the Philippines’ largest nickel producer, said the value of shipments for the full-year 2011 rose 51 percent to P12.1 billion driven by a strong demand for low-grade nickel ore by Chinese nickel pig-iron producers. - more

  Port Hedland closes as miners halt operations ahead of Cyclone Heidi - Oil producers and mining companies were battening down this afternoon ahead of a tropical cyclone headed for the coast of Western Australia's iron-ore rich Pilbara region, with ports shutting down and ordering ships to anchor at sea. - more

  Japan Imported Ferroalloy Market Report; December 28, 2011 = Silico-manganese touched the bottom before a slight rebound = Market outlook in Japan of the imported ferroalloys as of December 28, 2011 is as follows: - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Tuesday, January 10

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 50 to 1,258. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Import Growth Misses Estimates as Export Gains Slow; Surplus Widens // China May Ease Property Curbs This Year to Prevent Collapse, UBS Says // Copper Imports by China at Record on Re-Stocking, Trade Financing Demand // China Stocks Rise Most in 3 Months on Loan, Money Data // China’s Slowest Import Growth in Two Years Deepens Global Risks: Economy // Iranian ‘Bluster’ May Overstate Threat to Strait of Hormuz’s Oil Shipping // Obama Prepared to Use Force to Stop Nuclear Iran, Former Adviser Ross Says // French Business Confidence Rebounds as Threat of Recession Eases: Economy // European Stocks Gain as Alcoa Loss Matches Estimates; BHP, Rio Tinto Climb // Bull Market for Stocks Defying Most Strategists Seen Continuing by Birinyi // Wall Street Firms Said to Weigh Freezing Pay Increases for Junior Bankers // Fed’s Pianalto Says ‘Frustratingly Slow’ Recovery Still Faces Headwinds // Job-Market Gains Highlighted as Hiring Catches Up With Openings: Economy // Stocks, Commodities Climb Amid Bets China to Spur Growth as Alcoa Advances
  • The Euro is trading only slightly higher against the US Dollar at the moment. NYMEX crude is up over 1.1% and trading at $102.46/barrel. Gold is up 1-1/3% and silver is up 3.1%. Base metals also ended higher, in what is turning out to be a bullish day across the board. Indicator charts show nickel was in an uptrend for much of today's session, flattening out late in the day. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $8.85/lb . This is nickel's highest close since October 2011. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose by an eye opening 2,700 tonnes on Monday and now total just over 92,500 tonnes. This is the highest total recorded since - October 2011. Today was a big day for nickel as traders show thru resistance, and made a second day close above this level, easy to imagine. Thus, unless we see an equivalent drop tomorrow, it would appear nickel's uptrend is solidly in place with $9/lb+ very possible before the end of the week. Nickel is still benefitting by the fund index re-weighting going on this week. Nickel is expected to benefit by this as it underperformed last year, and as Standard Chartered analyst Standard Bank analyst Walter de Wet noted this morning, because nickel is less liquid than aluminum, it tends to see more volatile moves. We could easily see nickel back off some when the funds announce they have completed their index re-weighting, but at least for the time being, technical signals appear to lean bullish. Cancelled warrants remain below 3%, and we are not seeing any great rush to bargain buy. This might mean buyers are not nearly as bullish as the technicals. Industry news remains extremely light, with nickel mine closures or slow down's adding some fundamental strength.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • U.S. Factories Could Suffer From Dollar’s Appeal - more
  • Consumer Credit Surged in November - more
  • The boy wonder of the MF Global nightmare - more
  • Americans Stumble on Math of Big Issues - more
  • How to Make Your 401(k) Plan Work Harder - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.14/lb higher, with all London traded base metals higher as well. The Euro is currently trading nearly 1/4 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up 1-2/3% and trading at $102.96/barrel. Gold is up 1-2/3% and silver is up nearly 3.9%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up 3-1/3%. European markets are trading higher this morning and US futures are triple digits higher. Nickel stockpiles grew by a huge amount on Monday.
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Climbs Most in a Week on Record-High Shipments of Metal Into China - more
  • LME Morning - Metals stretch legs on upside as funds buy, several hit multi-week highs - more
  • Reuters morning - Copper surges to three-week high to start 2012 - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Copper lost some ground on Monday, although the rest of the metals finished higher in a very quiet session. Aluminum was strong all day and still acting well in the aftermath of Alcoa's production cutbacks announced last week. After the close yesterday, the Pittsburgh-based company posted a fourth quarter loss, but did say that its revenue beat expectations. The company also gave a positive outlook for global aluminum demand, especially in the aerospace and automotive markets, and is forecasting a 7% global demand increase following a 10% rise in 2010. Chinese demand growth is expected to increase by 12%. Alcoa's stock rose slightly in after-hours trading.  ..... Right now, both metals and energy are up significantly on the day. Chinese trade data out overnight has given both complexes a shot in the arm, with December crude oil imports up 6% from a year ago, while imports of copper rose 12.6% from the month prior, although year-to-date imports are still down 5.1% compared to 2010 levels. (We will present all the Chinese metals data in tabular and chart form later this week). The aggregate Chinese trade figures are less impressive; the country’s import growth rose 11.8% from a year before, but this was a two-year low, and came in less than any of the 21 estimates compiled in a Bloomberg survey. The moderation in imports caused China’s trade surplus to increase to $16.5 billion in the month, as exports advanced 13.4% in December. Weakening import growth may undermine overall growth going forward, with UBS saying today that the nation’s GDP may slide to 7.7% this quarter, its slowest pace in three years. .... Nickel is at $19,400, up $300 and seems to be making its move above $19,150 resistance; we are watching the action on a two-day closing basis above $19,150. -  (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Yieh) According to statistics, the inventory of stainless steel products totaled 130,369 tons in Chinese Foshan market in the end of December, 2011, down by 4.64% in comparison of that in half month earlier.
  • (FC) Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s private equity fund Onexim Group intends to launch a new nickel smelter in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, East Siberia, by 2018. The facility is to use Kingash ores.
  • (Reuters) German crude steel output will likely remain nearly flat this year, at 44 million tonnes compared with 44.3 million tonnes recorded in 2011, supported by demand from the automotive and engineering sectors, the German Steel Federation said.
  • (MBN) China's top ten stainless mills push output up nearly 20% in 2011
  • (TRI) In the transformation and development year 2012, Shanxi based Taiyuan Steel strives to achieve annual tasks to complete crude steel output of 11 million tonnes, including 3.3 million tonnes of stainless steel.
  • (CBN) EU continues to impose anti-dumping tax on stainless steel fastener imports from China
  • Christmas 2011 trends: Are your eyes deceiving you? Nope, there's less stuff on shelves - more
  • Eskom Power-Failure Risk Heightens on Increased Maintenance - more
  • (China) 2012 Spring Festival travel rush begins - more

  Belvedere Resources extends Chinese deal for Hitura mine’s nickel-copper-cobalt concentrate - Belvedere Resources has today confirmed that it has extended its sales agreement with China’s largest nickel producer Jinchuan Group. - more

  Japan Nickel Metal Consumption; October 2011 = 3,844 tons in October, down by 9.7% from September= According to the data released by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, consumption of nickel metal in the single month of October as well as during the ten months (January through October) of 2011 was as per the table attached hereto. - more

  World Steel recent situation-Downsizing deals - US Steel Serbia cuts back to 4 day working week - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending January 7, 2012, domestic raw steel production was 1,891,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 76.5 percent. Production was 1,790,000 tons in the week ending January 7, 2011, while the capability utilization then was 73.2 percent. The current week production represents a 5.6 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending January 7, 2012 is up 1.3 percent from the previous week ending December 31 2011 when production was 1,867,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 75.3 percent.

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Monday, January 9

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 39 to 1,308. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Lending, Money Supply Growth Exceed Economist Estimates in December //No Consensus on China Stocks After Plunge With Guotai Forecasting 36% Gain // China Stocks Rise Most in Three Months as Economic Data Boosts Easing Bets // Australia’s Stalling Retail Sales Spur Bets for Interest-Rate Cut: Economy // Speculators Raise Wagers on Price Gains by Most in 17 Months: Commodities // Draghi May Copy Bernanke Over Trichet on Path to Record-Low Interest Rates // Germany Sells Bills With Negative Yield for First Time Amid Crisis Concern // Hungary’s Six-Week Borrowing Cost Rises to 7.77% at 40 Million-Forint Sale // Merkel Meets Sarkozy to Draft EU Fiscal Rules as Part of Euro-Rescue Plan // Euro Snaps Three-Day Drop Against Dollar as Merkel Meets Sarkozy on Debt // Corporate Profit Growth Hits a Two-Year Low as U.S. Feels Drag From Europe // Bond Traders Diverge From Bearish Economists on Treasuries as Growth Gains // Part-Time U.S. Workers Finding Success Unearthing Full-Time Jobs: Economy // Stocks in U.S. Fluctuate Ahead of Earnings as Euro Trims Earlier Advance
  • The Euro is now trading less than 2/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down nearly 1% and trading at $100.61/barrel. Gold is down 3/10 of 1% while silver is over 8/10 of 1% higher. Base metals ended mostly higher, with only copper faltering. Indicator charts show nickel trended higher thur most of the day, flattening in choppy trading late as trading came to a line of resistance. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $8.66/lb . For a second consecutive session, stockpiles of LME approved warehouses recorded no change on Friday. Totals remain just below 89,850 tonnes. Nickel didn't hide its trading strength today, only faltering when it hit a line of resistance. Nickel seems to be finding support in the stories of smaller nickel mines, and Chinese pig nickel producers, being shut down due to the lower price of nickel. Fund index re-weighting is starting this week and some base metals appear to be benefiting by the speculation their metal will gain, including nickel, which underperformed in 2011. A slightly strong Euro also helped today's trades. While it was uncommon to see no LME warehouse activity recorded for nickel last Friday's, today's consecutive report of the same happening again, is downright rare. Nickel was unable to beat resistance by two consecutive days last time we were in this territory, and fell back. We will need to see two consecutive closes above $8.66/lb to see the uptrend hold.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (MW) The German economy is already in recession, Die Welt newspaper reported Monday, citing its survey of 14 bank economists. The German economy shrank in the final three months of 2011 and the pace of the contraction will gain momentum in the first quarter of 2012, the survey showed.
  • Number of the Week: Americans’ Cheaper Restaurant Bills - more
  • Quid Pro Quo: IMF Cash For Europe In Exchange for Iran Oil Ban? - more
  • Fewer Kids in the U.S. - more
  • (Jan 2007 article) Plutonomics - more

  Shutdown, price crash distress BCL Mine - After a bubbly start to 2011, a cruel twist of fate in which BCL Mine's 60-day shutdown mid last year coincided with a fall in base metal prices, has knocked the copper and nickel mine's revenues. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.05/lb higher with other London traded base metals higher as well. The Euro is trading 1/5 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down 1/4 of 1% and trading at $101.32/barrel. Gold is trading slightly lower, while silver is 1/10 of 1% higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up nearly 3-1/2%. European markets are trading flat this morning, while US futures show a slightly higher opening may be in store. Nickel stockpiles, for a second consecutive day, showed no change.
  • Reuters morning - Copper dips, Europe debt crisis dims demand hopes - more
  • LME Morning - Metals mixed, set for choppy short-term trading - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Copper edged higher on Friday, pulling the rest of the group higher, as better-than-forecast US employment data reversed earlier losses. The jobs number came in at +200,000 for December, substantially above estimates, while the unemployment rate fell to a three-year low of 8.5%. The surprisingly muted reaction in commodities to this release likely has to do with the fact that seasonal variables could be at play, while more importantly, markets are still somewhat traumatized by unresolved European debt issues. Right now, metals are higher in very quiet trading, except for copper, which is struggling, and is off by $60/MT. Energy prices are lower, but the Euro is up, now trading at $1.2740. US equities are expected to open flat. The overall tone in most markets still feels very quiet and holiday-like, with the tight trading ranges suggesting that investors are still uncommitted to either direction.  ..... We expect metals to remain range-bound for the time being, as investors take their cue from developments in the European bond markets. However, further into the first quarter, we could see another potential “confrontation” brewing between the markets and the politicians, as we suspect that investors will again push the authorities to be more aggressive in stabilizing the bond markets in return for granting the politicians the breathing room they seek as they attempt to institute comprehensive macro reforms. .... Nickel is at $18,880, up $140; nickel is the metal to watch this week, as a clean break above $19,150 resistance (red line) could lead to more system-based buying. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Yieh) It’s reported that the US stainless steel producers insisted on raising prices in January despite of cheaper imports, which were mainly from steel mills in Asia and South America. However, though the US stainless steel producers have aimed to hike the stainless steel prices, the declined alloy surcharge for stainless steel in January would offset the price hike.
  • (Canada) Mining being hollowed out - more
  • Eurofer files Anti-Subsidy complaint against China at the European Commission - pdf here
  • (ETCN) According to China Customs statistics, from January to November of 2011, exports of ships from China totaled USD 38.39 billion, up 5.9% year-on-year, largely lower than the growth rate of 51.7% in 2010

  Zambia: Minister Gives Mine Ultimatum to Resume Operations - The Government has issued a two-week ultimatum to Albidon's Munali Nickel Mine management to resume normal operations or it will consider alternative options to rescue the embattled mine. - more

  Price Recovery Of Ni-series Cold Stainless To Be Carried $3,000 Level Over Next Year - Prices of Ni-series cold-rolled stainless steel sheets in the Asian area are foreseen to be carried forward to the following year without recovery of the level of $3,000 C&F, and to recover to the mark after the New Year. - more

  Canadian firm to mine nickel in Tanzania - Canadian Mineral explorer Continental Nickel Ltd, is set to start mining the mineral in southern Tanzania following positive exploration results. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Friday, January 6

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 79 to 1,347. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Will Boost Consumption Amid Global Slowdown, Commerce Minister Says // China’s Stocks Rebound on Speculation Lenders’ Reserve Ratio Will Be Cut // Japan Airlines Return May Spur Country’s Busiest Year for IPOs Since 2007 // Japan Relapse to Contraction Seen as Reconstruction Insufficient: Economy // German November Factory Orders Decline More Than Forecast on Weak Demand // Hungary’s Pledge to Work With IMF on Loan Boosts Markets After Bond Rout // Germany Biggest Obstacle to Bailout-Fund Boost, Dutch Central Banker Says // Confidence in Euro Region at Two-Year Low as German Orders Slide: Economy // European Stocks Are Little Changed After U.S. Payrolls Report for December // Economy Brightening in 2012 Initial Data From U.S. Belying Grim Investors // Stock Funds See Worst Redemptions Since 2008 as Investors Shun Volatility // Gold Traders Most Bullish in Month After Bear Market Averted: Commodities // Payrolls in U.S. Exceed Forecasts as Jobless Rate Falls to 8.5%: Economy // Stocks in U.S. Are Little Changed With Commodities as Treasuries Advance
  • The Euro is trading nearly 1/2 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is also down 1/2 of 1% and trading at $101.31/barrel. Gold is down 3/10 of 1% and silver is down over 1.8%. Base metals ended the session mostly quiet and mixed. Indicator charts show nickel fell early then spent the rest of the session in a gradual uptrend, even as the Euro fell. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $8.50/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses remained unchanged on Thursday and total just under 89,850 tonnes. For the first week of the new year, nickel gained $.01/lb and LME stockpiles fell approximately 200 tonnes. And even though it only gained $.01/lb, nickel continues to show strength. If all things were equal, the price of nickel would shadow the Euro, and considering the week the Euro is having, nickel holding its own, reflects a quiet strength. And while it's a new year, the external news that factor into the nickel and stainless question hasn't changed much. The US economy continues to slowly recover, but at a turtle's pace. Europe is floundering because of its debt problems and China has spent the last three months stalled, for all practical purposes. The China stainless steel index we follow started the week at 100.09 and ended at 100.07. That reading is off early December lows, but just barely. Chinese equity market prices reflect a lot of pessimism as well, while US markets imply very guarded optimism. That's it for another holiday shortened week. Have a safe and relaxing weekend!

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Digital Data Provide Potential Treasure Trove for Forecasters - more
  • Household Income Creeping Up - more
  • European Banks Face More Pressure to Shed Government Debt - more
  • Record Dividends in 2012 Should Help Consumers - more

  US HRC premium to boost imports: European traders - US hot-rolled coil prices, currently the highest in the world, are likely to attract increased imports from Europe and Russia, traders in Europe said Thursday, but exporters there are likely to err on the side of caution to prevent antidumping suits. - more

  World's Lightest Material: What's Great About It? - Imagine holding styrofoam in your hand. It's lightweight, right? - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading unchanged, with other London traded base metals treading water as well. The Euro is presently trading 1/100 of 1% higher against the US Dollar, as traders await December employment numbers from the US to kickstart the markets. NYMEX crude is up 4/10 of 1% and trading at $102.24/barrel. Gold is up slightly while silver is 2/10 of 1% lower. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China up 2/3 of 1%. European markets are trading higher this morning, and US futures are slightly higher, with positive December payroll numbers expected to give the market a boost. Nickel stockpiles, in an unusual occurrence, did not change on Thursday, and remain at a level just over the 89,800 tonne mark.
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Trims Weekly Loss as U.S. Data May Lift Demand Prospects - more
  • LME Morning - Metals range ahead of US jobs report, wary as euro tumbles - more
  • Reuters - Copper steady after rise on U.S. jobs data - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Metals steadied yesterday and finished only modestly lower, as the complex overlooked the impact of the weaker Euro and was pulled higher instead by a string of relatively decent macro data coming out of the US. In this regard, ADP reported that employers added 325,000 jobs in December, easily beating expectations, while weekly initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 15,000. Some economists were viewing the ADP number with some skepticism, claiming that the data contains an upward bias stemming from the treatment of seasonal adjustments. However, on balance, there is little doubt that US labor market conditions are improving. We should see more evidence of this when the nonfarm payroll comes out shortly (expected at 170,000), with unemployment expected at 8.7%. We expect both numbers to come in better than forecast.  ..... While the US has been the beneficiary of relatively good numbers over the last few weeks, things could not be more different in Europe, where continued concerns about the sovereign debt crisis and slowing growth pummeled the Euro again yesterday, sending it to a low of $1.2770. Data showed German retail sales posting a decline for a second consecutive month, French consumer confidence dipping to a post-2008 low, and Italian unemployment registering a further increase. Numbers out today show that while the Eurozone's economy deepened its downturn at the end of 2011, there was some good news in that the business climate index rose for the first time in ten months, as factory managers showed more optimism. This has managed to nudge the Euro somewhat higher, with the currency now reclaiming the $1.28 mark. Outside of all this, things are very quiet; metals are mixed in relatively featureless trading, while oil prices are higher, as tension with Iran continues to say in place. We expect a slightly more positive tone of the market over the course of the day largely on account of what we think will be a decent nonfarm payroll number.  .... Nickel is at $18,650, down $25. - (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Yieh) Reportedly, that the EU has renewed tariffs on stainless steel screws and blots from China and Taiwan for another five years. The EU imposed the import duties as high as 27.4% on stainless steel fasteners.
  • (TRI) According to the forecast of the Stainless Steel Council of China Special Steel Enterprises Association, China's stainless steel output surged by 11% YoY to 12.5 million tonnes in 2011, hitting the highest level.
  • (BL) Sundram Fasteners' operations at its units in Korkadu village, Puducherry, and Mittarnandagapet village, Villupurain District, Tamil Nadu, have been disrupted due to the recent cyclone Thane. All the assets at the above units are adequately insured, said the company in a notice to the Bombay Stock Exchange. The company expects to restore normal operations in stages over a period of two weeks.
  • (China) Lifting consumption top priority for 2012 - more
  • 2012 Commodities Review - more

  Price Recovery Of Ni-series Cold Stainless To Be Carried $3,000 Level Over Next Year - Prices of Ni-series cold-rolled stainless steel sheets in the Asian area are foreseen to be carried forward to the following year without recovery of the level of $3,000 C&F, and to recover to the mark after the New Year. - more

  FACTBOX-Major steel output cuts in Europe - European steelmakers have announced several production cuts in the face of weaker demand, and more furnaces are likely to be idled in coming months. - more

  Deutsche Bank cuts copper, gold forecasts for 2012 - Deutsche Bank AG has reined in its expectations for metal prices in the year ahead, citing concerns over the worsening economic picture and the potential for a stronger dollar. - more

  China 2012 crude steel consumption seen at 700 mln T - CISA - China's total apparent crude steel consumption is expected to rise about 4 percent to 700 million tonnes this year, the chairman of the China Iron and Steel Association said on Thursday. - more

  Filipino army searches for Vinaline Queen’s sailors - On January 5 the coast guard and air forces of the Philippines joined the search of 22 missing sailors of the sunken Vinaline Queen. However, the search was unsuccessful. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Thursday, January 5

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 126 to 1,426. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Central Bank Suspends Bill Sale as Money Market Rates Rise Before Holiday // China No Country for Old Men as Government Battles ‘Demographic Tsunami’ // China’s Stocks Slide to Lowest Since March 2009 as Small Companies Plunge // Cotton Output in India May Miss Estimates as Rains Hurt Yields, Group Says // Japan Air Said to Plan IPO to Raise Up to $13 Billion as Profit Rebounds // U.K. Services Expanded at Fastest Pace in Five Months in December: Economy // Oil Trades Near Eight-Month High on Concern Iran May Curb Crude Supplies // Hungary Fails to Raise Planned Amount at 12-Month Bill Sale as Yields Jump // Euro Extends Drop Versus Dollar After French Borrowing Costs Rise at Sale // European Stocks Slide on Bank Capital Raising Concern; UniCredit Tumbles // Job Cuts in U.S. Jumped 31% From Prior Year’s Decade Low, Challenger Says // Insurers Profit From Health Law They Spent Millions to Fight // Consumer Confidence in U.S. Climbs Amid Labor Market Improvement: Economy // Stocks Decline on J.C. Penney, Lilly Profit Forecasts; Euro Drops on Debt
  • The Euro is currently trading over 1.1% lower against the US Dollar and at levels not seen since 2010. NYMEX crude is over over 1/4 of 1% and trading at $102.94/barrel. Gold is higher by nearly 1/4 of 1% and silver is nearly 3/4 of 1% higher. Base metals ended their session lower. Indicator chart show nickel opened lower, spent the day in choppy trading, and by the close, closed about where it opened for a second day. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $8.46/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME licensed warehouses rose on Wednesday and now total just over 89,800 tonnes. For commodity traders, including nickel, the story of the day was the Euro trading below $1.28 for the first time since September 2010. Nickel continues to look very strong, even as its price falters. We are now only a penny lower than we ended 2011 at, and that price per pound was the best close for the entire month of December. We expect we could see some big gains out of nickel if, and when, the Euro recovers, that will be out of proportion to the rate of decline we see as the Euro falls. In other words, the bulls are standing on the sideline, just waiting to pounce, and the bears are having a hard time taking control of the market. Little in the way of stainless market news today - again.  

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Euro Zone Isn’t Only Potential 2012 Boogey Man - more
  • Charting Moves Across State Lines - more
  • Bernanke Tells Lawmakers More Action Needed to Fix Housing - more
  • Lessons for Europe From America's First Great Depression: Echoes - more

  (Press Release) - “FeCr and chrome ore prices are going to recover in this year since 2012 is expected to be a better economical year than 2011 as we are observing a lot of occurrences at the beginning of this year which give us reasons to have this optimistic view” stated by Mr. Robert Yuksel Yildirim, President of Yildirim Group (ETI KROM Inc. and Vargon Alloys AB). Since USA will avoid a recession as production and employment is continuously growing in the recent months and US government is set to lose its monetary policy (QE3) in order to ensure stable and outperforming growth at this Presidential election year. In Europe, Germany will remain the driving force of the European economy. ECB’s low interest € 489 billion lending facility (distributed to 523 banks) will find its way to Main Street (not Wall Street) and stimulate the continental economy creating jobs and hope. In addition, BRIC economies will keep strong economical growth lead again by China. This year in China is “The Year of Dragon." It is very important for Chinese since it is symbolizing China. This year is colliding with the Chinese Communist Party’s Congress in October where the new Politburo members will be chosen. Mr. Yildirim expects that starting from 2012 the Chinese government will keep the full throttle infrastructure spending which also will ensure economical growth and new jobs for the Chinese. Mr. Yildirim is keeping his hopes high in 2012 and believes that demand for commodities will remain robust, strong and growing. On the other hand, the investment banks and hedge funds may reestablish their positions in commodity markets as loose monetary policies in EU and US will continue. It could create safe haven status for them like we have seen it in 2010. These all are just a few macroeconomic aspects beside other facts strengthening our positive expectations for 2012” Mr. Yildirim added.

  European flat steel producers aim to narrow price gap with US - European steel mills are trying to close the price gap with their US counterparts -- a gap that sees EU mills selling hot-rolled coil at up to $130/mt less. As Europe's flat-rolled producers start 2012, their agenda is to win price increases. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.13/lb lower, with other London traded base metals lower as well. The Euro is trading nearly 8/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude futures are down nearly 1/2 of 1% and trading at $102.72/barrel. Gold is down 2/10 of 1% and silver is down over 8/10 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China down nearly 1%. European markets are trading lower this morning and US futures show Wall Street's 2012 positive record may be in trouble. Nickel stockpiles grew on Wednesday. Nickel and stainless news has been rather quiet so far this year.
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Slides as Euro-Region Industrial Orders Climb Less Than Estimated - more
  • LME Morning - Metals retreat, euro weakness highlights suspect sentiment - more
  • Reuters - Copper falls ahead of French debt auction - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • We had a surprisingly sharp selloff on Wednesday, particularly in copper, where prices fell by more than 3% on what was a relatively slow news day. The key bearish variable behind the sharp descent had to be the stronger dollar, which got to a high of $1.2912 against the Euro at one point. Of course, European credit concerns were never far from the market’s radar either, and here, it seems that any kind of good news coming out of Europe, such as the rather successful German auction that took place on Wednesday, is more than offset by any semblance of poor news. In this regard, just as the Germans were breathing a bit easier after their auction was over, Italy's largest bank, UniCredit reportedly priced a E7.5 billion capital hike at a massive discount, weakening a host of European bank names in the process yesterday and triggering the “flight-to-safety” dollar rally. We are experiencing more Euro-sourced angst today, with the Euro sinking to a 15-month low of $1.2830 as of this writing, pressuring metals and energy in the process. The Euro’s decline occurred despite France managing to successfully sell €8 billion of long-dated bonds it brought to market today, with bids coming in for twice that amount. However, the fact that the French paper moved out at the top end of the rate range did not sit too well with investors. More importantly, with hundreds of billions of Euro bonds remaining to be refinanced, we suspect the markets are likely not going to be easily placated by just one auction, especially when they sense that the ECB is still dangerously ambivalent about providing support...... Despite the selloffs of the past two days, we expect metals to remain range-bound for the time being and don’t see any imminent price implosion, as improving macro data out of the US should help offset some, if not all, the Euro-based concerns. ..... Nickel is at $18,550, down $245. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (PR) CaNickel Mining Ltd., announces that due to the current unfavorable nickel price, mining operations at its Bucko Lake Mine will be scaled down in order to reduce operation cost and preserve capital to complete the paste backfill plant construction and tailings facility expansion.
  • (IBT) Posco is the world's third largest steel maker by market value. Posco has been the backbone of South Korea's industrial development for the past 50 years, as it is the largest supplier of steel to the country's shipbuilding and auto industry companies. Building on decades of success at home, POSCO began investing in other parts of the world and currently has 26 subsidiaries. POSCO is the first foreign firm to operate in China, operating the Zhangjiagang Pohang Stainless Steel (ZPSS) steel mill, which produces 600,000 tons of stainless steel annually.
  • (China) Diesel shortage fuels discontent - more
  • China consumer prices to rise 4% in Dec - more
  • Can you please explain the effect on hardenability by chromium in medium-carbon steels?  - more

  China and Indonesia signed nickel-iron alloy broad space for cooperation between the project - by the Pan-China Mining Co., Ltd. Fujian, China and Indonesia Maluku Xisai Lan County, co-construction of nickel-iron alloy project signing ceremony was held in Jakarta 3. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Wednesday, January 4

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 72 to 1,552. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China’s Wen Sees ‘Relatively Difficult’ First Quarter as Exports Weaken // China Home Prices Fall as Speculation Mounts on Reserve-Ratio Cut: Economy // Dalian Port to ‘Seriously Consider’ Protests Over Vale Vessel, Owners Say // UniCredit Drops After Announcing 43% Discount on $9.8 Billion Rights Offer // Germany Receives Bids for 103% of Bonds Offered at Auction of 10-Year Debt // Slowing Inflation May Give ECB Room to Maneuver on Interest Rates: Economy // Euro Falls on Slower Inflation, Germany Debt Sale; Hungary’s Forint Slides // Stocks Retreat in Europe Amid Debt Concern; Vestas, UniCredit Lead Decline // Mitt Romney Beats Santorum by Eight Votes to Win Iowan Republican Caucuses // Energy Giants Undeterred by Quakes Seek Shale Stakes in ‘Runway to Growth’ // GM Leads U.S. Automakers in December to Post the Best Sales Year Since ’08 // Bank Earnings Increase 57% in Analyst Forecasts Which Proved Wrong in 2011 // Stocks in U.S. Pare Earlier Losses as 10-Year Treasury Yield Rises to 2%
  • The Euro is now trading 3/4 of 1% lower against the US Dollar, but off earlier session lows. NYMEX crude is now up nearly 1/10 of 1% and trading at $103.04/barrel. Gold is up 2/3 of 1% while silver is down over 1.1%. Base metals ended teh session lower, but for zinc and nickel, off earlier lows. Indicator charts show nickel opened lower and after a day of choppy trading within a near $400 tonne range, it closed higher than it opened, but still in the negative. For the day, Dow Jones reports three moth nickel closed at $8.53/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell by over 950 tonnes yesterday, and now total over 89,500 tonnes. Some of the other base metals trended lower thru most of today's session, but nickel took its hit early, then fought for solid footing the rest of the day. Cancelled warrants have fallen to near 2-1/2%, which implies orders, be they from manufacturers or investors, are quieting. The National Climatic Data Center reported the US was hit with 12 disasters that cost over $1 billion dollars each, with two more storm totals pending, and nearing that mark. A worldwide estimate was $380 billion dollars, with the Japanese earthquake and tsunami accounting for more than 1/2 of that. Overall the number of worldwide disasters was about average, with total fatalities coming in below average. Considering the Japanese tsunami's took nearly 16,000 souls with it, the below average ranking is a little frightening. The tough talk by Iran continues, and the European Union agreed in principle to ban imports of Iranian oil, diplomats reported today. Gas just increased at our local pumps, thanks to this situation. Happy freaking New Year!

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Economists React: Fed Moves to ‘Alleviate Uncertainty’ - more
  • Fed Announcement on Communications Shift - more
  • World-Wide Factory Activity, by Country - more
  • I Just Got Here, but I Know Trouble When I See It - more
  • Billion-dollar weather disasters of 2011 - more

  3 guilty in scheme to steal metal worth $2.6 million from port - Three Baltimore men have pleaded guilty to being involved with a scheme to steal imported metal worth $2.6 million from the Port of Baltimore, prosecutors said Tuesday. - more

  • Theft of nickel is a case of international intrigue - Three people connected to the theft of more than 321,000 pounds of stolen metal have pleaded guilty in a scheme with tentacles reaching from a scrap metal dealer in West Baltimore to companies in Pittsburgh, New York, Switzerland, India and Australia. - more

  Another Hazardous Cargo, Another 22 Seafarers Lost - On Christmas day, the bulk carrier VINALINES QUEEN, carrying a cargo of nickel ore from Morowali, Indonesia to China, went missing. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.11/lb lower, with all London traded base metals lower this morning. The Euro is trading over 1/2 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude futures are down 3/4 of 1% and at $102.19/barrel. Gold is down over 1/2 of 1% and silver is lower by more than 2%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China down 2%. European markets are trading lower, and US futures show Wall Street may open lower. Nickel stockpiles fell on Tuesday.
  • Reuters morning - Copper slips as euro zone debt caution prevails - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals crumble as rally fades, wider worries back in vogue - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Metals kicked off their first trading day of the New Year with a decent advance, with copper finishing 2% higher on the session. However, volume was extremely light, with copper turnover on COMEX at 33,000 lots, down by nearly a third from the 30-day average. A string of upbeat purchasing managers readings from Asia triggered the buying and when the US PMI reading was released later in the day, it also fell into line, coming in at a higher-than-expected 53.9 and rising to a six-month high in the process. The markets were also pleased to see that a rise in the US new orders subcomponent index implied good order momentum going forward. The New Year’s positive start for metals has basically evaporated as we start today's session-- a sign of just how skittish the markets are and a notable trading characteristic left over from 2011 that will likely carry over into this year as well. Metals are now down across the board, with the group giving up most, if not all, of Tuesday's gains. The Euro has also retreated and is now trading back below the $1.30 mark, as is energy, which is off by about $.70 a barrel after spiraling higher on Tuesday. US stocks are expected to open flat after a strong session yesterday led by a rally in the much-maligned financials..... Price-wise, we remain pretty much neutral over the short-term, as we do not think there is a convincing case to be made in either direction given the various crosscurrents at play. For the moment, markets will be watching the upcoming auctions in the in the Eurozone, while also nervously eyeing developments in the Persian Gulf. One bit of good news: the Iowa caucuses are finally over. Did we miss anything? .... Nickel is at $18,650, down $250.
  • (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • (Yieh) In order to offset the rising nickel price, Taiwan`s major upstream stainless steel manufacturers Yieh United Steel Corp. (Yusco) and Tang Eng have raised up their major product list prices from January.
  • (Interfax) India has raised export taxes on iron ore fines and lumps to 30 percent effective December 30, 2011, the country's Central Board of Excise and Customs announced Jan. 2.
  • (Lange) China’s National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement on its website that the November crude steel output was 0.6% lower than that of the same period in the previous year and on MoM basis, it fell by 8.8%, extending the monthly decline to six months in a row. The NDRC projected China's crude steel output would be around 680 million tonnes in 2011
  • Raw Materials Seen Rebounding as Global Economy Skirts Slump: Commodities - more
  • (China) Power shortfalls 'to persist' - more
  • New measures to boost consumption - more
  • La Niña persists over Pacific - more

  Taiwan`s Stainless-steel Firms Raise Prices to Offset Higher Cost - To offset rising prices of key material as nickel, Taiwan`s major upstream manufacturers of stainless steel, including Yieh United Steel Corp. and Tang Eng Iron Works Ltd., have elevated prices of major product lines starting the beginning of January, with such move to cause a ripple effect amid downstream suppliers. - more

  Minister meets Munali Nickel management - Minister of Mines Wilbur Simuusa is tomorrow expected to meet Munali Nickel Mine management in Mazabuka to find a lasting solution to the challenges that have characterised the mine in the recent past. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

Tuesday, January 3

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Sucden's day old nickel chart - (here).
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 114 to 1,624. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) World’s Biggest Economies Face $7.6 Trillion Bond Tab as Rally Seen Fading // China Stocks Face ‘Volatile’ 1st Half, Offer Positive 2012 Returns: Daiwa // Global Growth Slows to 3.9% as O’Neill Sees BRICs Diminished by Population // Why We Are Uneasy About Global Economy in 2012: Commentary by Harold James // Manufacturing Gains in China, India Show Asia Resilient to Europe Crisis // China’s Wen Sees ‘Relatively Difficult’ First Quarter as Exports Weaken // Asian Stocks Advance on Optimism Region’s Economy Weathering Europe Crisis // Singapore’s Contraction Tests Resilience of Asia to Europe Crisis: Economy // German Unemployment Drops More Than Forecast as Mild Winter Fuels Building // Global Manufacturing Displays Resilience to Europe’s Debt Crisis: Economy // German Unemployment Drops More Than Forecast as Mild Winter Fuels Building // European Stocks Rise to Highest Since August on U.S. Manufacturing Growth // Regulators Fleeing Ratings Dodd-Frank Banned Embrace No-Risk Greek Bonds // Auto Dealers’ Best December in Five Years Follows Santa Ads in U.S.: Cars // Gold Rises Most in 10 Weeks on Iran Nuclear Concern; Wien Predicts $1,800 // Stocks, Commodities Gain on Outlook for World Manufacturing; Dollar Drops
  • The Euro is now trading at 9/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar, as welcome worldwide economic news taints the Dollar's safe haven appeal. NYMEX crude is trading at 3-3/4% higher and at $102.55/barrel, as last week's saber rattling by Iran comes down to an ultimatum given today. Gold is up 2-1/4% and silver is trading 5-3/4% higher. Base metals ended their first session of the year higher. Indicator charts show nickel opened in a downtrend after a strong showing to end 2011. This trend ended about two hours before the close, when nickel suddenly jumped about $600/tonne, before settling back. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $8.57/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose over the extended weekend and now total just over 90,500 tonnes. is compares to a first day start of 136,890 tonnes in 2011 and 158,424 tonnes in 2010. 31 year old Dau Ngoc Hung is the sole survivor of the Vinalines Queen, which sank Christmas Day. Twenty two sailors perished and 54,000 tonnes of laterite nickel, quite possibly the cause of the accident, sank. Nickel looked weak this morning, as it joined lead and zinc in lagging the base metals complex. But a few hours before the session ended, all three decided to join the upbeat market and spiked upwards. Markets are starting the new year bullishly as better than expected economic news helps mute the overhanging negative. Iran has moved from threats to a near ultimatum in the Gulf, threatening the US if it moves any aircraft carriers back  thru the Straits. The tone has moved beyond their normal childlike temper tantrum's and oil markets are paying attention to developments closely. It's a new year, but with the same old problems.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Yieh) Yieh United Steel Corporation has announced the January 2012 price policy on December 30th 2011. In domestic market, the firm decided to hike the January 2012 list prices of 300 grade cold rolled and hot rolled stainless steel products by TWD 2,000 to TWD 4,000 per tonne average. Also, it increased the January list prices of 400 grade stainless steel by TWD 1,000 per tonne.
  • (Reuters) Talvivaara Kaivososakeyhtio Oyj says full year 2011 production target of 16,000t of nickel achieved
  • Top 5 Economic Charts of 2011 - more
  • Number of the Week: More Jobs in 2011, But Still Not Enough - more
  • Five Economic Trends to Watch in 2012 - more
  • Heading Into 2012, Hopes Rise For Job Markets - more
  • What Is Money and How Do You Destroy It? - more

  Doomed Asian Bulk Carriers Go Down - Dozens of Asian sailors are being lost in regional waters as a result of either greed or incompetence on the part of ship captains or their employers. - more

  • Vietnam sailor saved as 22 crew mates die at sea - A Vietnamese seaman survived five days floating in open ocean with only a life jacket for protection after his cargo ship sank and all his 22 crew mates died, before he was rescued Friday, officials said. - more

  Nickel on a rollercoaster - The European economic malaise and competition from upstart nickel pig iron producers will likely combine to keep the price of nickel fluctuating in 2012, says a metals analyst. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.10/lb lower, with other London traded base metals mostly higher. The Euro is 3/4 of 1% higher against the US Dollar, and is giving a boost to commodity trading, NYMEX crude futures are up nearly 2-1/2% and trading at $101.27/barrel. Gold is up 1-2/3% and silver is up 3%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up 1-1/2%. European markets are trading higher this morning, and US futures show a very bullish opening may be in store for Wall Street. Nickel stockpiles grew over the extended weekend.
  • Reuters morning - Copper at 3-week high on fund flows, China data - more
  • LME Morning - Metals mostly steady, short-term sentiment helped by China manufacturing data - more

  Reports

  Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Daily Metals Commentary

  • Metals ended the last trading day of 2011 on a higher note, but the group as a whole was off sharply for the year. Copper closed the year out with its first annual loss in three years, (with prices off almost 21%), while nickel, lead, and zinc fell by 20.3%, 24.8%. and 24.4%, respectively. Aluminum was the best performer in the group, dropping by 18.2%, while tin brought up the rear, off by 28.6%. For its part, the broader Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index was off 8.3% in 2011, wiping out about half of 2010's 17% gain. Reuters reports that the index's greatest losses occurred in cotton, cocoa, natural gas, sugar, copper, aluminum, wheat, soybeans, silver, coffee and nickel, while heating oil, crude oil, gasoline, gold, lean hogs, orange juice and corn bucked the trend to finish higher.  .... We will be publishing a 2012 outlook report on the various markets sometime next week whereby we will lay out our ideas on where we see things going. There are so many clouds on the horizon, that making any kind of long-term forecast is fraught with danger and heavily relies on one’s underlying assumptions, but we will take a stab at it nevertheless. Readers on this distribution list should expect to see it. With respect to the current action, most commodities have opened 2012 on a higher note, taking their cue from relatively decent PMI data that came out of China over the weekend. All the metals are now up, except for lead and nickel, while oil prices are sporting gains of $3/brl, presumably on account of growing tensions with Iran. Over the weekend, the Iranians fired a medium-range missile and conducted naval exercises in the Straight of Hormuz. The Euro is up sharply, now trading at $13050, and helping fuel the overall advance. US stocks are expected to open higher as well; Chinese markets are closed today. .... Nickel is at $18,425, down $285. Our chart shows that nickel prices continue to hold up fairly well, but like most other metals, are still largely confined to a consolidation band. (complete report here)

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Moderate price increases in Q1 - more
  • Giant Vale ship completes maiden journey to China - more
  • Hedge Funds Raise Bullish Bets on Commodities - more
  • Manufacturing in China Grew Only Slightly in December - more
  • (China) CPI to ease further, inflationary pressure remains in 2012 - more
  • Manufacturing Resurgence Creates Positive Outlook for 2012 - more
  • Iron ore export duty raised to 30% - more

  Nickel Traders May Have Reduced Bets on Rising Prices on LME - Nickel traders probably closed bets that prices will rise as the number of both outstanding contracts and prices declined. - more

  Bucko Lake reduces output - Vancouver-based CaNickel Mining says the current low price of nickel is forcing it to reduce operations at its Bucko Lake nickel mine near Wabowden in the Thompson Nickel Belt. Ore production will drop to 400-500 t/d from the previous rate of 600-700 t/d. - more

  South Korea says to spend $460mn to buy metals in 2012 - South Korea will spend 530 billion won ($460.07 million) this year to buy non-ferrous metals, mainly aluminium and copper, up 47 percent from last year, the state-run Public Procurement Service said on Tuesday. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price - available here  
  • Please let us know if any of these links stop working, stop carrying info, or become available to subscriber's only. We encourage our readers to use the services of those companies who supply reports and information free of charge. Contact us

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