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Friday, July 29

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 14 to 1,264. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Should Favor U.S. Stocks Over Treasuries as Default Looms, Xie Says // China Regulator Said to Tell Banks Provisions for Bad Loans Are Inadequate // China Gold Demand May Surpass India by End of This Year, Goldcorp CEO Says // Japan Ending Nuclear Age Risks $5 Trillion Economy as Komatsu, Sharp Walk // Spain Placed on Downgrade Review by Moody’s // Greek Bondholders May Shun Rescue as Potential Losses Top 21%: Euro Credit // European Stocks Retreat as U.S. Growth Trails Forecasts, Debt Talks Stall // U.S. Debt-Agreement Delay Risks Creating a Lehman-Like Moment, Gieve Says // Debt-Increase Dispute Tests Boehner’s Power // Economy in U.S. Grows Less Than Forecast
  • After dismal US second quarter GDP numbers were released, the Euro turned higher and is now trading 1/3 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down 1/9% and trading at $95.62/barrel. Gold and silver are both up 1/3 of 1%. Base metals ended the session mixed with copper and nickel the only winners for the day. Indicator charts show three month nickel got a big bunch as the Euro gained on the Dollar. For the day, week and month, Dow Jones reports nickel closed at $11.34/lb .  Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell overnight and end the month at just under the 102,550 tonne level. Warehouses hold 4,598 tonnes less than they did at the end of June and 32,742 tonnes less than they did at the end of 2010. But Bloomberg reports an official with Japan's Sumitomo Metal Mining Co as saying "“The narrowing surplus is because of increasing demand by China to make stainless steel.” Narrowing surplus? Nickel closed the first day o July at $10.43 and today at $11.43/lb. It appears the average price of nickel rose in July from June. Next week could be an interesting week - to say the least - if the US Congress does not come up with a debt limit extension bill. Today, the economic news was mostly all bad and we briefly touch on some of the highlights in the comments section. Have a safe and restful weekend!  

  Reports

  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Reuters Metals Insider - pdf here

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Vale, the world's second-largest nickel producer, also expects the troubled Goro nickel project to show some progress by the end of the year, thanks to some engineering changes, [Vale CEO] Ferreira said.
  • (CNN) Economic growth in the second quarter was tepid, the government reported Friday. And growth in the first quarter was much slower than initially thought. Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation's economic health, rose at an annual rate of 1.3% in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said. While that's an increase from the revised 0.4% growth rate in the first three months of the year, it is hardly good news. The government originally reported that the economy grew at a 1.9% annualized rate in the first quarter.
  • (MW) A gauge of consumer sentiment fell to 63.7 in July -- the lowest level since March 2009 -- from 71.5 in June, according to media reports of the gauge from Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan released Friday.
  • (MW) The Chicago PMI slowed to a reading of 58.8 in July from 61.1 in June, though that marked the 22nd month the indicator was above the 50 line indicating expansion
  • (MFG) Posco has raised its domestic stainless steel price by 100,000 won ($95) per ton for August to 3.7 million won per ton for its benchmark 304 2B 2mm hot rolled coil, largely due to strong nickel prices in July. The company has increased its cold rolled coil prices to 3.9 million won per ton as well.
  • (WSJ) Manufacturing activity in the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City‘s district slowed sharply in July after a resurgence in June, according to a report released by the bank Thursday.
  • Why Do Half of Americans Pay No Federal Income Tax? - more
  • ‘Great Recession’ even deeper than thought - more
  • Vitals Signs: Capital Spending Slips - 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 lower, with all London traded base metals lower. The Euro is down nearly 1/2 of 1% against the US Dollar at the moment.  NYMEX crude is off 3/4 of 1% and trading at $96.72/barrel. Gold is off nearly 2/10 of 1% and silver is down 3/10 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China down 3/10 of 1%. European markets are trading lower this morning and US futures show traders do not approve of a Republican party that can't even agree to a single plan amongst themselves, let alone have hopes of making an agreement with the Democrats. Nickel inventories fell overnight.
  • LME Morning - Metals mixed as early gains rebuffed, cautious mood sets in - more
  • Reuters - Supply jitters fuel copper's surge to 3-mth high - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metal prices ended mixed yesterday amid very quiet trading, as markets went into a holding pattern as investors wait for developments to play out in Washington. Other markets were similarly subdued; oil finished flat, gold ended lower, while the dollar strengthened slightly against the Euro on continued unease about Eurozone debt issues . US stocks faded by the close despite relatively decent reports out of the housing sector, where pending home sales jumped by 2.4% vs. an expected decline of 3%. All eyes will be on Washington over the next 72 hours. Last night at around 6 pm, a vote on the Republican plan was supposed to take place, but this was abruptly postponed, as conservative Republicans in the House-- many of them elected with tea party support-- opposed it on grounds that it did not cut enough spending or contain a requirement to balance the federal budget. The plan, as crafted by Speaker John Boehner, would have generated $917 billion in savings over the next decade, matching the raising of the debt ceiling with dollar-for-dollar spending cuts. There have now been more changes to the plan, and the speaker is planning to put it to a vote later today. Even if the measure is voted on, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claims he has enough votes to table it in the Senate, effectively killing it. Reid has proposed a competing measure to raise the debt ceiling, and the thinking now is that the two bills will be reconciled sometime over the weekend. With the clock ticking, it is not certain that all this will even take place, which is why most markets are lower today. We are seeing only a modest decline in copper, but more sizable losses in other metals, while energy prices are off by about $.70 a barrel. The dollar is slightly stronger against the Euro (but weaker against the Swiss franc) and US stocks are expected to open slightly lower following sloppy sessions in Europe and Asia. Trading-wise, we would rather be on the sidelines for the moment, as conditions remain treacherous, and bound to change on a moment’s notice. The fact that we have never been in such a situation before makes position-taking or forecasting all the more difficult. ... Nickel is at $24,525, down $30; the complex has put through two closes above $24,500 and we could now be moving higher over the short-term as a breakout of sorts is evident on the charts. (Daily Metals Report here)
  • (Yieh) According to Natixis Commodity Markets (NCM), China’s stainless steel production may rise as much as 15% this year. As a result, it may bring up the demand for nickel, the key ingredient of steelmaking.
  • (MW) Consumer bankruptcy petitions rose 4% in the second-quarter from first-quarter levels, the biggest increase since the second quarter of 2009, according a new study issued by Equifax Inc.
  • (AMM) China's imports of low-grade nickel ore as a substitute for iron ore in steelmaking could make up around 20% of total nickel ore imports this year, from around 6% in 2010
  • Vale Plans $3 Billion Dividend as Net Income Misses Estimates - more
  • Universal Stainless Reports Strong Second Quarter 2011 Results - more
  • EU Imposes Anti-dumping duties on imported Malaysian Fasteners - more
  • Commodities: The 21st-Century Currency - more
  • Is the US in denial over its $14tn debt? - more

  Chinese stainless output to support higher nickel prices: NCM - Chinese stainless steel production could increase by as much as 15% or more this year, Natixis Commodity Markets said in its third-quarter metals review Thursday. - more

  Nickel Surplus to Narrow on China’s Demand for Steel, Sumitomo Metal Says - A global nickel surplus may narrow on increasing stainless-steel demand from China and as new mining projects have stalled, limiting a decline in prices, said Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Japan’s top producer. - more

  MSCI: Shipments Slow in June - Service center shipments in the United States and Canada for both steel and aluminum increased in June from 2010 levels, but the rate of growth slowed significantly, according to the latest data from the Metals Service Center Institute, Rolling Meadows, Ill. Inventory levels decreased in the U.S. but increased slightly in Canada. - more

  Norilsk sells 136,400 t nickel in H1, avg premium $358 - Norilsk Nickel, the world's largest producer of nickel and palladium, sold 136,400 tonnes of nickel in the first half of the year at an average price of $25,923 per tonne, head of marketing Viktor Sprogis said. - more

  Greens want crackdown on overseas Aussie miners - Australia's Greens Party is going to push for legislation preventing Australian mining companies from engaging in environmental practices overseas that they couldn't do at home. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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, July 28

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 18 to 1,278. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) No Fear in China Options as Prices Drop to Two-Year Low on Economic Growth // Roach Says Chinese Officials ‘Appalled’ by Impasse on Raising Debt Ceiling // China’s Stocks Decline as U.S. Debt Impasse Fuels Economic Growth Concerns // U.S. Sovereign Credit Rating Cut Would Threaten Trade in Asia, ADB Says // Italian Bonds Decline After Borrowing Costs Rise at 10-Year Debt Auction // Most European Stocks Decline as Volkswagen, Credit Suisse Shares Retreat // Treasuries Join Stocks Dropping in Markets Overwhelmed by U.S. Debt Debate // Foreclosure Filings Decline in 84% of U.S. Cities // U.S. Said to Brief on Debt Impasse No Earlier Than Tomorrow // Jobless Claims in U.S. Fall to 3-Month Low // Stocks Climb on Debt Optimism, Jobless Claims
  • The Euro is trading over 4/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is now down 2/10 of 1% and trading at $97.21/barrel. Gold is down 1/10 of 1%a and silver is off 1.4%. Base metals ended the session mostly lower, with copper and nickel closing higher. Indicator charts show nickel rose early, fell back to where it started by midday, and then spent the rest of the day climbing. Considering the Euro has faltered badly the last two days, nickel has looked strong. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $11.14/lb . Stockpiles of nickle stored in LME approved warehouses fell back slightly overnight, after three solid days of gains. Totals now show sitting just under the 102,950 tonne level. Traders are trying to use the lower jobless claim numbers and home price increase to kick start Wall Street's bull run, but with the debt ceiling debacle still in full swing, the market is having a hard time finding momentum. Dow is currently higher, but appears to be struggling to hold on to gains.  

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (WSJ) The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago said Wednesday that manufacturing output in the Midwest region was a whisker down in June from May as higher steel and machinery production partially countered a decline among auto makers.
  • Video: Blinder Says Political Gridlock Puts Economy at Risk - more
  • Downplaying a U.S. Ratings Downgrade - more
  • Boehner vs. Reid: The Debt-Ceiling Plans at a Glance - more
  • Roubini: US won't default but will see fiscal drag - more

  Albanian miners fast as strike in mine escalates - A group of Albanian miners have entered the second day of a hunger strike to press Austrian miner DCM DECOmetal to meet their demands for a 20 percent pay rise and fresh investment, a union leader said on Tuesday. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.04/lb higher, with other London traded base metals mixed. The Euro is currently trading over 2/3 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up over 1/10 of 1% and trading at $97.53/barrel. Gold is up 1/10 of 1% and silver is down 1/10 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower,. with China off 2/3 of 1%. European markets are trading lower this morning and US futures show Wall Street might make an early morning effort to crawl out of a hole. Nickel inventories slipped overnight, ending three days of solid gains.
  • LME Morning - Metals edge cautiously higher, wary mood keeps bulls in check - more
  • Reuters morning - Chile mine supports copper but U.S. debt talks eyed - more

  Reports

  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Daily Market Report - pdf here
  • Commodities Report - pdf here
  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Daily Overview - pdf here
  • Metals Insight - pdf here
  • US Imports of Stainless Steel Mill Products - more
  • Great American Group Industry Metals Newsletter - pdf here

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Yesterday’s action saw US equity markets start to seize up in light of the dangerous game of "chicken" being played by the politicians in Washington as they continue to needlessly fight over raising the debt ceiling while failing to provide a down payment for a more responsible budget going forward. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost almost 200 points, bringing its total loss this week to almost 400 points, its worst weekly showing in a year. Energy prices also fell back, with the selling compounded by bearish weekly inventory data. Metals dropped slightly, although they did come off earlier highs. The dollar rallied against the Euro on rumors that a debt deal was imminent, and although the report proved false, the greenback managed to maintain its gains against the Euro. Treasury yields on the short end rose to five-month highs, and gold also lost slight ground, but the precious metal is still up about 9% so far in July. As we get closer to the August 2nd decline, we could expect to see the selling in equities to get more pronounced, although what exactly investors will pile into remains uncertain at this stage. We suspect that commodities will lose less than either stocks or bonds, and metals will likely do better than most in this regard thanks in large part to ongoing supply concerns in copper. In either event, heavier selling in stocks will likely not spare any commodity complex for long. In the meantime, back in the land of Oz, the Republicans and the Democrats have competing plans to get through. Both plans had to be reworked on Wednesday since the impartial Congressional Budget Office did not agree with the size of the spending cuts envisaged in either. Late on Wednesday, the Republican Speaker of the House said his revised $917 billion spending cut plan would deliver about $65 billion more in cuts over a 10-year period then an earlier version, while also matching the proposed increase in the debt ceiling. The Speaker also held a meeting of all 240 Republicans, urging them to support his plan and a vote on the proposal goes before the House later today. It remains to be seen where all this will lead given that the Senate will likely reject the Republican proposal, not to mention the fact that President Obama promised to veto it if it does make it that far. For that matter, we are not sure how much better the Democratic plan will fare given the Republican control of the House, and so the thinking is that the two plans will eventually get merged. At this stage, and given the tight deadline, it is possible that no compromise will be reached prior to August 2 and that a short-term extension will quickly be agreed to only for the political bickering to continue. If all else fails, some members of the President’s party are urging him to unilaterally use his power to raise the debt ceiling under the 14th amendment, something that will only raise more controversy-- all in all, a rather sad commentary on the state of affairs. Trading-wise, we would rather be on the sidelines, as conditions will remain treacherous, particularly if and when a debt extension is announced. Our take is that the dollar will likely rally significantly in such an event, pressuring a number of commodity complexes lower, but any such decline should likely be used as a short-term buying opportunity-- at least until market attention focuses back on the slowing global macro situation. .... Nickel is at $24,400, up $5, and has breached trading range resistance at $24,500; two days of closes above this mark could lead to further gains. (Daily Metals Report here)
  • (Yieh) According to statistics of China Customs, China exported 158,355 tons of stainless steel flat products in June, down by 10% from a month earlier.
  • (Reuters) Australia's Highlands sees Ramu nickel output by end-2011
  • (MBN) Jinchuan lifts nickel prices by 1%
  • ERAMET group posts strong results for the 1st half of 2011 - more
  • Sherritt International Corp Slightly Lower, But Closer To Yr Lows After Q2 - more

  Norilsk Nickel Q2 nickel output down 8.5 pct to 65,000 T - Norilsk Nickel, the world's largest nickel and palladium producer, posted an 8.5 percent fall in its second-quarter nickel output to 64,694 tons compared to the previous quarter, Norilsk Nickel said on Thursday. - more

  Sherritt's Madagascar nickel mine on track; should be complete by end of year - Sherritt International Corp. says its troubled nickel mine project in Madagascar is now near completion after the company had to boost estimated costs as it struggled with underperforming contractors and inaccurate estimates. - more

  Climax Molybdenum Mine / USA Plans To Commence Production During 2012 = Freeport-McMoRan, This New Production Will Put Substantial Influences On Molybdenum Prices - Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.(Freeport) of the USA released on the 21st of July (local time) their operational results for the second quarter (April - June) of 2011. - more

  USW workers say no to Allegheny Ludlum pact - The picketers were not as angry with Allegheny Technologies as they were with USW leadership. Jim McAninch, 65, carried a sign that read "United Steal Workers, we take from the elderly and disabled." - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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, July 27

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 14 to 1,296. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Shanghai to Step Up Probes of Home Prices // Chinese Industrial Companies’ Profit Advances 28.7 Percent in First Half // China Pork Prices Fall for First Time Since April, Aiding Inflation Fight // Singh’s Spending Plans May Force India Rates Higher, Central Banker Says // Singaporean Investors Less Confident About Outlook, JPMorgan Survey Shows // Australian Inflation Accelerates, Driving Currency Higher on Rate Outlook // Asian Stocks Fall as U.S. Debt Stalemate Spurs Concern on Global Recovery // Italian, Spanish Bonds Slump on Concern European Aid May Not Be Sufficient // European Stocks Decline for Third Day After Clariant, Merck Miss Estimates // U.S. May Lose AAA Rating Even With a Debt Deal, BlackRock, Templeton Say // Orders for U.S. Durable Goods Fell in June // Stocks, Commodities Fall on Debt Standoff
  • The Euro is trading over 1% lower against the US Dollar, reversing yesterday's charge. NYMEX crude is down nearly 1-1/2% and trading at $98.15/barrel. Gold is down 4/10 of 1% after setting a new all time record high earlier in the day, and silver is down 1%. Base metals ended the session mostly lower, with tin and nickel bucking the trend. Indicator charts show three month nickel opened slightly higher, then  spiked about $300/tonne in a few minutes in early afternoon, after which it quieted down and fell back some. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $11.07/lb , its first close over the $11/lb level since mid May. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose for  third straight session and now sit just under the 103,000 tonne level. We started the month showing LME warehouses held 107,148 tonnes, and this fell to a low of 101,418 tonnes last Friday. Equity markets have been in a lousy mood this week, and today is no different. In fact, after Durable Goods were reported to have fallen in June, and Washington remains deadlocked over raising the debt ceiling, Wall Street is down right annoyed and down triple digits for most of the morning. China reported imports of nickel ore for processing into pig nickel, reached an all time record in June. Typically unfavorable news for processed nickel traders, nickel did not seem to care today.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Mirabela Nickel Q2 Cash Costs Up 13%, Overshadows Jump in Production - more
  • National Debt Clock Prepared for Multiple Scenarios - more
  • Vital Signs: Consumers Getting More Confident - more
  • The Help-Wanted Sign Comes With a Frustrating Asterisk - more
  • CFNAI — Toeing the Line - more
  • What's Wrong With America's Job Engine? - more

  Aperam Sees Market Rebound As Nickel Stabilizes - Stainless steel maker Aperam SA expects a rebound in the stainless steel market by the end of this year as nickel prices are stabilizing and customers seem more willing to place orders, Chief Financial Officer Julien Onillon said Wednesday. - more

  China's H1 trade runs counter to narrative - China, lest we forget, is the rock on which the bull case for base metals rests. China's hunger for the industrial inputs necessary for its stellar growth has been the defining characteristic of the metal markets for a decade. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:05am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.01/lb higher in choppy morning trading, with most other London traded base metals lower. The Euro is currently trading 4/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down over 8/10 of 1% and trading at $98.75/barrel. Gold and silver are both up nearly 1/10 of 1%. In overnight trading Asian markets ended slightly lower with China up 3/4 of 1%. European markets are trading lower this morning and US futures hare sending no signal on an early morning direction. Nickel inventories rose for the third consecutive day overnight.
  • LME Morning - Base metals slip from highs, soft dollar supports - more
  • Reuters - Copper steady, Escondida strikes support - more

  Reports

  • Daily Market Report - pdf here
  • Commodities Report - pdf here
  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Daily Overview - pdf here
  • Metals Insight - pdf here
  • Ni-Co Laterite Deposits of the World—Database and Grade and Tonnage Models - more
  • Steel Founders' Society Of America Casteel Reporter - pdf here

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper pushed sharply higher yesterday, pulling the rest of the metals up along with it, but the Dow Jones fell by about 90 points, while the cost of insuring US debt spiked, rising to a 17-month high, as the US budget impasse drags on. However, in copper's case, it was the ongoing labor action at BHP Billiton's Escondida mine that was the main upside driver. The market is clearly concerned that the strike could now spread to other producers after the company refused a government-endorsed union invitation for talks, saying that it would not negotiate until workers ended their strike action. A Collahuasi union leader said workers would hold talks late on Thursday and decide to strike if the mine ignores their bonus demands. Reuters reports today that Chilean President Pinera has agreed to meet with Codelco unions today in an effort to defuse the escalating situation. Another upside driver in most commodity markets, was the weaker dollar, which lost almost a full Euro over the course of the day yesterday, while also sinking to a new low against the Swiss franc. It also lost ground against the South African rand, Sweden’s krona, and the Norwegian krone. News from the US debt talks was not encouraging yesterday and things only got worse as the day wore on when the Obama administration threatened a veto of House Speaker John Boehner’s two-step plan to raise the U.S. debt ceiling. In any event, the Republican plan has other problems as well; a vote on it was rescheduled to Thursday from today, as a rework of the numbers found that the spending cuts did not add up to the proposed $1.2 trillion, coming in $350 billion light. The White House said late on Tuesday that it was working on with Congress on an unspecified "Plan B", but this did not prevent gold from surging to another record high today, while the cost of insuring US debt rose again. Base metals are mostly lower right now, while oil prices are off by about $.90/brl. The Euro is slightly weaker, trading at $1.4450. US stocks are expected to open flat. We think the short-term outlook is "more of the same" going into today's session, namely, generally higher commodity prices amid very choppy conditions, while equity markets will remain on the defensive, as will the dollar. We think a sharper sell-off in US equities could materialize by week's end and climax on Monday if no agreement is reached, in which case we could see the divergence between various markets snap, leading to broad-based declines in all complexes, except perhaps in precious metals and foreign currencies. However, we would advise the sidelines for the moment, as in this type of environment, prices can swing abruptly, particularly on news of an accord. .... Nickel is at $24,172, up $72, and quiet, with a $250 trading range in place. (Daily Metals Report here)
  • (MNP) The ramp-up at Mirabela Nickel’s Santa Rita mine continues with the operation posting a 20% jump in concentrate production for the June quarter, while investors frowned on the 13% jump in cash costs.
  • (Interfax) China's rare earths prices have skyrocketed by at least 400 percent year-on-year as of July 22, with some heavy rare earths prices up by as much as 900 percent, an industry analyst told Interfax July 27.
  • (MBN) Posco raises August stainless steel price by $95 per tonne
  • (SBB) Chinese nickel ore imports hit another monthly record high
  • Allegheny Technologies Announces Second Quarter 2011 Results - more
  • Nippon Steel sees post-quake profit recovery, JFE lags - more
  • (ATA) The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 2.8% in June after decreasing a revised 2.0% in May 2011
  • (China) Labor shortage a headache for factories - more

  ATI Allegheny Ludlum Announces Stainless Steel Surcharge Change: New effective date -10/2/11 - pdf here

  BHP Billion Reports Manganese, Nickel And Molybdenum Produced And Sold In Q2 / 2011 = Quantities Produced At These Divisions Had Revived As A Whole - BHP Billion released on the 20th of July their production activities of manganese, nickel and molybdenum in the second quarter (April - June) of 2011 and the contents were as follows - more

  Aperam Second-Quarter Profit Falls 97% on Stainless Demand - Aperam, the stainless-steel producer spun off by ArcelorMittal (MT), said second-quarter profit slumped 97 percent as steel sales declined, and forecast earnings will “trough” in the third quarter.  - more

  Scientist warns thousands of species may be affected by Ramu mine wast - Papua New Guinea's National Court has rejected an application for a permanent halt to the use of deep sea waste disposal by the 1.5 billion dollar Chinese-owned Ramu Nickel mine, near Madang. - more

  • Landowners to appeal PNG mine decision - A group of landowners in Papua New Guinea say they will appeal against a court's decision not to ban a nickel mine from dumping waste into the sea. - more

  Indigenisation hits Bindura Nickel’s restart plans - Concern over the country’s Indigenisation programme is undermining efforts to raise finance for the restart of operations at Bindura Nickel Mine (BNC), company officials have said. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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, July 26

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 7 to 1,310. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China’s Rail Crash Seen Giving ‘Zero’ Chance for High-Speed Train Exports // Growth May Slow in South Korea, Taiwan as Debt Crisis Curbs Asian Exports // Reserve Bank of India Governor Duvvuri Subbarao
  • India Raises Key Rate More Than Expected // Bank of Korea’s Deputy Kim Sees Rebound Even as Debt Crisis Clouds Outlook // Asian Stocks Rise as Earnings Counter U.S. Debt Concerns; Canon Advances // Yields Soar in Spanish, Italian Bond Auctions as Investor Demand Declines // French People Rival Americans as World’s Most Depressed, WHO Study Finds // Greece Says It’s Working With IMF, Hasn’t Requested for More Financial Aid // European Stocks Drop for Second Day; BP, UBS Fall After Earnings Reports // Ford Second-Quarter Profit Beats Estimates // Drought Withers Smallest U.S. Hay Crop in a Century to Boost Cost of Beef // UPS Falls Most in a Year on ’Slow’ Forecast // U.S. Stocks Decline on Debt Concerns, Disappointing Outlooks at 3M, UPS
  • The Euro is now trading nearly 9/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up over 1% and is trading at $100.27/barrel. Gold is trading flat and silver is up 1/3 of 1%. Base metals ended the session higher, on the back of the falling Dollar. Indicator chart show nickel opened in London higher, and did little for the rest of the day, trading within a $200/tonne narrow range. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $10.93/lb , right where it closed last Tuesday. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose for only the third time this month, and now sit just under the 102,500 tonne level. This was Rotterdam's first recorded inbound shipment this month, which is unusual as Rotterdam is by far the warehouse that records the most inbound and outbound nickel shipments of all the worldwide warehouses. After two days of gains the 'nickel in a surplus crowd' is making noise again. Inevitably they may prove correct, and logically, they should prove correct. But after making the prediction in mid June, inventory numbers have continued to nose dive, and for the last three weeks, at an accelerated pace. But with only three reporting days left in July, it does appear the numbers will probably not fall below the psychologically important 100,000 tonne level.  

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Vital Signs: Increasing Wariness of U.S. Default - more
  • When Will Markets React to Debt Ceiling Impasse? - more
  • When Will Residential Construction Rebound? - more
  • Economists React: Fragile Recovery Can’t Afford ‘Policy Mistake’ - more

  Nickel Stockpiles Should Rebound as Market Shifts to Surplus - Declining nickel stockpiles monitored by the London Metal Exchange will rebound as the market for the metal shifts to surplus this year, according to Macquarie Group Ltd., an Australian investment bank. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending July 23, 2011, domestic raw steel production was 1,830,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 74.8 percent. Production was 1,684,000 tons in the week ending July 23, 2010, while the capability utilization then was 69.6 percent. The current week production represents a 5.2 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending July 23, 2011 is down 2.0 percent from the previous week ending July 16, 2011 when production was 1,879,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 76.8 percent.

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

  • Indicators at 7:05 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.20/lb higher, with other London traded base metals higher as well. The Euro is trading over 7/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar, adding support to commodity trading. NYMEX crude is up nearly 1/2 of 1% and trading at $99.65/barrel. Gold is down nearly 1/4 of 1% and silver is down slightly. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up 1/3 of 1%. European markets are trading lower this morning, while US futures imply Wall Street may open on the positive side. Nickel inventories rose overnight, for only the third time this month. 
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Climbs for a First Day in Five as Strike Continues at Biggest Mine - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals resilient, lack of US debt deal weighs on dollar - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals finished slightly lower on Monday, (with aluminum being the sole winner), as continued trouble in the Chilean copper supply chain helped keep losses in check. Chile's Escondida entered a fifth day of a strike, ushering in government mediated talks that start later today. In the meantime, BHP Billiton again said that the strike was illegal and that it was readying contingency plans. For its part, union leaders said Escondida is nearing a force majeure declaration on its copper sales. Right now, most commodity markets are higher, riding on the back of a slumping dollar, which has lost almost a full Euro overnight and is now trading at just under $1.45. We think the outlook is more of the same for at least today and tomorrow, namely, higher commodity prices, particularly gold, a weaker equity and bond market, and a continued assault on the dollar, as Congressional leaders still dither over how they would raise the debt ceiling. As things now stand, the House Republicans have proposed a two-stage debt limit increase that would raise the US borrowing limit by up to $1 trillion over 10 years in the first stage (through the end of 2011) and by about $1.6 trillion in the second stage (through the end of 2012), while also mandating about $3 trillion of spending cuts. In addition, their plan includes issuing a call for a constitutional amendment seeking a balanced budget. On the other hand, the Democrats would hand President Obama $2.4 trillion in additional borrowing authority through the end of 2012, while also putting through an equivalent amount in spending cuts. However, spending on key entitlement programs will remain untouched. In the meantime, the name-calling continues, with the Republicans dismissing the Democratic plan as being "full of gimmicks, while the Senate Democratic leader accused "extremists" within the Republican party of dictating the outcome of the talks. For his part, President Obama addressed the nation at 9 p.m. last night, staking his position on the Democratic plan and urging Americans to support it. What is particularly unnerving about this process going forward, is that neither party may have enough votes to support their respective plans in each of the two legislative bodies. The Democrats should be able to overturn the Republican proposal in the Senate, but they may fall short in propping up their own plan in the House. This means that the competing plans will somehow have to be reconciled just as the clock is ticking. The end-game will likely lead into a nail-biting finish, with odds makers now putting the likelihood of a US default at a not so insignificant 10%. We think one scenario that would pull the two side together, would be for US equities start to sell off sharply. As we have seen in the past, nothing focuses the mind of politicians in Washington like a 500-700 point plunge in the Dow Jones being beamed into their offices just as they are getting ready to vote. Let’s hope we do not need the markets to impose a reality check on our politicians, but it very well may come to that given the stalemate we are seeing. ...  Nickel is at $24,240, up $440, and moving closer to the top end of a very tight trading range.(Daily Metals Report here)
  • (SSY) China's nickel ore imports in June rose for the fourth consecutive month to a new high of 4.4 Mt, up by 5% from the previous peak of 4.2 Mt in May, customs data shows. Total imports in the first half of this year surged to 16.7 Mt, compared with 9.8 Mt in the corresponding period last year.
  • (SBB) Bohai Commodity Exchange (BOCE) in north China's Tianjin municipality plans to launch electrolytic nickel plate spot trading in July-August, according to a BOCE official.
  • Monday Market Monitor - China - WEEK 29 - Continues to march north - more
  • U.S. Steel profit, revenue miss Street - more
  • Long-Term Unemployment, by State - more

  PNG court gives Ramu nickel project the green light -  A Papua New Guinea national court has given the go-ahead for the Chinese state-majority owned Ramu nickel and cobalt project to proceed after lifting an interim injunction on its tailings disposal system. - more

  • Ramu NiCo work resumes - The ‘stop work’ order at the Ramu NiCo Project has been relaxed and work at the Basamuk Refinery and Kurumubukari Mine sites have been allowed to resume in Madang. - more
  • PNG lifts injunction on Ramu nickel mine: minority owner - A court in Papua New Guinea has cleared the way for a start-up of the majority Chinese-owned Ramu nickel and cobalt project, which has faced 18 months of delays over environmental concerns, minority owner Highlands Pacific said on Tuesday. - more
  • PNG landowners shocked by court decision on mine waste disposal - The Ramu landowners in PNG are shocked by Judge David Canning's decision after acknowledging the risk of irreversible harm to marine resources. - more

  Output Of Crude Stainless Steel By 7 Major Companies Of Japan In May 2011 = Total Quantity Produced In Jan. - May 2011 Had Increased By 1.5% Compared To That In Same Period 2010 - The output of crude stainless steel produced by 7 major stainless steel companies of Japan in May of 2011 was 270,807 tons, having decreased by 8.6% compared with that (296,039 tons) in the previous month of April. - more

  TISCO Increased Price Of Ni-series Cold-Rolled Stainless By $77 For The First Time In 4 Mos. - According to a source familiar with the mater, Taiyuan Iron and Steel (TISCO) of China increased on 20th the domestic price of Ni-series cold-rolled stainless steel sheets by 500 CNY ($77). Its price increase is since March this year. With this, price of Ni-series cold-rolled stainless is expected to hit rock-bottom. - more

  Escalating Raw Material Costs Unsettle Price Sentiment - Brazilian steelmakers continue to operate in a difficult business climate. Pricing positions were influenced by the strength of the country’s currency and rising raw material costs. Higher interest rates have begun to undermine procurement activity. - more

  Merafe says H1 ferrochrome production down 4 pct - South Africa's Merafe Resources, the country's largest ferrochrome producer, said on Tuesday first-half production fell 4 percent to 150,000 tonnes due to furnace refurbishments. - more

  Sinosteel Zimasco sees 2012 ferrochrome output up 27 pct - Sinosteel Corp's Zimbabwean unit will increase its ferrochrome output by more than a quarter by 2012 following the repair and upgrade of one of its six furnaces, an official said on Monday. - more

  Xstrata copper output climbs in Q2, coal sees recovery - Miner Xstrata posted a 6 percent increase in copper output during the second quarter, broadly in line with forecasts, as volumes in Chile and Australia helped offset the impact of a weather-battered start to the year. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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, July 25

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 6 to 1,317. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Clinton Reassures China U.S. Will Resolve Impasse Over Debt-Limit Increase // Philippines to Test South China Sea Agreement With Oil Exploration Push // China’s Stocks Drop Most in 6 Months on Train Crash, U.S. Debt Stalemate // Inflation Bond Gauges at 2011 Low as Economy May Falter: Australia Credit // Singapore Inflation Quickens to Fastest Pace Since January on Food Prices // South African Wage Strikes Approach Record, May Increase 25% Unemployment // Oil at $120 Becomes Biggest Energy Bet // Greece Credit Rating Cut Three Levels by Moody’s // European Stocks Halt Rally Amid U.S. Debt Stalemate; Banks Drop on Greece // U.S. Can Avoid Default at Least Until September, Silvia Says // U.S. Rating Cut May Force Unloading of Student-Loan Debt, Citigroup Says // El-Erian Says U.S. Vulnerable to Debt-Rating Downgrade, May Avoid Default // Stocks Fall, Gold Hits Record on Debt Concern
  • The Euro continues to trade just a little over 1/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is off 7/10 of 1% and trading at $99.15/barrel. Gold is up 7/10 of 1% and silver is up 2/10 of 1%. Base metals ended the session quietly and lower for the most part, with aluminum positive. Indicator charts show three month nickel started lower, spend most of the session climbing, only to fall again at the end of the session. For the day, three month nickel closed at $10.80/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose for only the second time this month and now sit just over the 101,700 tonne level. News on the nickel and stainless front is very quiet today. World equity markets are getting nervous, as some are beginning to wondering if Washington politicians just might be dumber than they thought.

  Reports

  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Reuters Metals Insider - pdf here
  • Robry Weekly Economic Assessment - more

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Jim Rogers: U.S. Already Has Lost AAA Rating - video here
  • Jobless Rates Rise in Most U.S. States - more
  • Only Certainty in Impact of U.S. Default Is More Uncertainty - more
  • Number of the Week: Low Odds Long-Term Unemployed Will Find Work - more
  • Time to panic about the US debt impasse yet? - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:05 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.06/lb lower, with other London traded base metals mostly lower, but quiet. The Euro is up 1/10 of 1% against the US Dollar at the moment.  NYMEX crude is down more than 8/10 of 1% and trading at $99.03/barrel. Gold is up 1% and silver is up over 1.5%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China off nearly 3.3%. European markets are trading slightly lower this morning, while US futures show Wall Street may open in a bad mood with Congress and the White House unable to reach a compromise on the debt extension. Nickel inventories rose over the weekend and Dow Jones shows three month nickel closed Friday right where it closed Thursday, at $10.86/lb.
  • LME Morning - Base metals mixed, US debt negotiations still unresolved - more
  • Reuters - Copper cushioned by dollar, fundamentals - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals ended lower on Friday, as the Euro lost ground after Thursday's charge higher on the back of the EU rescue package put together for Greece. Despite posting its third negative close, copper still managed to eke out a fourth winning week, as supply concerns continue to prop up the market. In this regard, workers at Chile's Escondida copper mine voted on Friday to continue a 24-hour strike indefinitely to address various grievances. Chile’s Mining Federation, a group of 11,000 private mine workers, warned they will expand the strike to other mines if BHP fires any of the strikers at Escondida. The strike could cost Escondida about 3,000 tons of copper per day and is continuing into a fourth day today. Right now, markets are focused on much bigger concerns, namely the debt ceiling negotiations in Washington. In this regard, intense negotiations between the White House and the House Republicans collapsed late on Friday and in dueling press conferences, each side blamed the other for the breakdown. President Obama has now withdrawn somewhat from the day-to-day negotiations and is leaving congressional teams to hammer out a strategy that would raise the debt limit through a laborious procedural vote. Many were saying that an agreement needed to be reached by Sunday night and before Asian markets opened, but that deadline has come and gone, with nary a word out of Washington. Thankfully, markets have taken things in stride, and so far, we have not seen any major sell-offs. Predictably, the Euro is slightly higher against the dollar, trading at just under $1.4360, and both gold and the Swiss franc have hit new highs. Metals are mixed, with copper off slightly, as is the rest of the group. Aluminum is the sole exception, showing a modest gain and now trading at $2600. Oil markets are off by about $1 a barrel, while US stocks are expected to open lower. Asian stocks finished lower, with the Nikkei down .8%. However, stocks in Shanghai sank by 3% to a one-month low, but this was attributable to a sharp decline in property stocks in the wake of a high speed rail disaster that claimed the lives of more than 35 people over the weekend. Investors see the accident as compromising the development of new rail lines and fresh land sales. We expect a debt ceiling compromise to come through over the next 24 hours given the reluctance of either side to preside over a default. However, the torturously long route to achieve such a meager result (and so close to the August 2 deadline) relays the unwelcome message that Washington has abysmally failed to make the hard decisions with respect to the US deficit. The prime casualty of this glaring “failure to lead” will be the US dollar, while US equity markets could also struggle if interest rates start ticking higher. Commodities should do better, at least initially, as the asset class will be viewed as an alternative store of value to paper currencies, whose integrity is now badly tarnished on both sides of the Atlantic. Gold, in particular, should benefit the most, and will likely pull up the rest of the commodity group in varying degrees. However, a run into commodities triggers its own set of issues, with higher energy prices bound to kick off higher inflation readings, forcing central banks to tighten ever further and potentially triggering the likelihood of a sharper slowdown down the road.  ..... Nickel is at $23,808, down $167; prices remain stuck in a very tight trading range, but the short-term bias seems lower. (Daily Metals Report here)
  • (Yieh) According Michael Jansen, the analyst of J.P. Morgan, global stainless production will probably have a rise of 7% this year, following the sharp increase of global crude stainless steel production.
  • (JS) As per CISA latest survey, China daily output of crude steel eyed a decline of 3.1%MoM coming at 1.955 million tonnes highest falling record since late June.
  • Steel industry goes to European Court on EU Emissions Trading Scheme - pdf here
  • (China) Economy on track for gradual slowdown - more

  Effective with shipments on October 2, 2011, AK Steel will change the timing schedule of alloy prices used in the surcharge calculation. - pdf here

  Benign by design (or how to put ‘green’ into nickel mining) - Jon Steen Petersen, CEO and COO of Intex Resources ASA, is a soft-spoken man in an industry rippling with raised voices, especially when it comes to the subject of environmental impact. - more

  Norilsk Nickel Full-Year Profit Rises 27% - Norilsk Nickel, the world's largest miner of nickel and palladium, said full-year profit climbed 27 percent as rising demand for the metals drove prices higher. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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, July 22

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)
  • Indicators at 7:10 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.07/lb higher, with all London traded base metals higher. The Euro is trading 1/3 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down slightly and trading at $98.98/barrel. Gold is up nearly 1/2 of 1% and silver is up 1.3%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up 3/10 of 1%. European markets are trading higher this morning, while US futures imply a shaky opening for Wall Street. Nickel stockpiles fell slightly overnight and now read just over the 101,400 tonne level. We are traveling today so there will be no afternoon update. Have a safe and restful weekend!
  • LME Morning - Metals edge up while investors track macro developments; tin, aluminium strong - more
  • Reuters morning report - Weak dollar, Escondida strike push copper up - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - In a strange turn of events, most commodities went out with a whimper yesterday, not showing much reaction to the long-awaited European bail-out proposals that triggered a two-week surge in the Euro and which lead to broad-based gains in equity markets. Gold and the rest of the precious metals group lost ground, while energy finished mixed. Although most metals lifted off earlier lows to finish slightly higher, copper still ended down for a second straight day. We have to think that the sub-par HSBC’s “flash” manufacturing reading out of China that dipped into contraction territory yesterday for the first time in a year, cast a shadow on the complex, keeping gains somewhat in check. Nevertheless, it was the European package that garnered the most attention as investors breathed easier after they saw the various parties come together, patching up policy differences in the process -- at least for now.  .... Nickel is at $24,175, up $225; prices remain stuck in a very tight trading range. (Complete Daily Metals Report here)
  • (Interfax) China's refined nickel and lead imports fell in June when measured on an annual basis, while tin, and zinc imports rose, according to July 21 figures from the General Administration of Customs (GAC)
  • (Reuters) The global nickel market was in supply deficit by 9,300 tonnes in the first five months of 2011, the latest monthly bulletin from Lisbon-based International Nickel Study Group (INSG) showed on Tuesday.

  Shutdowns, supply problems to lift nickel this year - Refinery shutdowns and supply disruptions will lift the price of stainless steel material nickel by more than previously expected this year, but the ramp-up of new mines and restart of others will boost supply and cap prices in 2012, according to a Reuters poll. - more

  Market Tendency On Imports Of Ferro-Alloys At 15th July 2011 =In Spite Of Strengthened Yen Rate / US$, Intention For Imports Shrinks, China Has No Reaction To WTO Judgment - The market tendency by item on imports of ferro-alloys into Japan at the 15th July of 2011 is as follows - more

  Effective with shipments October 1, 2011 North American Stainless will change the raw material period used in calculating the surcharge for all stainless grades and products. - more

  China steel output to keep record pace - China's steel production could maintain its breakneck pace in the second half of 2011 as a construction boom buoys demand, putting it on track for another record year despite the government's credit curbs. - more

  POSCO warns of slow steel demand, high costs in H2 - POSCO, the world's No.3 steelmaker, warned of weakening demand growth and persistently high input costs in the second half, after posting a 17 percent fall in quarterly operating profit. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

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

Thursday, July 21

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 3 to 1,325. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China’s Manufacturing May Contract for First Time in a Year, PMI Signals // IMF Urges Stronger Yuan to Protect World From ‘Shocks’ in China’s Growth // China Inflation
  • Inflation Tough to Digest for Asia as Food Costs Soar From Pork to Onions // China Says Experimental Fast Nuclear Reactor Now Connected to Power Grid // China, Asean Nations Set to Agree on ‘Incomplete’ South China Sea Rules // China Banking Regulator Steps Up Risk Controls on Local Government Loans // Euro Leaders Start Talks on Sovereign Debt Crisis // Euro-Area Leaders May Accept Greek Default // Euro Rises to Two-Week High on Bets Greek Default May Contain Debt Crisis // Stocks in Europe Gain for Third Day as Leaders Seek Debt Crisis Resolution // Shuttle Atlantis Lands, Ends 30-Year Program // Boeing Averts ‘Heart-Attack’ Order Loss // Philadelphia-Region Manufacturing Rebounds in Fed Index After Contraction // U.S. Consumers Relying on Credit for Basic Necessities // Stocks, Euro Gain on Reports of European Debt Plan; Morgan Stanley Climbs
  • The Euro is now trading over 1.1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up nearly 1.5% and trading at $99.85/barrel - after trading over $100/barrel earlier. Gold is down nearly 8/10 of 1% and silver is 2.3% lower. Base metals ended mostly lower, but well off session lows. Indicator chart show nickel fell early, rose sharply in afternoon trading, then slumped again late. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the session at $10.86/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses returned to declining yesterday, after recording a single inbound shipment for the month so far yesterday. Total stockpiles now read just over 101,550 tonnes. Jobless claims rose, Philly Fed index rose, hopes that the sovereign debt problems in Europe would be solved rose, oil rose, and equity markets rose as well.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Barclays Capital's Brian Smith has resigned from his position as a category one ring dealing member representative on the board of the London Metal Exchange, people familiar with the matter told Dow Jones Newswires Thursday.
  • U.S. Consumers May Cede Shopping Crown - more
  • Vital Signs: Gloomy Europeans - more
  • Corporate America’s chokehold on wages - more
  • Worst. Congress. Ever.- more
  • China To Lose Edge Over U.S. By 2016, Economist Says - more (old article but had to post it)

  Congratulations to Edward Meir of MF Global - MB Apex: Meir on Metals columnist proves his worth - pdf article here

  Molybdenum Prices Trending Downward - Molybdenum prices are continuing to fall on weaker demand for the metal. On the LME the price for cash buyers fell to $31,000 per tonne or $14.06 per pound, the lowest price since July, 2010. - 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 other London traded base metals lower as well. The Euro is trading over 1/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar at the moment. NYMEX crude is down nearly 4/10 of 1% and trading at $98.02/barrel. Gold is lower by nearly 2/10 of 1% and silver is off by 2/3%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China off over 1%. European markets are trading slightly higher at the moment, and US futures show Wall Street has yet to decide which way it will open. Nickel inventories returned to their dwindling ways overnight.     
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Falls for Second Day as Manufacturing May Shrink in Top User China - more
  • LME Morning - Metals slip further as eurozone PMIs weigh, dollar rises - more
  • Reuters - Copper falls on China data, weaker dlr supports - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper posted its first down day in four sessions yesterday, leading the rest of the metals lower as well (except for tin). The action in the rest of the markets was mixed, with energy tacking on modest gains, while US equities finished basically flat. Investors remain in "wait and see" mode with respect to the debt deals now being negotiated on both sides of the Atlantic. The European discussions (going on now) will be critical and on the market's radar screen for much of the day today. Ahead of the meeting, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Central Bank head Jean-Claude Trichet met separately yesterday to discuss the various proposals that would be presented to the larger group, and late last night, the German and French leaders apparently agreed on a way forward. When we read about this agreement, we thought markets would be pushing higher when they opened today, largely on the back of a stronger Euro, but the reaction has instead been quite cautious, as investors are waiting for the details. Luxembourg’s Prime Minister did provide a possible glimpse into the proceedings, saying that a second aid package for Greece will be agreed to, but would include a selective default on Greek debt. Opening the door to defaults could create more problems than it solves, as it could lead the financial markets into a world of "unknown unknowns", using former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's famous phrase. In the meantime, the Euro is holding steady at $1.42, but did get to a low of $1.4140 earlier. Here in the US, the latest turn of events suggests that President Barack Obama will be allowed to raise the nation's debt ceiling by August 2 on a short-term basis, but that this will be somehow linked to a pending agreement among the various parties on a broader deficit reduction package. Obama previously rejected a short-term increase, but with time running out (and summer holidays beckoning) the parties have little choice but to get the extension in place first, while vetting the proposals floating around later. The President was in talks with Congressional leaders late yesterday on putting together a much larger package as well, but we have no news on these talks. Right now, metals are off, and in copper’s case, all of Tuesday’s massive $200/MT gain has now been rolled back. In addition to the uncertain debt negotiations that is obviously weighing on sentiment, markets are also buffeted by poor macro readings from China and Europe. Out of China, we had reports overnight that HSBC’s China “flash” manufacturing purchasing managers’ index fell to a 28-month low of 48.9 in July, down from 50.1 in June, and marking the first time the gauge is in contraction territory since July 2010. In addition, Markit Economics reported today that European services and manufacturing growth weakened to its slowest pace in almost two years, with its index based on a euro-area purchasing managers survey falling to 50.8 in July from 53.3 in June. The consensus forecast was for a drop to 52.6, and more disturbingly, the reading is also close to crossing the line into contraction territory. ... Nickel is at $23,840, down $205, with prices still stuck in a very tight trading range for much of this week. We see the short-term bias as being lower. (Daily Metals Report here)
  • Greece suspends call for advisers on mining rights sale - more
  • (Interfax) China produced 59.93 million tons of crude steel in June, or 46.91 percent of the total global output for the month, the World Steel Association (WSA) announced July 20.
  • Arbitrator rules for Goldbrook in battle with Jilin Jien over nickel project - more
  • First Nickel Completes $5 Million Private Placement - more
  • (China) Industrial growth to rise with uncertainties - more

  Domestic Stainless Steel Coiled Plate Industry Responds to Mixed Findings by ITC - The Specialty Steel Industry of North America reported today that the U.S. International Trade Commission made its determinations in its five-year (sunset) reviews concerning Stainless Steel Coiled Plate from Belgium, Korea, South Africa, Italy, and Taiwan.  - more

  Output Of Molybdenum In Concentrates By Kennecott / USA In Q2 / 2011 = Produced 9.48 Million Lbs. Of Moly As increased By 53% From That In Same Quarter 2010 - According to a report released on the 14th of July by Rio Tinto, which is the parent company of Kennecott Utah Copper of the USA, Kennecott produced 4,300 tons (9.48 million lbs.) of molybdenum in molybdenum concentrates in the second quarter (April - June) of 2011, which had a considerable increase of 53% compared wit that (2,800 ton = 6.17 million lbs.) produced in the same quarter of 2010 and also increased by 17% compared to that in the preceding quarter of January - March of 2011. - more

  Steelmakers sue EU over carbon market rules - European steelmakers said they started legal action on Thursday to overturn the way the sector has been included in the European Union's carbon market. - more

   China leads June global steel output to new record - Global steel production rose again in June, led by record crude output in China, and U.S. steelmakers also made more, despite slow growth in the world's largest economy, data showed on Wednesday. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • 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, July 20

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 2 to 1,328. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Indicator Shows Growth Quickening // China’s Inflation Peaking Seen Boosting Stocks to JPMorgan Asset’s Wang // China Signals More Yuan Gains After Enabling 17-Year High Against Dollar // Asian Stocks Rise as U.S. Deficit Plan Nears, Apple Profit Spurs Exporters // EU May Use Bailout Fund for Emergency Credit // Papandreou Sees Make-or-Break Time in Debt Crisis on Eve of Europe Summit // Sovereign Crisis Erodes 75% Junk Bond Gains as Losses Spread: Euro Credit // Murdoch’s Refusal to Take Responsibility May Undermine Credibility as CEO // European Stocks Advance for Second Day on U.S. Debt Talks, Apple Earnings // AMR Splits Record Jet Order Between Airbus, Boeing // U.S. Debt Compromise Pressure Intensifies // Existing-Home Sales in U.S. Fell 0.8% in June // Treasuries Fall, Stocks Little Changed as U.S. Debt Plan Faces Resistance
  • The Euro continues to trade higher against the US Dollar, up a little over 3/10 of 1% at the moment.  NYMEX crude is now down 1/4 of 1% and trading at $10.90/barrel. Gold is up nearly 1/2 of 1% and silver is up nearly 1.4%. Base metals ended the session mostly lower. Indicator charts show nickel in a slide for the first 2/3 of the day, and recovering in the latter 1/3. For the day, Dow jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $10.90/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses broke with their long streak and rose on Tuesday. Total stockpiles now read just over the 101,900 tonne level and we show the receipt 'into' the Hull, UK warehouse, the first inbound shipment recorded this month.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) (reference nickel) Sees fairly stable price movements with the upside capped above $25,000 a metric ton and support at around $20,000/ton. "Longer term, we could easily see the price breaching $20,000/ton," Sucden notes.
  • Vital Signs: Home Construction Remains at Low Levels - more
  • Is This More Than a Bump In the Road? - more

  Zimbabwe rejects 175 local ownership proposals - Zimbabwe has rejected all 175 local ownership proposals it received from foreign mining companies and will kick out any firms that don't meet a September deadline on majority black ownership, the empowerment minister said on Wednesday. - more

  Finland's Outokumpu sees Q2 stainless volumes fall on softer demand - Outokumpu's shipments of stainless steel fell in the second quarter from Q1 levels, and the trend is set to continue in Q3, the Finnish producer said Wednesday. - more

  Antibacterial Stainless Steel Created by Birmingham Engineers - Materials scientists at the University of Birmingham have devised a way of making stainless steel surfaces resistant to bacteria in a project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council which culminated this week. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:05 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.08/lb lower, with most London traded base metals lower. The Euro is trading 4/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar at the moment. NYMEX crude is up 1.3% and trading at $98.78/barrel. Gold is down 1/10 of 1% and silver is down by nearly 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China down 1/10 of 1%. European markets are higher this morning and US futures show Wall Street has more bull to run. Nickel inventories broke their month long streak and rose overnight.  
  • Bloomberg morning -  Copper Declines for First Day in Four as Three-Month High Spurs Selling - more
  • LME Morning - Metals ease as cautious investors take profits - more
  • Reuters morning - Copper dips, but dollar, supply concerns limit falls - more

  Reports

  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Daily Market Report - pdf here
  • Commodities Report - pdf here
  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Daily Overview - pdf here
  • Metals Insight - pdf here
  • International Metals Study Group Metals Dispatch - pdf here
  • World Steel Association June Crude Steel Production 2011 - more

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper spiraled to a three-month high yesterday, pulling the rest of the group up with it, as most markets roared ahead on news reports of more advanced debt negotiations taking place on both sides of the Atlantic. The European discussions, which in our view are by far the more serious of the two situations, moved off dead-center when Reuters reported yesterday that EU leaders are apparently considering a series of proposals ahead of their meeting tomorrow. None of these proposals are fully formed just yet, and it is quite likely that more discussions will be needed before anything is finalized, a point that the German Chancellor made yesterday, as she attempted to dampen rising expectations. She partially succeeded on that score, as the Euro retraced some of its gains late in the day. Right now, markets are mixed; copper is down slightly after a softer session in Shanghai, and there are modest declines in the rest for the group, except for ali and tin. Gold prices are up slightly, as is oil, after another good gain yesterday. US stocks are called to open higher on the heels of a stellar earnings report from Apple, sending its stock to $400 in after hours trading, a new record high. The dollar is weaker against the Euro, now trading at $1.4225. It remains to be seen what will happen over the balance of this week. Judging from yesterday’s action, markets are starting to discount some sort of EU package coming our way imminently, but there is the danger that investors could be getting ahead of themselves, particularly if the negotiations start to drag out. The same could be said for the US talks going on here, although the outcome is far less in doubt. Early on yesterday, US markets were sensing that some agreement was coalescing around "Plan B", which is a minimalist approach involving President Obama unilaterally raising the debt ceiling after a series of votes take place in the Senate. Later in the day, it seems that a much larger and more ambitious $3.7 billion package emerged from the workings of a bipartisan group of six senators. It is not clear whether this larger package will be voted on, but the markets clearly want to see a more ambitious stance taken as opposed to a more modest one, which may explain why the dollar rallied late in the day on news of the bigger plan. Its rally was enough to send gold prices lower, breaking its 11-day winning streak. With all the behind-the-scene negotiations going on, we are inclined to watch the action from the sidelines for the time being, as the markets are too schizophrenic for our liking. (Copper is a glaring exception, inexplicably pulling higher almost every day). Of course, if and when each debt package is “put to bed”, we very well could see more relief rallies set in. However, we are particularly concerned about advancing energy prices, since this will only contribute to rising inflation and slowing growth amid further central bank tightening. This scenario is not on the market's radar just yet, but it does make us nervous about cheering on the surge the markets seem to be encouraging. .... Nickel is at $24,035, down $90.  (Daily Metals Report here)
  • (Dow Jones) -The world nickel market was in an 8,200-metric-ton deficit between January and May, the World Bureau of Metal Statistics said Wednesday.
  • (PT) Outokumpu Oyj, the Finnish stainless steel company, Wednesday posted a net profit of EUR50 million, up from EUR44 million in the same period last year, and said it expects stainless steel delivery volumes in the third quarter to be slightly lower than in the second quarter.
  • Western Areas sees 2011/12 nickel output at 25,000-27,000T  - more
  • (Yieh) Taiyuan Iron & Steel Group (Tisco), the largest stainless steelmaker in China announced to remain the export prices of 304 series stainless steel coil unchanged for September delivery.
  • (Yieh) Reportedly, Baosteel announced to raise prices of 300 series stainless steel by RMB700/ton for domestic market for August delivery, driven by the rebounding nickel prices.
  • China's Ji En Nickel to raise $928 mln via private placement - more
  • TISCO Stainless Steel Knowledge Showing on Big Platform of Taiyuan City - more
  • (NKT) Japan's crude steel output down for 4th straight month in June
  • (AFPA) The American Forest & Paper Association released its June 2011 U.S. Paperboard Report today. Total boxboard production decreased by 0.2% compared to June 2010, and was flat from last month.
  • Tropical Pacific remains neutral - more

  Stainless Pauses as Nickel Plunges - Demand for specialty metals remains healthy in most end markets, but the falling price of a key raw material is making buyers cautious. - more

  Outokumpu Oyj - heavy restructuring actions taken, stainless market weaker - more

  Stainless steel & carbon markets not the same - It may not be a breaking news that Arcelor Mittal has spun off its stainless steel business to form a new unit, Aperam, in 2011. - more

  Strike halts production at key Albania chrome mine - A strike at Albania's largest chrome mine, which is owned by Austria's DCM DECOmetal , has shut down all mining there for the past two weeks, miners said on Tuesday. - more

  University of Birmingham researchers develop antibacterial stainless steel, mysophobes clap from within their bubbles - Answering the call of germphobes and their Stepford ladies-in-waiting everywhere, researchers at the University of Birmingham have devised a silver-infused technique of warding off unwanted bacteria. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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, July 19

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 10 to 1,330. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China’s 30% Gain in Tax Revenue Counters Risks from Local-Government Debt // Accounting ‘Red Flags’ Drive Bond Spreads to Record Levels: China Credit // Chinese Stocks Decline Most in a Week on Concern Banks May Drain Capital // Australia Grocers May Post Higher Sales Even as Consumer Sentiment Slumps // India Government Sees Growth Imperiled With Rising Greek-Like Tax Evasion // Typhoon Ma-on Approaches Japanese Coast, May Miss Fukushima Nuclear Plant // Most Asian Stocks Slide, Led by Exporters, Banks, on U.S., Europe Concerns // Nowotny Signals ECB May Bend on Greece // German Investor Confidence Fell in July // Miners See Record Profits as Glut of Ships Reduces Rates: Freight Markets // Merkel Says Debt Crisis Can’t Be Resolved in Single Step at July 21 Summit // European Stocks Advance, Lifting Benchmark Stoxx 600 From Seven-Month Low // Bank of America Has Record Loss on Bad Home Loans // U.S. Housing Starts Hit Five-Month High in June // Stocks Rebound on Earnings Reports as Euro Strengthens; Commodities Climb
  • The Euro is now trading 1/3 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up 1-2/3% and trading at $97.49/barrel. Gold is down 2/10 of 1% and silver is down 7/10 of 1%. Base metals ended the session higher. Indicator charts show nickel jumped early, took another noticeable leap as US markets opened with a triple digit jump, and then chilled as the session ended. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel tied its highest close since mid-May at $10.93/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell for the seventeenth consecutive session on Monday, and now total just under the 101,600 tonne level. Risk sentiment is back today. If the adage 'the trend is your trading friend' is true, then we could easily see two things happen in the next week and a half. Stockpiles falling below the psychologically important 100,000 tonne mark and the price of nickel jumping back into the $11/lb range.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Vital Signs: Gas Prices Still High - more
  • Manpower CEO: Businesses ‘Living on the Edge’ - more
  • Weak Growth Is Not Only in Rear-View Mirror - more
  • 1 in 4 Provide Unpaid Care for an Adult - more
  • How Europe can restore financial stability - more
  • We're Spent - more

  ThyssenKrupp gives stainless mandate to banks - Germany's biggest steelmaker, ThyssenKrupp, has appointed three banks to explore options for its stainless steel business including strategic tie-ups or a market listing under a radical revamp. - more

  Miners See Record Profits as Glut of Ships Reduces Rates: Freight Markets - The largest glut of ships in history means the cheapest freight rates relative to iron-ore prices in at least a decade, helping Rio Tinto Group and BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) to generate record profit. - more

  U.S. Ranks Third in World Steel Production - According to figures released by the World Steel Association (worldsteel), the U.S. ranked third in steel production last year with 80.5 million metric tons (mmt). - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:05 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.11/lb higher, with all other London traded base metals higher as well. The Euro is up 4/10 of 1% against the US Dollar at the moment. NYMEX crude is up over 9/10 of 1% and trading at $96.81/barrel. Gold is down 2/10 of 1% and silver is off 1.1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China off nearly 9/10 of 1%. European markets are trading higher this morning, and US futures show Wall Street should open higher as well. Nickel inventories fell again overnight.    
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Reaches Three-Month High as U.S. Housing Starts May Gain - more
  • LME Morning - Metals off multi-month highs but steady, resilient to macro concerns for now - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper prices ended higher for a second straight day yesterday, an impressive showing considering that the Euro fell against both the dollar and the Swiss franc, while other key markets, such as energy and oil, also sold off. Most of the other metals rose in sympathy, with ali being the exception, finishing flat on the day. With all that has been going on over the last few weeks, the resiliency in copper has been quite remarkable as the complex has been moving from strength to strength through all kinds of news cycles. We suspect dips are being constantly bought given the tight supply situation and the encouragement the bulls must have received from last month’s relatively strong Chinese import numbers, interpreting the 9% month-over-month advance as perhaps the start of a long-delayed restocking effort. Metals are higher again right now, with copper again taking the lead, this time pushing higher by a staggering $150/ton and now over $9800. The Euro has strengthened sharply, now at $1.4170, and recovering from yesterday’s intraday low of $1.4015. We attribute its strength to the fact that the market is sensing the emergence of another rescue package for Greece ahead of the EU leadership meeting scheduled for this Thursday. In this regard, Reuters reports that there are three options on the table; the first consists of a buyback of Greek debt replacing current debt with credit-enhanced (ECB/EU guaranteed) longer-term paper. This would likely cause a downgrade to selected default by the ratings agencies. The second option would involve a French proposal for a debt rollover without any credit enhancements, coupled with some private-sector contribution, but this could also trigger a default declaration. The third option apparently revolves around levying a tax on the financial sector, coupled with some longer dated loans made to the Greece. None of these have yet to be fully endorsed, and it is still possible that more talks will be needed, in which case, we very well could be back to square one, triggering a more major selloff later in the week. For the time being, we suspect that it is likely better to watch the action from the sidelines until this crucial issue plays out. What concerns us the most is the fact that all three proposals will, or may, likely trigger a “default event” by the ratings agencies, which in itself could unleash unintended consequences. This drama is by no means over, the current rally notwithstanding. On the other side of the pond, debt talks continue in Washington, and it seems more likely that a fallback option will be pursued, in which case President Obama will have the authority to raise the debt ceiling by a series of procedural votes. However, before such a solution is pursued, there likely will be a series of other votes designed to placate members of the House that have opposing views. ... Nickel is at $24,250, up $450. We still seem to be in a modest short-term upchannel, and working our way towards next resistance at $24,300. (Daily Metals Report here)
  • (Yieh) Taiyuan Iron & Steel Group (Tisco), the largest stainless steel maker in China announced to raise the contract prices of austenite stainless steel by RMB500/ton for domestic market for August delivery. In addition, the company remained the prices of ferrite stainless steel unchanged.
  • (JMB) Japan Stainless Steel Export Decreases by 5.1% in May
  • (AMM) Baosteel Stainless has raised its 300-series prices by 700 yuan ($115) per tonne on the nickel price rebound, a slightly bigger increase than Shanxi Taigang Stainless Steel's hike last Friday
  • (Interfax) China produced 437.41 million tons of steel products in the first half year (H1) of 2011, up 12.8 percent year-on-year, according to figures released by Shanghai-based Mysteel Information on July 18.
  • The China Fastener Industry Association (CFIA) strongly demanded the lifting of discriminatory anti-dumping duties from the EU on fasteners from China in an open letter sent to the Council of European Union on Monday. - more
  • The World Trade Organization ruled Friday in favor of China in its case alleging the European Union is illegally taxing steel fasteners of all sizes needed for everything from furniture to cars to bridges. - more

  Global stainless steel output seen up, profits low - Global output of stainless steel is expected to rise well above pre-crisis levels this year but steelmakers' profits will be hurt by falling prices and sector-wide excess capacity, a senior industry analyst said on Thursday. - more

  Depressed Price Of Charge Chrome Causes To Accelerate Exports of Chrome Ores From South Africa = Even FeCr Producers Are Moving To Drive Exports Of Cr-Ores - A reduction of 15 US-Cents per lb. of Cr for the benchmark price of South African charge chrome settled for shipments to Japan in July - September quarter of 2011 has created a considerable stir. - more

  Growth in Metals Shipments Decelerates in June - Service center shipments in the U.S. and Canada for both steel and aluminum increased from 2010 levels but the rate of growth slowed significantly. Inventory levels decreased in the U.S. but increased slightly in Canada. - more

  Intl Ferro Metals output hurt by furnace shutdown - South African miner International Ferro Metals said output fell 17 percent in the fourth quarter due to a scheduled shutdown of a furnace.  - more

  ThyssenKrupp gives stainless mandate to banks - Germany's biggest steelmaker, ThyssenKrupp, has appointed three banks to explore options for its stainless steel business including strategic tie-ups or a market listing under a radical revamp. - more

  China 2010 crude steel output 45 mil mt more than reported: MEPS -  China's crude steel output in 2010 may have been as much as 672 million mt -- 45 million mt, or 7.2%, more than the officially reported 627 million mt total -- and could reach 728 million in 2011, UK industry consultant MEPS said Monday. - more

  Western Areas sees 2011/12 nickel output at 25,000-27,000T - Western Areas , Australia's third-largest nickel miner, is forecasting fiscal 2011/12 nickel production of 25,000-27,000 tonnes, versus a bumper 32,222 tonnes in the previous year, a company executive said on Tuesday. - more

   Courtesy AISI - In the week ending July 16, 2011, domestic raw steel production was 1,879,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 76.8 percent. Production was 1,684,000 tons in the week ending July 16, 2010, while the capability utilization then was 69.6 percent. The current week production represents a 11.6 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending July 16, 2011 is up 1.7 percent from the previous week ending July 9, 2011 when production was 1,848,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 75.6 percent.

  Marilyn Monroe statue unveiled in Chicago - and it’s 26ft tall - Artist Seward Johnson's detailed statue is made from stainless steel and aluminium, and weights 34,000lbs. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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, July 18

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 13 to 1,340. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Japanese Equities Beating World as Industrial Output Rebounds With Toyota // China’s New Home Prices Accelerate Gains in Shanghai, Beijing Last Month // Pork Prices Tumble From Record Highs as Corn Bust Spurs Jump in Hog Herds // China’s Stocks Drop for First Time in Four Days on European Debt Concerns // Singapore Exports Rise Less Than Estimated on Electronics Shipment Slump // Asian Stocks Drop on Concerns Over U.S. Economy, Exports; Samsung Declines // Franc Rises to World’s Most Expensive Currency as Taylor Sees Euro Parity // Germany Confident EU to Reach Agreement on Greek Debt Plan, Kotthaus Says // Italian, Spanish Bonds Drop, Bunds Advance Amid Concern Over European Debt // Gold Rallies to Record in Best Run Since 1980 // European Stocks Retreat as Stress Tests Fail to Calm Debt Crisis // Fed Forecast Buoyed by Dudley Expecting Exports // Murdoch Struggles for Control as Scandal Grows // Homebuilder Confidence in U.S. Rose in July // Stocks Drop, Euro Weakens, Gold Has Longest Run of Gains Since ’80 on Debt
  • The Euro is presently trading 7/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down over 2.1% and trading at $95.17/barrel. Gold is up 6/10 of 1% and over $1600/ounce, while silver is up 2.7%. Base emtals ended the session mostly higher and quiet. Indicator charts show nickel begam to fall from the outset and until the last few hours of trading, the downtrend was intact. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $10.80/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME warehouses fell for the sixteenth consecutive session today and now total just over 102,350 tonnes. Stockpiles have fallen by 3,954 tonnes so far this month and LME warehouses have yet to record an inbound shipment this month. Considering Norilsk resumed shipping early last month, numerous analysts began forecasting a surplus of nickel in the second half of 2011, and we are in the typically slow season for stainless steel production, you would think this would be raising some eyebrows.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Strong Agata South results - more
  • (Barry Ritholtz) My view has long been that day-to-day [market] action is mostly noise; if you are looking for “signal” amongst the background static, you should focus on two things: Trend and Oscillators. Trend smooths the noise and provides a basis for directional trading. Oscillators allow you to determine when various metrics with probative value have reached extreme levels that frequently occur nearing major turning points. The easy rationales for market action should be discarded as worthless; those who push such silliness to a gullible investing public should be looked at askance. Those who claim to know actually know nothing.
  • Number of the Week: 5% Unemployment Could Be Over a Decade Away - more
  • Recession Persists in Terms of Americans' Access to Basic Needs - more
  • Vital Signs: Stalling Motor Vehicle Assemblies - more
  • Consumer Sentiment Tumbles - more
  • Five truths about the deficit and the national debt - more

  Metmar ups stake in Eastern Belt Chrome - Commodity trading company Metmar on Monday said its acquisition of a further 60% interest in Eastern Belt Chrome was the catalyst for its decision to become a “meaningful chrome player”. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.16/lb lower, with other London traded base metals mixed and mostly quiet. The Euro is trading 2/3 of 1% lower against the US Dollar this morning. NYMEX crude oil is off 1/2 of 1% and trading at $96.75/barrel. Gold is up nearly 1/2 of 1% and setting new records, and silver is up 2.8%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower with China off 1/5 of 1%. European markets are trading lower this morning and US futures show Wall Street may open negatively. Nickel inventories took a big hit over the weekend. Very slow news day.    
  • LME Morning - Base metals stable in quiet start-of-week business - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals finished mostly higher on Friday in what was a fairly heavy news day. There were lots of macro numbers out of the US, with these coming in mostly mixed. Consumer prices fell slightly more than expected, but on the whole, prices are still running at a fairly high annualized clip. June industrial production came in line with estimates, but Michigan consumer confidence readings plunged to a 2 1/2 year lows, while New York State's factory activity dropped much more than expected as well. On the debt front, with five days remaining before President Obama's deadline to raise the debt ceiling, little headway was made on the issue last week and there was not much progress reported over the weekend either. Right now, metals are mixed, with lead, and zinc both higher, although the rest of the group is lower. Oil prices are down by about $1.00/brl, while the dollar is stronger, now at 1.4030 against the Euro, but weaker against the yen, which is now comfortably trading below the 80 level (and perhaps basking in the glow of Japan’s World Cup victory). Gold is at new record high, now over the $1600 mark. The market's focus this week will remain on the US debt talks, but more importantly, on what the EU leaders decide to do about the various "fires" around them when they meet on Thursday. Last Friday’s finance ministers meeting was cancelled, raising expectations that differences were serious enough to be referred to the leadership level. Over the weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel again called on private investors to "make a contribution" (i.e., take a loss on bond holdings) in order to bail out Greece given that the size of the country's debt load (at $480 billion and counting) is simply unsustainable. One option being considered is investors being able to exchange Greek bonds for long-term obligations. Although officials say the plan will be voluntary, credit-rating firms will likely declare Greece to be in "selective default". Through all this, the ECB has opposed any measure that would cause credit rating agencies to view Greece as defaulting, even on a limited basis. On another issue, last week's stress tests showed that only eight (out of 91) European banks had failed, with most of these being struggling Spanish and Greek institutions. Although the Euro at first rallied on the initial headline, doubts soon crept over exactly how realistic these tests were. Not only were the banks singled out already ailing, but they had a combined capital shortfall of only €2.5bn, a relatively small amount. Adding in more realistic stress tests would have added at least 20 billion Euros to capital needs, this according to some analysts quoted by Reuters. In any event, the banks have until the end of the year to remedy their capital shortfall. “Near-fail” banks, which also have substantial exposure to sovereign debt, will be given until next April to strengthen their balance sheets. Twelve banks fall into that category – seven in Spain; two in Greece; two in Portugal and one in Cyprus. In US macro news, we will be getting the NAHB housing market index out later today, but the more important housing starts and building permits data come out on Tuesday (expected at 570,000 and 609,000, respectively). June existing home sales come out on Wednesday (expected at 4.93 mln units), while Thursday brings us weekly initial claims (expected at 411,000), the Philly Fed reading, and June leading economic indicators (expected at +.3%). We think the general malaise evident will keep the upside in metals somewhat in check and likely pressure prices somewhat lower from here. Specifically, the likelihood of a rough road for the Euro over the short-term could increase the odds of a currency-induced retracement in commodities. More importantly, there seems to be questions about the slowdown we are experiencing, particularly in the US and growing parts of Europe, while Chinese numbers have also signaled some softness, despite the relatively decent (but somewhat controversial) GDP number out last week. The lingering debt ceiling issue in the US seems to be fading, as in a worst case scenario, politicians will make only marginal cuts, thus providing themselves with the political cover needed in order to raise the debt ceiling. In short, Washington at its worst … Nickel is at $23,750, down $430 and pretty much, where we were at this time on Friday. We still seem to be in a modest short-term upchannel, but the upside advance is not showing too much conviction.   (Daily Metals Report here)
  • China heading for soft landing: Economist - more

  Cuban nickel plant offline after breakdown - Cuba's second most important nickel plant broke down this week and will apparently be offline for a while, according to media reports in eastern Holguin province where the industry is located. - more

  A show dedicated to stainless steel products - A three-day “Stainless Steel Houseware Show-2011” was inaugurated by Union Minister of State for Rural Development Agatha Sangma at Pragati Maidan here on Sunday. - more

  Chinese steel market outlook - Dragon land promises to be pot boiler in Q3 with x factor always up its sleeve. This power house which can single headedly tilt the fortunes in global steel industry is due for some activity. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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, July 15

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 14 to 1,353. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China’s Foreign Investment Rises as Companies Woo Expanding Middle-Class // China to Intensify Housing Curbs in Smaller Cities as Price Gains Quicken // Japan Geiger Counter Demand After Fukushima Earthquake Means Buyer Beware // Asian Commodity Stocks Decline on Concern U.S. Will Stall Global Recovery // Stress Tests Compromised by Greek Non-Default // News Corp. U.K. Newspaper CEO Brooks Resigns // Euro Fluctuates Against Dollar on Bank Stress Tests, U.S. Rating Concern // Eight Banks Fail EU Stress Test With $3.5B Shortfall // European Stocks Retreat After U.S. Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Falls // Icahn Makes $10.2 Billion Clorox Bid to Flush Out Suitors // Inflation Measure Rises as Manufacturing Stalls //
  • The Euro is trading slightly higher against the US Dollar at the moment. NYMEX crude is up over 1.1% and trading at $95.78/barrel. Gold is up nearly 2/10 of 1% and silver is up 1.7%. Base metals ended the session mixed and mostly quiet. Indicator charts show nickel started in the cellar and spent nearly all day climbing into the black. Then, just before the session, ended, the price plunged around $300/tonne. For the day and week, Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $10.96/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME warehouses remain at their lowest level since March 2009, after another day of declines that put the total just under the 103,200 tonne level.  Wall Street is in flux today, with a mixed bag of economic reports and news and a negative consumer confidence report. Have a safe and relaxing weekend!! 

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Beginning of the end of the entire crisis? - more
  • Vital Signs: Unemployment Claims Decline - more
  • Benefits Take Hit Amid Weak Job Market - more
  • One more sign of struggles on the job creation front - more

  Russia’s nickel giant now in Australia - Russia’s top nickel producer Norilsk Nickel has launched a new mine in Australia with the annual capacity of 1.2 mln tons a year. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:10 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around  $.08/lb lower, with other London traded base metals mixed and quiet. The Euro is up over 1/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is slightly higher and trading at $95.76/barrel. Gold is down 3/10 of 1% and silver is off slightly. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended slightly lower, although China finished over 4/10 of 1% higher. European markets are trading slightly lower this morning, while US futures imply Wall Street will try to get the bull back into the arena.  Nickel inventories fell again overnight.    
  • Reuters morning - Copper steady, eyes on China consumption - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals stable but mixed, macro concerns curb buying interest - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Abbreviated commentary… Metals ended mostly lower yesterday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke walked back some of his earlier remarks about QE3. The Fed chairman said that he was not ready to introduce more easing just yet, adding that inflation was higher now than it was late last year. The remark boosted the dollar, sending it back below $1.42 against the Euro, and prompting a round of selling in a number of other markets, including US equities. Markets also retreated ahead of a continued debt stand-off in Washington, with threats of downgrades only adding to the pressure. In addition to a downgrade possibility issued on Wednesday by Moody's, S&P said last night that there is a one-in-two chance it would cut the US's triple-A rating within the next 90 days if a deal on raising the government's debt ceiling is not agreed to, and also added that it was placing the US on "CreditWatch with negative implications." In the meantime, there are faint signs of progress; President Obama concluded a round of talks on Thursday and told lawmakers to consult their colleagues on a possible deal to cut the deficit by $2 trillion, which he said was "within reach". Officials at the talks said the tone of Thursday's meeting was cordial, as a range of issues was discussed. Right now, most markets are trading in very quiet conditions with metals mostly mixed. Investors are most likely in the throes of discounting an imminent agreement in Washington, which while offering a measure of relief, will likely fall short of the more ambitious goals set out earlier in the week. As a result, the dollar could weaken in the days ahead, providing an additional measure of support for commodities, at least until further market tensions in the Eurozone swings the pendulum back the other way; that may happen as early as next week when the EU leadership is supposed to meet, with Greece remaining a very thorny problem. Elsewhere out of Europe, the European Banking Authority will publish the results today of stress tests on 91 banks, and there is talk that about 10 institutions could fail this time around, somewhat more “stressful” than the last test where embarrassingly, only one troubled bank was singled out. European bank and sovereign credit default swaps have widened this week as investors pay more to protect bond portfolios. However, we think it will be the Greek issue, and not the stress tests, that will play a more direct role in influencing the Euro. In other markets, energy prices are pretty much flat on the day, while the dollar is holding steady at $1.4140. US equity markets are expected to open higher, despite a slightly negative tone in Europe. Corporate earnings continue to come in on the strong side, with Alcoa, JPMorgan, and Google all reporting strong numbers this week. Citigroup reports later today. In other news, the LME said today that warehousing firms with more than 900,000 tons of metal must load out a minimum of 3.000 tons a day and that warehouses that don’t comply will be delisted. LME chief Martin Abbott also said that the LME had received no official complaints from consumers about bottlenecks at warehouses.  (Daily Metals Report here)
  • (CRU) The LME cash price has rebounded in recent weeks, increasing by more than 12% to reach $24,060/t ($10.91/lb) by July 8th. With nickel demand weak and supply increasing, it is clear that the recent price gains have had little to do with fundamentals and, as a result, are likely to be short-lived.
  • (Yieh) Driven by rebounding nickel prices, the transaction prices of stainless steel rises by NT$1~NT$2/kg in Taiwan’s domestic market recently.
  • (AMM) Nickel premiums fall $50 as stainless buying dries up
  • LARCO back to profitability - more
  • (China) Property purchase limits extended to lower-tier cities - more

  Effective with shipments beginning September 4, 2011, ATI Allegheny Ludlum is changing the raw material reference period used to calculate the surcharge. This change applies to stainless steels, including but not limited to austenitic, duplex, ferritic, martensitic, precipitation hardening, and super ferritic stainless steels in cold-rolled and hot-rolled sheet and strip, tubular quality sheet and strip, continuous-mill-plate, plate-mill-plate and Precision Rolled Strip® product forms. - more

  LME doubles metal delivery rates from Detroit - A warehousing firm owned by a unit of Goldman Sachs GS -0.02% must deliver twice as much aluminum out of its Detroit facilities than the London Metal Exchange required in the past, following a vote by the exchange's board Thursday. - more

  First Nations chiefs unite against unauthorized Ring of Fire mining projects - Chiefs from nine First Nations communities in northern Ontario say they will do whatever is necessary to protect their land from unapproved Ring of Fire mining projects. - more

  Barclays: Nickel continues to outperform the base metals complex  - Price movements were mixed across the complex yesterday. Broad market sentiment received some support from a stronger-than-expected Q2 China GDP growth figure as well as indications from Fed Chairman Bernanke of the potential for additional policy support (if needed), although this was tempered by the on-going challenges presented by the peripheral Europe debt crisis. - more

  Price Of Charge Chrome For Shipments To Japan In Q3 / 11 Has Been Reduced By 15 US-Cents = Announced On Beginning Of This Week, The Reduction Is Larger Than That As Anticipated - The benchmark price of South African charge chrome to be purchased by major stainless steel companies of Japan for shipments in the third quarter (July - September) of 2011 has been settled by a reduction of 15 US-Cents per lb. of Cr and the new price for July - September quarter has come down to 128 US-Cents per lb. of Cr CIF Japan. - more

  Importer slams Customs ‘harassment’ - An importer has cried foul over the Customs bureau’s move to place on hold the release of its delivery truck from a warehouse in Bulacan, the latest incident in a string of charges and counter-charges between the two parties. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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, July 14

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 16 to 1,367. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Chinese Banks, Cheapest Among BRICs, Seen Dropping Lower as Investors Exit // China May Sustain 9% Growth Pace for 2011 With Investment Moving Inland // China to Intensify Housing Curbs in Some Cities to Rein in Price Increases // Beef Contaminated by Radiation Intensifies Food-Safety Concerns in Japan // Italian Yields Surge to Three-Year High at Bond Sale as Senate Weighs Cuts // Italian Banks Face Higher Borrowing Costs as Debt Crisis Enters New Phase // Europe Is Said to Face IMF Doubts on Greek Financial Aid Without Debt Cut // European Stocks Drop as Italian Yields Climb, Moody’s Reviews U.S. Rating // JPMorgan Beats Estimates as Net Rises 13% // Moody’s Downgrade Warning Pressures U.S. on Debt Deal // Retail Sales Stagnate on Unemployment // Stocks Erase Gain on Bernanke Comments
  • At present, the Euro is trading slightly lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is off 2% and trading at $96.07/barrel. Gold is up 1/3 of 1% and silver is higher by 6/10 of 1%. Base metals ended the day mostly lower, except for the lonely nickel. Indicator charts show nickel rose early, then fell, recovered, fell again, recovered, and then bounced at teh end of the day, to make it the only LME gainer. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $10.98/lb . While we rarely agree with those news agencies that tend to blame short covering on daily price spurts, the chart makes that look like a good possibility today. Today was nickel's highest close since it fell below $11/lb back in mid-May. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses slipped yet again yesterday, and now total just over the 103,600 tonne level. Today, Santa Claus turned into an Indian giver. Ok, not really, but the market is acting like it. After Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke promised the market it was examining options for further stimulation, he quickly noted in a second day of testimony before Congress, that had stated 'if necessary', something he does not feel is here yet. Stimulus money addicts were not happy the clinic was closed today, and Wall Street is in flux, dropping like a rock at the moment.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (MF Global) European nickel premiums fell yesterday amid poor demand from stainless steel mills; premiums for uncut cathodes were quoted at $100-150 per ton from $150-200 per ton previously, while 4x4 cathodes and nickel briquettes fell to $300-350 per ton from $350-400. “It seems the mills are pretty well covered and, of course, slowing down their production as well. I’d say last week I noticed the market was slowing down and this week it’s really slow,” a physical trader told Metal Bulletin.
  • Vital Signs: Rising Prices of Imports From China - more
  • Bernanke: Lack of Clarity, Confidence Hurting Housing Market - more
  • The Rich Are Now Richer Than Before The 2008 Credit Meltdown - more
  • Warning to Washington: Don’t mess with the debt ceiling - more

  NICKEL-Major market developments in June - Nickel prices rebounded from a sharp fall in June, but slow demand and concerns about an impending sharp rise in output will exert downward pressure, or at least limit upside prospects in the next month or two. - more

  1000 nickel jobs under threat - Mining magnate Clive Palmer says the carbon tax will put 1000 jobs at risk at the Queensland Nickel plant near Townsville. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:05 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.03/lb lower, with other London traded base metals mixed and mostly lower at the moment. The Euro is trading over 2/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar this morning. NYMEX crude is up 3/10 of 1% and trading at $98.33/barrel. Gold is up nearly 1/2 of 1% and hit a new record high already today. Silver is up 1-2/3%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up 3/10 of 1%.  European markets are trading lower this morning and US futures show Wall Street may open higher, but without much enthusiasm - at least yet. Nickel inventories fell again overnight.    
  • LME Morning - Base metals steady at firm levels, latest US developments in focus - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals finished modestly higher yesterday after steadying in the wake of constructive Chinese GDP data earlier in the day, and later on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s remarks hinting that more stimulus could be in the pipeline should the US economy start to falter. The words that caught the most attention in Bernanke’s testimony in front of Congress were these: "The possibility remains that the recent economic weakness may prove more persistent than expected and that deflationary risks might reemerge, implying a need for additional policy support". Asked more bluntly whether the Fed would be willing to launch another bond purchase program if the economy slumps, Bernanke said: "We have to keep all the options on the table. We don't know where the economy is going to go." The latter admission was quite stunning, this coming from a person who theoretically should know, and even if he does not, should perhaps not say so publicly. More importantly, hinting at the possibility of QE3 is also surprising given that it was only a few weeks ago that the Fed said it would end its QE2 program by the end of June. The fact that it is already considering a sequel must reflect the level of deep concern about where things are going. Not surprisingly, the dollar fell sharply on Bernanke's remarks, getting to $1.42 against the Euro, up almost 2 1/2 Euros on the day. Gold hit another record high, while energy prices also pushed higher. As it turned out, the Fed's Chairman's testimony was not all there was in terms of news yesterday. Later in the day, Fitch maintained its cautious outlook for Italy, but downgraded Greece deeper into junk territory, alluding to the fact that there has been lots of talk but little action in terms of resolving the country's problems. EU ministers are supposed to meet on Friday to be followed by a leadership meeting next week. In the meantime, there seems to be the usual bickering as to how to proceed, with the Germans again reviving the concept of private-sector participation in any debt renegotiations. Causing more of a ratings stir, was Moody’s saying late yesterday that it would place US debt under review for a downgrade if the US Congress does not increase the debt limit. Thus far, the two sides seem to be far apart and moving further away from each other. In fact, President Obama is considering summoning congressional leaders to Camp David this weekend for further talks after reports surfaced that he walked out of a session when Republican representative Eric Cantor interrupted him, hardly the type of constructive backdrop that will reassure jittery markets. The dollar weakened on the Moody’s announcement, getting to just under $1.43 in Asian trading, but commodities as a whole have had a more measured response – at least thus far. For one thing, the debt issue is still being perceived as political theatrics that ultimately will be resolved, although we still maintain that it will cause some angst closer to the deadline. With regard to a possible QE3 program, a weaker dollar that could result from such a move would theoretically be bullish for commodities, but the fact that the option is actually being considered –so soon after the last one—does not speak well about the strength and durability of the US recovery. This may be why investors are not piling into commodities in full force right now (with gold being the exception). Right now, metals are slightly lower, while energy prices are also down. The dollar has halted its slide, and is now back under the $1.42 level, as Euro worries have reversed some of its earlier losses. Stock futures are expected to open flat, as decent earnings reports (this morning’s from JP Morgan) seem to be keeping the declines in check. We still expect to see a rather sloppy session set in over the balance of the week, as we do not see how aggressive position taking – in either direction – will be justified in this type of environment.  ..... Nickel is at $23,782, down $193; there seems to be good resistance around the $24,000 mark. (Daily Metals Report here)
  • (Platts) China's June Nickel Output Jumps 52% On Year
  • (JMB) Crude stainless steel in June/ China increases by 12% to 59,930 tons
  • (TI) Freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry fell 1.8% in May from April, falling for the second consecutive month, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics' Freight Transportation Services Index.
  • (Ceridian) The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index® (PCI®), issued by the UCLA Anderson School of Management and Ceridian Corporation rose 1.0 percent in June on a seasonally and workday adjusted basis, a welcome rebound following declines in the previous two months. Despite the stronger performance in June, the economy continues to remain in idle with the PCI remaining below its level at the end of the first quarter.
  • (CEN) China's National Energy Administration announced Thursday that the country's total electric power consumption in the first half of the year rose 12.2 percent from a year earlier to 2.25 trillion kilowatt-hours (kwh).

  China's 10 nonferrous metal output up 6.33% in Jan-May - The combined output of the ten nonferrous metals was 13.54 million metric tons in the first five months of this year, up 6.33% year on year, according to the latest statistics released by the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association. - more

  Price Of Moly Oxide Continues To Fall And Broke Level Of US$15 After Interval Of One Year = At An Unexpected High Pitch, Bottom Price Is Still Unable To Foresee - Dealer oxide prices at the end of last week (on the 8th of July) were in the range of US$14.80 per lb. of Mo as high side and US$14.50 as low side, both of which had fallen to a lower level than US$15 per lb. of Mo and recorded a very low price level after an interval of one year. - more

  Sapphire seals first nickel ore deal worth US$3.6m - Sapphire Corporation Limited said on Wednesday that its unit has signed a contract to supply a shipment of nickel ore valued at US$3.6 million (S$4.5 million). - more

  PM orders sacking - Prime Minister Danny Philip has ordered the sacking of three top Government officers. The trio are director of mines Peter Auga, commissioner of lands Silva Dunge and registrar of titles Haelo Pelu. - more

  As copper soars, thieves extract a price - When thieves ransacked eight air conditioners in an apartment complex in the city of Mobile, Alabama, the culprits made off with $800 worth of scrap metal and left residents with $38,000 worth of damages. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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, July 13

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 28 to 1,383. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China’s Economy Grows 9.5%, Besting Estimates // China June Home Sales Rise 31% as Homebuyers Defied Government Curbs // China’s Stocks Rebound from Biggest Drop in Seven Weeks on Economic Growth // Asian Stocks Advance as Moderating China Growth Eases Inflation Concerns // U.K. Unemployment Claims Climbed Last Month at Fastest Pace Since May 2009 // Dollar, Franc Weaken on China Growth Optimism, Fed Minutes; Euro Advances // French Banks Face Greatest Italian Risk // European Stocks Rise as Bernanke Says Fed Is Prepared to Take More Action // JPMorgan, Citigroup Struggle to Boost Revenue // Fed Ready With Stimulus If Needed: Bernanke // Fed’s Rosengren Sees ‘Very Slow Improvement’ for Economy // Stocks Halt 3-Day Slump on Bernanke, China
  • The Euro is now trading over 1-1/4% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up 1-1/2% and trading at $98.89/barrel. Gold is up over 1/1% and silver is up over 5%. Base metals all ended Wednesday's session higher. Nickel was looking rather weak this morning, with the Euro recovering some of its earlier losses, yet the metal was floundering. That was, until US Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke started testifying before Congress and promised the Fed would take additional action if necessary. Traders who have become addicted to nearly free money, drove the US Dollar lower, and with the Euro up over 1-1/2% at one point, even a commodity that wanted to be weak, had to rise, as nickel did. For the day, three month nickel closed at $10.88/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell for a thirteenth consecutive session , and for the 24th out of the last 25 days. Total inventory numbers now read just over the 103,850 tonne level. The last time Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke before camera's, the market was not very receptive to what he had to say. Today, he was back in his groove, advising Congress (and Wall Street) that the Fed was looking at numerous "untested means" to stimulate the economy. The market does not appear to be overly concerned that the economic patient is apparently so weak that Doc Bernanke is afraid to leave it alone. Some unique times we live in.  

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) More than 10,500 lots of cobalt and molybdenum have been traded on the London Metal Exchange since the metals' launch last year, the LME said Wednesday.
  • Job Cutters May Reap What They Sow - more
  • Fed Minutes Formalize Exit Strategy - more
  • Why Taxes Will Rise in the End - more

  Wait for Aluminum Drives LME to Review Rules - When the London Metal Exchange was founded in the days of steamships, contracts were priced three months out to reflect the time it took to get tin from Southeast Asia or copper from Chile. - more

  Minara flags 22pc cut to output after outage at Murrin Murrin plant - Operations at Minara Resources’ Murrin Murrin nickel plant have restarted following a failure last month but production will be up to 22 per cent below previous forecasts, the company said today. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around  $.06/lb higher, with other London traded base metals mostly higher. The Euro is trading over 7/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar this morning. NYMEX crude is up only slightly at the moment and trading at $97.46/barrel. Gold is higher by more than 1/3 of 1% and silver is up over 1.1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets rose, with China up 1.6% after reporting better than expected GDP growth. European markets are trading higher this morning, and US futures show Wall Street will try to break it losing streak with a positive opening. Nickel inventories fell again overnight.  
  • Reuters morning - Copper gains on Chinese data; euro zone weighs - more
  • LME Morning - Metals rise with the euro, China shows no sign of hard landing - more

  Reports

  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Daily Market Report - pdf here
  • Commodities Report - pdf here
  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Daily Overview - pdf here
  • Metals Insight - pdf here
  • US Imports of Stainless Steel Mill Products - more

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper prices fell on Tuesday on the official close, but started to recover later in the day after broad-based buying set in over a number of commodity complexes. Concerns about Italian debt and a sinking Euro kept most markets on the defensive earlier on, but reports of a relatively successful short-term Italian auction helped revive the Euro, even enabling it to turn positive at one point during the day. Also helping the currency's reversal was the release of the June Fed minutes where some governors are now advocating further easing should the economy continue to struggle. We find it difficult to understand what else remains in the Fed's arsenal at this stage, as interest rates are already on the floor, while the Fed’s balance sheet remains massive. Nevertheless, the statement was still enough to knock the dollar back over the $1.40 mark against the Euro, although the greenback did make up some lost ground late in the day when Moody's downgraded Ireland's bonds and warned of another bailout. The Irish government was clearly annoyed at Moody's assessment, calling the downgrade a "disappointing development ... completely at odds with the recent views of other rating agencies". If its any consolation, Ireland's rating is still one notch above Portugal and six above that of Greece's, but the downgrade will nevertheless put pressure on other raters to match the move and will likely increase borrowing costs for the Irish in the short-term. Metals are steady in current trading, buoyed both a weaker dollar (now at $1.4070 against the Euro), as well as stronger-than-expected Chinese GDP figures released overnight. In the latter regard, the Chinese government reported that second quarter GDP expanded 9.5% in April-June from the same period a year ago, less than the 9.7% recorded in the first quarter, but higher than the 9.4% consensus forecast. Industrial output advanced 15.1%, the most since May 2010, while fixed-asset spending rose 25.6% in the first half from a year earlier. Retail sales expanded 17.7% from a year before, while June housing transactions rose a stunning 31% from May. After five interest-rate increases since October and a series of other tightening measures, it is quite remarkable that growth in China not yet slowed, but we still suspect this will happen by the second half of the year, since the recent rate increases have more bite to them as they move higher from what was a lower base. Secondly, stubbornly high inflation readings means that the government will have to tighten even more in the months ahead or introduce other unorthodox measures to bring prices down, particularly in the red-hot real estate sector. We are reading that Chinese investors are buying real estate whenever they can, as they perceive it to be a hedge against inflation and far preferable to putting their money into savings accounts, where interest rates are still relatively low. This could sow the seeds of an eventual real estate bust, particularly if home prices continue to outpace incomes, widening the gap to unsustainable levels.  ..... Nickel is at $23,605, down $40 and still having difficulty pushing past $24,000. (Daily Metals Report here)
  • (Yieh) Recently, the transactions of stainless steel have risen slightly in Taiwan’s market as the nickel prices rebounded to US$23,000/ton, despite of upstream steel mills’ price dip for July delivery.
  • (Interfax) China's daily crude steel output rose 2.58 percent month-on-month in June to an all-time high of 1.99 million tons, according to a National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report released on July 13.
  • (MBN) Murrin Murrin restarts, 2,000 tonnes nickel output lost
  • It’s time to get PolyMet up and running - more
  • China’s Economy Grows 9.5%, Besting Estimates - more

  China aluminium output seen up after June record with copper, nickel - China's production of primary aluminium may reach a fresh monthly record in July after hitting a fourth consecutive record in June due to new capacity, but analysts said refined copper could fall from June's record as scrap supply tightens. - more

  • China's June steel, metals output at record as power returns - China ramped up production of a range of commodities in June and hoisted the output of refined copper, nickel, aluminium, iron ore and steel to record highs, as returning power supplies allowed plants to run their smelters nearly at full-steam. - more
  • Analysis: China metals curbs may end up boosting smelting - China has issued fresh orders to slash capacity at steel and base metal smelters as it revamps its industrial sector, but the move could backfire and boost capacities instead as outdated units are replaced and modernized. - more

  POSCO denies considering spinoff of stainless unit - South Korea's POSCO , the world's third-biggest steelmaker, denied on Wednesday a media report that it was considering spinning off its stainless steel business. - more

  JSL Stainless expects to come out of CDR by Sept 2012 - exec - Indian stainless steel maker JSL Stainless Ltd expects to come out of its corporate debt restructuring (CDR) by September 2012, much before the original deadline of March 2020, as the new plant in Orissa is expected to stabilise and enhance cashflows, a top executive said. - more

  Nickel plant faces carbon pressure: Palmer - Mining magnate Clive Palmer says the carbon tax will put 1000 jobs at risk at the Queensland Nickel plant near Townsville. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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, July 12

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 26 to 1,411. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Money Supply Growth, New Lending Rebound Even After Cooling Measures // Vale Abandons Metorex Bid, Paving Way for China’s Jinchuan to Takeover // Bank of Japan Becomes More Upbeat About Growth as Post-Quake Slump Eases // Asian Stocks Drop on European Debt-Contagion Concerns as Financials Fall // Italy Sells 6.75 Billion Euros of Treasury Bills as Borrowing Costs Climb // Euro Falls to Four-Month Low Against Yen on Concern Debt Crisis Spreading // Italian Bonds Snap Six-Day Drop on Speculation ECB Bought Country’s Debt // No ‘Immaculate Solution’ for Europe Debt Crisis, El-Erian Says: Tom Keene // Cisco May Cut as Many as 10,000 Jobs to Buoy Profit // U.S. Trade Deficit Unexpectedly Surges on Oil // Cisco May Cut as Many as 10,000 Jobs // Stocks, Euro Pare Losses, Italy Bonds Gain
  • The Euro is now trading just over 1/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up over 1.4% and trading at $96.52/barrel. Gold is down slightly while silver is off 6/10 of 1%. Base metals ended the session higher. Indicator chart show nickel was in trouble early, but only for a short time before it reversed course and began a climb that lasted the rest of the session. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended at $10.72/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses slumped yet again yesterday, and now sit just over the 104,100 tonne level. Wall Street is trying to pull off a positive day after experiencing what the market calls a '90% down day' yesterday. These sell-off's are 'generally' followed by a two plus day rebound rally, but not always, as we witnessed in May and June of 2010. Today's action could tell us a lot about how the market will act over the next few weeks - or absolutely nothing at all. In light of all that is going on and the dive that the Euro has taken over the past week, nickel and metals look incredibly strong.

  Reports

  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Reuters Metals Insider - pdf here

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) US May Nickel Exports +60.4% From Apr, -17.2% From Yr Ago
  • (Dow Jones) US May Nickel Imports -10.2% From Apr, +4.8% From Yr Ago
  • (WSJ) The National Federation of Independent Business‘s small-business optimism index slipped 0.1 point to 90.8 last month. The NFIB said the index, which has been trending lower since March, is “still firmly rooted in recession territory.”
  • Broad Survey of Labor Indicators Highlights Weak Jobs Recovery - more
  • Overtime, Not Wage Increases, Drive Income Growth - more
  • Italy and Spain must pray for a miracle - more
  • Fall Into the Gap Forever? - more
  • (MarketWatch) - Forecasting group Macroeconomic Advisers cut its second-quarter GDP view by 0.4 percentage points, to 1.6%, after the release of May trade deficit data showing the largest gap since Oct. 2008.
  • (MarketWatch) The U.S. trade deficit jumped 15.1% in May to the highest level in almost three years, largely because of the increased cost of oil imports.
  • (IBD) The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index released Tuesday sank 3.2 points to 41.4, just above April's near three-year low. Figures below 50 indicate pessimism. The six-month outlook dropped 4.6 points to 39.7.

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.09/lb lower, but off earlier lows, with other London traded base metals mixed. The Euro is down over 4/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar at the moment. NYMEX crude is down 1.1% and trading at $94.09/barrel. Gold is down more than 1/3 of 1% while silver is lower by over 1.5%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China down 1.8%. European markets are lower again today, and US futures show Wall Street may open lower again as well. Nickel stockpiles numbers fell overnight.  
  • LME Morning - Metals remain off lows but eurozone worries weigh - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metal prices fell yesterday, as did a host of other commodities after a number of bearish variables hit the sector hard. However, the extent of the declines was uneven; most metals and grains sold off sharply, as did the Euro, but crude oil and copper did not fare too badly, finishing with more measured declines for the day. However, we suspect the variables that were behind Monday's sell-off will likely manifest themselves with growing intensity in the days ahead, and for this reason, we expect more selling in the days ahead. Many of the variables that emerged yesterday were ones we have been highlighting in recent commentary, but which seem to have been largely sidelined in the aftermath of last month's Greek debt "resolution" and the steep commodity run-up that ensued. China started things off yesterday, after the government reported higher-than-expected inflation readings and a drop in overall June imports. More importantly, the data is telling us that the Chinese economy may finally be slowing, as a round of restrictive monetary measures are starting to take their toll, while persisting inflationary pressures suggest that the government's tightening campaign is likely not over yet. Secondly, the "celebratory buying" that took place in the Euro in the aftermath of the Greek crisis was clearly premature, as the crisis not only seems to have worsened, but has now spread to Italy. As a result, the Euro plunged to a six-week low against the dollar yesterday, while sinking to a four-month low against the yen. The cost of insuring Italian debt against default jumped to a record high, as talk swirled that an Italian bailout was in the cards given that the top 91 European banks have more than 100 billion Euros worth of exposure to the country-- far more than what they are owed by Greece. In an attempt to allay market concerns, Italy’s finance minister is chairing an emergency meeting of leaders from the government and the opposition today in an effort to secure passage of his austerity package.  ....  Nickel is at $23,305, up $80. Another close below $23,500 today (likely) will render last week’s breakout to have been false, and we now could start another drift lower to $21,700 support.  (Daily Metals Report here)
  • (Interfax) Baoshan Iron & Steel Co. Ltd. (Baosteel) will increase ex-works prices for select steel products by RMB 50 ($7.72) per ton, an industry analyst told Interfax on July 11.
  • Horizonte Minerals buys Brazil nickel projects - more

  POSCO mulls spinoff of stainless steel unit - report - South Korea's POSCO is considering a spinoff of its stainless steel business, which is suffering from profit deterioration and rising prices for key ingredient nickel, a newspaper reported on Tuesday. - more

  Burundi to raise power tariffs, eyes nickel output - Burundi plans to raise electricity bills for consumers by 200 percent to partly fund additional power generation projects required for growing demand and for exploration of nickel, its vice president said on Monday. - more

  Ni-series Cold-rolled Stainless/To Bottoming Out From A Wait-and-see Attitude - After one week from recovery of the market price of LME nickel to the level of $10 per pound, eventually the stainless mills begin to receive inquiries. If nickel price concretes the level of $10.50, and then rise further, price of Ni-series cold-rolled stainless flat products will rebound. - more

  Smelter now goes green - The main production line of eco-friendly steel at Dongbei Special Steel Group's Dalian base is underway. - more

  Overcapacity being cut amid power shortages - China will continue to phase out unneeded industrial capacity this year, with 2,255 enterprises closing facilities, while the government fights the worst power shortage in years, a statement on the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) website said on Monday. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending July 9, 2011, domestic raw steel production was 1,848,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 75.6 percent. Production was 1,684,000 tons in the week ending July 9, 2010, while the capability utilization then was 69.6 percent. The current week production represents a 9.7 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending July 9, 2011 is down 0.3 percent from the previous week ending July 2, 2011 when production was 1,853,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 75.8 percent.

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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, July 11

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 12 to 1,437. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China’s Copper Imports Rise First Time in Three Months on Low Stockpiles // China Doctors Earning $300 a Month Flock to Drug Companies Tripling Wages // China’s Stocks Rise on Speculation Inflation Rate Will Drop; SAIC Jumps // Slow China Growth Leaves Wen Few Options // Euro Plunges to Seven-Week Low Against Dollar Before European Debt Talks // Italy Orders Short Sellers to Disclose Positions // Greece Needs ‘Endgame’ From EU to Enact Deficit Cuts, Canada’s Martin Says // European Stocks Tumble Most in Seven Weeks Amid Concerns on Debt Contagion // Best Currency Forecasters Say Dollar Slump Over // Profits Climbing to 51-Year Average as S&P 500 Multiples at Crisis Levels // Fed on Hold Longest Since 1940s // Fed Data Cruncher Finds No New Normal Unemployment // Stocks Fall, Euro Drops on Crisis Concerns
  • The Eurois now trading over 1-1/2% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down 1-1/3% and trading at $94.87/barrel. Gold is up nearly 3/10 of 1% while silver is lower by 2.1%. Base metals ended the session lower as well. Indicator charts show slid for much of the morning, attempted a recovery in mid afternoon, only to see it collapse. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $10.53/lb , down nearly 3% from Friday's close. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME warehouses fell for the 11th straight session and now total just over the 104,200 tonne level. Debt concerns overwhelmed the markets today, with Italy grabbing headlines in Euorpe ,and the impass in Washington over the wekeend between the Republicans and Democrats, raising concerns here in the States.  

  Reports

  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Reuters Metals Insider - pdf here
  • Robry Weekly Economic Assessment - more

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (WSJ) U.S. consumer borrowing rose in May as credit-card debt climbed for only the second time since the financial crisis flared, sounding a rare positive note for an economy that is barely generating any jobs. Consumer credit rose by $5.08 billion, the eighth consecutive increase, according to the Federal Reserve.
  • Number of the Week: Manufacturing Still Plays Big Role in U.S. - more
  • Economists React: Jobs Report an ‘Unmitigated Disaster’ - more
  • Without Dropouts, Jobless Rate Would Be Over 11% - more
  • Temp Help Shows Worrying Downward Trend - more
  • Read It Here First: Labor Market Slack - more
  • How the bubble destroyed the middle class - more
  • 15 Accidentally Awesome Inventions - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:05 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.20/lb lower, with all London traded base metals lower this morning. The Euro is down over 1.4% against the US Dollar, adding a lot of negative pressure on commodity trading. NYMEX crude if off 1-2/3% and trading at $94.60/barrel. Gold is up 4/10 of 1% and silver is down 7/10 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China up over 1/10 of 1%. European markets are lower at the moment, and if futures don't change before the first ring, Wall Street is destined for a triple digit lower opening. Nickel inventories fell over the weekend.  
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Drops for Second Day as Sovereign-Debt Crisis May Spread to Italy - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals slip on bearish macro cues - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metal prices fell on Friday as dismal U.S. employment data broke a string of gains, although ongoing supply glitches kept the declines in copper somewhat in check. The LME complex was placed on the defensive on news that US employers took on a scant 18,000 workers in June, the weakest number since September, while the unemployment rate rose to 9.2%, its highest this year. We were not surprised by the poor number, as weekly initial claims data had been running on the high side for some time, meaning that the possibility of a positive surprise was unlikely. Moreover, the API figures and the nonfarm numbers come from two different data pools, so the fact that the API was stronger last week does not mean that the nonfarm payroll number would necessarily follow. Right now, metal prices are lower on a variety of factors. For one thing, the dollar is surging, now trading at $1.4080 against the Euro on account of renewed debt jitters in Europe, this time in regard to Italy. An emergency meeting of top finance officials was called for Monday (and is going on now) after a sharp fall in Italian bond prices took place on Friday, with the weaker tone continuing today. Shares in Italy's biggest bank, Unicredit Spa, has been all over the place today after losing almost 8% on Friday because of worries about the results of stress tests of European banks that will be released on July 15. Other banks stocks also fell heavily, as the cost of insuring Italian debt against default jumped to a record high. In addition, the German newspaper Die Welt quoted an unnamed ECB source as saying that the EU's bailout fund may have to be doubled in size to 1.5 trillion Euros if it is to be capable of coming to the aid of Italy. There are also reports that talks with regard to a second package for the Greeks is making only modest headway. Markets are also digesting a slew of macro releases out of China, which on balance, are somewhat negative. Over the weekend, China announced that the country’s inflation rate rose to a three-year high of 6.4% in June, much more than forecast, and perhaps explaining why the government moved on raising rates last week. Inflation was driven higher by a whopping 14% gain in food prices, the biggest increase in three years, while non-food prices climbed 3%, its largest advance since 2005. Producer prices gained 7.1% from a year earlier, well ahead of the 6.9% expected as well. .... Nickel is at $23,600, down $290. We look constructive on the charts now that $23,500 resistance has been taken out, but the complex needs to build on this momentum if the next upside target of $25,000 is to be achieved.  (Daily Metals Report here)
  • (Yieh) According to Fortune China’s reports, 69 Chinese companies were listed on Fortune 500, 16 more than last year. Among those 69 companies, 8 companies were categorized into steel and metallurgy industries, including Baosteel Group, China Minmetals, Hebei Iron and Steel Group, Shougang Group, Wuhan Iron & Steel Group, Shagang Group, China Sinosteel, and Aluminum Corporation of China.
  • (JMC) Data from the China Iron & Steel Association showed that daily output of crude steel in China hit 2.018 million tonnes in the last 10 days of June. .... It is the first time the China's daily production crossed 2 million tonnes.
  • (SO) German steel industry operates at over 90 percent capacity in H1
  • (CASS) Freight volumes grew 4.9% in June, surpassing expenditures growth of 4.6%. Although the growth in shipments has picked up, this is not a reversal of the economic slowdown we have seen develop over the last two months. - more
  • China's CPI hits three-year high of 6.4% in June - more

  Ferrochrome price falls 11% - Merafe Resources, which produces ferrochrome in a joint venture with Xstrata, said on Monday that third quarter ferrochrome prices had dropped 11% quarter-on-quarter. - more

  • Japan Q3 ferrochrome price down 15 cents from Q2 - The term price for ferrochrome to Japan for the July-September quarter fell 15 cents per pound, or 10 percent, from the previous quarter to $1.28, a Japanese company official said on Monday. - more

  Ferro-Nickel May Get Back Its Production Weight = Two Large FeNi Projects In Brazil Are Proceeding To Materialize - The world output of ferro-nickel had shrunk its scale in 2008 and 2009 but is anticipated to expand again the scale in the course of 2011 to 2012. The reason is that the two large ferro-nickel projects in Brazil (Onca Puma project by Vale and Barro Alto project by AAC = Anglo American) are scheduled to materialize its commercial production in that period. - more

  SMU Steel Buyers Sentiment Index up by 3 points - Steel Market Update announced that their SMU Steel Buyers Sentiment Index gained 3 points and now registers +16 keeping the index in the optimistic zone where it has resided since breaking out of pessimistic territory on December 1st 2010. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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, July 8

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 4 to 1,449. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Buys Japan’s Long-Term Debt for 8th Month // China Debt Sale Fails for Third Time This Year as Cash Crunch Curbs Demand // Japan Current-Account Surplus Narrows Less Than Forecast on Quake Rebound // Poor Countries Seen Likely to Be ‘Hammered’ by Food Costs, Water Shortages // Euro Declines as EU Bank Stress-Test Document Stokes Regional Debt Concern // German Exports Increase More Than Forecast as Nation Weathers Euro Crisis // Euro to Drop to Lowest in 3 1/2 Months Versus Dollar: Technical Analysis // Italian Yields Reach Nine-Year High as Debt Crisis Spreads; Bunds Surge // European Stocks Retreat as U.S. Jobs Report Misses Estimates; BSkyB Drops // Corporate Earnings Poised for Smallest Gain in 2 Years // U.S. Payrolls Rise 18,000; Jobless Rate Hits 9.2% // Stocks Tumble on Slowing U.S. Job Growth
  • The Euro is off earlier gains and again trading 7/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is off 2.5% and trading at $96.22/barrel. Gold is up over 1/2 of 1% and silver is higher by 1/3 of 1%. Base metals ended the day most ly lower, but only tin really made a noticeable move. Indicator charts show nickel opened climbing, then paused, then took a dive as soon as the US employment report came out. After struggling for much of the afternoon, nickel jumped back to where it started, where it ended the session. For the day and week, Dow jones reports three month nickle ended at $10.84/lb , a whole $10/tonne off yesterday's close. According to a public Fastmarkets article below, stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell 312 tonnes overnight to 104,370 tonnes, with cancelled warrants standing at 5.39%. Considering the Euro is offering very little help, nickel continues to look strong, after bottoming out in mid June. The stainless steel index we follow in China is starting to sneak back up as the higher nickel prices work their way thru the system. Chinese steel production has risen in the last few weeks, hinting at increased nickel demand. After false hopes were given by the ever unreliable ADP report yesterday, unemployment officially rose to 9.2% with only 18,000 jobs being added during the month of June. The news was made worse when the Labor Department revised their May report, cutting that month's reported job growth from 54,000 to only 25,000 - a drop of over half. Nickel took an immediate $300/tonne tumble this morning when the report was released, and commodities fell even as the Euro bounced against the U.S. Dollar. Later the Euro slipped again, and this time the metals complex used it as a catalyst to erase many of their earlier losses. The markets are ugly today - on very ugly news. Metals however, looked strong.
  • Have a safe and relaxing weekend!

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (SMM) Jinchuan Group raised ex-works nickel prices by RMB 4,000/mt to RMB 172,000/mt on July 8th.
  • Goldman Economist Sees Rebound, but Risks of Recession Rising - more
  • The Connection Between Obesity and Poverty - more
  • Hedge Funds Move Past Greece With Bets That Sovereign Debt Crisis Expands - more

  Metal Warehousing Pays Off For Goldman Sachs - Goldman Sachs’ foray into the metals warehousing business with the purchase of Metro International in February 2010 has proven to be a good bet. - more

  ITC Vote: Stainless Steel Sheet and Strip from 6 Countries - The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) today determined that revoking the existing countervailing duty order on stainless steel sheet and strip from Korea and the existing antidumping duty orders on stainless steel sheet and strip from Japan, Korea, and Taiwan would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of material injury within a reasonably foreseeable time. - more

  Germany's June crude steel output remains steady year-on-year: WV Stahl - Germany's June crude steel output firmed by 0.2% year-on-year to 3.87 million mt on high capacity utilization rates, but fell 6% from May primarily because of a lower number of working days, steel industry association Wirtschaftsvereinigung Stahl said Friday. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.13/lb higher, with other London traded base metals mostly lower and quiet. The Euro is currently over 8/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down nearly 2/10 of 1% and trading at $98.49/barrel. Gold is down 4/10 of 1% and silver is lower by 2/3 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up 1/4 of 1%. European markets are trading higher this morning and US futures show Wall Street is betting on a good jobs report being released in 30 minutes. Nickel inventories continue to drop.  
  • Reuters morning - China confidence propels copper to 3-mth high - more
  • LME Morning - Metals mixed, soggy euro and slack sentiment deflate interest - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - no report received today
  • (Yieh) According to report released by China Iron and Steel Association (CISA), 76 key Chinese steel enterprises’ crude steel production reached 16.9231 million tons with the daily average output of 1.6923 million tons, up by 3.21% from that in the first half of June.
  • (CASS) Freight volumes grew 4.9% in June, surpassing expenditures growth of 4.6%. Although the growth in shipments has picked up, this is not a reversal of the economic slowdown we have seen develop over the last two months.

  Ferrochrome Q3 settlement set to fall $0.10-0.15/lb - The European contract price of high carbon ferrochrome is set to fall in the third quarter as demand from stainless steel makers took a dip in the last few months. - more

  Ferrochrome glitter fades - The outlook for stainless steel is still anyone’s guess as Brazil, China and India demand slumps with world growth slowing  - more

  Domestic Production Of Ferro-Nickel In Japan For Q1 / 2011 Decreased By 10% = Output By Pacific Metals Had A Considerable Decline Of 27.4% Because Of Gigantic Earthquake Disaster - It was known that the total quantity of ferro-nickel produced by refining companies of Japan in the first quarter (January - March) of 2011 was 15,537 tons on nickel content base, having decreased by 10% compared with that (17,276 tons) in the same quarter of 2010. - more

  Workers Come First in the “Pedro Sotto Alba” Nickel Enterprise - The deputy director of Human Resources of the “Pedro Sotto Alba” Nickel Enterprise, Milagro Leyva Pino, in the eastern Cuban province of Holguin, was categorical when she affirmed: “The top priorities in this enterprise are the safety and health of our workers”. - more

  US ITC To Conclude Review On Stainless Flat AD This Week Earliest - The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is foreseen to conclude as early as this week or next week whether the Commission revokes or continues the antidumping (AD) duties on stainless steel flat products imported to USA from Japan. - more

  Chinese steel market might undergo renaissance in August - Steel market in China has been undergoing pangs of correction recurrently in H1 having a crippling effect on the overall sentiments. Irrespective of the seasonality and cyclical factors the prices have declined. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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, July 7

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 10 to 1,453. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China May Pause on Rate Increases as Wen Bets Inflation Is ‘Controllable’ // China Stocks Drop for Second Day After Central Bank Raises Interest Rates // Japan Machinery Orders Gain Most in Four Months Amid Earthquake Rebuilding // Containers Flood Shipping Routes as Rates Fall // Most Asian Stocks Climb as China Banks Gain After Central Bank Lifts Rates // Italy May Be Casualty of Europe Debt Crisis as Yields Rise, Evolution Says // U.K. Manufacturing Increased at Fastest Pace Since March 2010 During May // Greek Default Not ‘Worst’ Outcome for Banks as Bondholders Discuss Options // Euro Drops Before ECB as Trichet May Discuss Greek Debt Collateral Rules // Zuma’s Victory Over Wal-Mart With Jobs Pledge Cuts South African Takeovers // Euro Rises as ECB’s Trichet Signals Further Rate Increases, Portugal Aid // European Stocks Rise to One-Month High on U.S. Jobs Data; Man Group Gains // Ambac Financial Group Files Proposed Chapter 11 Plan for Reorganization // Companies Added 157,000 Workers to Payrolls // White House, Republicans Signal Debt Opening //
  • The Euro is now trading nearly 2/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up 1.6% and trading at $98.21/barrel. Gold is trading even and silver is up 1.6%.  Base metals ended the day higher, and in some cases, much higher. Indicator charts show nickel was floundering early, but after US markets opened, the price of nickel shot higher. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $10.84/lb .  Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME warehouses fell again yesterday and now stand at their lowest level since March 25, 2009. Today's figures put nickel numbers just under the 104,700 tonne level and if they continue to drop as they have over the last month, we will see the number fall below the psychologically important 100,000 tonne mark before the end of July. Equity and metals market turned bullish at the end of June and do not appear to tiring.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (PR) Toledo is pleased to announce that on 7th July, the MV Aqua Atlantic sailed for China with 54,230 wet metric tonnes of nickel laterite ore, thereby completing the first shipment from the existing stockpile at the Berong mine. Further shipments will follow in due course.
  • Big Business Leaves Deficit to Politicians - more
  • Spot the pattern - more

  Posco Buys Out Partner Samancor in African Ferrochrome Plant - Posco, South Korea’s biggest steelmaker, bought out partner Samancor Ltd. to take full ownership of Poschrome Ltd., a ferrochrome producer in South Africa, improving its control over supplies of the material. - more

  Mine firms fail towns - Mining companies, more than any type of business, symbolise prosperity. They should mean rising employment and improving standards of living as well as the creation of other opportunities, including skills development and community upliftment. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:05 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.01/lb , and off earlier highs.  At the moment, all London traded base metals are higher. The Euro is trading over 4/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up 2/3 of 1% and trading at $97.26/barrel. Gold is down more than 1/10 of 1% and silver is over 2/10% lower. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower with China down nearly 4/10 of 1%. European markets are trading higher this morning, and US futures show Wall Street should see a bullish opening. Nickel inventories continue to fall.   
  • Reuters morning - Copper up on easing Greece concern, supply worry - more
  • LME Morning - Copper strikes give traders reasons to buy base metals - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals closed slightly lower yesterday, a very respectable performance given that China announced a rate increase earlier in the day. Various markets sold off initially on the announcement, but most proceeded to recover as investors seem to be sensing that the Chinese may be nearing the end of their rate-rising campaign. We are not sure about the rationale behind this logic, as general inflationary trends seem to be on their way up again. In this regard, energy prices have recouped about half of their previous declines and seem to be heading higher still, while the OECD reported today that food prices are at near-record highs, as the drop in some of grains in recent weeks has been more than offset by spikes in other complexes, such as sugar. Other variables helping the upside today include the possibility that investors are feeling more upbeat as signs of a budget compromise come out of Washington, but much remains to be done and we still suspect that things will go down to the wire. Markets were also favorably impressed by the strong ADP report out earlier; some 157,000 private-sector jobs were added in June, against the 95,000 expected. The figure contrasts with months of weak readings and may set the stage for an equally strong nonfarm payroll figure out tomorrow. Weekly initial claims also fell by 14,000, more than expected. The markets are clearly on an upward roll here, and today's action brings us more of the same, with metals higher across the board. Oil prices are up sharply again, with Brent contract tacking on another $4.40/brl on account of constructive API inventory data, but we think the more likely reason may be attributable to perceptions that the Saudis are not discounting their extra oil as much as they should, providing something of a counterweight to more aggressively priced IEA sales. ... Nickel is at $23,777, up $397, two closes above $23,500 (likely) could lead to further gains. (Daily Metals Report here)
  • MF Global Daily Metals Report backup link from MF Global site here - (typically posted between 8 and 10 am EST)
  • (Dow Jones) Russia Jan-May Nickel Exports 83,400 Tons, Down 10.1%
  • (Yieh) Reportedly German’s ThyssenKrupp is planning to spin off its stainless steel division to cut debts.
  • (AMM) China's nickel pig iron output remains high
  • (China Daily) China's National Bureau of Statistics is bringing forward its release of a slew of monthly economic data including inflation, factory output and retail sales to the 9th of each month, the agency said in a statement on Thursday.

  South Korea's POSCO buys Thainox stake for $287 mln - POSCO Pcl , the world's third-biggest steelmaker, said on Thursday it was buying a stake in Thainox Stainless Pcl , Southeast Asia's largest stainless steel producer, in a deal worth 305.9 billion won ($287 million).  - more

  Domestic Price Of Stainless Scrap In Japan Is Unable To React To A Rally Of Nickel Price At LME = Exports From Japan To China And Taiwan May See A Bright Tone - Owing to a depression of the demand for stainless steel scrap from domestic market of Japan, the price of nickel-based stainless steel scrap (new clippings) in Japan is still unable to show a substantial reaction to a rally of LME nickel price and the current price of this scrap has remained as unchanged from that in June. - more

   Australia's Minara Resources says nickel production on standby - Australia's no. 2 nickel miner Minara Resources has placed production on standby a week after the acid plant at its ore processing facility was shut down, but said it held enough inventory to cover sales commitments. - more

  Steelpoort at war with miners - Steelpoort, a mining town on the borders of Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces, is supposed to be a melodious story of development but it seem to be tense. - more

  Maoist rebels attack two mines in the Philippines - Maoist guerrillas burned vehicles, equipment, and housing facilities and stole weapons of guards in two separate attacks on mines operated by private firms in the Philippines, the military said on Thursday.  - more

  Liquefaction of iron ore and nickel threatens ships - Un-homogeneous and clay bearing ores can put mariners’ lives at risk, with three nickel carrying ships alone sinking in 2010. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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, July 6

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 15 to 1,443. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Raises Rates to Counter Fastest Inflation Since 2008 // Vale Sees No Slowing of China Iron-Ore Demand, CFO Says // China to Offer New Shale-Gas Areas This Year to Tap Reserves Topping U.S. // China’s Seven-Year Bond Draws Least Demand in 10 Months on Cash Crunch // China Banks’ Outlook May Be Souring on Loans, Moody’s Says // Portugal Cut to Junk by Moody’s Roils Spain, Italy Bonds as Risk Remains // Germany Revives Greece Debt-Swap Proposal as Banks Recommend Buyback Plan // European Stocks Fall After Moody’s Downgrades Portugal, China Raises Rates // Ireland May Be Next to Face Junk After Portugal // Service Industries in U.S. Expanded Slower // Job Gains in Private Sector Are Illusory for U.S.: Alan Tonelson // U.S. Farmland Boom May Peak After 5-Year Surge // Stocks Advance Behind Consumer-Staples Shares
  • The Euro continues to trade lower by 7/10 of 1% against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude si now down nearly 2/10 of 1% and trading at $96.72/barrel. Gold is up over 8/10 of 1% and silver is 1.5% higher. Base metals ended the session mostly lower. Considering the haircut the Euro has taken over the past few days, the indicator charts show nickel is bucking the downward pressure and holding firm. For the day Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $10.61/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME warehouses fell for the eighth consecutive session yesterday and for the 19th out of the last 20 sessions. Total stockpiles are at their lowest recorded total since April 17th, 2009 and stand just under the 105,500 tonne mark. Since we last posted Friday, nickel has steadily rose, while stockpiles have steadily fallen. With the Euro offering resistance, nickel has yet to show signs the bull is growing tired yet.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Feeling People’s Pain — A Fed Imperative - more
  • Easing Headwinds Mean Smoother Sailing in Second Half - more
  • U.S. Personal Bankruptcies Below 2010 Pace - more
  • Number of the Week: Pursuit of Happiness Gets More Difficult - more
  • The next, worse financial crisis - more

   The approaching divergence for base metals - Assuming, like the investment bank community, you are still keeping the faith with the overall bull narrative, the coming period will be all about divergence between both commodities in general and the LME metals in particular. - more

  AK Steel: Damage won't impact shipments - West Chester-based AK Steel Corp. said customer shipments won't be affected by damage to an electric arc furnace at its Butler, Pa., mill late last week. - more

  EU hails WTO ruling on Chinese raw materials export restrictions - The European Union has welcomed a ruling by the World Trade Organization that China's restrictions on exports of certain raw materials are not justified on environmental grounds and should be removed. - 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 at the moment. The Euro is down 3/4 of 1% against the US Dollar as the on again, off again, debt worries are on yet again. NYMEX crude is off 7/10 of 1% and trading at $96.21/barrel. Gold is off nearly 3/10 of 1% and silver is lower by over 8/10%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China down nearly 3/10 of 1% after China raised interest rates  for the third time this year. European markets are lower on the China news and Portugal downgrade, and US futures imply US markets will open with similar concerns dogging traders. Nickel inventories fell yesterday and now sit at their lowest recorded level in over two years. Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed yesterday at $10.57/lb.
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Snaps Longest Rally This Year as Moody’s Downgrades Portugal Debt - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals mixed; rallies stall on eurozone woes ahead of key data - more

  Reports

  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Daily Market Report - pdf here
  • Commodities Report - pdf here
  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Daily Overview - pdf here
  • Metals Insight - pdf here
  • AK Steel August Stainless Steel Surcharge - pdf here
  • Allegheny Ludlum Stainless Steel Surcharge - pdf here
  • North American Stainless SS Surcharge - more
  • Robry Weekly Economic Assessment - more
  • SMM Nickel Price Forecast - more
  • Stainless and Heat Resisting Steel Crude Steel Production - more

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper rose to its highest level in more than two months yesterday boosted by supply concerns out of Chile and decent economic data from the US. On the supply side, heavy snow and wind affected output at Chile's Collahuasi, although no figures on the exact production impact were made available. In addition, there was a looming 24-hour strike by workers demanding a bigger say in the company’s restructuring, this coming on the heels of a seven-day strike at Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold Indonesian unit. On the macro side, US May factory orders bounced in May, boosted by demand for transportation equipment, and although the .8% increase was slightly below estimates, we suspect that investors were nonetheless relieved that they had an increase in hand. We had another strong day in energy as well, with both crude contracts tacking on about $2/brl in gains. A few banks upped their price projections, likely accounting for the bulk of the bounce. In this regard, Barclays raised its 2012 price forecast for both Brent and WTI following Goldman's lead earlier this week. However, Deutsche Bank cut its oil price forecasts for the second half of 2011, as did Citigroup, which said that prices could fall to $90 a barrel by September. Metal markets are lower today-- although surprisingly not by much-- on news that China raised interest rates again for the third time this year. The latest move brings China's benchmark one-year lending rate to 6.56% and lifts the one-year deposit rate to 3.5%. Chinese inflation numbers come out next week and we suspect that they are not going to be that good given that the government decided to move when it did. The country’s inflation was at a 34-month high of 5.5% in May, and there is talk that next week's number could exceed 6%. We highlighted in ongoing commentary that one of the dangers of rising commodity prices – particularly crude – is that it would eventually force central banks to raise rates in order to fight rising inflationary pressures. This is especially true in emerging market economies, which are the recipients of much of the liquidity we see sloshing around in the global economic system these days. The Chinese rate move is therefore not surprising, and more hikes could be in store if the government does not see signs that inflation is moderating. We also could see a rate move by the ECB tomorrow, and this should keep the Euro relatively firm, despite it being down right now, trading at just over $1.43. In other markets, oil is off by about $.40, while US stocks are called slightly lower.  .... Nickel is at $23,390, up $90, and did trade above intermediate resistance at $23,500, although we have yet to close above it. (Daily Metals Report here)
  • MF Global Daily Metals Report backup link from MF Global site here - (typically posted between 8 and 10 am EST)
  • (Yieh) According to report, some European stainless steel makers may cut their production after Acerinox announced last month for short-term output cut in its Spanish plant in the second half year. Currently, most stainless steelmakers have faced over capacity about of 1 to 1.5 million tons annually.
  • (Interfax) The World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled that restrictions placed upon a number of raw materials exports from China are inconsistent with WTO regulations, the organization announced July 5.
  • Neutral ENSO conditions likely to persist - more
  • (MW) People's Bank of China hikes key rates by 0.25%, a move that had been expected to come this weekend

  European Nickel completes first shipment from Santa Cruz - AIM-listed European Nickel announced today that it had completed the first shipment of nickel laterite ore from DMCI Holding's Santa Cruz port on 30 June. - more

  Japan's Exports Of Ferro-Nickel In May 2011 Had No Shipment From Hachinohe Port = Exports Decreased Considerably, Total Quantity Exported In Jan. - May Had A Decline To Half Of 2010 - According to the statistics released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan exported 937 tons in material (corresponding to 181.9 tons on nickel content base) of ferro-nickel in May of 2011, which had a decline following the same case in April. - more

  • Market Tendency On Imports Of Ferro-Alloys At 30th June 2011 = All Prices Of Raw Materials For Production Of Stainless Steel Have Fallen - The market tendency by item on imports of ferro-alloys into Japan at the 30th June of 2011 is as follows - more

  Philippines' Nickel Asia: H1 sales up 24 pct on China demand - The Philippines' biggest nickel miner, Nickel Asia Corp , said on Wednesday its nickel ore sales in the first half of 2011 rose 24 percent from a year earlier to 4.2 million wet metric tonnes, buoyed by demand from main buyer China. - more

  • Philippines says can ship more nickel to China - The Philippines has a strong potential to increase its nickel exports to China as an initial study showed high-iron, low-nickel laterite ores produced locally can be converted into marketable iron products, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau said on Monday. - more

  Zambia's Munali nickel mine resumes underground ops - Zambia's Munali nickel mine has resumed underground operations that were suspended in June due to ventilation problems, a company official said on Wednesday. - more

  Metalloinvest buys 4 pct stake in Norilsk Nickel - Russian iron ore and steel producer Metalloinvest, part-owned by billionaire Alisher Usmanov, has acquired a 4 percent stake in miner Norilsk Nickel , a bond prospectus obtained by Reuters showed. - more

  • Russian tycoon Prokhorov hints he wants Putin's job - Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov, who leads a small party praised by President Dmitry Medvedev, ridiculed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's new political movement on Tuesday and said he would one day like the premier's job. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending July 2, 2011, domestic raw steel production was 1,853,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 75.8 percent. Production was 1,784,000 tons in the week ending July 2, 2010, while the capability utilization then was 73.8 percent. The current week production represents a 2.0 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending July 2, 2011 is down 0.7 percent from the previous week ending June 25, 2011 when production was 1,871,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 76.5 percent.

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here
  • 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, July 1

  Morning Briefing (8:00 AM CST is 1PM in London)
  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.08/lb lower, with most London traded base metals lower as well. The Euro is currently trading nearly 1/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down 1.1% and trading at $94.35/barrel. Gold is down 2/3 of 1% and silver is off 2.2%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up 2/10 of 1%. European markets are slightly higher this morning and US futures imply a positive opening, albeit quiet. Nickel inventories fell yesterday and now show sitting just over the 106,800 tonne level. Markets in the US will be closed for Independence Day celebrations on Monday, and we are traveling the rest of today, so our next update will be Tuesday morning.  Have a safe and relaxing weekend!!
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Declines for the First Day in Four as Chinese Manufacturing Shrinks - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals move higher but rallies slow following half-year-end activity, Greek euphoria - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper continued to push higher yesterday, as did many of the other metals, as a weaker dollar, Greece's passage of its austerity plan in its entirety, and surprisingly decent macro numbers out of the US, all helped the firmer tone. Technicals also helped, with a breakout evident on the copper charts, coupled with the fact that the 100-day moving average was taken out as well. Although copper ended the month of June sharply higher, it has closed out the quarter roughly unchanged and is still down slightly on the year. Commodities as an asset class fared even worse over the quarter, posting their largest quarterly decline since the 2008 financial crisis. Metals are lower right now, as are energy markets, with both knocked back on reports out of China that the latest Markit purchasing managers index for June came in at 50.9, less than the 51.3 estimate, and quite close to the key 50 demarcation point, below which is contraction territory. The Markit PMI for Europe also fell to 52 last month from 54.6 in May, its lowest reading since December 2009. More worrying, the new orders index fell for the first time in nearly 2 years, and is now below the 50 mark, while the new export index also dipped. One bright spot in the readings is the fact that import prices continue to decline, meaning that inflationary pressures, at least from this narrow vantage point, seems to be moderating. In other markets, oil prices are down off by about a $1 a barrel, as is gold, which is now at a six-week low despite the dollar remaining under pressure, currently trading at just under $1.45 against the euro. US stocks are expected to open flat after several strong openings. ....  We remain rather baffled by the steep price increases exhibited by commodities in recent days. We can only assume that the weaker dollar in the wake of the "resolution" of the Greek crisis has boosted the complex, as have some of the better macro numbers out of the US and Japan. Both of these “props” should be viewed with caution; the Greek problem is far from over, and neither are the cash crunches that other peripheral countries will likely experience in the months ahead. Moreover, despite the better macro numbers out of the US and Japan in recent days, it is too early to conclude that we are snapping back into a rebound after a very sluggish first half. Most worrying, is the fact that the renewed spike in energy prices will likely force central bankers to banish any preliminary thoughts they may have had of freezing their rate-hiking campaigns, particularly in countries outside of the US. Here in the US, we have to contend with the acrimonious budget negotiations, which in our view will ultimately be resolved, but which will likely unnerve markets in the process. Speaking of Washington, stories were out yesterday that US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner may be stepping down later this year, but will not make any decision until after the debt talks are over; call it a case of well-deserved burnout. ...... Nickel is at $23,153, down $275, and basically where we were at this time yesterday. The $23,500 resistance level was temporarily breached on Thursday, but we have not managed to close above it, a technically more significant development if we had. (Complete Daily Metals Report here)
  • MF Global Daily Metals Report backup link from MF Global site here - (typically posted between 8 and 10 am EST)
  • (JMB) Japanese crude steel demand will increase by 1.5% to 26.92 million tense in July-September from estimated production in April-June, which increases for the first time in 2 quarters, announced by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on Thursday.
  • Commodity-Futures Trade in China Plunges 30% as Rules Restrain Speculation - more
  • China manufacturing PMI hits 50.9% in June - more

  Price Of Moly Oxide In Last Week Fell To A Lower Level Than US$16 After Interval Of 7 Months = Moly Oxide Was In Hurry To Sell In Europe, Chinese Moly Imports Decreased To Less Than Half Of Normal - Since dealers were in a hurry to dispose of molybdenum oxide in Europe in last week, market price of molybdenum oxide had fallen to a lower level than US$16 per lb. of Mo for shipments in July - September quarter. - more

  Benguet sees another profitable operation in ’11 - Benguet Corp. expects another profitable year in 2011 after posting a net income in 2010. - more

  ThyssenKrupp's Abu Dhabi ship deals unravel - ThyssenKrupp , Germany's biggest steelmaker, has scrapped a deal for Abu Dhabi MAR to buy its Blohm + Voss civilian shipbuilding assets, citing political changes in the Middle East. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

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

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