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Stainless Steel News and Nickel Prices


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Friday, January 17

LME nickel prices  Abbreviated Friday Nickel/Stainless Steel Briefing 

  • Nickel closed Thursday's trading session at $6.25/lb ($13,775/tonne). Indicators at 6:05 am CST today show nickel trading around $.05/lb  higher. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME licensed warehouse, for the first time in 2020, fell a few tonnes and started the day just over the 182,900 tonne level. Cancelled warrants are near the 33% level. Wow - what a busy Friday. China's economic growth for 2019 was reported as 6.1%, its lowest this century, but within the 6 to 6.5% range the government targeted. Crude steel production in that country had another record breaking year, gaining 8.3% and totaling just shy of 1 billion tonnes. Below, you will find an article by former LME trader, now Reuters reporter, Andy Home on nickel. We also have a link for the seriously bored amongst you - the entire "phase one" agreement China and the U.S. just signed. We also post some EV sales news and finally, we look at the inspirational message about life and business, that can be found in last week's Kansas City Chiefs victory. Thank you for sharing a moment of your Friday with us, and we invite you back next week. Have a safe and relaxing weekend.
  • Average price of LME traded cash nickel so far this month - $6.33/lb
  • LME nickel chart - here 

  Reports

  • Reuters metals morning - Copper edges up as key China data lifts sentiment - more
  • Reuters Daily Inside Metals - pdf here 
  • SMM Evening Comments - more

     Thursday's market review - Copper hovers around 8-month highs as market weighs trade deal - Copper touched an eight-month high on Thursday after the United States and China inked an initial deal in a prolonged trade dispute, boosting hopes for a revival in metals demand. - more

      LME stock surge grounds high-flying nickel, but for how long? Andy Home -  Nickel, the best performer among the base metals last year, is currently getting a reality check in the form of surging exchange stocks. - more

      China 2019 crude steel output jumps 8.3%, sets 2nd straight annual record - Crude steel production in China climbed to a record just shy of 1 billion tonnes in 2019, boosted by a resilient property market and robust demand as Beijing beefed up infrastructure spending in a bid to weather a slowdown in economic growth.  - more

      Glencore to restructure SA ferrochrome following “material losses” at Rustenburg smelter - HIGH electricity tariffs, interruptions and deteriorating conditions in the ferrochrome market have forced Glencore and its joint venture partner, Merafe Resources, to consider restructuring at its Rustenburg smelter, Glencore today announced. - more

      Economic and Trade Agreement Between the United States of America and the People's Republic of China - Phase One - 94 page agreement online here

      PolyMet will appeal permit ruling to Minnesota Supreme Court - PolyMet Mining Inc. said Thursday it will ask the Minnesota Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that canceled three permits needed for its proposed copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota. - more

      Trucker.com - The November Freight TSI 0.1% increase was narrowly based with increases only in pipeline and rail carloads, with trucking, water, air freight and rail intermodal declining.

      Battery nickel price regains premium over metal - Much like prices for cobalt, lithium and graphite, nickel feedstock for battery manufacture ended 2019 on a weak note, as a retreat in Chinese electric vehicle sales in the second half of the year and slower than expected transition to nickel-rich battery chemistries hurt demand. - more

    Using numbers supplied by Inside EV's - Worldwide sales of electronic vehicles rose each of the first seven months of 2019 over the same month in 2018. Beginning in August, and each month since, 2019 worldwide sales were less than the same month in 2018. Total sales for December 2019 have yet to be tabulated. For example, November 2019 sales were 176,500+ vehicles. During November 2018, 237,500+ EV's were sold.

   21-0. If you turned the TV off after the first quarter of last week's Chiefs-Titans football game, you might have wondered why the Chiefs were even in the play-off's. The team looked like they could do nothing right and with a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter, the Texans were heading to the next round. The game was pretty much over for the Chiefs. But wait a moment, the second quarter wasn't over, and neither was the rest of the game. KC roared back in record breaking fashion and when the dust finally settled, the Chiefs had won 51-31. In a moment, a team that could do nothing right, suddenly could do nothing wrong. In a moment, a team destined to failure, was conquering. In a moment, a team with every reason to give up, chose not to. ......... Down 24 - 0? One can give up or watch for that moment - to pounce.

Thursday, January 16

LME nickel prices  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Briefing 

  • Nickel closed Wednesday's trading session at $6.50/lb ($14,320/tonne). Indicators at 6:20 am CST today show nickel trading around $.02/lb higher. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME licensed warehouses was back to its 4000+ tonne gains yesterday and started today reading just over the 183,000 tonne level. Cancelled warrants are jumping as well, and are reading just shy of the 30% level. This means while nickel is flowing in, over the last few days, the market is seeing commitments  against some of the inflows. As we learned the hard way in December, that doesn't mean its actually being 'sold' to be used, and can merely be an investment on the hopes prices will go up in the future, making the purchased nickel profitable to sell. In the meantime, LME stockpiles have nearly tripled since mid November. We have tried to write an analysis of the price predictions we received last week from readers, and no matter how we write it, it comes out disappointing. So, even though we had some great reasoning shared behind the price predictions, we are not going to use them at the present time, but reserve the right to possibly use them later. At least from those who did not request anonymity. We can, however, share the average price forecast with you today. The lowest prediction was $13,000/tonne ($5.90/lb), and the highest $16,535/tonne ($7.50/lb). The average 2020 estainlesssteel 2020 price forecast of ess readers is $14,400/tonne or $6.53/lb. We have listed some price predicitons below that we have found online. Reuters usually does a poll of metals analysts sometimes in late January. As can be seen, our readers are a whole lot more pessimistic about the annual price than many of the 'experts'. And we join with our readers. Our personal forecast for the average LME cash price of nickel for 2020 is even more pessimistic - $14,000/tonne or $6.35/lb. (Also, we are expecting an ice storm tomorrow morning so power outages are expected. If we haven't updated in a timely manner, that might explain why)
  • Average price of LME traded cash nickel so far this month - $6.32/lb
  • LME nickel chart - here 

  Reports

  • Reuters metals morning - Copper eases after U.S.-China trade deal as doubts linger - more
  • Reuters Daily Inside Metals - pdf here 
  • SMM Evening Comments - more
  • SMM - So SMM expects nickel prices to remain volatile and weak before the festival, rebound after the festival or stabilize, and run weakly in the second half of the year.
  • NIN - FocusEconomics’ panel of analysts projects that the price of nickel will fall in the coming months. Prices are forecast for US$15,856 in Q4 2020, while the average price for Q4 2021 is set at US$15,344.
  • Stockhead - S&P Global forecast that while nickel prices had come off its September highs, it expected the metal to average $US16,500 per tonne in 2020.
  • AMM - “We are currently trying to speculate how low nickel prices will go,” Mothersole (HIS Markit)  said, stating that after overshooting on the upside at about $18,000/tonne due to the panic buying, he believes that about $15,500/tonne is a defensible average price for 2020.
  • MP - Fastmarkets' analysts forecast an average London Metal Exchange nickel cash price of $16,375 per tonne in 2020....
  • ABARE - Prices are forecast to increase to US$15,800 a tonne in 2020, before rising to US$16,500 a tonne in 2021
  • U.S. Imports of Stainless Steel Mill Products - more
  • US Exports of Stainless Steel Mill Products - more
  • Blog: Making steel in the 2020s - more
  • Nickel and Its Alloys (1958 copy) - pdf here
  • Mine Australia Jan 2020 - pdf here

Stainless steel 21st century metal   Why Stainless Steel

  • Alloyed for Lasting Value video - here
  • Self Repairing for Lasting Value video - here
  • 100 Years of Stainless Steel Video - here
  • Stainless steel: The role of nickel - here
  • The Life of Nickel - pdf here

     Wednesday's market review - Copper retreats from 8-month high on profit-taking, China deal - Copper retreated on Wednesday as
investors cashed in on a rally that took prices to an eight-month peak after doubts set in over a U.S.-China trade deal. - more

      5 Factors to Consider When Selecting a Grade of Stainless Steel - Stainless steel is a commonly used material in applications ranging from medical instruments or chemical storage to transport or power generation because of its high corrosion resistance, hygiene, and strength. - more

      China’s nickel sulphate output up in 2019 - Production rose by 21pc from 2018, to 560,000t, showed data by the China non-ferrous metal industry association. - more

      Ferroalloy production grows in Kazakhstan - According to energyprom.kz ferroalloy production has grown in Kazakhstan. - more

      Proposed federal legislation bans copper-nickel mining near Boundary Waters - Proposed federal legislation could have significant ramifications on the proposed Twin Metals mine in northern Minnesota. - more

  • Jobs for Minnesotans - more

   Other News

  • Reuters The Day Ahead - pdf here
  • US removes China from 'currency manipulator' as talks progress - more
  • U.S. Futures Climb; Europe Stocks, Bonds Fluctuate: Markets Wrap - more
  • The $95 Billion Centerpiece of the Trade Deal Is Already In Doubt - more

  Morning Nickel Prices

  • Yesterday's LME official prices here 
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price -  here 
  • Shanghai Futures Exchange Stainless - here
  • India MCX Nickel Price - more
  • Baltic Dry Index - chart
Wednesday, January 15

LME nickel prices  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Briefing 

  • Nickel closed Tuesday's trading session at $6.29/lb ($13,870/tonne). Indicators at 6:15 am CST today show nickel trading around $.09/lb higher. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME licensed warehouses rose yesterday, but for the first time this year, the amount was just under the 1000 tonne level. Today's numbers started just under the 178,600 tonne level. Nickel has bounced sharply this morning, but has yet to recover completely from yesterday's dive. At the moment, nickel is trading around the $14,100 tonne level with technicals sending a buy signal.Another quiet day in industry news.Today is the half way point of January, the first month of the 2020 decade. Have you planted the seeds you told yourself you would at the first of the year? The Chinese have a proverb "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is today." We leave you with this thought and question. If not today, when?
  • Average price of LME traded cash nickel so far this month - $6.32/lb
  • LME nickel chart - here 

  Reports

  • Reuters metals morning - Copper recoils from 8-month high on profit-taking, China deal - more
  • Reuters Daily Inside Metals - pdf here 
  • SMM Evening Comments - more
  • Recycling Today Jan 2020 - online here

Stainless steel 21st century metal   Why Stainless Steel

  • Alloyed for Lasting Value video - here
  • Self Repairing for Lasting Value video - here
  • 100 Years of Stainless Steel Video - here
  • Stainless steel: The role of nickel - here
  • The Life of Nickel - pdf here

     Tuesday's market review - Strong Chinese trade data pushes copper to 8-month high - Copper prices reached their highest in eight months on Tuesday as better-then-expected trade data in China, the world’s largest metals consumer, pointed to a modest recovery in demand and the yuan strengthened. - more

      Indonesia exports 3.04 million tons of nickel ore in the last month before the ban takes effect - Indonesian statistics released data on Wednesday showing that the country exported 3.04 million tons of nickel ore in December, up from 2.7 million tons the previous month (up 12.6 per cent from the previous month) and up from 1.62 million tons in the same period in 2018 (up 87.8 per cent from a year earlier). - more

       In review: ‘PolyMet is the precedent’ - State appeals court decision could have a ripple effect across industries  - more

   Other News

  • Reuters The Day Ahead - pdf here
  • U.S. will keep in place tariffs on Chinese imports for now -Mnuchin - more
  • Stocks Struggle Before Trade Accord; Bonds Gain: Markets Wrap - more

  Morning Nickel Prices

  • Yesterday's LME official prices here 
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price -  here 
  • Shanghai Futures Exchange Stainless - here
  • India MCX Nickel Price - more
  • Baltic Dry Index - chart
Tuesday, January 14

LME nickel prices  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Briefing 

  • Nickel closed Monday's trading session at $6.39/lb ($14,095/tonne). Indicators at 6:15 am CST today show nickel trading around $.17/lb  lower. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME licensed warehouses rose by over 4000 tonnes  for their second consecutive  Monday and started today's  trading session around the 177,600 tonne level, with cancelled warrants up to the 22% range. Lot of interesting info there. First nickel is down over 2%, which is a big movement regardless of the direction. Secondly, stockpiles now register where they did last April. And thirdly, cancelled warrants moved up nearly 5 points even with the huge increase in stockpiles. In industry news, US courts rejected some Polymet permits, putting up another roadblock for the company, which has been fighting in courts for years, in an effort to open a copper.nickel mine in northern Minnesota. New Caledonia is allowing Eramet to ship more nickel ore to China, which will help partially fill the void caused by Indonesia's ban on exports of the same. And Ravensthorpe hopes to produce between 15 and 20,000 tonnes of nickel this year, as it fires back up after being in mothballs for years. Nickel is testing that weak support level we mentioned yesterday, its Jan 6th trading low, a $600 tonne drop thus far today.
  • Average price of LME traded cash nickel so far this month - $6.33/lb
  • LME nickel chart - here 

  Reports

  • Reuters metals morning - Strong Chinese trade data keeps copper near 8-month high - more
  • Reuters Daily Inside Metals - pdf here 
  • SMM Evening Comments - more

Stainless steel 21st century metal   Why Stainless Steel

  • Alloyed for Lasting Value video - here
  • Self Repairing for Lasting Value video - here
  • 100 Years of Stainless Steel Video - here
  • Stainless steel: The role of nickel - here
  • The Life of Nickel - pdf here

     Monday's market review - Copper hits eight-month high ahead of Chinese data - Copper prices on Monday hit their highest since May as traders awaited the signing of a U.S.-China Phase 1 trade deal and Chinese data that will show whether a pick-up in economic activity has been maintained. - more

      Minnesota court rejects three PolyMet permits, sends them back to DNR for hearing - Plans to build Minnesota’s first copper-nickel mine suffered a major setback Monday when the state Court of Appeals reversed three permits issued to PolyMet Mining Corp. and kicked them back to state regulators for additional review. - more

      Ravensthorpe to ramp up - First Quantum Minerals, owner of the previously mothballed Ravensthorpe nickel operation in Western Australia, has set its production targets for the mine as it is now coming online - more

      New Caledonia tightens biosecurity, bans pork from China - (excerpt) At its weekly meeting, the government today also decided to approve some nickel ore sales to China and Japan. - more

      Courtesy AISI - In the week ending on January 11, 2020, domestic raw steel production was 1,923,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 82.5 percent. Production was 1,871,000 net tons in the week ending January 11, 2019 while the capability utilization then was 80.4 percent. The current week production represents a 2.8 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending January 11, 2020 is up 1.3 percent from the previous week ending January 4, 2020 when production was 1,898,000 net tons and the rate of capability utilization was 82.0 percent. - more

   Other News

  • Reuters The Day Ahead - pdf here
  • U.S. Futures, Europe Stocks Edge Down; Bonds Rise: Markets Wrap - more

  Morning Nickel Prices

  • Yesterday's LME official prices here 
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price -  here 
  • Shanghai Futures Exchange Stainless - here
  • India MCX Nickel Price - more
  • Baltic Dry Index - chart
Monday, January 13

LME nickel prices  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Briefing 

  • Nickel closed Friday's trading session at $6.44/lb  ($14,190/tonne). Indicators at 6:20 am CST today show nickel trading around $.04/lb  higher. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME licensed warehouses continue to grow by thousands of tonnes daily and started the week just over the 173,500 tonne level. Cancelled warrants finally moved up to the 19+% level. Stockpiles have risen by 22,812 tonnes since the first of the year and we still have three business days to go before the month is half way over. If we see them grow to 192,528, then they will have tripled since November 14th. Two months ago today, we were reporting on stockpile numbers at 64, 194 tonnes, with cancelled warrants running over 40%. Nickel is off morning highs, but remains positive on the day. $6.55/lb still looks to put up some resistance, while $6.23/lb shows minor support. Weekend industry news remained weak. It's Monday - a fresh week, a fresh start, a fresh opportunity.  The canvas is empty and you have been given the pain and brushes. What you do with them this week is entirely up to you. What you will end up will depend on how hard you work to overcome the fact you were not born with the name Rembrandt. Yet, even he, had to pick up the brush to discover that he had a gift. Have a great and successful week.
  • Average price of LME traded cash nickel so far this month - $6.31/lb
  • LME nickel chart - here 

  Reports

  • Reuters metals morning - London copper rises ahead of U.S.-China trade deal - more
  • Reuters Daily Inside Metals - pdf here 
  • SMM Evening Comments - more
  • Barchart 304 SS Scrap Index - $.253/lb
  • S & P Rethinking Commodities - pdf here
  • SFSA CaSteel Reporter - more
  • Primetals Metals Magazine - pdf here

Stainless steel 21st century metal   Why Stainless Steel

  • Alloyed for Lasting Value video - here
  • Self Repairing for Lasting Value video - here
  • 100 Years of Stainless Steel Video - here
  • Stainless steel: The role of nickel - here
  • The Life of Nickel - pdf here

     Friday's market review - Strengthening dollar curbs copper rebound - Copper was up by more than 1% for the week on Friday as fears of conflict in the Middle East diminished and exchange inventories continued to dwindle, though prices were kept in check by a stronger dollar. - more

      Brazil pushes plans for mining on tribal lands to European diplomats - Brazil's government on Friday said it was pushing ahead with plans to allow mining on tribal lands, briefing European diplomats on proposals that have drawn criticism from indigenous advocates in Brazil and overseas. - more

      US slaps new sanctions on Iranian steel and metals in tit-for-tat action -  The US has imposed new sanctions on Iran's steel and metals exports, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at a press conference at the White House Friday. - more

   Other News

  • Reuters The Day Ahead - pdf here
  • U.S. Futures Gain, Europe Shares Drift; Bonds Slip: Markets Wrap - more
  • Brighter EU long steel demand outlook expected in 2020 - more
  • Top 10 Best-Selling Plug-In Electric Cars In U.S. - 2019 Edition - more

  Morning Nickel Prices

  • Yesterday's LME official prices here 
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price -  here 
  • Shanghai Futures Exchange Stainless - here
  • India MCX Nickel Price - more
  • Baltic Dry Index - chart
Friday, January 10
   Reader's 2020 Price Forecast - Last day!!
  • This week only we are inviting our readers to participate in a price forecast poll.  Forecasting the price of nickel is, for a better phrase, a nearly impossible task in a volatile market, so your guess could easily be as good as your neighbors. We have added a special email address for this poll estainlesssteel (at) yahoo.com. Here are the three questions - you are welcome to answer only number one or preferably, all three.
  • What do you think the average price of LME cash nickel will be for the entire year of 2020 (in US $).  (We determine by taking the average for each month, totaling, and using that number to determine the annual average)
  • Do you have a reason behind your forecast of the price being lower/higher than 2019?
  • If applicable, can we use your forecast and/or comment, or would you rather remain anonymous? No answer to this question, will automatically put you in the anonymous column.
  • Per special request, here are the LME cash averages for the last 4 years - (2019 $6.42/lb) - (2018 $5.95/lb) - (2017 $4.73/lb) - (2016 $4.36/lb)
  • Sorry, no prize unless someone out there wants to sponsor one - but bragging rights for the closest answer - which we won't know for 12 months. We encourage all of our readers to participate. Let's see how men/women from the industry do against the number crunchers. Thank you for participating!
  Abridged Nickel/Stainless Steel Briefing 
  • Nickel closed Thursday's trading session at $6.39/lb ($14,085/tonne). Indicators at 6:35 am CST today show nickel trading around $.02/lb  higher. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME licensed warehouses rose yet again on Thursday and started the day just under the 171,100 tonne level. Cancelled warrants remain stuck in the 17% range. $14,250/tonne is giving nickel some resistance, as nickel tried and failed four times over the last two days to break thru that level. Going into the weekend with a little more news than we have had the last few days. Either we missed it, or US media overlooked it, but terrorists attacked and killed a group of miners in Burkina Faso last week. Not nickel, but still an industry we all benefit from daily. We want to thank those of you who have taken part in the nickel forecasting poll we have been/are taking this week and hope to have something with the results in the next week or so. Nickel had a bullish first full week of the 2020's decade and we hope your second weekend is both relaxing, and safe.
  • Average price of LME traded cash nickel so far this month - $6.31/lb
  • LME nickel chart - here 

  Reports

  • Reuters metals morning - Copper inches higher, set for weekly gain on inventory slump - more
  • Reuters Daily Inside Metals - pdf here 
  • SMM Evening Comments - more
  • QMA 2020 Outlook and Review - pdf here
  • First Quantum Minerals Announces 2020-2022 Guidance - pdf here

     Thursday's market review - Copper touches highest in a week on easing trade and Middle East tensions - Copper prices scaled one-week highs on Thursday, supported by easing tensions in the Middle East, China confirming it would sign a preliminary trade deal with the United States next week and expectations of stronger Chinese demand. - more

      As metal trade shrinks, exchanges fight back with new products: Andy Home - Base metals trading volumes shrank on all three major global exchanges last year as trade war uncertainty and range-bound markets dampened speculative activity. - more

      China's steel production likely to grow by 4-5% this year: analyst  - Official forecasts for China's steel production in 2020 vary between a contraction of almost 1% and growth of 1.2%, but Alfa Bank's Boris Krasnozhenov says the country's investment in infrastructure would back less conservative predictions, pegging growth of up to 4%-5%. - more

      First Quantum to ramp up Ravensthorpe operations - First Quantum Minerals has set a production guidance for the previously mothballed Ravensthorpe mine in Western Australia. - more

      Q&A: making nickel mining greener with Norilsk - Russian nickel mining company Norilsk has recently taken steps towards reducing emissions at its operations on the Russia-Norway border, and has collaborated with the UN to explore environmentally-sound mining technologies. - more

      Billionaire pledges to donate $48 million to fire relief in Australia -  Australian billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest has pledged 70 million Australian dollars ($48.1 million) in aid for the country's brushfire crisis, joining a growing list of celebrities chipping in to fight the fires. - more

   Other News

  • Reuters The Day Ahead - pdf here
  • US-China Trade Deal May Be Little More Than A Truce – OpEd - more
  • AISI Releases December 2019 SIMA Imports Data - more
  • Many still missing after ambush of Canadian mine workers kills 37 and injures 60 in worst attack in Burkina Faso in years - more
Thursday, January 9
   Reader's 2020 Price Forecast - only 1 more day
  • This week only we are inviting our readers to participate in a price forecast poll.  Forecasting the price of nickel is, for a better phrase, a nearly impossible task in a volatile market, so your guess could easily be as good as your neighbors. We have added a special email address for this poll estainlesssteel (at) yahoo.com. Here are the three questions - you are welcome to answer only number one or preferably, all three.
  • What do you think the average price of LME cash nickel will be for the entire year of 2020 (in US $).  (We determine by taking the average for each month, totaling, and using that number to determine the annual average)
  • Do you have a reason behind your forecast of the price being lower/higher than 2019?
  • If applicable, can we use your forecast and/or comment, or would you rather remain anonymous? No answer to this question, will automatically put you in the anonymous column.
  • Per special request, here are the LME cash averages for the last 4 years - (2019 $6.42/lb) - (2018 $5.95/lb) - (2017 $4.73/lb) - (2016 $4.36/lb)
  • Sorry, no prize unless someone out there wants to sponsor one - but bragging rights for the closest answer - which we won't know for 12 months. We encourage all of our readers to participate. Let's see how men/women from the industry do against the number crunchers. Thank you for participating!

LME nickel prices   Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Briefing 

  • Nickel closed yesterday's trading session at $6.37/lb ($14,050/tonne). Indicators at 6:15 am CST today show nickel trading around $.08/lb higher. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME licensed warehouses rose on Wednesday and started today's session just over the 167,900 tonne level. Nickel closed above the psychological resistance level of $14,000/tonne yesterday and looks to  do so again today. This puts $6.62/lb as the next line of resistance, the high point of a bullish attempt back in November. Minor resistance could show at $14,500/tonne, the high point of the most recent bull run, that peaked on December 23rd. Just for the record, we really aren't one of those that puts a lot of faith in these 'technical' signals. They are, however, something to talk about when there isn't anything else - like industry news. It is possible traders are taking nickel higher on the hopes the 'Phase One" agreement to be signed January 15th, will help kick start both economies. Or they may be hoping that stockpiles will stop climbing and evidence of the Indonesia nickel ore export ban will start showing up in the statistics. Or they could just be trying to make a few bucks doing a little riding of the most recent bull run. This is a challenging way to make a living however, as nickel runs have a tendency to be wild, and bare back riding has a way of unseating the rider with a hard fall. If you have been in the stainless steel or nickel industry for longer than 13 minutes, you know that what goes up will come down. Tomorrow is Friday so our update can post a little later. And tomorrow is our last day to collect your best guess for the 2020 nickel average. Responses so far have been very limited in number, so we encourage you to make an anonymous guess.
  • Average price of LME traded cash nickel so far this month - $6.29/lb
  • LME nickel chart - here

  Reports

  • Reuters metals morning - Most base metals gain as Iran, U.S. de-escalate standoff - more
  • Reuters Daily Inside Metals - pdf here 
  • SMM Evening Comments - more
  • US Exports of Stainless Steel Mill Products - more
  • U.S. Imports of Stainless Steel Mill Products - more

Stainless steel 21st century metal   Why Stainless Steel

  • Alloyed for Lasting Value video - here
  • Self Repairing for Lasting Value video - here
  • 100 Years of Stainless Steel Video - here
  • Stainless steel: The role of nickel - here
  • The Life of Nickel - pdf here

     Yesterday's market review - Zinc near eight-week high as Iran-U.S. fears ease - Zinc prices hit the highest in nearly eight weeks on Wednesday as fears of further Iran-U.S. military escalation eased, while concerns about short-term supplies of the metal, mainly used for galvanizing steel, increased. - more

      Indonesia approves environmental study for battery-grade nickel plants: minister - Indonesia has approved environmental impact studies for factories to produce battery-grade nickel chemicals in Morowali, Coordinating Minister of Maritime and Investment Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan said on Wednesday.  - more

   Other News

  • Reuters The Day Ahead - pdf here
  • U.S. Futures Climb on Mideast Calm; Gold Slides: Markets Wrap - more

  Morning Nickel Prices

  • Yesterday's LME official prices here 
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price -  here 
  • Shanghai Futures Exchange Stainless - here
  • India MCX Nickel Price - more
  • Baltic Dry Index - chart
Wednesday, January 8
   Reader's 2020 Price Forecast
  • This week only we are inviting our readers to participate in a price forecast poll.  Forecasting the price of nickel is, for a better phrase, a nearly impossible task in a volatile market, so your guess could easily be as good as your neighbors. We have added a special email address for this poll estainlesssteel (at) yahoo.com. Here are the three questions - you are welcome to answer only number one or preferably, all three.
  • What do you think the average price of LME cash nickel will be for the entire year of 2020 (in US $).  (We determine by taking the average for each month, totaling, and using that number to determine the annual average)
  • Do you have a reason behind your forecast of the price being lower/higher than 2019?
  • If applicable, can we use your forecast and/or comment, or would you rather remain anonymous? No answer to this question, will automatically put you in the anonymous column.
  • Per special request, here are the LME cash averages for the last 4 years - (2019 $6.42/lb) - (2018 $5.95/lb) - (2017 $4.73/lb) - (2016 $4.36/lb)
  • Sorry, no prize unless someone out there wants to sponsor one - but bragging rights for the closest answer - which we won't know for 12 months. We encourage all of our readers to participate. Let's see how men/women from the industry do against the number crunchers. Thank you for participating!

LME nickel prices  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Briefing 

  • Nickel closed Tuesday's trading session at $6.32/lb ($13,935/tonne). Indicators at 6:15 am CST today show nickel trading around $.04/lb  lower. Stockpiles of nickel store in LME licensed warehouses rose by over 4600 tonnes on Tuesday and started today's session just under the 166,100 tonne level. That's the highest recorded since late June 2019. Another day with not a lot to report. Iran fired some ballistic missiles as US bases in Iraq but based on the President's late night tweets, it was no big deal. Will President Trump escalate or leave alone? Business media is reporting the Iranian reaction is having an effect on European markets, and thus might be having some affect on LME traders, but we doubt it. We would like to think traders are becoming concerned about the growth in stockpile numbers. For a period in 2018, and likewise, for a time in 2019, it looked like LME stockpiles of nickel could be depleted by sometime this year. Not so much these days. Indonesia miners shipped as much nickel ore as they could to China before the ban was implemented on January 1st. This could be having some effect on supply/demand, but we suspect it has more to do with the demand, than the supply these days. Technically, nickel appears to remain in bearish territory. We will see. Please send us your best guess for the nickel average for 2020 - you will remain anonymous unless you answer #3 in the positive (see above).
  • Average price of LME traded cash nickel so far this month - $6.29/lb
  • Nickel (day old) price chart and history - here 

  Reports

  • Reuters metals morning - Copper steadies after Iran missile attack; low stocks lend support - more
  • Reuters Daily Inside Metals - pdf here 
  • SMM Evening Comments - more
  • Mirae Asset Weekly Commodity Alerts - pdf here
  • U.S. Imports for Consumption of (Stainless inc) Steel Products November 2019 - pdf here

Stainless steel 21st century metal   Why Stainless Steel

  • Alloyed for Lasting Value video - here
  • Self Repairing for Lasting Value video - here
  • 100 Years of Stainless Steel Video - here
  • Stainless steel: The role of nickel - here
  • The Life of Nickel - pdf here

     Tuesday's market review - Copper closes higher as investors take stock and look to China - Copper prices clawed higher on Tuesday as U.S.-Iran tensions eased and investors expected leading metals consumer China to extend its stimulus policies. - more

      Base metals hope for manufacturing recovery in 2020: Andy Home - Well, at least there was nickel. Looking back on 2019 it was nickel that provided most of the thrills and a fair share of the spills in the base metals complex. - more

      Nickel bulls press abort button on 2020 run - (excerpt) S&P Global forecast that while nickel prices had come off its September highs, it expected the metal to average $US16,500 per tonne in 2020. - more

      FPX Nickel's shares shoot up on nickel recoveries announcement - Successful leach testing of high-grade nickel concentrates from Vancouver-based explorer FPX Nickel’s Decar nickel district, near Fort St James, British Columbia, has confirmed nickel recoveries up to 99.5% in producing a high-concentration nickel/cobalt chemical solution suitable for the electric vehicle (EV) battery supply chain. - more

   Other News

  • Reuters The Day Ahead - pdf here
  • U.S. Futures Turn Higher as Trader Nerves Settle: Markets Wrap - more

  Morning Nickel Prices

  • Yesterday's LME official prices here 
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price -  here 
  • Shanghai Futures Exchange Stainless - here
  • India MCX Nickel Price - more
  • Baltic Dry Index - chart
Tuesday, January 7
   Reader's 2020 Price Forecast
  • This week only we are inviting our readers to participate in a price forecast poll.  Forecasting the price of nickel is, for a better phrase, a nearly impossible task in a volatile market, so your guess could easily be as good as your neighbors. We have added a special email address for this poll estainlesssteel (at) yahoo.com. Here are the three questions - you are welcome to answer only number one or preferably, all three.
  • What do you think the average price of LME cash nickel will be for the entire year of 2020 (in US $).  (We determine by taking the average for each month, totaling, and using that number to determine the annual average)
  • Do you have a reason behind your forecast of the price being lower/higher than 2019?
  • If applicable, can we use your forecast and/or comment, or would you rather remain anonymous? No answer to this question, will automatically put you in the anonymous column.
  • Per special request, here are the LME cash averages for the last 4 years - (2019 $6.42/lb) - (2018 $5.95/lb) - (2017 $4.73/lb) - (2016 $4.36/lb)
  • Sorry, no prize unless someone out there wants to sponsor one - but bragging rights for the closest answer - which we won't know for 12 months. We encourage all of our readers to participate. Let's see how men/women from the industry do against the number crunchers. Thank you for participating!

LME nickel prices  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Briefing 

  • Nickel closed yesterday's trading session at $6.27/lb ($13,820/tonne). Indicators at 6:20 am CST today show nickel trading around $.04/lb  higher. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME licensed warehouses rose on Monday and started today's session just over the 161,400 tonne level. Nickel turned higher late yesterday and we see $14,000/tonne putting up minor resistance, with somewhere around $6.56/lb - $6.60/lb a stronger line of resistance. LME stockpiles continue to grow and now nearly match where they were on July 2nd - except nearly 37% of the inventory back then was committed, while only a little over 17% is today. We find these numbers particularly discouraging, as the market deficit we have been lead to believe the market is in, appears not to be as bad as someone wanted everyone to believe. Or doesn't exist at all. Either nickel production is more than capable of keeping up with demand, or demand is suffering as the world economy slows much faster than we feared. Lot of noise filling the news cycles while the negative economic news is getting buried. If you haven't checked lately, world manufacturing PMI's look rather dismal (here). We all are quick to blame the trade war between the US and China for it, but economies operate in cycles and since the Great Recession, we have been in one of the longest lasting bull markets in history. We are overdue for a slowdown and evidence is out there, that it may be time to start tightening our belts. Or not. The bull could have plenty of room left to run. It's obvious some traders hope that, with nickel fighting the tide to push nickel higher. We started 2019 with 206,400 tonnes of nickel stored in LME stockpiles and started this year with 153,318 tonnes. For that 25% drop, we saw the trading price of nickel swing wildly thru the year. S0 what will 2020 bring - stay tuned.
  • Average price of LME traded cash nickel so far this month - $6.29/lb
  • Nickel (day old) price chart and history - here 

  Reports

  • Reuters metals morning - Copper edges higher as investors take stock and look to China - more
  • Reuters Daily Inside Metals - pdf here 
  • SMM Evening Comments - more

Stainless steel 21st century metal   Why Stainless Steel

  • Alloyed for Lasting Value video - here
  • Self Repairing for Lasting Value video - here
  • 100 Years of Stainless Steel Video - here
  • Stainless steel: The role of nickel - here
  • The Life of Nickel - pdf here

     Yesterday's market review - Copper resilient despite weaker China data and Mideast tensions -  Copper edged higher on Monday as a rise in oil prices offset softer Chinese economic data and an escalation in tension between the United States and Iran, analysts said. - more

      Santa Rita restart moves along - Atlantic Nickel has sold the first concentrate from its Santa Rita nickel sulphide open-pit project in Bahia, Brazil - more

      Mincor seeking superlatives for latest Kambalda nickel find - Mincor Resources has again struck pay dirt at its Cassini deposit near Kambalda. - more

      PolyMet hires new director to build Minnesota’s first copper-nickel mine - PolyMet Mining announced Monday that it hired Richard Lock as its new senior vice president and project director for the proposed NorthMet copper-nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes. - more

      Courtesy AISI - In the week ending on January 4, 2020, domestic raw steel production was 1,898,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 82.0 percent. Production was 1,861,000 net tons in the week ending January 4, 2019 while the capability utilization then was 79.4 percent. The current week production represents a 2.0 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending January 4, 2020 is up 1.2 percent from the previous week ending December 28, 2019 when production was 1,876,000 net tons and the rate of capability utilization was 81.1 percent. - more

   Other News

  • Reuters The Day Ahead - pdf here
  • U.S. Futures, Stocks Shrug Off Iran Fear; Oil Dips: Markets Wrap - more
  • The Evolving Market for U.S. Sovereign Credit Risk - pdf here

  Morning Nickel Prices

  • Yesterday's LME official prices here 
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price -  here 
  • Shanghai Futures Exchange Stainless - here
  • India MCX Nickel Price - more
  • Baltic Dry Index - chart
Monday, January 6
LME nickel prices  Reader's 2020 Price Forecast
  • This week only we are inviting our readers to participate in a price forecast poll.  Forecasting the price of nickel is, for a better phrase, a nearly impossible task in a volatile market, so your guess could easily be as good as your neighbors. We have added a special email address for this poll estainlesssteel (at) yahoo.com. Here are the three questions - you are welcome to answer only number one or preferably, all three.
  • What do you think the average price of LME cash nickel will be for the entire year of 2020 (in US $).  (We determine by taking the average for each month, totaling, and using that number to determine the annual average)
  • Do you have a reason behind your forecast of the price being lower/higher than 2019?
  • If applicable, can we use your forecast and/or comment, or would you rather remain anonymous? No answer to this question, will automatically put you in the anonymous column.
  • Sorry, no prize unless someone out there wants to sponsor one - but bragging rights for the closest answer - which we won't know for 12 months. We encourage all of our readers to participate. Let's see how men/women from the industry do against the number crunchers. Thank you for participating!

LME nickel prices  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Briefing 

  • Nickel closed yesterday's trading session at $6.24/lb ($13,755/tonne). Indicators at 6:15 am CST today show nickel trading around $.02/lb  lower. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME licensed warehouses rose again on Friday and started this week over the 159,400 tonne level. This now puts LME nickel stockpiles higher than they were on September 30th, 2019, when numbers began to decline rapidly, and in large shipments. In fact, stockpile numbers are now back to where they were the first week of July 2019. We now have circumstantial evidence that supply has been exceeding demand for some time now. Nickel got whacked on Friday, and remains in trouble today, after world markets reacted negatively to news US forces had assassinated a leading Iranian military figure. We see December's low of around $5.95/lb as support and we will worry about resistance if the market looks to head that direction. It's the first full week of 2020 and we hope its a great one for you!
  • Average price of LME traded cash nickel so far this month - $6.30/lb
  • Nickel (day old) price chart and history - here
  • The PUC Monthly Report - pdf here

  Reports

  • Reuters metals morning - Copper steady; zinc rises on demand boost ahead of Phase 1 trade deal - more
  • Reuters Daily Inside Metals - pdf here 
  • SMM Evening Comments - more
  • Barchart (US) 304 Stainless Scrap Index - $.252/lb
  • Wells Fargo Weekly Economic Commentary - pdf here

Stainless steel 21st century metal   Why Stainless Steel

  • Alloyed for Lasting Value video - here
  • Self Repairing for Lasting Value video - here
  • 100 Years of Stainless Steel Video - here
  • Stainless steel: The role of nickel - here
  • The Life of Nickel - pdf here

     Yesterday's market review - Copper falls after U.S. kills top Iranian commander - Copper dropped more than 1% on Friday and other industrial metals fell as the killing of a top Iranian commander by the United States sent shockwaves through markets, pushing oil prices sharply higher. - more

      Technical working group to draft national nickel industry roadmap - The Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) is initiative the creation of a technical working group (TWG) to draft the national nickel industry roadmap to propel the growth of sustainable mining in the Philippines, PNIA Executive Director Cha Olea said. - more

      Certain Carbon and Alloy Steel Cut-to-Length Plate From Taiwan: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review and Final Determination of No Shipments; 2016-2018 - The Department of Commerce (Commerce) finds that producers or exporters of certain carbon and alloy steel cut-to-length plate (CTL plate) from Taiwan sold subject merchandise at less than normal value during the period of review (POR), November 14, 2016 through April 30, 2018. - pdf here

      Stainless Steel Sheet and Strip From the People’s Republic of China: Rescission of Countervailing Duty Administrative Review; 2018 - The Department of Commerce (Commerce) is rescinding the administrative review of the countervailing duty (CVD) order on stainless steel sheet and strip (SSSS) from the People’s Republic of China (China) for the period January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018. - pdf here

      For your records - Hexavalent Chromium Is Not present In Stainless and Specialty Steels - EU ROHS Statement from SSINA - here

   Other News

  • Reuters The Day Ahead - pdf here
  • U.S. Futures Slide on Iran Fallout; Brent Hits $70: Markets Wrap - more
  • China's steel and manufacturing PMIs weaker in December - more

  Morning Nickel Prices

  • Yesterday's LME official prices here 
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price -  here 
  • Shanghai Futures Exchange Stainless - here
  • India MCX Nickel Price - more
  • Baltic Dry Index - chart
Friday, January 3

LME nickel prices  Abridged Nickel/Stainless Steel Briefing 

  • Nickel closed Thursday's trading session at $6.47/lb ($14,260/tonne). Indicators at 6:20 am CST today show nickel trading around $.23/lb  lower. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME licensed warehouses started the new year as they ended the old, and started today's trading session just under the 156,400 tonne level. Typically we do not join with other media sites and attempt to explain the unexplainable, but today, with all LME metals trading lower, and precious metals trading higher, it is apparent the market is spooked by the death of the Iranian general late yesterday, and what retaliatory, if any, measures Iran might take. As we have discussed before, the markets dislike the unknown interfering with their reality, and thus, uncertainty is hurting 'production' metals, while boosting the 'safe haven' rocks. Other than the news from Iraq, and the heart wrenching videos of desolation in Australia, there is little to talk about in the nickel and stainless steel industry. We hope you have a safe and relaxing weekend and invite you to join us next week for the first 'full' week of 2020.
  • Average price of LME traded cash nickel so far this month - $6.38/lb
  • Nickel (day old) price chart and history - here
  • Barchart (US) 304 Stainless Scrap Index - $.246/lb

  Reports

  • Reuters metals morning - Copper falls after U.S. kills top Iranian commander - more
  • Reuters Daily Inside Metals - pdf here
  • SMM Evening Comments - more

     Thursday's market review - Copper climbs towards eight-month high after China eases policy - Copper prices rose towards eight-month highs on Thursday as demand expectations were boosted by economic measures in China and optimism that the world’s top metals consumer would also sign a preliminary trade deal with the United States. - more

      Union rejects restructure of nickel company in New Caledonia - A New Caledonian union has rejected the planned restructure of the Brazilian-owned Vale nickel company. - more

      Student Falls Victim to Machete Attack after Anti-Mining Protest -  A student of the Halu Oleo Kendari University, Muhammad Iksan, fell victim to a machete attack by an unknown person on Thursday, January 2, after participating in a protest against the disarray surrounding the nickel mine at North Konawe. - more

      Meteor now believed to have caused local explosion, flash of light - (excerpt) Dr. Rapson said the bolides are made up of iron and nickel. She said the iron will produce a yellow glow in the sky, and the nickel is what likely contributed to that flash of green reported by so many. - more

     The five environmental stories to watch in 2020 - Next year will be a pivotal one for many of Minnesota’s most controversial environmental debates, from mining to climate change and the 2020 elections. - more

   Other News


Thursday, January 2

   Due to a server change by the company hosting our site, our email did not function on Tuesday and Wednesday. If you sent us an e-mail on either of these two days, please resend. And please put stainless steel in the header.

LME nickel prices  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Briefing 

  • Nickel closed yesterday's trading session at $6.36/lb ($14,025/tonne). Indicators at 6:20 am CST today show nickel trading around $.08/lb higher. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME licensed warehouses rose on the last day of 2019, and started the new year just over the 153,300 tonne level. This now puts LME nickel stockpile higher than they were on October 1st, after the first 5,850 tonne shipment had been taken, in what would become a near 91,000 tonne depletion thru the month of October 2019. 157,986 tonnes on September 30th remains a pivotal amount in this whole suspected market manipulation ploy that were bad. If inventory levels grow beyond this level, then this will mean stockpiles numbers grew 'without' the whole manipulation deal having taken place. As it stands the whole up and down over the last three months is rather mute as stockpiles have done little - after bouncing around a lot. Next week, once we are confident our email is working 100% again, we want to give our readers an opportunity to forecast. There will be three questions asked. #1 What do you think will be the average price of nickel for 2020? #2 Do you have a comment on why you think the price will be higher or lower than 2019? #3 Do you wish to remain anonymous or can we use your name and/or comment if applicable? We really do not have a prize for the most correct answer, so the closest guesser will have bragging rights only. We are doing this for a couple of reasons. First, for fun. Let's see how market followers, the guys and gals working with stainless steel and nickel every day, do against the metals analysts. Second, we will post the group average, which buyers who read our news daily, might find useful, as they consider what others are thinking. Let's start this on Monday, so please be thinking about it over the next few days. We will run it for a week, and then post the average later in the month. It's a new year.... a new decade. Day numero one. We wish you a great year and hope it brings you above all other things, health and happiness. And that Australia will get a whole lot of rain.
  • Nickel prices ended 31% higher for the year of 2019.
  • Average price of LME traded cash nickel so far this month - $6.26/lb (December average)
  • Nickel (day old) price chart and history - here 

  Reports

  • Reuters metals morning - Copper rises on China policy easing, trade deal hopes - more
  • Reuters Daily Inside Metals - pdf here 
  • SMM Evening Comments - more
  • Barchart (US) 304 SS Scrap Metal - $.25/lb

Stainless steel 21st century metal   Why Stainless Steel

  • Alloyed for Lasting Value video - here
  • Self Repairing for Lasting Value video - here
  • 100 Years of Stainless Steel Video - here
  • Stainless steel: The role of nickel - here
  • The Life of Nickel - pdf here

     Yesterday's market review - Metals upswing hangs on U.S.-China trade war truce - A thawing in the U.S.-China trade war could fuel a rally in base metals in 2020 after the prolonged conflict largely kept a lid on prices in 2019. - more

    Jakarta flooding deterred NPI shipments - Several vessels carrying nickel pig iron have been deterred from leaving Indonesia, as its capital city—Jakarta—is suffering the worst flooding in years, SMM learned from a market participant. - more

   Global EV Sales In November 2019: Down 26% Year-Over-Year - While the general plug-in car market shrunk significantly, Tesla is pushing forward - more

   Other News

  • Reuters The Day Ahead - pdf here
  • Stocks Rally in Bullish Start to Year; Bonds Mixed: Markets Wrap - more
  • Asia's flashpoints: What could go wrong in 2020 - more
  • Trump sets date for signing US-China 'deal' - more

  Morning Nickel Prices

  • Yesterday's LME official prices here 
  • Shanghai Jinchuan nickel price -  here 
  • Shanghai Futures Exchange Stainless - here
  • India MCX Nickel Price - more
  • Baltic Dry Index - chart

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(all ton listings are metric tons = 2204.622 pounds ) Updated Monday thru Thursday before 7 am CST, Friday version before 8 am CST - Disclaimer Original content and opinions copyright www.estainlesssteel.com. All prices shown on this page are indications only. Please note - for real time and official LME prices, LME requires a user subscribe to an authorized LME vendor.



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