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Daily Nickel Market News & Stainless Steel Prices

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Wednesday, March 31

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 16 to 2,998. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg)  Yen Declines Toward Eight-Week Low Versus Euro Amid Global Recovery Signs // Japanese Business Sentiment Approaches Pre-Crisis Levels, Tankan May Show // Roubini Says India Needs `Massive Capital' to Catch China Economic Growth // Asian Stocks Drop as March Rally Sparks Valuation Concerns; BHP Declines // Ireland's Banks Will Need $43 Billion in Capital After `Appalling' Lending // Greek Budget Crisis Adds $17.5 Billion to Interest on Debt Sold This Year // Volkswagen Said to Speed Up Phaeton Revamp to Target Chinese Millionaires // Italy's High Debt, Low Economic Growth Posing a Challenge, Moody's Warns // ArcelorMittal Customers Face Higher Steel Prices as Iron Ore Costs Climb // European Stocks Decline; National Bank of Greece, Firstgroup Shares Drop // Corporate Bonds Extend Longest Winning Streak Since 2004: Credit Markets // Google Says Internet Attacks Detected on Critics of Vietnam Bauxite Mining // Build America Bonds Outperform Tax-Exempt Debt as Sales Exceed $90 Billion // Buyout-Backed Companies Have Lower Rate of Default Than Peers, Study Says // U.S. Business Activity Expands at Slower Pace Than Estimated, Report Shows // Bank of America Hires Staff, Leans on Merrill Lynch to Expand Outside U.S.  // Stocks in U.S. Fluctuate as Energy Producers Advance, Employers Cut Jobs
  • For those hoping the price of nickel might drop today, let us start by saying the Euro is trading over 8/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar, so forget about it. NYMEX crude is up 1-1/4% and near $83.50/barrel. Gold is up 1% and silver is over 1-1/2% higher. Copper and zinc were unable to increase today, but the other base metals did. Indicator charts show nickel  took off at the opening, calmed a tad, then after the ADP employment report showed more jobs were lot than expected in the US, the Euro began to rise again, and nickel followed suit. For the day and month, three month nickel ended at $11.34/lb , just $5 tonne shy of the $25,000 tonne level, which it breached earlier. We put the average price of cash nickel at $10.18/lb for March, up from $8.60/lb in February and way up from $4.40/lb last March. The last time nickel traded at $25,000 was on May 21, 2008, with the market at that time, still slowly declining from the May 2007 all time record high. There was 49,128 tonnes worth of nickel in LME approved warehouses last May. Last night, those same inventories of nickel rose for only the fourth time this month, and ended the month just over the 156,400 tonne level. One month ago, levels were at 162,666 tonnes, for a net loss of 6,576 tonnes during March. This followed a loss of 3,810 tonnes from the all time record high of 166,476 tonnes seen on February 8th. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel's most recent bull run thru yesterday (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index gained 16 points to end the month at 2,998. US reports took investors off guard today, with a double dose of negative news. The ADP employment report showed the U.S. private sector lost 23,000 jobs in March, instead of the growth analysts expected. And the Chicago purchasing managers index fell to 58.8% from 62.6% in February, a bigger hit than economists had expected.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Independent market analyst Peter Strachan - "Over the last three or four weeks, it's apparent that inventories of metal on the London Metals Exchange actually topped out. Whether that is actually an ongoing trend or a temporary plateau and pull back we won't know for some time."
  • Reuters - Japanese export orders jumped to the highest in almost six years in March in a sign the manufacturing segment will likely keep recovering on demand in emerging markets such as China, a survey showed on Wednesday.
  • Reuters - The Nomura/JMMA Japan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) fell to a seasonally adjusted 52.4 in March from 52.5 in February, but remained above the 50 threshold that separates contraction from expansion for the ninth consecutive month.
  • Reuters - Markit's Eurozone Flash Manufacturing index jumped to 56.3 in March from 54.2 last month, beating forecasts for 54.0, while the output index climbed from 57.0 in February to 59.7 this month, a level it has only beaten once since July 2000.
  • European Nickel grants time extension to Chinese partners - more
  • Much of U.S. Was Insulated From Housing Bust - more
  • Economic Hit From Crisis: A Very Big Number - more
  • Sex infection gonorrhea risks becoming "superbug" - more
  • Department of "Huh?": Default Discounts in U.S. Treasury Interest Rates???? - more
  • House Flippers in U.S. Crowd Courthouse Steps in Hunt for Deals - more
  • Declining Progressivity in US Taxes - more

  Noront, Cliffs May Gain From Ontario Government Aid - Noront Resources Ltd. and Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., aiming to become North America’s only chromite suppliers, may benefit from government support for projects in Canada’s Ontario province. - more

  Rio Tinto hires Henry Kissinger as China advisor - Rio Tinto Plc has taken on former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger as an advisor to help negotiate with China following a guilty verdict for former Rio Tinto employee Stern Hu, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Wednesday. - more

  Shire shrugs off population slump - The Ravensthorpe Shire says its future is looking up, despite new figures showing it has suffered the second largest drop in population in Australia. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.25/lb higher, with all base metals except copper higher at the moment. The Euro is trading 1/2 of 1% higher against the US Dollar, adding a boost to commodity trading. NYMEX crude futures are up over 9/10 of 1% and over $83/barrel. Gold has opened over 7/10 of 1% higher, with silver up nearly 1-1/4%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China off 2/3 of 1%. European markets are higher this morning, thanks in part to higher commodities, while US futures are slightly lower at the moment. Nickel inventories rose overnight, for only the fourth time this month.    

  Reports

  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Daily Market Report - pdf here
  • Morning Montra - pdf here
  • Metals & Energy - pdf here
  • Market Drivers - pdf here
  • Metals Insight - pdf here
  • Steel Founders' Society of America Casteel Reporter - pdf here
  • World Bank Commodity Markets Review - pdf here
  • Does the chromium in stainless steel contain 'chrome 6' (Cr6+ ) and is this a potential health hazard - more
  • Restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS) and 'waste electrical and electronic equipment' directives on the lead, mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium content of stainless steels - more

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metal prices have been on a tear this week, led not so much by a weaker dollar, but by somewhat better macro numbers coming out of the US. Earlier in the week, we had consumer confidence readings rebounding in March, while housing prices rose for their eighth straight month. Yesterday, there was an in-line gain reported for personal spending during February, (coming in at +.3%), although incomes stagnated, ending unchanged of the month. However, we think the pivotal statistic of the week will come out Friday, and that is the March nonfarm payrolls number (expected at 190,000). It will be interesting to see how metals fare if an in-line or higher number comes in; our view is that prices will likely spike on a decent number, but then perhaps start to weaken later in the day and into next week as the impact of a stronger dollar -and the growing likelihood of higher rates --sets in. For our liking, we think metals have done too much too quickly this week, and are in need of a pullback. About the only thing going for them right now are favorable charts patterns, which have likely attracted even more fund buying. However, given that the dollar could strengthen yet again against the Euro in the wake of the nonfarm numbers, (it is already at a three-month high against the Yen), coupled with the fact that Chinese demand could come off the boil in the months ahead, (particularly on the copper side), we think prices are quite over-extended here, and would not be chasing the current rally.  (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (MB) China's Jinchuan Group has raised its benchmark nickel price twice this week to 171,000 yuan ($25,014) per tonne after the LME price jumped above $24,000. The latest price from Jinchuan, China's biggest nickel producer, is higher by 9,000 yuan or 5.6% from last week.
  • Denis Nushtaev, metal analyst at FC Metropol - “Expected higher nickel consumption in 2010 from Asia, Middle East, India and USA for production of stainless steel mostly made the prices go up. For example South Korean steal producer POSCO declared that it was going to increase its production by 20% this year. This was coupled with increasing fears that steel producers worldwide won’t be able to meet growing demand this year. ..... I think the nickel price won’t go too far from today’s $24 thousand per ton, as this is a cyclical metal. I mean, its price largely depends not only on demand – supply ratio but also on the prices of its substitutes. Nickel could be partially replaced by alternative materials like nickel cast iron or those containing chrome or manganese. Moreover, if nickel price exceeds $30 thousand that would only mean a substantial speculative component is there and the prices are most likely to go back to the reasonable point of $16-17 thousand.”
  • (Dow Jones) JP Morgan analyst Michael Jansen said the rally likely has another $2,000 to $3,000 to go, though he said its medium- and long-term fundamentals are bearish because of new mines and Chinese nickel pig iron output.
  • (Yieh) Korea’s Posco has increased its stainless steel prices by up to 300,000 won/ton (US$264) for April.Korea’s Posco has increased its stainless steel prices by up to 300,000 won/ton (US$264) for April.
  • (Yieh) Yesterday, Taiwan’s Yieh United Steel Corp. (Yusco) announced to lift the stainless steel domestic and exported price by NT$2,000-5,000/ton and US$100-300/ton respectively. It decided to increase the 300 series and 400 series stainless steel exported prices by US$200-300/ton and US$100-120/ton respectively.
  • (Interfax) China is expected to import 672 million tons of iron ore, up 7 percent year-on-year, an Australian analyst predicted at a conference in Beijing on March 30.
  • (LTD) Russian mills have announced price increases on stainless rolled steel grade 12X18H10T in April, the company said Continental. How to explain the factories, the price of stainless steel increased due to rising prices for nickel. In this connection, the company plans to increase prices for long products and flat-rolled products in April.
  • (Reuters) Europe's stainless steel industry is no longer uniformly opposed to an exchange traded contract, industry expert Heinz H. Pariser said on Friday. Pariser, who has nearly 50 years experience in the metals industry, said two of Europe's five main stainless producers are now open to the idea of a contract. "Two big producers are more positive about that (but) it will take another three years before it will be discussed widely enough and accepted in the industry," said Pariser, who heads Heinz H. Pariser Alloy Metals & Steel Market Research.
  • (SO) Reports from the Steel Market and Trade Conference, held by the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) on March 25-26 in Guangzhou, have indicated that steel inventory in the Chinese market has remained at high levels.
  • (JMB) Japan Carbon Steel Import Drops by 21.5% in February
  • (SO) According to a report released by the German Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), in February this year nickel imported by Germany for steel production was 60 percent more expensive compared to February 2009 and was up by 7.6 percent compared to the previous month.
  • Steel Industry to Maintain Stable Growth - pdf here
  • Where Will Nickel Go Next? - more
  • A regular commentary on the El Niño-Southern Oscillation - more

  World stainless 304 price up 54 percent, year on year, in March - Stainless steel transaction values are rising steeply in most markets around the world. Producers and stockists will hope this is an opportunity to secure the profitable type of business that has been so hard to find since the onset of the global financial crisis. - more

  Few charts from BMO Global Metals & Mining Conference (credit to ENRC) - Per Capita Consumption of Stainless Steel

  So what does the price of nickel rising do to the cost of a single stainless steel hex bolt? Using a sample batch of bolts - 250 pieces 1/2-13 X 1-1/2 HHCS 304 Stainless Steel - total weight of lot =26.5 lbs. Average price of nickel in March 2009 = $4.40/lb X .08 (8% nickel content of each bolt - nickel is the 8 in 18-8) X 26.5 lbs (batch weight) = $9.32 worth of nickel in these 250 bolts. Using yesterday's $11.05/lb X .08 X 26.5 = $23.43 worth of nickel in these 250 bolts. $23.43 - $11.05 = $12.38 difference in this year and last divided by 250 bolts = raw material nickel impact of $.0495/each bolt. This does not include changes in ferrochrome (the 18% in 18-8 and at $1.30/lb, up from $.80/lb last March) or iron ore ($410 GT last month compared to $205/GT last March), nor any increase in production costs. On a wholesale level, the increase in nickel alone would cause an increase in the potential selling price of a 1/2-13 X 1-1/2 Hex Head Cap Screw 304 Stainless from $.25/each to $.30/each (or a 20% increase).

  Initiating Xstrata Coverage: Nickel Commentary - The outlook for nickel--where Xstrata XTA ranks as the world's fifth largest producer--is decidedly less favorable than that of fellow base metal copper. - more

  Steelmakers rattled by price shift - The shifting of a 40-year-old system of setting annual iron ore prices to a short-term pricing mechanism may shake up the Chinese steel industry by creating an even playing field for all steel mills - large and small - in terms of raw material costs. - more

  Steel lobby asks EU to act on iron ore prices - European steel industry body Eurofer urged European Union regulators on Wednesday to prevent unfair competition and excessive pricing of iron ore, saying it could hamper economic recovery in Europe. - more

  Nickel dispute boiling after EU labels metal compounds carcinogenic - Although Canada and the European Union are in the midst of negotiating a comprehensive free trade agreement, a potential dispute is boiling under the surface involving one of Canada's most important natural resource exports: nickel. - more

  Ore-Steel Trading Indicted at Rio Tinto Trial - Stern Hu looked utterly exhausted on the defendant's stand as a Shanghai judge asked whether he would respond to a state prosecutor's allegations of bribery. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  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

Tuesday, March 30

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 39 to 2,982. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Vale Wins 90% Rise in Iron-Ore Prices as Suppliers Scrap Annual Contracts // Stronger Yuan Can't Close China's Trade Gap by Itself, Minister Chen Says  // National Australia Bank, Axa SA Agree to $12.3 Billion Axa Asia Takeover // Asian Stocks, Won Gain on Improving Business Confidence; Bond Risk Drops // UBS Said to Generate $2.3 Billion of Fixed-Income Revenue in Rebuilt Unit // U.K. Economy Expands at Faster-Than-Estimated 0.4% Pace in Fourth Quarter // Greek Seven-Year Bond Spreads May Signal Prospects for Avoiding EU Bailout // RBS Fined $43 Million for Competition Law Breach With Barclays on Prices // Ireland's `Bad Bank' Will Pay 47% Discount on Debt Purchased From Lenders // Iceland's Local-Currency Credit Rating Lowered by S&P on Exchange Controls // Most European Stocks Decline on Iceland Downgrade; Michelin Shares Retreat // Subprime-Mortgage Debt Rallies as Treasury Boosts Loan Aid: Credit Markets // Fed's Evans Sees Jobless Staying Above 9% This Year, Affirms Rate Policy // Consumer Confidence in U.S. Improves, Home Prices Climb Amid Job Optimism // Cheaper Mortgages May Linger as Bond Investors Take Over When Fed Departs //
  • The US Dollar rebounded after a US report showed US consumers were growing more confident in March, and is up nearly 1/2 of 1% over the Euro. NYMEX crude is trading even and just over $82/barrel. Gold is trading lower by more than 4/10 of 1%, while silver is off nearly 3/10 of 1%. Base metals ended the session mostly higher, but mostly off session highs. That is, except nickel. Indicator charts show nickel took off early, then lost some gains as the Euro shifted lower, but then toward the end of the session, traders decided to look past the Euro/Dollar ratio and nickel stormed higher again. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel broke thru $11/lb and closed at $11.05/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell overnight and now sit just over the 156,000 tonne level. Sucden's day old chart shows trading thru yesterday, and the bull run nickel is making (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index slipped under 3,000 to 2,982 after a drop of 39 points. If you were wishing stainless steel prices would stop going up anytime soon, we would suggest you not hold your breath. Every bit of good news is greated with bullish enthusiasm, while bad news is dismissed as detrimental to a positive attitude necessary to keep growth moving forward. This invites more fund money investment, forcing the shorts to cover, taking the pricing higher, making the investment more inviting to more fund money, etc, etc. Unless some news comes out that is "exceptionally" bad, we could see prices to stay above $10/lb for some time.   

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Critic Group Urges Fed to Act to Control Inflation - more
  • High Income Disparity Leads to Low Savings Rates - more
  • Spurt of Home Buying as End of Tax Credit Looms - more
  • Lazy Portfolios or a 2012 Collapse: It's OK to believe in both - more
  • Judge Invalidates Human Gene Patent - more
  • 10 Questions for Finance Reformers - more
  • Disinflation Continues... - more

  U.S. fund Touradji bets on LME nickel - traders - New-York based hedge fund Touradji Capital Management is betting on improved demand for nickel, helping the material used in stainless steel outperform other base metals this year, traders and market sources said. - more

  Rio Tinto trial charged with politics - Few would disagree that corruption is a big problem in global supply chains. Yet sometimes the response can be just as troublesome to the business community. Take the recent verdict against Rio Tinto employees – not only does it set a benchmark, it raises more questions than it answers. - more

  • China's manor, China's rules - Here's a possible plot for episode 7 of an epic in the style of Star Wars. The ageing democratic western Federation, weakened by decadent excessive consumption on borrowed money, sells crown-jewel assets to a reviving eastern super-power - which imperiously demonstrates where the power in the galaxy lies by arresting and imprisoning a quartet of Federation representatives on charges of corruption. - more

  Rio Tinto fires Stern Hu after guilty verdict - Rio Tinto Ltd says it will terminate the employment of four of its staff convicted in China, including Stern Hu, who had behaved in a "deplorable" manner. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:30 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around  $.09/lb higher and climbing, with all London traded base metals trading higher this morning. The Euro is trading slightly higher against the US Dollar at the moment, off earlier highs. NYMEX crude futures are up 3/10 of 1% and nearing $82.50/barrel. Gold opened over 1/10 of 1% higher with silver up slightly under 2/10 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher with China up 1/4 of 1%. European markets are trading slightly higher this morning, with US futures showing a slight gain at the moment. Nickel inventories returned to their slipping way overnight. Iron ore producers have won a 90% increase in the price of iron ore with Asian customers, and with the increase in the price of nickel, ferrochrome and molybdenum, pretty much guarantee higher stainless steel prices are here to stay for awhile.    
  • Reuters morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Ed is traveling - no report today (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) As LME nickel price soared to US$24,000/ton, Taiwan’s Yieh United Steel Corp. (Yusco) is very likely to raise its stainless price for April later today. The price hike is estimated to be around NT$5,000~6,000/ton.
  • (Reuters) Germany's Steel Federation on Tuesday warned iron ore suppliers not to change the duration of their contracts, saying such a move would lead to higher costs and big price swings.
  • (Interfax) Australian iron ore giant BHP Billiton has agreed with the majority of its Asian customers, including Chinese steel mills, to move from the existing iron ore contracts that are negotiated annually to a shorter term landed price equivalent basis, BHP announced on March 30.
  • 2010 Ontario budget speech -  And there are many more new opportunities to be found in the north — particularly in the region known as the Ring of Fire. For the 21st century, the discovery of chromite in the Ring of Fire could be as big as the discovery of nickel was in Sudbury in the 19th century. We are fully committed to working with Aboriginal Peoples and northern Ontarians to build on the Ring of Fire’s potential.
  • Charts from Ahead of the Curve - more

  BMO reckons nickel and copper prices will rally and firm up this year - BMO Capital Markets Global Commodity Strategist Bart Melek expects nickel and copper prices to firm over the next several months as real physical supply/demand fundamentals improve. - more

  Negotiations To Rise Price Of FeCr For Shipments In Q2 / 10 Are Unexpectedly Taking Time = Bases Are Spot Price Prevailing In China And Anxiety For View On Long Run - The negotiations with stainless steel companies in Europe on a rise of price for South African charge chrome to be shipped in April - June quarter of 2010 are still taking time. - more

  Outokumpu plans doubling Tornio ferrochrome production - Finnish steelmaker Outokumpu said in a statement it was planning doubling the ferrochrome production capacity of its Tornio works in northern Finland, adding it would take a decision based on a feasibility study by the end of the year. - more

  Solomons nickel tender bypasses Isabel landowners - Landowners in Solomon Islands say the government did not consult them about its plan to put out to international tender a nickel mine in Isabel Province. - more

  • Solomons’ official promises land owners won’t lose out in Isabel mining plan - The Permanent Secretary for Mines in Solomon Islands says landowners should come to his ministry if they feel they haven’t been consulted about the government’s decision to seek an international investor for nickel mining in Isabel Province. - more

  Norilsk Nickel to build a 1.1-b-ruble terminal in Murmansk - Norilsk Nickel is planning to build a terminal in Murmansk, worth 1.1 billion rubles, the Company statement said. The project might lead to the transport independence of the company. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending March 27, 2010, domestic raw steel production was 1,734,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 71.7 percent. Production was 983,000 tons in the week ending March 27, 2009, while the capability utilization then was 41.1 percent. The current week production represents a 76.4 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending March 27, 2010 is up 0.8 percent from the previous week ending March 20, 2010 when production was 1,720,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 71.1 percent.

  Allegheny Technologies Announces First Quarter 2010 Tax Charge as a Result of U.S. Healthcare Legislation - Allegheny Technologies Incorporated (NYSE: ATI - News) reported today that it expects to record a one-time, non-cash tax charge of approximately $5 million, or $0.05 per share, in the first quarter 2010 as a result of the recently-enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed by the President on March 23, 2010, and the subsequent modifications made in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 passed by Congress on March 25, 2010. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  • Special Coverage Spy Case  / China Daily Coverage Iron Ore Talks 2010
  • SINA
  • Chain of Events
  • Vale, BHP End Annual Ore Talks; Vale Wins 90% Jump  - Vale SA, the world’s largest iron ore producer, and BHP Billiton Ltd. ended a 40-year system of setting annual prices by signing short-term contracts with Asian mills, with the Brazilian company winning a 90 percent increase. - more
  • Asian Steelmakers Are So Desperate To Meet Booming Demand That They Just Gave Up Their 40-Year Ore Regime And Accepted 90% Price Hikes - Iron ore giants Vale and BHP just dealt a death blow to the 40-year old system of negotiating prices annually with Asian customers. - 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

Monday, March 29

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 77 to 3,021. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Rio Tinto's Stern Hu Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison, Shanghai Court Says // Geely Signs Definitive Deal to Buy Volvo Cars From Ford, Spokesman Says // Euro Strengthens as Greece Concerns Recede; Copper, Mining Stocks Advance // RBA's Stevens Says House Prices `Quite High,' Signals More Rate Increases // European Economic Confidence Climbs More Than Economists Forecast in March // Greece Offers Five Times Spain Yield Spread in Bond Sale After Aid Pledge // Yen Drops Against the Euro as Global Recovery Signs Curb Demand for Safety // U.K.'s AAA Rating Affirmed by Standard & Poor's; Outlook Remains Negative // German Inflation Accelerates in Four States in March as Energy Prices Rise // Treasuries Find Greenspan's Canary Growing Faint in Government Bond Mine // Paulson's $32 Billion-and-Growing Funds Prompt Too-Big-to-Succeed Concerns // AIG Increases Concentration of Storm Risk With Sale of Life Insurer Units // European Stocks Close Little Changed as U.K. Debt Outlook Negative at S&P // Consumer Spending Increases for Fifth Straight Month as Recovery Quickens // U.S. Stocks Rise as Consumer Spending Boosts Optimism on Economic Recovery
  • The Euro continues to trade higher against the US Dollar, up by a shade over 1/4 of 1% at the moment. NYMEX crude futures are up 2.8%. Gold is showing signs of being in potential trouble, up less than 1/4 of 1%. Silver is up  over 2-1/2%. Base metals all ended the day solidly in the green. Indicator charts show nickel shot straight up early, and then began a slow gradual fade. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $10.88/lb , its highest close this year, and the highest since mid June 2008. Back then, the Euro was trading about 14% higher than it is today, and nickel inventories were around 47,000 tonnes and on a gradual slide, that had begun in April and would end in July of that year. Today, for only the third time this month, more inventory went into LME approved warehouses, than was shipped out, and the level now sits over 156,300 tonne's.  Sucden's day old chart shows trading thru Friday and the beginning of the most recent bull charge (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index is in jeopardy of falling below 3000, dropping another 77 points over the weekend to 3,021. Standard Bank , in their daily report, stated "The recent technical breakout in Nickel is based on solid foundations, namely improving demand and falling inventory. However, although technical signals point to higher prices short-term, given the overall market picture we think that nickel has done enough for the moment and expect to see prices stagnate and the farther-dated spreads to ease." In economic news today for the US, personal income was flat, and spending rose. How is that possible do you ask? Personal savings also fell - so Americans have apparently stopped saving and started spending once again. 60 Minutes carried a segment on Mikhail Prokhorov this Sunday, the former owner of Norilsk Nickel. - Video here

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Corus, the European arm of India-based Tata Steel Ltd., said Monday that its Speciality Steels business unit will raise prices by a minimum of 10% from May 2.   The price increases will apply to all commercial carbon, alloy and stainless grades. The business will also apply increases to a range of aerospace products, the company said.
  • (AFP) The competition regulator is trying to gauge whether a merger of the Pilbara iron ore operations of BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto would prompt the miners to try to restrict ore supplies to BlueScope Steel. The two miners anticipate that the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission will endorse the $US116 billion ($A127 billion) venture if their marketing and sales divisions are kept separate and confidential information is not shared.
  • For Cubans, transition ahead: Still recovering from post-Cold War changes, the country seeks a new economic reality - more
  • Former Secretary of State, James Baker III, Tells Iran to Fold Its Nuclear Program, Or Else - more
  • High Income Disparity Leads to Low Savings Rates - more
  • Greece Rescue = Smoke and Mirrors - more
  • FDIC Bank Failures - more
  • Punks and Plutocrats - more

  Stratton Metals denies it was behind nickel rally - Stratton Metals Ltd on Friday denied it was behind an unexpected rally in the price of nickel this year, after a newspaper report said the privately held global commodity trading company based in London was seen as a main catalyst for the rally. - more

  Outokumpu to re-evaluate ferrochrome production expansion - Outokumpu has decided to update the feasibility study on the investment to double the ferrochrome production capacity in Tornio, Finland to 530 000 tons. - more

  Sponsored by Team Stainless and produced by SCI, four new case studies present different applications of structural stainless steel - more

  Remember The Super-Cycle? - Said the Macquarie resources analysts yesterday morning, "We have incorporated material changes to our commodity price deck. As a general rule, we see high prices being sustained for an extended period". - more

  Sahit Muja: Metal prices may increase 100% this year - Economic growth is starting to pick up and as a result metal and mining businesses are expecting particularly strong growth in China, Qatar, U.S., Japan, Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Germany and some E.U. countries. Albanian Minerals in New York and her sister company Bytyci ShPK in Tropoje, Albania forecast that global growth will move from a decline of 1% in 2009 to a astonishing gain in the future. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:30 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.20/lb higher, with all base metals trading higher this morning.  The Euro is trading nearly 1/2 of 1% higher against the US Dollar at the moment. This is giving a boost to commodity trading. NYMEX crude futures are up 8/10 of 1% and over $80.50/barrel. Gold opened 1/2 of 1% higher while silver is higher by nearly 2%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher with China up over 2-1/2%. European markets are higher this morning, while US futures indicate a higher opening for Wall Street. And for only the third time this month, nickel inventories rose over the weekend.   
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more
  • Reuters morning report - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper prices had a good session on Friday, hitting two-week highs as the dollar weakened from $1.3270 to about $1.34. Formal plans to help the Greeks with their funding issues helped strengthen the Euro, as did a revision to fourth-quarter US GDP from 5.9% to 5.6%. Although the revision was relatively minor, it reminded participants that growth will likely run at a slower pace in the current quarter. (Early estimates for first-quarter GDP are in the 2.5-3.0% band; the actual release will be out on April 30th).  Right now, commodities are higher across the board in relatively quiet trading. The euro is pushing higher yet again, now trading at just under $1.35, and responsible for the decent rebound we are seeing. Although oil prices are up a relatively modest $.70 a barrel, metals are putting in a more solid performance, with broad-based advances across the board. .... We are $23,961 on nickel, up $361, and it seems we are pushing higher for a test of key resistance at $25,000.   (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Interfax) Chinese steel mills may be stuck between a rock and a hard place as Japanese media reported on March 28 that major Japanese steel mills are expected to agree with Brazilian iron ore giant Vale on a 2010 annual iron ore benchmark price of around $110 per ton, double 2009's price level, at the end of March.
  • (MP) Acerinox set to boost stainless steel production
  • (TWA) Panoramic Resources has signed a sales agreement for a 10 year extension to its off-take arrangement with Sino Nickel, which covers 100 per cent of the concentrate from the Savannah nickel project in the Kimberley. Sino Nickel is a joint venture 60 per cent owned by Jinchuan Group and 40 per cent owned by Sino Mining International.
  • (TASS) Russian metals giant Norilsk Nickel and the Krasnoyarsk Region government have agreed to set up a major airline in the Krasnoyarsk Region under a memorandum signed Monday by Norilsk Nickel CEO Vladimir Strzhalkovsky and Krasnoyarsk Region Governor Lev Kuznetsov, the economic news agency PRIME-TASS reported.

  Observation On Short Supply Of Nickel Is Arising At A Breath = Nickel Shortage In 2010 Is Estimated To Be 10,000 - 56,000 Tons - An atmosphere felt at The Euro Nickel Conference held in last week was that many of the parties concerned, including analysts, have observed the situation of nickel in 2010 as a short supply. Particularly, many of the persons concerned in stainless steel scrap have commented on a shortage of this scrap in 2010, which should become an initial explosive. - more

  Traders upbeat on China's nickel demand - As the world's largest producer and consumer, China wields tremendous influence over the global steel market. Developments in the Asian major are keenly watched, for, they have an implication for prices worldwide, not only for the stainless steel market but also for nickel. - more

  Ni-Based Stainless CR Sheet Prices To Hit $3,200 C&F In East Asia - Indications are that transaction prices of nickel-based stainless CR sheets for export will move up to a level of US$3,200/ton C&F before long in East Asia where stainless steel manufacturers in China, Taiwan, and South Korea as well as Japan enjoy enhanced inquiries for what they sell. - more

  Zambia nickel mine resumes output - Zambia's Chinese-owned Munali nickel mine resumed output on Friday and plans to raise annual output of nickel ore to 1.2 million tonnes by 2012 from the current 900,000 tonnes per year. - more

  BHP Says Australia’s Kwinana Nickel Refinery Reopened  - BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, said its Kwinana nickel refinery in Western Australia restarted operations March 26 after an 11-day unscheduled shutdown because of a hydrogen gas shortage. - more

  Sinosteel Plans to Expand Zimbabwe Ferrochrome Output by 30% - Sinosteel Corp., China’s biggest iron-ore trader, plans to expand capacity at its ferrochrome plant in Zimbabwe by as much as 30 percent, an executive at the company’s African unit said. - more

  Owners say New Caledonia’s Koniambo nickel plant will be in operation by 2012 - The head of the Anglo-Swiss mining conglomerate Xstrata says New Caledonia’s Koniambo nickel plant will be in operation by 2012. - more

   Global steel prices continue to trend upwards - The latest business in the US has been settled at marginally higher transaction values than in February. Producers are pressing for further increases next month, citing their growing input expenditure. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  • Special Coverage Spy Case  / China Daily Coverage Iron Ore Talks 2010
  • SINA
  • Chain of Events
  • China jails Australian Rio officer for 10 years - A Chinese court sentenced four Rio Tinto employees to 7 to 14 years in jail on Monday for taking bribes and stealing commercial secrets, a verdict the Australian government called harsh. - more
  • Questions remain after Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu sentenced, says Stephen Smith - Foreign Minister Stephen Smith says there are ?various unanswered questions? over the trial of Australian Stern Hu, which today led to him being sentenced to 10 years in jail by a Shanghai court. - 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

Friday, March 26

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 79 to 3,098. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Visa, American Express Weigh WTO Complaint Over China's Credit-Card Curbs  // Taiwan Commercial Property Prices May Rise on China Accord, Citigroup Says // Markets Under-Pricing Risk That Stimulus May Fail, Artradis's Dredge Says  // China May Resume `Managed' Yuan Float, Avoid Sharp Gain, PBOC's Fan Says // Euro Rebounds From 10-Month Low, Asian Stocks Gain on Aid Plan for Greece // European Leaders Steer Greece to IMF, Pledge Loans in Last-Resort Aid Plan // Former Cazenove, UBS Workers Said to Face Charges in London Trading Probe // Trichet's `Mask of Diplomacy' Slips as Europe Turns to IMF for Greece Aid // European Stocks Decline, Trimming Weekly Increase; Greek Bank Shares Jump // Obama Said to Widen Homeowner Aid, Cut Loan Balances to Avoid Foreclosures // Unemployment Rises in 27 U.S. States, With Records Set by Florida, Georgia // Greenspan Calls Treasury Yield Gains `Canary in the Mine' for Higher Rates //JPMorgan, Lehman, UBS Named as Conspirators in U.S. Muni Bid-Rigging Case
  • The Euro continues to trade 9/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is now trading nearly 9/10 of 1% lower, and under $80/barrel. Gold is trading 9/10 of 1% higher while silver is up over 1.2%. Base metals backed off early morning gains and ended mostly higher. That is except nickel. Indicator charts show nickel jumped early, and refused to surrender any of its gains, and in fact, continued to sneak higher thur much of the session. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day and week at $10.70/lb , a new record high close for 2010, 5.3% higher for the week, and the highest since June of 2008. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME warehouses fell sharply overnight, losing over 1000 tonnes and now sit just over the 155,900 tonne level. Since the record peak on February 8th, inventories have fallen nearly 9500 tonnes, and are nearly 2100 tonnes below the level they started the year at. The London Metal Exchange finally addressed the concerns that we and others have expressed about banks and commodity traders owning LME approved warehouses in an article we posted this morning. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel trading thru Thursday (chart here), and cancelled warrants slipped back under 3% overnight. After dropping 66 points yesterday, the Baltic Dry Index slipped another 79 points today. The US Commerce Department report the 4th quarter GDP was not quite as high as it originally reported, and lowered the annual growth pace from 5.9% to 5.6%, still respectable, and the best quarter in six years. University of Michigan and Reuters consumer sentiment index remained at 73.6 in March. While neither was positive news, they fell in line with economists expectations and for a time this morning, the Dow was up strongly. Since then, a report of a South Korean ship sinking near the DMZ has traders jittery, and the Dow is slightly in the red at the moment.
  • Have a safe and restful weekend!!

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Overview 2009: Income, Population, Jobs and Home Prices by State - more
  • Senator: Which Part Of “Too Big To Fail” Do You Not Understand? - more
  • Bernanke: Nothing Is Working And We Have Run Out Of Ideas - more
  • How to Gauge Your Middle-Class Status - more
  • Social Security to See Payout Exceed Pay-In This Year - more
  • U.S. Plans Big Expansion in Effort to Aid Homeowners - more
  • Don’t Be Shocked by Jobs Boom Next Week - more
  • Change in US Employment during Recessions - graph here
  • Underemployment Hits 20% in Mid-March - more
  • Asia’s air pollution ‘circles the world for years’: report - more
  • Going to Extreme - more

  Stratton Metals seen behind nickel price rally-WSJ - Stratton Metals Ltd, a privately held global commodity trading company based in London, was seen as a main catalyst behind an unexpected rally in the price of nickel this year, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:30 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.32/lb higher and at a 21 month high, with all London traded base metals higher this morning. The Euro is trading nearly 9/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar, giving a boost to commodity trading. NYMEX crude futures are up 9/10 of 1% and over $81/barrel. Gold is up 1/2 of 1% and silver is trading higher by nearly 1-1/2%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up 1.4%. European markets are trading lower this morning, while US futures show Wall Street could open bullishly. Wall Street saw the Dow climb over 120 points at one point yesterday, before ending the day with only  a 5 point gain. Nickel inventories took a big hit overnight. Some good reading today on nickel below. One London trader explained to the Dow Jones Newswire about the rally in nickel prices today - "There is no news to justify the rally .... Someone pushed it up and now it's feeding on itself." 
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more
  • Reuters morning metals report - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metal prices closed slightly higher on Thursday, but a rising dollar kept a more spirited advance from setting in. In fact, the dollar pushed into the high $1.32 area yesterday, as it picked up strength on comments made by ECB President Trichet that if the IMF was allowed to take the lead role in bailing out Greece, it would send a very negative message to the markets. In later remarks, Trichet toned down his criticism, saying that he was "happy" with a proposed joint rescue plan, and his comments helped strengthen the Euro in Asian trading. The Euro gained further ground on news out this morning that leaders of the 16-nation Euro zone have formally backed a deal under which the EU and the IMF would jointly bail out Greece should its debt troubles intensify. The agreement won't immediately trigger a rescue, but it lays the groundwork for the EU to lay out the majority of any bailout funds or loans, while the IMF plays a supporting role. Metals are slightly higher as a result of the weaker dollar, which is now trading at $1.3400 against the Euro. .... We are $23,530 on nickel, up $705, and pushing higher along with the rest of the group. The fact that key support at $21,400 never really got tested this week was encouraging. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) World Steel Association Chairman Paolo Rocca said that global steel demand will rise by 11 percent in 2010 along with strong demand in North America.
  • (Interfax) Australian iron ore giant Rio Tinto announced on March 25 that the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate Court is expected to render a verdict in the trial of its four employees on March 29.
  • (Yieh) India's MMTC has raised its export price of chrome ores. The prices of chrome concentrate and friable chrome ore will rise to US$335/ton and US$330/ton FOB respectively. The prices will be valid until March 31, 2010. Meanwhile, Pakistan chrome ore (on 40% - 42% Cr2O3) to China is quoted at US$390/ton CIF, and predicted to go up to US$400/ton shortly.
  • (Interfax) China's crude steel demand may reach 1 billion tons in 2020, as steel consumption in low-income provinces is expected to catch up with higher-income provinces, the head of CRU China predicted at a conference in Guangzhou City on March 25.
  • (Yieh) The Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) predicted that the supply of stainless steel scrap will increase by 10 percent in 2010 from a year ago, with most supplies focusing on the second half of this year.
  • (Russia) In February 2010, compared with January Russia reduced exports of unprocessed nickel by 13,7% to 14,6 thousand tons.
  • (PR) The American Trucking Associations' advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 0.5 percent in February, following a revised 1.9 percent increase in January. The latest drop put the SA index at 108.5 (2000=100), down from 109.1 in January. The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 97.6 in February, down 0.8 percent from the previous month.
  • Base Metals Outlook All About China And Sustainability - more
  • (China) Jan-Feb industrial profit more than doubles - more

Wall Street Journal -  Commodities Report: How Nickel Rally Got Its Spark - Early this year, Stratton Metals Ltd., a major nickel dealer in London, pulled about 4,000 tons of the metal from warehouses to feed demand from its steelmaker customers. - more

  Nickelled and damned - Down the road from the Copper Cliff smelter, where the Inco Superstack reaches 380 metres into a clear winter sky, striking Steelworkers stamp their heavy boots and feed a smoking fire pit with scrap wood. - more

  Considerable Differential Among Attitudes To New Nickel Projects By 4 Major Resources Companies = AAC Shows Positiveness, BHP Billiton And Rio Tinto Await To See Further Movements - The four companies of BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Vale and Anglo American are the so-called major resources enterprises but a considerable differential among the attitudes to new nickel projects taken by these four companies is coming up. - more

  LME says rules prevent conflicts with warehousing - Strict rules are in place to ensure conflicts of interest do not arise in metals warehouses owned by banks or commodity traders, the London Metal Exchange said on Thursday after two recent high-profile purchases. - more

  Stainless steel industry seeks new laws - The Office of the Consumer Protection Board has been asked to consider new regulations requiring stainless steel products to be labelled according to the quality of the metal. - more

  • Consumer Protection Urged to Tackle Low-grade Stainless Products - The association of Thai stainless steel manufacturers has filed a complaint with the consumer protection office over the problem of poor-quality stainless steel goods and misleading product descriptions. - more

  RB's Promise Paying Off - President Rupiah Banda is today expected to re-open the Munali Nickel Mine, which was closed last year as a result of the global financial crisis, which led to the collapse of metal prices on the foreign market. - more

  • Zambia Mining Sector Emerged From Recession Stronger - Minister - A range of government interventions has helped Zambia's copper mining sector emerge from the global economic downturn stronger than before, indicating the country has learnt from past mistakes, the country's minister of finance and planning said Friday. - more

  PNG landowners back Ramu nickel project - Four landowners’ associations from the region where the huge Ramu nickel mine is being developed in Papua New Guinea say they strongly back the project. - more

  Stainless steel body aligns programmes ?with South Africa’s new industrial strategy - The Southern Africa Stain-less Steel Development Association (Sassda) is aligning is activities with government’s newly launched Industrial Policy Action Plan, or Ipap2. - more

  Steel Prices to Gain on Low Inventories, Costs, Baoshan Says - Steelmakers will raise prices globally as they run down inventories and raw material costs gain, according to Baoshan Iron & Steel Co., China’s largest publicly traded mill. - more

  Steel prices in Developing Markets jump 5 percent in March - Turkish steelmakers have raised their domestic quotations several times in March, particularly the long product mills.- more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  • Special Coverage Spy Case  / China Daily Coverage Iron Ore Talks 2010
  • SINA
  • Chain of Events
  • Term pricing system for iron ore not feasible, says Baosteel - China's top steelmaker Baoshan Iron & Steel Co Ltd (Baosteel) on Thursday said the existing term pricing system for iron ore does not benefit steel and iron ore companies as ore supplies have become tight. - more
  • Australian Rio Tinto exec made mistake: lawyer - An Australian mining executive charged with bribery and corporate espionage in China was an honest man who made a mistake, his lawyer said Friday, ahead of the court's verdict in the sensitive trial. - 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, March 25

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - ? to ?. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Wal-Mart Supplier Li & Fung Says Recovery in Consumer Demand Is `Anemic' // China Won't Succumb to Foreign Pressure on Yuan Revaluation, Zhong Says // China, U.S. Yuan `Collision Course' Fuels Market Disruption, Roubini Says  // Shanghai Composite Index Falls Most in Week on Trade, Tightening Concerns // Merkel Backs Greek Loans From IMF, EU to Prevent a Default as Leaders Meet // Goldman Says IMF, Greece Negotiate $27 Billion Aid Program Over 18 Months // Dubai World to Get $9.5 Billion of Government Funding to Restructure Debt // Euro Snaps Two-Day Drop Against Dollar as Trichet Extends Collateral Rules // European Stocks Surge; Hochtief, Next Rise After Earnings Beat Estimates // U.S. Treasury Said to Sell Citigroup Shares Using a Pre-Set Trading Plan // Ray Irani Making $59 Million Leads CEOs as Americans Deplore Executive Pay // Deere Says Health-Care Overhaul Will Boost Its 2010 Costs by $150 Million // Bernanke Says Economy Still Needs `Accommodative' Policies for Recovery  // Jobless Claims in U.S. Fall to Six-Week Low as Economic Rebound Takes Hold // Stocks Rally, Euro Gains as Merkel Backs Greek Aid; Dubai Debt Risk Slumps
  • The Euro continues to trade nearly 1/3 of 1% higher against the US Dollar, as Greece debt concerns subside. NYMEX crude oil is up nearly 7/10 of 1%. Gold is up 1/3 of 1% and silver is up 6/10 of 1%. Base metals ended the day mostly in the green, with only aluminum losing. Indicator charts show nickel traders were off to the races early on and showed no signs of losing steam thru the entire session. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $10.35/lb , just a penny shy of the 2010 record high close. Inventories of nickel store din LME approved warehouses fell overnight and now sit just under the 157,000 tonne level. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel trading thru Wednesday (chart here). We were unable to find the Baltic Dry Index published today. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is testifying before the House Financial Services Committee, and has stated that extremely low interest rates will be needed for an extended period. Market loves this news, and the Dow is up triple digits and within striking distance of 11,000.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Russia imported 11,728 metric tons of stainless steel products in February, up 46.5% on the month, the special steel producers' association Spetsstal said Thursday.
  • (ADP) China Molybdenum said today it has agreed to sell 50% of its wholly owned subsidiary Luoyang High Tech to Chilean molybdenum firm Molibdenos y Metales, or Molymet, for CNY 258.2 million (USD 38m/EUR 28m).
  • (KY) Nisshin Steel Co. said Thursday it is studying the possibility of a wider business tie-up with Baosteel Group Co., including acquiring a stake in the stainless steel division of the Chinese steelmaker, to enhance its competitiveness.
  • (PR) Mirabela Nickel Ltd. has been granted an environmental licence by the Municipal Council for Environmental Defense of Ilheus, Condema, for the loading, storage and uploading of nickel concentrate in the town of Ilheus. The granting of this licence clears the way for Mirabela to commence export operations through the Ilheus port, located approximately 136 kilometres from Mirabela's Santa Rita mine.
  • (MW) Nickel explorer Rusina Mining has been granted two additional environmental compliance certificates (ECC) for its Acoje nickel chromite project, in the Philippines.
  • Fed’s Hoenig Backs More Diverse Financial System - more
  • Treasury’s Wolin Slams U.S. Chamber of Commerce - more
  • Top Fed Official Says Megabanks Need To Shrink Or Crises Will Keep Occurring - more
  • China's Fiscal Deficit Rises, But Remains 'Safe' - more
  • Housing: Speculation is the Key - more
  • Home Prices May Be Undervalued - more
  • New Home Prices: More Room to Fall - more
  • More Foreclosures, Please . . . - more

  Nihao buys 30% stake in smaller mining outfit - Listed Nihao Mineral Resources International, Inc. has bought a 30% stake in another local mining company. - more

  Solomons to seek tenders for Isabel nickel mine - The Solomon Islands government has announced it will soon put out to international tender the nickel mine in Isabel Province. - more

  New U.S. Healthcare Law to Result in AK Steel Recording $31 Million Non-Cash Charge in First Quarter of 2010 - AK Steel said today that it will record a non-cash charge of approximately $31 million in the first quarter of 2010 resulting from the recently-enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:30 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.11/lb higher, with most base metals traded in London higher this morning. The US Dollar is trading 3/10 of 1% lower against the Euro, boosting commodity trading. NYMEX crude futures are up nearly 1/2 of 1% and at $81/barrel. Gold is up nearly 6/10 of 1% and silver is up 1-1/3%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China off nearly 1-1/2%. European markets are trading higher this morning, and futures imply Wall Street will open in a bullish mood. Nickle inventories fell yet again overnight.    
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Base metals fell sharply on Wednesday, as lingering concerns about the fiscal health of the Eurozone manifested itself in a surging dollar, which got to a high of $1.33 against the Euro at one point. Oil prices sold off as well, and a 100-point gain on the Dow also fizzled into a loss by Wednesday’s close.  ... Metals are slightly higher as of this writing, except for aluminum, which continues to struggle, and is now holding just above $2200 support. A slight easing in the dollar (now at $1.3340 against the Euro) is allowing a measure of buying to come into metals, but the dollar will likely not do much until a highly anticipated EU summit is over sometime tomorrow. Early signs as to what the Greeks can expect remain confusing, with the Germans saying that loans from the IMF and European governments should only be advanced if a default looms. (Talk like that certainly increases the odds of a default happening). Until a clearer picture emerges, we expect the underlying bids on the dollar to remain strong, and would therefore look for further weakness in commodity prices going into the quarter's end. We are also somewhat wary about the US equity markets here; stocks have now been up for 10 of the last 12 days, and overdue for a modest correction. .... A Reuters survey out earlier in the week reveals that the global nickel market is expected to have a 23,500 ton deficit this year, with demand seen rising 8% to 1.4 million tons. Chinese nickel demand is forecast to rise 14% to around 525,000 tons in 2010. Despite improved demand prospects, we have our doubts that a deficit will be generated in 2010. With Goro coming on line this year, (maximum potential of 60,000 tons) and the possibility that pig iron production could again flood the market if nickel prices get too high, the supply/demand balance will more likely still remain in a slight surplus. In addition, the odds are high that the protracted strike action at Vale's Canadian operations will likely be settled during the first half of this year, bringing that sidelined metal back onto the market at some point. .... We are $22,550 on nickel, up $300, and holding relatively steady. Key support at $21,400 is the level we are watching. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) According to Brooke Hunt, a research and consulting firm for the mining and metals industry, nickel market will be in a deficit of 10,000 tons this year. CRU also predicted nickel will be in shortage of 56,000 tons. Since the second quarter of 2009, stainless steel scrap market has been in a shortage situation due to production cut with less output.
  • (Interfax) China is expected to significantly reduce the number of companies that hold iron ore importing licenses, a senior official from the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) told Interfax at a conference on March 25.
  • (SSY) The world export price for hot rolled band has risen for the fourth straight month, up by 7% month-on-month to $635/t, according to World Steel Dynamics’ SteelBenchmarker. This represents the highest level since October 2008. The biggest monthly increase was seen in China, with prices up by 11% to $526/t. That was followed by the EU (+10% to $661/t) and the USA (+9% to $730/t).
  • (AMM) A number of stainless steel producers are melting at a quicker-than-expected rate, prompting them to ask their nickel suppliers to expedite April shipments.
  • European Nickel Gets Compliance Certificate For Acoje JV - more
  • Copper, Gold Trading Limits Weighed by U.S. Commodity Regulator  - more
  • Commodity booms and busts - more

  China 2010 molybdenum demand seen up 13 pct, output up - China's consumption of molybdenum, an additive used to strengthen steel, may rise 13 percent on the year in 2010, a senior executive at the country's top producer of the metal said on Wednesday. - more

  Nickel, The Leader Of The Pack? - In 2008, again, nickel fell first out of bed, others followed later. In November last year nickel started to waver. A few weeks later all commodities, from crude oil to sugar and soy beans, were facing sudden and sharp sell-offs. - more

  Abifa President foresees 25% growth in the foundry sector in 2010 - The foundry sector, which is part of metallurgy, in 2009 had a 30% drop in production volume, following the pace of the slowed economy. For 2010, the forecasts made by Abifa (Brazilian Foundry Association) are encouraging and the market should begin growing again by 25%, compared with 2009. - more

  Kennecott says no federal permit needed for mine - Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co. said Wednesday it no longer needs federal authorization for a nickel and copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and the way is clear to begin construction of the bitterly contested project after eight years of preparation. - more

  AISI - Based on preliminary Census Bureau data, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported today that the U.S. imported a total of 1,574,000 net tons (NT) of steel in February, including 1,214,000 NT of finished steel (down 5% and 6%, respectively, vs. January final data). Annualized total and finished steel imports in 2010 would be 19.4 and 15.0 million NT, respectively, up 20% and 6% vs. 2009.

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  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

Wednesday, March 24

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 37 to 3,243. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China CEOs Side with Obama on Stronger Yuan After Wen Says Not Undervalued // Samsung's Lee Returns as Chairman After Presidential Pardon on Tax Evasion // India's Central Bank Will Continue Stimulus `Exit' to Contain Inflation // China Needs Evidence of `Very Certain' Recovery to End Stimulus, Zhou Says // Euro Drops to Record Low Against Swiss Franc on Greece; Asian Stocks Gain // Portugal Government Debt Downgraded to AA- by Fitch With Negative Outlook // European Services, Manufacturing Grow as German Business Confidence Climbs // Greece Will Default `at Some Point,' Hurt Euro, UBS Economist Donovan Says // Goldman's Greek Swaps Prompt ECB to Seek Changes in European Deficit Rules // Deutsche Bank, Moore Capital Employees in U.K. Probed on Insider Trading // Euro Drops to 10-Month Low as Portugal Downgrade Underlines Greece Concern // Darling Says U.K. Growth Will Be Slower Than Previously Forecast Next Year // Durable Orders Climb, Home Sales Fall as Manufacturing Leads U.S. Recovery // Wall Street Despised by Americans in Poll Showing Majority Want Regulation // Mortgage Applications in U.S. Shrink 4.2% as Refinancing Demand Declines // Most Americans Say They Missed 73% Rise in S&P 500 With Rebounding Economy // General Mills Profit Tops Analysts' Estimates on Chocolate Cheerios Demand // Chrysler March U.S. Sales Fall at Least 10% on Lower Incentives, Diaz Says
  • The US Dollar continues to pound on the Euro, still trading over 1% higher. NYMEX crude is down over 1-1/2% and over $80.50/barrel. Gold is down over 1% and silver is off 2%. Base metals did not escape the commodity sell off today, but most finished off session lows. Indicator charts show nickel headed lower at the opening, before bottoming out in the afternoon and recovering a little. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $10.09/lb , erasing yesterday's gains plus. Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses slipped slightly overnight and sit just below the 157,350 tonne level. Cancelled warrants remain above 3%. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel trading thru yesterday (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index fell 37 points to 3,243. The Commerce Department reported sales of new homes fell 13% compared to last year in February, it's fourth consecutive decline. The Commerce Department also reported durable good orders rose 0.5%, its third consecutive gain. Excluding transportation, which gave January a large jump, the report was plus 0.9%, instead of the minus 0.6% seen in January. This tells us things are getting better in certain areas of manufacturing, just not at the pace most, especially the unemployed, would like to see. US markets are lower at the moment as debt concerns about Portugal add to those already circulating around about Greece, and the Euro got beat up today because of the concerns. Trying to get a grip on out what is really going on in the world economically these days, is like trying to watch the start of a horse race socked in by fog. We get glimpses, most of which tell us the horses are heading in the right direction, although the US horse appears to have lost a real estate shoe and is running without it. We know China is leading the pack, but thanks to the fog, we really aren't sure how far ahead, whether they are extending their lead, or slowing down any. Some claim China's horse is actually dragging a fog machine, making things even harder to discern. Some other countries are doing well, while still others are faltering. A few haven't left the gate yet, and someone mentioned they thought Venezuela's horse had been eaten by its hungry citizens. Stay tuned - this race appears to be an interesting one.   

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Reuters) The global nickel market is expected to have a 23,500-tonne deficit this year, with demand seen rising about 8 percent to 1.4 million tonnes, a Reuters survey showed. The survey of 11 delegates was taken last week at the Second Annual Euro Nickel Conference in London. It showed that Chinese nickel demand is forecast to rise 14 percent to around 525,000 tonnes in 2010.
  • (Dow Jones) The euro will likely dictate intraday base metals price direction in the absence of any other clear drivers, says Standard Bank analyst Leon Westgate.
  • (ISI) Chilean molybdenum converter Molymet will pay 258 million yuan ($37.7 million) to acquire 50% of China`s molybdenum producer Luoyang High-Tech Molybdenum & Tungsten Material
  • (DM) Hebei Iron and Steel Group Co., Ltd. has signed an agreement to acquire an 80% stake in Shijiazhuang Iron and Steel Company Limited, a manufacturer of steel products for the automotive industry, for CNY1,900 million ($278.69 million). All the entities involved in the transaction are based in China.
  • Fed’s Yellen Plays Down Inflation Risks From Deficit, Fed Purchases - more
  • Market Seer John Mauldin Says a 40% Plunge in the Stock Market is Coming - more
  • Commodity terms of trade: The history of booms and busts - more
  • Wall Street Despised in Poll Showing Majority Want Regulation  - more
  • GMO's Edward Chancellor Discusses China's Red Flags - more
  • Is China on the verge of a commodities unwind? - more
  • Rising Commodity Prices Signal Strong Demand - more
  • Anticipating Eurozone collapse - more
  • Entering a New Mercantilist Era? - more
  • Fed Issues Gift-Card Rules - more

  ENRC upbeat on 2010 despite rising costs, EPS down - Kazakh miner ENRC, the world's largest producer of ferrochrome, is upbeat about demand and the prospect of more possible takeovers this year, it said on Wednesday, but sounded a warning on rising costs after posting a drop in profits. - more

  China Steel decides not to proceed with equity placement - (excerpt) The completion of Blast Furnace 2 would lift China Steel's production capacity for nickel pig iron to about 180,000 tonnes per annum, a fourfold increase. - more

  Moly Mines says Hanlong to invest in co in April - Australian base-minerals explorer Moly Mines Ltd said China's Hanlong Mining Investment Pty Ltd plans to invest $200 million in the company in the second half of April 2010. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:25 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.18/lb lower, with all base metals lower in morning trading. The US Dollar is trading 1% higher against the Euro, putting pressure on commodity trading. NYMEX crude futures are down 1-1/2% and under $81/barrel. Gold is down more than 8/10 of 1% and silver is over 2% lower. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up slightly. European markets are trading lower this morning and US futures imply a lower opening may be in store for Wall Street. Nickel inventories dropped slightly overnight.    
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Commodities Report - pdf here
  • Morning Montra - pdf here
  • Metals & Energy - pdf here
  • Market Drivers - pdf here
  • Metals Insight - pdf here
  • BMO The Goods - pdf here
  • U.S. Imports for Consumption of Steel Products - more
  • US Imports of Steel Mill Products for All Stainless Products - more
  • Outokumpu April Stainless Steel Surcharges - pdf here
  • Deutsche Edelstahl Werke April surcharges - pdf here

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals ended mixed yesterday, with copper drawing support from an upbeat US equity market and a stable dollar, but other metals losing ground. In many ways, yesterday’s relatively quiet session could be characterized as the calm before the storm, as the currency markets did not seem to get too worked up over the announcement out of Europe that the IMF may play a role in the Greek rescue package-- a key reversal from an earlier position to keep any “package” under the EU's jurisdiction. This announcement is breaking far more dramatically today, perhaps helped along by Fitch’s downgrade this morning of Portugal’s credit rating to AA-. The Euro has crashed through $1.34 range support, and is now trading at $1.3350 against the dollar, a 10-month low. Not surprisingly, its weakness is pulling down a number of commodities, with crude oil off by about $1.50 and metals also giving up ground. We have been warning about the dollar’s upside potential in recent commentary, and with key support points now broken against the Euro, we suspect the greenback will push higher still on technicals alone. More importantly, turning to the IMF exposes the EU’s inability to shore up its weaker links, and may suck further confidence out of the Euro. All this should continue to exert further pressure on commodities, as much of their recent gains have been dollar-related.  .... We are $22,100 on nickel, down $395, and holding relatively steady. We need to keep above key support at $21,400, which may not be easy to do with a double top in place and the upward momentum fading in recent days. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) According to the China Business News, the official from Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said that China will slash the output capacity in the steel industry by 100 million tons from 2010 to 2011.
  • (FS) According to the data released by ICDA, in 2009 the total output of ferrochrome in the world is about 6.322 million tons, down by about 20% compared with the output of 7.907 million tons in 2008, including 397.5 thousand tons of medium and low carbon ferrochrome, down by about 38.2% compared with the same period of 2008, 5.925 million tons of high carbon ferrochrome, down by about 18.4%.
  • (MW) Belvedere Resources Ltd. is pleased to announce that it has commenced detailed studies on the feasibility of restarting the Hitura Nickel Mine. In addition diamond drilling has commenced on the Kopsa gold property to bring the Historical Resources into NI 43-101 compliant resource categories.  - more
  • (SBB) Taigang keeps stainless prices unchanged for second week
  • (JMB) Tokyo Steel Raises All Steel Items by 5,000-8,000 yen/t
  • From The Vault: Nouriel Roubini On The Coming Commodities Correction - more
  • Oil reserves 'exaggerated by one third' - more

  ENRC: 2Q Ferrochrome Price Rise Seen "Reasonably Significant" - Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. PLC expects benchmark ferrochrome prices for the second quarter to rise significantly, the company's head of sales and marketing said Tuesday, but he wouldn't say by how much. - more

  Ramu mine work halted - Highlands Pacific has been advised by the operator of the Ramu nickel cobalt project that the National Court in Madang made an interim injunction on the construction of the deep sea tailings displacement (DSTP) facilities being constructed at the Basamuk process plant site. - more

  Quadra Agrees to Buy FNX in $1.66 Billion Share Swap - Quadra Mining Ltd., a copper producer with projects in the U.S. and Chile, agreed to buy FNX Mining Co. in a transaction valued at about C$1.69 billion ($1.66 billion) to gain control of copper and nickel mines in Canada. - more

  Xstrata Mulls $9 Billion of New Investments in 10 Projects - Xstrata Plc., the fourth-largest nickel producer, is mulling new investments worth $9 billion and is still looking at acquisitions, an executive said. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  • Special Coverage Spy Case  / China Daily Coverage Iron Ore Talks 2010
  • SINA
  • Chain of Events
  • Rio Tinto May Agree to Set Iron Ore Prices Quarterly - Rio Tinto Group, the second-largest iron ore exporter, may settle prices of the steelmaking material on a quarterly basis, as rivals move to end a four-decade-old “broken” tradition of negotiating annually. - more
  • Rio trial ends, verdict could take some time - The trial of four Rio Tinto executives ended in Shanghai on Wednesday, with three contesting charges of stealing commercial secrets in a case that has highlighted China's sensitivities over its rich resources sector. - more
  • China probing iron ore import inventories: report - China has launched an investigation into imported iron ore inventories that have built up at some of its major ports, the China Daily reported. - 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

Tuesday, March 23

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 57 to 3,280. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Google Defies China With End to Censorship, May Herald Exit From Country // Bank of China Posts Fourfold Profit Jump on Loan Growth, Lower Writedowns // Subbarao Warns of `Hard Landing' as Goldman Expects India Rate Increases // Dai-ichi Mutual Life Raises $11 Billion in Japan's Biggest IPO Since 1998 // Most Asian Stocks Fall on Greece Aid Concern; Japan, China Developers Drop // Greek Crisis May Provoke Trichet-Bernanke Split That Extends Euro's Slide // Dollar Climbs Versus Euro as Concerns Over Greece Aid Spurs Safety Demand // Van Rompuy Said to Seek Greek Accord Before Start of European Union Summit // Hedge-Fund Worker Among Six People Arrested in London for Insider Dealing // Germany, France Agree to Back International Monetary Fund Aid for Greece // European Stocks Climb to 18-Month High; Legal & General, Carnival Advance // Fed May Keep `Accommodative' Rate Stance at Least Six Months, Evans Says // Senate Panel Backs Dodd's Bank-Rules Overhaul Amid Republican Opposition // Existing U.S. Home Sales Fell in February for Third Month on Lack of Jobs // Ten-Year Swap Spread Drops to Lowest on Record on Renewed Demand for Risk // Stocks Advance as Earnings Boost Economic Confidence; Dollar Strengthens
  • The US Dollar is trading 1/3 of 1% higher against the Euro. NYMEX crude oil is up nearly 2/10 of 1% and at $81.75/barrel. Gold is up 2/10% and silver is over 1/3% higher. Base metals ended the mixed and quiet, with no real big gainers or losers. Indicator charts show nickel spent the day staggering around where it closed yesterday, after opening lower. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $10.20/lb , for the best showing amongst all LME metals . Inventories of nickel stored in ME registered warehouses slipped yet again overnight and snow sit just over the 157,350 tonne level. Cancelled warrants rose over the 3% level overnight. The month of March has seen only two business days where inbound nickel was greater than outbound shipments, and warehouse have lost nearly 5,300 tonnes this month. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel trading thru yesterday (chart here). The National Association of Realtors reported today that sales of existing homes fell for a third straight month in the US, and to an eight month low. Considering the government stimulus to buy a house that is in place, these numbers are very disappointing, and considering the regions hard hit by weather in February actually fared better, the weather can not be blamed. The Obama Health Care Bill, that has gotten so much attention over the past 15 months, is now law.  

  Reports

  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • ICDA Weekly Review - more
  • Metal Trading at the London Metal Exchange - pdf here (older, for reference only)

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • The Stainless Steel Council of China reports 60% of stainless steel household utensils in that country do not qualify as stainless steel. - more
  • (MB) The price of nickel is not sustainable at current levels given the scale of LME inventories, said Alwin Syah Loebis, president director of Indonesia's PT Aneka Tambang (Antam). He said the average nickel price would fall to around $17,000-18,000 this year under pressure from high global stocks.
  • How America Now Shops: Dollar Stores, Online Retailers (Watch out, Walmart) - more
  • A Simple Explanation of How The Use of Derivatives Created The Great Recession - more
  • In the REAL World Series of Poker, the Stakes are Default of Sovereign Debt - more
  • Will Retiring Boomers Lead to Too Many Open Jobs by 2018? - more
  • Has Germany just killed the dream of a European superstate? - more
  • Frayed string for China's property balloon - more
  • Double Dip? Irrelevant! - more
  • How Much for a Drink of Water? - more

  Outokumpu does not favour exchange-traded stainless - Finnish stainless steel producer Outokumpu does not support the possible emergence of an exchange-traded stainless contract, a spokeswoman for the company told Reuters on Tuesday. - more

  Solomons puts hopes in mining - The Solomon Islands Mining Minister, David Day Pacha, says he will soon be allowing international tenders for nickel mining in Isobel province. - more

  China monetary tightening won't crimp metals - SocGen - Monetary tightening in China, the world's largest metals user, will have little impact on consumption and the country will continue to drive metals demand for years, David Wilson of Societe Generale said on Friday. - more

  Cobalt and molybdenum make positive start on LME - More than USD36million of cobalt and molybdenum has been traded in the first month since new futures were launched for these minor metals by the London Metal Exchange (LME) on 22nd February, 2010. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.02/lb higher, with other base metals mixed and quiet. The US Dollar is trading 1/2 of 1% higher against the Euro at the moment. NYMEX crude futures are trading down 8/10 of 1% and just under $81/barrel. Gold is trading nearly 1/2 of 1% lower, while silver is down nearly a full percent. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China lower by 8/10 of 1%. European markets are trading higher this morning, while US futures are flat. Nickel inventories fell overnight.  
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more
  • Reuters morning report - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - We had a very impressive reversal in metals yesterday, as markets clawed back initial losses to close only slightly lower. In fact, copper managed to eke out a modest $25/ton gain on the day despite being down about $150/ton at one point. The about-face was due to the dollar weakening to 1.3560 against the Euro by the end of the US session after it soared to 1.3460 at one point earlier in the day. Metals were also buoyed by the strength in the US equity markets, where investors took the momentous health care bill in stride. Analysts feared that given the size of the bill, the reaction in the equity markets would be punishing, but a selloff did not transpire, and the Dow instead finished with a 45-point gain on the day. Metals are slightly lower as of this writing in very quiet trading, as the dollar is again stronger against the Euro, and now trading at $1.3490..... We are $22,250 on nickel, down $25; conditions are very quiet with only a $250 trading range in place. There stills seems to be a double-top in place, arguing for some caution here.   (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) Finnish stainless steel maker, Outokumpu announced that the Finnish dock strike has been ended on March 19, and the workers of Tornio’s Roytta have gone back to work on March 22.
  • (Interfax) China's crude steel output in February stood at 50.36 million tons, accounting for 46.83 percent of the world's total, according to a World Steel Association (WSA) announcement on March 22.
  • (Interfax) China's imports of refined lead and zinc dropped, while imports of refined tin and nickel rose on an annual basis in the first two months of 2010, according to figures released by the General Administration of Customs (GAC) on March 22.
  • (Interfax) Three of the four detained Rio Tinto employees pleaded guilty to charges of receiving a total of RMB 89.18 million ($13.06 million) in bribes at their trial on March 22, state media reported on March 23
  • (JMB) Japanese export price of nickel series stainless cold rolled flat steel increases gradually for Asian market. The price reached FOB US$ 3,100 per tonne for coil with 2 millimeters thick for April-May shipment, which reached US$ 3,000 for the first time in a year.
  • (SM) The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) today released its 50th Annual Survey of Paper, Paperboard, and Pulp Capacity, which reported that U.S. paper and paperboard capacity declined 2.5 percent in 2009 to 93.9 million tons. The decline took place against a backdrop of a severe global economic recession.
  • (SSME) European stainless steel surcharges increased significantly for April delivery as announced by Outokumpu the Finish based stainless steel supplier for delivery of stainless steel in April 2010. The increases where widely forecast throughout the industry with nickel breaking through $22,000 per tonne on the LME. The biggest rise is for grade 316/1.4404 which has risen over 385 Euro per tonne.
  • (PR) Roca Mines Inc. has received the resignation of John M. Mirko, who is leaving the board to focus on other continuing projects. The company's board and management team has thanked Mr. Mirko for his many years of service, as well as his significant contribution to Roca's Max molybdenum mine development and the company's portfolio of exploration projects.
  • The Coming China-India Conflict: Is War Inevitable? - more

  Stainless production drops in 2009 but results better than expected - The International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) has released preliminary stainless crude steel production figures which show that 24.6 million metric tons (mmt) of stainless was produced during 2009. - more

  Stainless steel makers boost nickel demand, prices - World nickel prices are averaging $10/lb this month, as compared with $4.40 last March, because of increased demand from stainless steel producers-particularly those in China. - more

  Chinese Traders Optimistic On Nickel's Prospects - Analysts at Barclays Capital attended a recent stainless steel conference in Wuxi, China, providing them with greater insight into current conditions and views in the Chinese market. Companies in attendance account for around half of stainless steel volumes in Wuxi, the Wuxi market in turn accounts for around 50% of total Chinese volumes. - more

  MMTC / India Is Viewed To Be Inevitable To Rise Floor Prices Of Chrome Ores For Exports = Prices Of Chrome Ores For China Are Rising Further - MMTC of India has already risen their floor prices of chrome ores for exports and the prices are US$330 per metric ton FOB for chrome concentrate and US$335 FOB for friable chrome ore, both of which are effective until the 31st March of 2010. - more

  Indonesia's Antam aims to sign nickel deal with Inco - Indonesian mining firm Aneka Tambang is looking to initially procure one million tonnes of nickel a year from PT International Nickel Indonesia (INCO) under a supply contract. - more

  PNG Government to fight for nickel mine’s controversial tailings disposal system - Papua New Guinea’s government says it will challenge the national court injunction to halt a Chinese nickel miner’s construction of a massive pipeline to dump waste into the sea. - more

  Northern European steel prices rise despite ongoing weak demand - Producers in the Nordic region and others supplying northern Europe have pushed through significant hikes in flat steel prices and are hoping to achieve more, despite scant evidence of any uplift in end-user demand. - more

  Certain Corrosion-Resistant Carbon Steel Flat Products from the Republic of Korea: Notice of Final Results - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending March 20, 2010, domestic raw steel production was 1,720,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 71.1 percent. Production was 983,000 tons in the week ending March 20, 2009, while the capability utilization then was 41.1 percent. The current week production represents a 75.0 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending March 20, 2010 is up 0.3 percent from the previous week ending March 13, 2010 when production was 1,715,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 70.9 percent.

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  • Special Coverage Spy Case  / China Daily Coverage Iron Ore Talks 2010
  • SINA
  • Chain of Events
  • Rio staff face secrets charge after admitting bribes - Four Rio Tinto executives faced charges of stealing commercial secrets in China on Tuesday after pleading guilty to taking bribes in a trial that has thrown a spotlight on the country's opaque business practices. - more
  • China locks down access to trial of Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu  - The trial of Australian Stern Hu and his three Rio Tinto colleagues has now been shuttered to Australian government officials after the hearing on charges of receiving bribes to which Mr Hu and two others admitted yesterday ? finished late this morning in Shanghai. - more
  • Rio Tinto chief starts mending fences in China - Rio Tinto Group, the world's third-largest mining company, extended an olive branch to Beijing on Monday after its chief executive said it was keen on helping China secure overseas mines and explore domestic deposits. - 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

Monday, March 22

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 42 to 3,337. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China's Chen Accuses U.S. of Politicizing Yuan as Its Trade Surplus Sinks // Google's Looming China Exit Adds Pressure to Gain Ground in Japan, Korea // Japan Said to Plan Unlimited Guarantees for Samurai Bonds to Expand Market // Asian Stocks Decline, Dollar Gains on Sovereign Debt; Greeks Bonds, Shares Fall // ICAP to Stop Offering a Full-Service Cash-Equities Operation; 114 Affected // Merkel Says EU Meeting Unlikely to Produce Aid Package as Greek Bonds Drop // Dollar Near Three-Week High Against Euro on Rate Concern, Stock Declines // Poland to Offer 1 Billion Euros of Seven-Year Bonds at a Record-Low Yield // European Stocks Fall as ICAP, National Bank of Greece Drop; Elan Advances // Obama Handed Victory as House Passes Biggest Health Overhaul in 40 Years // Bernanke Says Taxpayers Shouldn't Bear Cost of Dismantling Financial Firms // Legg Mason's Bill Miller Says Outlook for U.S. Stocks Is `Quite Positive' // Stocks Show Economy Revving in U.S. as Cyclical Companies Crush Telephones // Stocks in U.S. Halt Global Decline; Dollar Retreats, Commodities Recover
  • The US Dollar is now trading lower against the Euro, down nearly 1/4 of 1% at the time. NYMEX crude is trading slightly higher and at $80.75/barrel. Gold is down nearly 1/2 of 1% while silver is over just over 1/10 of 1%. Base metals ended the day mostly lower, with a late session rally in the Euro helping base metals. Indicator charts show nickel opened lower this morning, fell in the early hours, then began to rise as the Euro gained strength. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $10.10/lb . Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses dipped slightly over the weekend, and remain above the 157,700 tonne level. Cancelled warrants remain just under the 3% level. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel trading thru Friday (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index fell 42 points to 3,337. We wouldn't read too much into the Chinese  reports that that country imported 24% less refined nickel in February, compared to last February. They had a major holiday this year in February, that was held in March last year, so this month's report, and next month's, will be somewhat skewed.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Macquarie analyst Jim Lennon to Reuters at the 2nd Annual Euro Nickel Conference last week - "In the short run, you're seeing this phenomenal recovery in stainless steel production globally. In the first quarter of this year, it looks like stainless steel production will be up 50 percent year on year.....We do see demand being very strong in the first half, and maybe a little bit weaker in the second half ..... because of the over-ordering by stainless steel buyers."
  • U.S. Consumers’ Debts Get More Affordable - more
  • Global Productivity and Unemployment - more
  • Does GDP Understate Depth of the Recession? - more
  • The Beginning of the End of the Eurozone As We Know It? - more
  • Passage of Moderate RomneyCare Drives Republicans Insane - more
  • Why the Double Dip Is Real - more
  • Fear Strikes Out - more
  • 2010 US Bank Failures - more
  • Health Care Spending - more

  Moly: Best Metal of the Decade  - Before the global economic meltdown, molybdenum was one of the best-performing base metals. - more

   Crowflight Resumes Nickel Concentrate Shipments from Bucko Mine - Crowflight Minerals is pleased to announce that shipments of nickel concentrate from the Bucko Lake Nickel Mine ("Bucko Mine") located near Wabowden, Manitoba recommenced the week of March 15th. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.20/lb lower, with all base metals trading lower this morning. The US Dollar is trading a little over 1/10 of 1% higher against the Euro at the moment.  NYMEX crude futures are down nearly 1.9% and nearing $79/barrel. Gold opened 1/3 of 1% lower, while silver is down more than 8/10 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower on comments by John Lipsky, first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund, warning government debt will slow worldwide recovery. China rose 1/4 of 1%. European markets are trading lower this morning on the IMF statement and Greece concerns, while US futures show Wall Street could open in a bearish mood. Nickel inventories slipped slightly over the weekend.  
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more
  • Reuters morning report - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals came under pressure on Friday, as the dollar rose sharply against the Euro on mounting concerns about the Greek situation. In this regard, the currency markets are growing increasingly apprehensive about the disagreements evident among the EU leadership as to what to do about the country going forward. Indeed, this week could be pivotal one for the Euro, in that the Greeks may decide to go to the IMF on their own accord should they not receive a financial package from the EU. In the meantime, the Greek stock market sank by 3.5% on Monday, while the premium on the nation’s 10-year notes widened by 25 basis points ahead of a key EU mini-summit later this week. Also unhelpful to the metal bulls on Friday, was the surprising decision by India's central bank to raise its interest rates in an effort to get ahead of its rising inflation problem. The move comes on the heels of China tightening its own monetary and lending policies, while here in the US, there are rumors of yet another imminent rise in the discount rate. Watching the metals sell-off on Friday, we were struck by how limited in scope it was given the surge in the dollar and the much sharper fall in energy markets. We seem to be making up some ground on the downside as we start the new week, where there is more substantial weakness across the board. .... We are $22,000 on nickel, down $450. Prices seem to have carved out a double-top pattern on the charts around the $23,000 level. We expect to push somewhat lower from here. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (PR) Talvivaara Mining Company Plc is pleased to announce that the metals recovery process at the Talvivaara mine has resumed after the Company had ensured that it was environmentally safe to restart the plant.
  • (Bloomberg) China’s imports of aluminum, lead, zinc and nickel all decreased from a month earlier, customs data show. Shipments of primary aluminum and refined zinc plunged 52 percent, lead tumbled 73 percent and nickel dropped 25 percent.
  • (MF) Chinese imports of refined nickel and alloys were at 12,243 tons in February, down 24.5% from the previous month.
  • (SG) Bloomberg reported that nickel may drop by 8% in the second quarter, eroding its lead as this year's best performing metal, on concern that demand won't accelerate fast enough to drain stockpiles. According to the median in a Bloomberg survey of 13 analysts, prices will average USD 20,944 a tonne in the next quarter, down from yesterday's USD 22,760 close.
  • World crude steel production for the 66 countries reporting to the World Steel Association (worldsteel) was 108 million metric tons (mmt) in February. This is 24.2% higher than February 2009. - more
  • (SJ) According to Shanghai Customs statistics, total exports in 2009, Shanghai Customs standard steel or brass fasteners 929,000 tons, worth 1.32 billion over the previous year decreased by 42% and 49.4%.

  Outokumpu Oyj - the operations in the harbour in Tornio back to normal after the stevedores' strike - The stevedores' strike in Finland ended today, March 19, 2010. The employees of Röyttä harbour in Tornio will return to their workplace on Monday March 22, 2010. - more

  PNG Government to fight for nickel mine’s controversial tailings disposal system - Papua New Guinea’s government says it will challenge the national court injunction to halt a Chinese nickel miner’s construction of a massive pipeline to dump waste into the sea. - more

  • Land owners in PNG win case against nickel mine - Papua New Guinea landowners have won a battle to freeze a Chinese nickel miner’s construction of a massive pipeline to dump waste into the sea. - more

  Frbiz Reports Chinese Demand Continues To Reshape Global Markets, Pushing Up Steel Prices - Expects China's continued high demand for steel will be the impact of unprecedented intensity of the pattern of the steel industry. - more

  Western Areas March quarter output up - Nickel miner Western Areas NL says it will likely exceed forecasts for March quarter production at its Flying Fox mine while an ore reserve for its planned Spotted Quoll mine is better than expected. - more

  Architect Frank Gehry says he likes what he sees in new stainless steel Las Vegas building - Architect Frank Gehry says he wanted a swirling stainless steel structure he designed for Las Vegas to be unique - to stand out from what he called "the cacophony" of high-rise casinos and condos forming the spine of Sin City's sprawl. - more

  EU steel prices increase despite poor market activity” - Recent and anticipated escalating international raw material costs have led to sharply rising European steel prices against a backdrop of stagnant demand. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  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

Friday, March 19

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 17 to 3,379. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Roach Says `Take Out the Baseball Bat' on Krugman Over His Stance on Yuan // Japan Has `Extremely Little' Room for More Fiscal Stimulus, Sengoku Says // Asian Stocks Rise, Heading to Fourth Weekly Advance, After U.S. Jobs Data // Papandreou Races to Cut Borrowing Costs as EU Leaders Split on Rescue Plan // Trichet Pushes `Strongly' for More Transparency Over Credit Default Swaps // Euro Set for Worst Week Since February Start on Greece Concerns; Yen Slips // Russian Government to Market Eurobonds to Investors in New York Next Month // Lloyds Banking Group Expects to Make a Profit in 2010 on `Strong' Trading  // European Stocks Decline as India Raises Rates; Miners Drop, Lloyds Gains // Fed May Increase Discount Rate Before Next Policy Meeting, Economists Say // Chubb's CEO Finnegan Says Ability to Compete Hurt by `Troubling' Bailouts // Finance Bonds Beating Industrials as JP Morgan Sells Debt: Credit Markets // Fed Must Release Bailout Documents Identifying Firms on Brink, Court Rules // Greenspan Says Regulators `Failed' in Worst Crisis Since Great Depression // U.S. Stocks Erase Gain as India Raises Rates for First Time Since July '08
  • The US Dollar continues to trade higher against the Euro, up nearly 6/10 of 1%. NYMEX crude is down nearly 2-1/2% to just over $80/barrel. Gold is off 1-3/4% and silver is lower by 2%. Base metals all ended the day lower. Indicator charts show nickel began a slow determined slide from the opening, with a slight rebound showing at teh end of the session. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $10.16/lb , up nearly 3% for the week, and tied for the third best close this year. Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses slipped below the 175,800 tonne level, and have now fallen below the 158,010 tonne level they ended 2009 at. After 5 solid weeks of gains, followed by 6 weeks of solid declines, all inventory gains seen in 2010 have been lost. Inventories still remain historically very high, and well above the 151,254 tonne record high the market had held since 1994. Cancelled warrants remain just below the 3% level. Sucden's day old chart shows LME nickel trading thru yesterday (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index fell for the fourth consecutive day, down 17 points to 3,379. India surprised the market today with a rate hike, while worries about Greece linger. Wall Street is lower at the moment.
  • Have a safe and relaxing weekend!

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Barclays Capital  - "This shift in inventory dynamic was a clear signal that the nickel market was in deficit. Decline in stocks has been accompanied by reports of improving production levels in the global stainless steel sector."
  • (WSS) As of 17 March 2010, the London Metal Exchange (LME) began trading in cobalt and molybdenum, commodities used in everything from jet engines to stainless steel.
  • (BN) Iron ore veteran Ian Burston has been appointed to the board of explorer Condor Nickel as a non-executive director.
  • What Will Labor Market Recovery Look Like? - more
  • Recession, Immigration Spur More Families to Live Together - more
  • Open Thread: Greenspan says “Not My Fault” - more
  • Latest TARP Price Tag: $109 Billion - more
  • Roach Spars With Krugman Over Call to Pressure China on Yuan - more
  • Steve Roach Goes Batty - more
  • Drought worsens as millions wait for rain - more

  Brazilian crude steel in February surges by 48pct YoY - The Brazilian Steel Institute announced that Brazilian crude steel production in February 2010 was 2.4 million tonnes, representing a reduction of 11.1% compared to January and an increase of 47.9% over the same month in 2009. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:30 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.05/lb lower, with other base metals mixed and quiet. The US Dollar is trading nearly 4/10 of 1% higher against the Euro, at the moment.  NYMEX crude futures are down nearly 1/2 of 1% and under $82/barrel. Gold opened 1/3 of 1% lower and silver is nearly 6/10 of 1% lower. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up 8/10 of 1%. European markets are trading higher this morning, while US futures are dead even at the moment. Inventories of nickel took a big hit overnight, and now sit at a level less than they started the year at.  
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metal prices lost a portion of their gains in Thursday trading, but considering how sharply the dollar turned, the complex did well to limit its losses to the extent that it did. As we wrote in yesterday’s report, the dollar's surge was attributable to the Greek threat of initiating talks with the IMF should the EU fail to deliver a credible rescue package within a week (read hard cash). A formal overture to the IMF by the Greeks, we think, would be extremely bearish for the Euro, as it reflects an inability by the EU to cobble together a financial package for one of its own. More importantly, not only is the Greek situation far from over, there are likely more skeletons in the EU's loan closet. Given all this, one should not get too bearish on the dollar over the next several weeks or, for that matter, too wildly bullish on metals either, considering how much of the recent advance has been dollar-related. This morning’s action in the US has metals off to a mixed start, but with the dollar pushing higher again (now at 1.3550 against the Euro) and with energy prices off again, we suspect there will be modest downward pressure on the complex for the balance of the day. .... We are $22,700 on nickel, down $60, and locked in a relatively tight trading range.  (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) After China Steel Corp. increased their bar and wire rod prices for April/May, Taiwan’s rimmed steel wire rod price went up in advance in wire rod market because some of rimmed steel wire rod can replace al-killed wire rod to make the screw.
  • (MNP) Nickel miner Western Areas is going gangbusters at its Flying Fox mine in Western Australia after recording a significant jump in monthly production to 1000 tonnes from the previous target of 730t.
  • (MC) According to sources, industry analyst at CRU Group Thursday said the agency estimated that in 2010 global nickel production is expected to increase by 4% to 1.371 million tons, but the gap between supply and demand will occur for the first time in four years.
  • (PR) Talvivaara Mining Company Plc is pleased to announce that the metals recovery process at the Talvivaara mine has resumed after the Company had ensured that it was environmentally safe to restart the plant.
  • (MB) Jinchuan restores part of nickel price cut
  • (JMB) Japanese raw steel output decreased by 3.3% to 8.435 million tonnes in February from January, which represents decreases for 2 months in a row, announced by Japan Iron and Steel Federation on Thursday.

  Nickel, Best-Performing Metal of 2010, May Drop, Survey Shows - Nickel may drop 8 percent in the second quarter, eroding its lead as this year’s best-performing metal, on concern that demand won’t accelerate fast enough to drain stockpiles, a survey of analysts showed. - more

  More raw chrome ore exported at low prices - Some South African chrome miners are continuing the frowned-upon export of raw chrome ore without adding value to make it ferrochrome - and electricity uncertainty is likely to result in an even greater increase in the export of unbene-ficiated chrome. - more

  Finnish port workers seen to accept new wage deal -report - Finnish stevedores are likely to agree on a new wage deal, ending a strike that cost industry hundreds of millions of euros and crippled exporters for more than two weeks, Finnish national broadcaster YLE reported. - more

  Market Tendency On Imports Of Ferro-Alloys At 15th March 2010 = Reflecting Revival Of Steel Production In Europe And USA, Inquiries For Ferro-Alloys Are Becoming Active - The market tendency by item on imports of ferro-alloys into Japan at the 15th March of 2010 is as follows - more

  Walsin Lihwa to Raise Annual SS Output 10% to 15% Over 3 Years - Walsin Lihwa Group, Taiwan`s leading manufacturer of cable wires and stainless steel, will raise the annual output of precision materials and stainless steel in China by 10% to 15% in the next three years, expanding capacity to one million metric tons in 2012, said chairman Y.L. Chiao. - more

  Blockade lifted - Mining companies with interests in the Ring of Fire chromite deposit are free to head up to their claims again, as a two-month old First Nations blockade of frozen landing strips there has ended. - more

  New projects, China may pose threat to nickel recovery - The global nickel market may be in supply deficit only briefly if producers manage to bring on line faster than expected new projects waiting in the wings. - more

  Mining money splits Surigao tribal folk - Disharmony in the Mamanwa tribe, an indigenous people of Surigao, has erupted soon after a nickel mining company here agreed to grant the one-percent royalty to the tribe whose ancestral domain the company has exploited for nickel-laden ore. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  • Special Coverage Spy Case  / China Daily Coverage Iron Ore Talks 2010
  • SINA
  • Chain of Events
  • China upholds ban on Australia's access to Rio trial - China has told Australian diplomats they will not be given access to part of the trial of an Australian employee of Rio Tinto charged with commercial spying, Canberra said on Friday. - more
  • China's dependence on imported iron ore hits 70% - China's dependence on foreign iron ore approached about 70 percent in 2009, 13 percentage points higher than the previous year, said a Shanghai Securities News report on Friday, citing a government official. - more
  • China steel mills face doubling of ore prices - China's steel mills have been asked to accept a doubling of iron ore prices this year by their top supplier, Brazil's Vale , and are also facing excessive steel output, a top industry official 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 (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, March 18

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 31 to 3,396. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Conducts Stress Tests to Gauge Impact on Industry of End to Yuan Peg // China Property Not Set For Slump Amid Bubble Talk, Hong Kong Builders Say // Japan's Commercial Land Prices Slump to Record on Economy, Credit Crisis // Bank of Japan's Loan Program May Resound More With Government Than Economy // Euro Drops on Greece Bailout Concerns; Asia Credit Risk at Two-Month Low // Papandreou Urges EU Emergency Plan After German Officials Suggest IMF Aid // Portugal Said to Plan Sale of Bonds in Dollars to Fund Widening Budget Gap // Greece Leads Increase in Sovereign Credit-Default Swaps on Bailout Concern // European Money Market Recovers as Interbank Repos Swell to $7.6 Trillion // Prices Stable as Leading Index Climbs, Indicating Growth Without Inflation // Bernanke Says Dodd Plan to Limit Oversight Hurts Fed Ability to Spot Risks // Leading Indicators Have Smallest Gain in Year in Sign of Slower Expansion // BRICs Rally Slows as Highest Valuations Since 1995 Undermine Record Flows
  • The US Dollar continues to trade higher against the Euro, by nearly a full percent at the moment. NYMEX crude is down 1-1/3% and trading under $82/barrel. Gold is higher by 1/2 of 1% while silver is lower by 3/10 of 1%. Base metals ended the day mixed, and many showed impressive resilience to the Dollar's gain. Among these was nickel, which indicator charts show rose fairly consistently throughout the day. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at  $10.32/lb , just shy of the record high close this year. For only the second time this month, and the first time since March 1st, inventories of nickel store din LME approved warehouses rose overnight and now sit just shy of the 158,500 tonne level. Cancelled warrants rose sharply though and nearly hit the 3% level. Sucden's day old charts shows LME nickel trading thru yesterday (chart here). Nickel showed stronger resilience to the climbing Dollar early today, thanks in part to the refinery problem in Australia, and port strike in Finland. BHP has advised their Kwinana nickel refinery will be shut down for at least two weeks. The Baltic Dry Index fell for a third day, down 31 points to 3,396. Numerous reports out today in the US and about the best thing that one can say about them, is the economy is creeping upward at a snail's pace. The Philly Fed Index rose from 17.6 in February to 18.9 in March but in the most watched fields, they reported "Although still positive and suggesting growth, indexes for current new orders and shipments fell back from their readings in February: The new orders index fell 13 points, and the shipments index fell 6 points. The current inventory index moved back into negative territory after recording its first positive reading since September 2007 last month." After gaining 0.3% in January the Conference Board index of leading economic indicators rose 0.1% in February. Jobless claims fell 5,000 last week and MarketWatch notes "...jobless claims have fallen a combined 41,000 in the past three weeks, they are still 5.8% higher compared to the end of 2009." Our afternoon wrap is being posted later this week due to the recent time change here in the States. This should only last until England moves forward one hour on the last Sunday of this month.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Would Fed Become the ‘Too-Big-To-Fail Regulator’? - more
  • Small banks lag in repaying Treasury for bailout funds - more
  • "What Caused the Financial Crisis? Still 22 Possibilities" - more
  • American factories operating near record low utilization  - more
  • How Much Of The World Is In a Liquidity Trap? - more
  • Slides for Great Depression Class - more

  Brook Hunt sees 10,000 tonne nickel deficit in 2010 - The nickel market will be in a deficit of at least 10,000 tonnes this year but surpluses will return in the following three years as more metal comes onstream, Brook Hunt said on Thursday. - more

  Goldfields' growth is vital to WA: Moore - The state government has tipped the Goldfields region to increase and diversify the significant contribution it currently makes to the state's mineral production levels. - more

  New Caledonia's good performance on jobs - New figures on employment released by New Caledonia's Institute of Statistics show the French territory has weathered the global financial crisis better than most. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.02/lb higher but sliding, with all other base metals in the red this morning. The US Dollar is trading nearly 1/2 of 1% higher against the Euro, adding pressure to commodity trading. NYMEX crude futures are lower by 3/4 of 1% and under $82.50/barrel. Gold has opened higher by nearly 1/5 of 1% and silver has opened slightly lower. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended  lower, with China down 1/5 of 1%, as Japanese commercial land prices fell to their lowest in 36 years, and a Greece bailout plan showed signs of coming apart. European markets are trading slightly higher at the moment, with US futures slightly higher. Inventories of nickel rose overnight, for the first time in the last 13 trading sessions.
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metal prices continue to push higher on Wednesday, buoyed by a rise in cancelled copper warrants and falling stocks, and teeing off against a weaker dollar as well. Although the dollar recovered somewhat later in the day, it was unable to dislodge the gains notched up in the complex. A firmer US equity market (up for a seventh consecutive session), also helped the overall tone. Metal prices are slightly lower as of this writing, perhaps not that surprising given that copper and aluminum have approached key resistance levels of $7600 and $2300 respectively yesterday, and therefore were due for a slight pause. In addition, the dollar is stronger today, (now at 1.3680 against the Euro), as the Greek situation continues to linger in an unresolved state. Today, the Greeks said that they would not rule out seeking funding from the International Monetary Fund if European countries did not come through with the support needed. In addition, German Chancellor Merkel suggested earlier in the week that the Eurozone should be able to eject countries that persistently disobey the region's budget rules, a veiled reference to Greece. .... We are $22,375 on nickel, up $125, and the only metal that is higher today. Various supply glitches are providing support, as is the technical picture, where we note that a retest of $21,400 support held earlier in the week.  (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) According to the statistics, Japan produced 229,579 tons of stainless steel products in January, down by about 9.5 percent on last December. Japan produced around 105,944 tons and 123,635 tons of chrome-based stainless steel and nickel-based stainless steel respectively in the month.
  • (RTT) Japan's crude steel output increased 54% year-on-year in February, the Japan Iron and Steel Federation said on Thursday.
  • (Interfax) Jinchuan Group Ltd., China's largest nickel producer, aims to generate sales revenue of RMB 70 billion ($10.25 billion) in 2010, up 5.26 percent year-on-year, a company employee told Interfax on March 18.
  • (Dow Jones) The London Metal Exchange has listed a C. Steinweg Warehousing Ltd. warehouse in Gwangyang, South Korea, the exchange said Thursday.
  • (SBB) Stainless steel scrap availability is predicted to increase this year, perhaps by about 10% against 2009, with most of this improvement expected in the second half of the year, says ELG Haniel's chief operating officer Michael Wright. In a new BIR report, Wright anticipates that demand for stainless scrap will outweigh supply throughout 2010.
  • Barings bullish on global outlook for commodities - more
  • (MDM) Wholesale prices declined 0.6% in February, seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This decrease followed a 1.4% advance in January and a 0.4% increase in December.
  • (SM) According to the American Forest & Paper Association released the February 2010 U.S. Containerboard Statistics Report today, total containerboard paper production again rose sharply when compared to same month last year. Total production saw an increase of 208,400 tons or 8.9% over February 2009. Though total production amount decreased compared to January 2010, the daily average percent change was up 1.8% due to number of days in February. For the two month of 2010 production has increased 13.9% over 2009.

  BHP Says Nickel Refinery Shutdown May Last Two Weeks - BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, said its Kwinana nickel refinery in Western Australia may not be restarted for two weeks after shutting down on March 15. - more

  Moly Oxide Price Quoted At LME Permeates Into Actual Trade In 2011 = Antofagasta Introduces LME Moly Price Into Contracts To Be Settled In 2011 And Afterwards - While it is marked to see from when does price of molybdenum oxide started to be quoted at LME from the 22nd February of 2010 permeate into actual trade, Antofagasta, a producer of copper and molybdenum in Chile, announced on the end of last week that the Company has planned to introduce the price of molybdenum oxide quoted at LME into contracts on sales of molybdenum from 2011. - more

   Stainless Pipe and Tube Market - Recovery for Stainless Hopeful But Not Painless - Improving demand from the energy, chemical and automotive markets is leading the recovery of stainless tubulars. - more

  Metal prices: Volatility to continue - The CRB Commodity index, which represents 22 basic industrial commodities, has been range-bound, while being volatile in the last three months. - more

  U.S. Service Center Shipments of Steel Beat Year-Ago Volume for First Month Since April 2008 – February shipments of steel from U.S. metals service centers rose 10.4% above shipments for the same month in 2009, marking the first time since April 2008 that year-over-year shipments have been higher, the Metals Activity Report from the Metals Service Center Institute shows. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  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

Wednesday, March 17

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index -  minus 71 to 3,427. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) HSBC Is `Ready' to List on International Board in Shanghai, Geoghegan Says // China Must Pare Stimulus, Raise Rates to Counter Bubbles, World Bank Says // Kerry Properties Profit Rises 44% on Valuation Gains in Hong Kong, China // Bank of Japan Doubles Credit Program to $222 Billion, Holds Interest Rate // Asian Stocks, Commodity Prices Rise on Fed Pledge, BOJ Lending Expansion // U.K. Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Decline at the Fastest Pace Since 1997 // Feldstein Sees Greece Euro-Exit Pressure as Government Deficit Plan Fails // OPEC Agrees for Fifth Time to Leave Its Oil Production Quotas Unchanged  // European Union Casts Doubt on Some Deficit Targets, Citing Growth Optimism // European Stocks Advance to 17-Month High as Fed Pledges to Keep Rates Low // Fed Officials Signal Recovery Isn't Strong Enough to Warrant Higher Rates // Bernanke to Tell Congress Fed `Uniquely Suited' for Oversight of Big Banks // AIG Draws Another $2.2 Billion From Treasury Line to Bolster Insurer Units // Liquidity Risk Guidelines Issued by U.S. Regulators to Avert Repeat Crisis // Stiglitz Says Fed `Misjudged,' Stimulus Withdrawal Risks Hurting Housing // Stocks, Commodities Rise on Fed's Pledge for Low Rates; Yen, Dollar Weaken
  • The US Dollar is now trading higher against the Euro, but by less than 1/10 of 1%. NYMEX crude oil is trading 6/10 of 1% higher and at $82.20/barrel. Gold is lower by more than 1/10 of 1% while silver is over 1/10 of 1% higher. Base metals all ended the session higher. Indicator charts show nickel started higher, slowly slid thru the early part of the session before taking a noticeable dip and then jump, right as the session was ending. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at  $10.08/lb . Inventories of nickel store din LME approved warehouses slipped only slightly and remain above the 158,300 tonne level. Sucden's day old chart show LME nickel trading thru yesterday (chart here). Cancelled warrants dropped below the 2-1/2% level after spending 2 days over that level. For the second consecutive day, the Baltic Dry Index was lower, down 71 points to 3,427. Nickel prices were supported today by the news that BHP had temporarily shut down operations at its Kwinana nickel refinery in Australia due to a shortage of hydrogen. This came on the back of news that Boliden only had enough nickel to operate its Kokkola smelter thru next week, due to a Finnish port strike. And the strike in Sudbury continues, while worldwide nickel supplies are showing signs of falling by gauging LME warehouse numbers. And in what may be news later this week, Tropical Cyclone may be heading for northern Australia (see here).  Those who are shorting nickel this week may be in for a rough ride.   

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) The global refined nickel market was in a 15,500 metric ton surplus in January, the World Bureau of Metal Statistics said Wednesday.
  • (BW) Ebullio Capital Management LLP said its commodity hedge fund fell almost 70 percent in January, not the 1.1 percent decline originally reported to investors, letters to investors show.
  • Parsing the Fed: How the Statement Changed - more
  • What’s Next for the Fed and Mortgages? - more
  • Geithner, Orzag, Romer: "We do not expect substantial further declines in unemployment this year" - more
  • ECB's Juergen Stark Warns Of "Clear Risk Of Sovereign Debt Crisis - more
  • "Questions and Answers about the Financial Crisis" - more
  • Is Food the New Distressed Asset? - more
  • Lehman whistleblower lost his job weeks after raising alarm - more
  • Martin Wolf: China, Germany Committing World to Deflation - more
  • What Took the “Con” out of “Econometrics”? - more

  Boliden and the Finnish Harbour Strike - The Finnish harbour strike, now on its second week, will begin to have consequences for Boliden from the end of this week. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:25 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.13/lb higher, with all base metals trading higher again this morning, but already off session highs. The Euro is trading less than 1/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar at the moment.  NYMEX crude futures are up over 6/10 of 1% and over $82/barrel. Gold is down slightly, and silver is up slightly. In overnight trading Asian markets ended higher, with China up over 2%. European markets are trading higher this morning, and US futures show Wall Street should open in a buying mood. LME inventories dropped slightly overnight.     
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals rose sharply on Tuesday, practically recouping most of Monday's losses, as the dollar remained weak all day and sold off even more in the wake of the Fed announcement. In its communiqué, the central bank reiterated the by now familiar mantra of keeping interest rates low "for an extended period of time". The phraseology apparently took many by surprise, as the dollar shed almost one full Euro in the span of 15 minutes after the announcement was made. It seems participants were expecting a slight tweaking to the Fed's language, and the fact that they did not get it led to widespread dumping of the greenback. Crude oil prices shot up by about $2/brl, and there was a sharp advance in gold, although the gain in US equities was surprisingly more muted. .... Our take on the metals now is that the dips will likely be supported as long as the dollar continues to weaken, and given where it is now , it is likely the bears will attempt to test the $1.40 level against the Euro. However, the demand picture in metals looks less inspiring to us, making the current move higher dangerously dependent on currency factors alone. .... We are $22,200 on nickel, up $300. A retest of the $21,400 breakout point has held, (red line in our chart) and we now seem to be bouncing off it again in a second push towards $25,000. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • MSCI data shows shipments & inventories higher but months on hand stable - more
  • (Interfax) China produced 117.36 million tons of steel products in the first two months of 2010, up 27.7 percent year-on-year, according to figures released by Shanghai-based Mysteel Information on March 17.
  • (MP) The Chinese ferro-chrome market has lost momentum this week amid softening demand.
  • (JMB) Japan Nickel Supply Tightens for Plating Industry
  • Rio Tinto says India will match China's demand for key commodities soon - more
  • Why the optimistic outlook on commodities? - more
  • (FX) Canadian manufacturing shipments grew 2.4% in January, far exceeding expectations of just 0.7% growth after December's 1.6% gain. January's increase is the biggest since July 2009.
  • A regular commentary on the El Niño-Southern Oscillation - more
  • Is the Fed Normalizing Money Supply? - more
  • The bear: Dead or just sleeping?  - more
  • Let us talk some more Bull - more

  BHP Halts Nickel Refinery on Hydrogen Gas Shortage - BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, halted production at its Kwinana nickel refinery in Western Australia on March 15 because of a lack of hydrogen gas. - more

  Nippon Steel to lift output to meet Asian automakers' demand - Nippon Steel & Sumikin Stainless Steel Corp this month will return to full production of stainless steel sheet for export to automakers in other parts of Asia for the first time since the first half of fiscal 2008. - more

  Jinchuan Group Plans To Produce 130000 MT Of Nickel In 2010 - Yang Zhiqiang, president of China's Gansu Province-based Jinchuan Group, stated that the company plans to produce 130000 mt of nickel and 6,000 mt of cobalt in 2010, almost the same as the 2009 output levels. - more

   POSCO studying possible expansion of Vietnam stainless steel ops - A POSCO senior executive arrived in Vietnam in March 15 for a three-day visit to survey a possible expansion in the group's stainless steel division in the country. - more

  • Posco May Invest $200 Million in Vietnam Plant on Thainox Delay - Posco, Asia’s biggest stainless- steel maker, will likely bring forward a $200 million expansion of a Vietnam plant after talks to acquire Thailand’s Thainox Stainless Pcl stalled. - more

  Major Ferro-Alloy Producers In India Strengthen Facilities To Generate Electric Power By Themselves = FACOR Constructs Independent Plant To Generate 100 MW Of Electric Power With Completion On End This Year - Major ferro-alloy producers in India have been actively proceeding the countermeasures to secure electric power for their own consumption. - more

  Ramu developer denies blame - The developers of the Ramu nickel/cobalt mine are refusing to cop the criticism for the bad state of the Madang-Lae Highway. - more

  All products carbon steel price forecast - As predicted, the MEPS - Global Carbon Steel price moved up by $US20 per tonne in February. Advances were recorded for both flat and long products. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  • About 3,050 hourly rated production and maintenance workers, members of United Steelworkers Local 6500, have been on strike since July 13. Another 130 USW Local 6200 members in Port Colborne are also on strike. About 450 members of USW Local 9508 in Voisey's Bay have been on strike since Aug. 1.
  • Sudbury Star // Northern Life.ca
  • Vale/Inco offer // Vale/Inco Company Site
  • Union Strike Site //  USW  Local 6500
  • Sudbury Northern Life Videos
  • Vale Inco sends online message to striking employees - In the wake of last week's rejection of the company's offer to end the strike, this much is clear -the USW leadership, as they have demonstrated time and again over the last nine months, are more committed to misrepresenting and manipulating the facts than they are to ending the current labour dispute. - more

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  • Special Coverage Spy Case  / China Daily Coverage Iron Ore Talks 2010
  • SINA
  • Chain of Events
  • Rio staff face China trial on March 22-Australia - The trial of four Rio Tinto staff charged with commercial spying in China will begin on March 22 in a Shanghai court, Australia's foreign affairs department said on Wednesday. - more
  • Trial date of March 22 set for Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu in China - :Australian businessman Stern Hu will face trial in China on March 22 - and some court sessions will be closed to Australian authorities, the federal government has announced. - more
  • Q+A-What is China's Rio trial about? - 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

Tuesday, March 16

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 76 to 3,498. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Rejects `Groundless' Yuan Jibes, Advises U.S. to Respect Free Trade // BNP Paribas Said to Be in Talks to Buy KBC Groep's Japanese Equities Unit // Asian Stocks, Metals Advance as Greece Default Concerns Ease; Swiss Franc Gains // EU Ministers Lay Groundwork for Lifeline to Greece, Deny Threat of Default // German Investor Confidence Declines for a Sixth Month as Economy Stagnates // EU Finance Ministers Said to Have Failed to Agree on Hedge-Fund Regulation // Former Merrill Trader Is Banned for Five Years by U.K. Financial Regulator // Deutsche Bank Paid Out $3 Billion Last Year to Employees That Took Risks // Greek Ratings Affirmed as S&P Removes Nation From Review; Outlook Negative // EU Finance Ministers Fail to Agree on Hedge-Fund Rules Amid U.K. Dissent // European Stocks Extend Advances After S&P Confirms Greece's Credit Rating // Dodd's Financial Rules Bill Dilutes Obama Plan to Seek Bipartisan Support // CLO Market to End 12-Month Drought Through Citigroup Deal: Credit Markets // Citigroup Bolsters Trading Unit as Volcker's Proposed Ban Spurs Defectors // China, Japan Reduce Holdings of U.S. Treasury Debt as Global Demand Wanes // Housing Starts in U.S. Fall as Fewer Permits Signal Rebound to Take Longer // Stocks in U.S. Rise on Greece Credit Affirmation; Citigroup Shares Advance
  • The Euro continues to trade higher against the Euro, up nearly 6/10 of 1% at the moment.  NYMEX crude oil is up 2% and nearing $81.50/barrel. Gold is more than 1-1/4% while silver is 1.4% higher. Base metals all ended the day in the green, thanks in part to a stronger Euro. Indicator charts show nickel rose early, then stalled, rose again, then slide back a little. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $9.92/lb . Inventories of nickel stored in LME warehouses fell again overnight, and now sit just under the 158,400 tonne level. Sucden's day old chart shows LME trading thru yesterday (chart here). Cancelled warrants remain above the 2-1/2% level. The Baltic Dry Index fell 76 points to 3,498, showing some sudden volatility. Wall Street is slightly higher this morning as traders await a Fed announcement on interest rates this afternoon.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • The Federal Reserve as Piggy Bank - more
  • Canada Finance Chief Says Recovery Showing ‘Good Signs’ - more
  • America's Foreign-Owned National Debt - more
  • First-Quarter Growth May Be Slower but Stronger - more
  • Manufacturing Output: Which Way Is Up? - more
  • 'Wall Street' sequel is an omen of U.S. collapse - more
  • Virtual Tour of Paris - here

  Stainless Steel Production by Major Producers in Jan 2010 - n Jan 2010, China's major stainless steel producers (Taigang Stainless, Tianjin Taigang Tianguan Stainless, Baoxin, ZPSS, Baosteel, Guangzhou Lianzhong, Jiuquan Steel, ShanghaiKrupp, and Taishan Steel) made a total stainless output of 551,800 tonne, up by 19.5% m-o-m. - more

  China's growth boosting commodity prices - The latest economic figures from China have put pressure on the dollar and boosted a number of high-yielding currencies, including the Australian dollar and the South African rand. - more

  China steel assn says opposes 80-90 pct ore price hike - The China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) strongly opposes the attempt by foreign miners to increase benchmark iron ore prices by 80-90 percent in 2010, it said in a statement on Tuesday. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:25 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.17/lb with all base metals trading higher this morning.  The Euro is trading nearly 3/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar at the moment, giving a boost to commodity trading. NYMEX crude futures are up 1/4 of 1% and at $80/barrel. Gold is up 4/10 of 1% and silver, nearly 9/10 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher with China up 2/3 of 1%. European markets are trading higher this morning, and US futures imply a higher opening for Wall Street. Nickel inventories fell again overnight.
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metal prices finished lower on Monday, weighed down by a stronger dollar and growing concerns about China, both on the macro level and on policy issues. In the latter regard, the country's Premier dug in his heels on the issue of the Yuan-dollar peg over the weekend, and laid blame for existing currency tensions on the US's inability to control its deficits. In the meantime, Bloomberg reports that about 130 US lawmakers sent a letter yesterday to Treasury Secretary Geithner demanding that the Obama administration take action on the Yuan by imposing higher tariffs on Chinese-made imports. Some of these concerns seem to be on the backburner today, with metals snapping back to recoup about a third to a half of yesterday's losses. We suspect the bounce is due mainly to the dollar weakening against the Euro (now trading at 1.3710), but we would remain cautious here given the other more compelling issues still out there. Furthermore, we do not expect players to get too exposed ahead of the Fed announcement out later in the day. Although no one expects the Fed to move on rates, the possibility that the central bank could surprise on policy wording could lead to a possible recovery in the dollar..... We are $21,850 on nickel, up $350. For the moment, the breakout point above $21,400 seems to be holding. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) Because nickel price on the LME remained at high level, Taiwan’ Yieh United Steel Corp. (Yusco) announced to lift the stainless steel price by NT$4,000/ton for the second half of this month. Yusco announced to lift the exported price of 300 series stainless steel by US$120-150/ton further.
  • (Interfax) Societe Generale analysts advised investors to buy the three-month contracts for nickel, forecasting the price will rise.
  • (Interfax) An official from China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said on March 16 that the government will support Chinese steel mills by implementing new trade policies if the result of the iron ore price negotiations favors the three iron ore giants, state media reported.
  • (JMD) Orders for stainless steel plates/ In January, increase twofold year-on-year
  • (CD) China's electricity consumption in the first two months grew 26 percent year-on-year to 626.4 billion kWh, People’s Daily reported on Tuesday, citing the National Energy Administration.
  • China May Face ‘Massive’ Bank Bailouts After Stimulus Program - more
  • Consumer Metrics Institute - more

  Vale Targeting First Nickel From Goro Mine Next Month  - Vale SA, the world’s second-biggest nickel producer, will produce the first output of the metal from the $4.3 billion Goro mine in New Caledonia by the end of this month or the start of the next after a three-month delay. - more

  Japan's Top Stainless Steel Firm To Boost Output For Asia - Nippon Steel & Sumikin Stainless Steel Corp. this month will return to full production of stainless steel sheet for export to automakers in other parts of Asia for the first time since the first half of fiscal 2008.  - more

  Electricity Situation In S. Africa For Next Year Is Forecasted To Become More Serious Than This Year = In Preparation For World Soccer Games To Be Held In 2010, South Africa Reserves Extra Electric Power - The situation of electric power in South Africa has been worried but Eskom, national electric power corporation in South Africa, has given a warning that the supply situation of electric power in this country will become more tight in 2011 than that in 2010, when the World Soccer Games are held in June of 2010. - more

  Molybdenum mine project wins Chinese investment - A major investment by a Chinese company puts a big mining project near Eureka back on track. - more

  Opponents ask court to overturn U.P. mining permit - Four groups have filed a lawsuit hoping to overturn a state permit for a nickel and copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, saying the project does not meet legal requirements for protecting the environment. - more

  Groups question mining consultation in Palawan - Environmental groups on Tuesday questioned the “joint public consultation” conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for two mining firms in Palawan province over the weekend, calling it a move to “fast-track” mining operations in the province.  - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending March 13, 2010, domestic raw steel production was 1,715,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 70.9 percent. Production was 983,000 tons in the week ending March 13, 2009, while the capability utilization then was 41.1 percent. The current week production represents a 74.5 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending March 13, 2010 is up 1.9 percent from the previous week ending March 6, 2010 when production was 1,683,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 69.6 percent.

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  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

Monday, March 15

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 68 to 3,574. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Wen's Rejection of Stronger Yuan Draws `Head in Sand' Retort From Grassley // Cnooc May Step Up Overseas Acquisitions After $3.1 Billion Bridas Purchase // Japan's Government Raises Assessment of Economy for First Time Since July // Asian Stocks, Metals Fall on Concern China to Restrain Economy; Pound, Euro Drop // Phillips-Van Heusen to Buy Tommy Hilfiger for $3 Billion From Apax Funds // Rescue Plan for Greece Debated as EU Finance Ministers Aim to Avoid Paying // Pound Bears Bet More Than When Soros Beat BOE on Greece-Like U.K. Deficit // Bank of England Agents Expect U.K. Labor Market Won't Deteriorate Further // European Stocks Decline; BHP Billiton, Deutsche Telekom, Scor Lead Retreat // Money Rates Rising Foreshadows Treasury Losses as Bernanke Prepares Exit // Commercial Mortgage Debt Rallies as TALF Draws to a Close: Credit Markets // Europe Profits Beating U.S. Means Stoxx 600 Bull Market Intact to JPMorgan // U.S. Industrial Output Points to Sustained Pickup in Business Investment  // Stocks in U.S. Fall on Concern Over Dodd Financial Rules, China's Economy
  • The US Dollar continues to strengthen today, now trading nearly 8/10 of 1% higher against the Euro. NYMEX crude oil is down 1.8% and now trading under $80/barrel. Gold is trading 1/3 of 1% higher, while silver is trading slightly higher. Base metals all ended the day lower. Indicator charts show nickel slumped early, and showed no signs of a comeback until after the day's session was over. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $9.75/lb . Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses slipped again over the weekend, and now sit just under the 158,600 tonne level and less than 600 tonnes over the level at the beginning of the year. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel trading thru last week (chart here). Cancelled warrants are above the 2-1/2% level implying more outflow from warehouses is to be expected. The Baltic Dry Index rose 68 points to 3,574.

  Reports

  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Passivation of Stainless Steel - pdf here
  • Stainless Steel: Table of Technical Properties - pdf here
  • Stainless Steel International Conversion table - pdf here
  • World Bank Group Environmental, Health, and Safety Guidelines  "EHS Guidelines" - more

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Industrial sector demand for nickel is picking up but is still below pre-crisis levels as consumers remain cautious about the recovery, an executive at Russian nickel producer OAO Norilsk Nickel said Monday. ..... "We mostly sell to industrial users and their order books are slowly improving but are far from what is considered normal."
  • (Dow Jones) Russian miner OAO Norilsk Nickel said it doubled its nickel market share in China last year to 25% and that it's likely to remain around that level for now, an executive there said Monday. In 2009, Norilsk sold 60,000 tons of refined nickel to China, doubling 2008 sales, Anton Berlin, director of the marketing department at Norilsk, told Dow Jones Newswires.
  • Mr Yu Xiaochun president of China Stainless Steel Exchange Co Limited to Interfax - "I am not very positive about refined nickel prices this year, as the Chinese government is tightening monetary policy and controlling the amount of bank loans available."
  • (NB) PT Antam Tbk (Aneka Tambang) spent Rp7.3 billion ($A870,165) on exploration for nickel, gold and bauxite in Indonesia during February 2010. Nickel exploration was conducted in North Maluku and Southeast Sulawesi at a cost of Rp2.6 billion.
  • According to statistics, China China imported 6.763 million tons of chrome ore in 2009 , down 1.3% from 2008.
  • 60 Minutes - Wall Street: Inside the Collapse - more (complete segment online plus web extra's)
  • Lewis Faults ‘Short-Term Greedy,’ Cites Goldman: Interview - more
  • Michael Lewis: Junior Salesgirlieman - more
  • China Inflation ‘Mild, Controllable,’ Official Says  - more
  • More Empty Posturing Out Of Moody's - Rating Agency Once Again Threatens With US Downgrade - more
  • Oil Production to Peak in 2014, Scientists Predict - more
  • Taking On China  - more
  • Whither the Yuan? - more
  • Another Ticking Time Bomb - more
  • Global House Prices May Have Further to Fall, but U.S. Looking Better - more
  • Rob Parenteau: Data Challenges Deficit Terrorist Beliefs - more

  First Nations warn true partnership is needed on Ring of Fire development - The First Nations communities surrounding a potentially massive chromite deposit in northern Ontario known as the Ring of Fire say it will take more than lip-service from politicians to ensure development goes ahead on the valuable land. - more

  Commodities Review – In a two-speed world - From a top-down, macro approach, Societe Generale are moderately bullish on commodities as a group for the remainder of 2010. However, they expect the prices of individual commodities to vary considerably. - more

  China's ore import surge reflects demand - Hebei port - Growing demand and spiking prices are behind a surge in iron ore stockpiles at China's ports, rather than underlying structural problems in the steel sector, the head of the Hebei Port Group said. - more

  Commentary - Ruthless big business tactics - ‘It is time PNG’s Government stood up to the ruthless big business tactics of the Chinese companies and other global mining companies operating in their sovereign land and stop being pulled into the vortex of their inhumanely commercial games. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.18/lb lower, with most base metals trading lower this morning. The US Dollar is trading 1/3 of 1% higher against the Euro at the moment, adding pressure to commodities. NYMEX crude futures are trading a little over 1/2 of 1% lower, and under $81/barrel. Gold opened 1/3 of 1% higher while silver is lower by over 1/2 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower with China off over 1-1/2% on concerns that China and India will seek to restrict economic growth to curb inflation . European markets are trading lower this morning, while US futures imply a lower opening on Wall Street. Nickel inventories continued to fall over the weekend.  
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more
  • Reuters morning report - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metal prices finished generally lower on Friday, rounding off a very uneventful week, with less than a $300 trading range in place for copper and a paltry $50 range seen in aluminum. However, given that the Euro hit a one-month high against the dollar last week, while retail sales numbers out of the US were also quite constructive, (more on that later), we would have expected a slightly better showing. The fact that metals are struggling suggests that investors are fretting more about demand, particularly as it relates to China where an overheating economy is thought to be elevating the government's tightening bias. This morning, we are lower across the board, despite the Euro not doing much (now trading at $1.3715 against the dollar). Copper is down by $88, and has now given up most of its earthquake-induced gains. Oil prices are also off by about $.50 ahead of the OPEC meeting later in the week. US stocks are expected to open lower..... We are $21,450 on nickel, down $300. The breakout on the charts now seems to be reversing, with prices heading back down to the breakout line at $21,400 (marked in red). If we close below the line for two days running, this could be quite bearish technically, and could set up a sell-off to the $20,000 mark. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Reuters) India's Tata Steel , the world's No. 8 steelmaker, expects costs to rise between $140 to $150 per tonne, once new annual contracts for raw material supplies are signed, Managing Director H.M. Nerurkar said.
  • (Yieh) Yieh United Steel Corp. (Yusco) and Tang Eng, Taiwanese stainless steel mills, are going to hike their prices for the second half of this month by around US$158/ton, driven by LME nickel price at peak of US$22,300/ton in the beginning of last week.
  • (Dow Jones) China Jinchuan To Produce 130,000 Tons Nickel In 2010 -Report
  • (JMB) Japan Stainless Dealers Try to Hike Cold Sheet by 15,000 Yen/t
  • (MNP) - A Chinese worker was killed on Thursday at the massive $US1.4 billion ($A1.52 billion) Ramu nickel-cobalt mine in Papua New Guinea, a joint venture between Australian Securities Exchange-listed Highlands Pacific and China’s Ramu NiCo Management (MCC).
  • (MDM) January 2010 wholesale revenues were $346.7 billion, up 1.3% from the revised December level and were up 10.5% from the January 2009 level, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The December preliminary estimate was revised upward $1.3 billion or 0.4%.
  • A rare-earth gold rush - more
  • Warning for commodities investors  - more
  • Mines’ harsh human toll is no deep, dark secret - more
  • Commodity prices mixed amid unclear demand outlook - more
  • China's Property: Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble - more
  • China Collapse - more

  Vale restarting Sudbury nickel using contractors - Vale is going ahead with plans to bring in outside workers to increase production at its strike-bound Sudbury nickel and copper mining operations following last week's rejection of a contract offer, a spokesman said on Sunday. - more

  Munali Nickel Mine to re-open - Government says the Munali Nickel Mine, which closed at the height of last year’s global financial and economic meltdown, will resume production this month-end. - more

  Hernic Ferrochrome to raise 2010 output - South Africa's Hernic Ferrochrome, a unit of Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation, said on Friday it plans to raise output to 90% of total annual smelter capacity this year due to higher demand. - more

  Tati Nickel Fights to Extend Lifespan - Strategists at Tati Nickel Mining Company and its controlling shareholder, Norilsk Nickel, are hoping the strengthening of the nickel price will fuel critically needed exploration works, as the mine's 2016 end of life approaches. - more

  Base metal to surpass gold: economist - Prices for aluminium, copper, nickel, lead and zinc will rise faster than gold this year as industrial demand for these base metals from emerging economies increases, a leading economist says. - more

  Mining company wants to work with landowners - Last week, Focus published an article by Madang-based journalist Scott Waide on the dilemma facing some landowners because of relocation from the Ramu nickel mine site. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  • Special Coverage Spy Case  / China Daily Coverage Iron Ore Talks 2010
  • SINA
  • Chain of Events
  • (Interfax) Chinese steel mills have asked the government to intervene in international iron ore price negotiations with the three global iron ore giants, which have proposed a 90 percent increase from last year in annual iron ore benchmark prices, state media reported on March 13.
  • Australia welcomes China report on Chinalco - Australia on Monday welcomed a report saying that China did not blame Rio Tinto or the Australian government for the collapse of a $19.5 billion tie-up between Chinalco and the Australian mining giant. - 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

Friday, March 12

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 190 to 3,506. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Indonesia Credit Rating Raised to 12-Year High by S&P on Economic Outlook // Indian Industrial Output Rises 16.7%, Adding to Pressure on Interest Rates // BHP's Kloppers Winning in War to End Annual Price Talks With Steelmakers // China May Be Forced Into `Massive' Bank Bailouts After Stimulus, Shih Says // Asian Stocks Gain on Speculation Bank of Japan to Add Funds; Ringgit Rises // European Industrial Output Rose Most in More Than Two Decades in January // Euro May Break Resistance to 5-Week High Against Yen: Technical Analysis // European Union Ministers Said to Discuss EU Bonds to Fund Any Greek Rescue // U.K. House Prices Rose in February by Most Since 2002, Acadametrics Says  // Investors Now Net Buyers of Greek, Irish, Portuguese Bonds, Citigroup Says // European Stocks Rise, Advancing for Second Week, Paced by Siemens, BSkyB // Yellen Said to Be Obama Pick for Fed Vice Chairman to Replace Donald Kohn // Lehman Misled Investors on Leverage, Fuld Was `Negligent,' Examiner Says // White House's Summers Says U.S. `Very Close' to Seeing Employment Growth // Retail Sales Unexpectedly Rose in February as U.S. Consumers Braved Storms // U.S. Consumer Sentiment Slips in This Month's Gauge Rather Than Increasing
  • The Euro continues to trade higher against the US Dollar, currently by over 1/2 of 1%. NYMEX crude oil is down nearly 1-1/2% and under $81/barrel. Gold is down nearly 3/4 of 1% and silver is off nearly 6/10 of 1%. Base metals ended the day mostly higher. Indicator charts show nickel jumped early and then quieted for the remainder of the session. For the day, Dow Jones reports three moth nickel ended the day at $9.87/lb , down $.24/lb from last Friday's close. Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses slipped below the 156,000 tonne level overnight and now sit just 930 tonnes over the level they began the year at. News from New Caledonia of a one day strike by nickel workers helped support pricing today, although the Euro's strength gets most of the credit, while the Sudbury vote rejecting Vale's latest offer was expected. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel trading in London thru yesterday (chart here). Cancelled warrants, after spending five days below 2%, jumped back over today. Retail sales were up in February and considering the weather, this was a very positive sign. Consumer confidence continues to slip, down to 72.5 in March from 73.6 in February.
  • That's it for another week. For those who have nothing to worry about after such a forgettable market week, there are only 1014 days left till the next predicted end of the world.
  • Have a safe and restful weekend!!

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (SG) According to Mr Wang Shoudong chairman of Taigang, Chinese Shandong Province-based steelmaker Taishan Steel and Iron Co has refused to be merged with large local producer Shandong Steel and Iron Group. Taigang has switched the focus of its business from carbon steel to stainless steel and is currently ranked among the top three domestic producers in the Chinese stainless steel market.
  • Fed’s Dudley: Governments Need Fiscal Stimulus Exit Plan - more
  • Lehman Brothers Dies While Getting Away With Murder: Regulatory Capture - more
  • Did JPM and Citi Cause Lehman’s Collapse? - more
  • Accounting Fraud, Short Sellers & the SEC - more
  • Whither the Yuan? - more
  • Companies’ Net Worth Falls Again - more
  • Rapid Rise in Seed Prices Draws U.S. Scrutiny - more

  Operations in Röyttä harbour in Tornio restarted - The operations in Röyttä harbour in Tornio, Finland have been restarted despite the stevedores strike. - more

  Bonus Content - Global Market Reports - Nonferrous Scrap - In Europe, the markets are pretty strong and the prices are pretty high. Demand isn’t huge but the Chinese have shown more demand than we expected coming out of the Chinese New Year. - more

  Reliance Steel sees orders improve, no restocking - Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co said its metal service centers and others in the industry and their manufacturer customers are no longer destocking inventory, but neither are they restocking, as orders for processed metal have increased in only some areas. - more

  Hot Rumors and Forged Deals in Steel - The U.S. steel industry is ablaze this month in a cauldron of molten whispers about purported takeovers. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:30 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.21/lb higher, with all London traded base metals higher this morning. The Euro is trading 2/3 of 1% higher against the US Dollar at the moment, as industrial output in Europe reportedly rose the most in more than two decades in January. NYMEX crude futures are up 2/3 of 1% and over $82.50/barrel. Gold is up 6/10 of 1% and silver is 3/4 of 1% higher. In overnight trading, Asian market ended slightly higher, with China off 1-1/3%.  European markets are trading higher this morning, and US futures show Wall Street could open in a bullish mood. Nickel inventories fell again, and the BDI rose.  

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals ended slightly lower on Thursday with the strong macro data out of China causing some concern about further tightening by the government. News of a rather severe aftershock near Santiago caused only a short-lived rally in copper prices, as major mines quickly issued statements saying their operations were unaffected. The psychological impact was far greater, with the aftershock occurring just as Chile’s’ new president was being sworn in, causing nervous guests assembled at the swearing-in to hold their breath as they watched chandeliers sway.  This morning, metals are up across the board, with copper knocking against the $7500 level. The dollar has weakened considerably and explains most of today’s increase, as it nears the $1.38 mark against the Euro on news that European industrial output rose by its greatest amount in two decades in January. Output jumped 1.7% from December, and was more than double the 0.7% gain projected by economists. .... We are $21,580 on nickel, up $285, and fairly quiet. The market seems to be taking the news that workers at Vale's nickel operations in Sudbury have rejected a contract settlement offer with the company somewhat in stride (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • Note - Statistics from South Africa show production of nickel rose 65.1% in January 2010, when compared to December 2009 production levels. Chrome ore production rose 179% during the same period. Overall, total mining production was up 7.7% in January 2010 compared to January 2009 production.
  • (AMM) Thompson Creek Metals Co. Inc. said its molybdenum production will drop by about 6 million pounds in 2012, so the company is aggressively on the warpath to acquire new assets in order to grow revenue. - more
  • (Interfax) Refined nickel prices on the international and domestic market are expected to remain in a slump until mid April, due to weak demand from downstream industries and increasing nickel pig iron supplies in China, Yu Xiaochun, president of the China Stainless Steel Exchange (CSSE), told Interfax on March 10.
  • (CRU) * Much of the rally in nickel prices over the last month is attributed to investment fund buying, although developments in the physical market have also been supportive of higher prices. World demand for nickel continues to improve, supply is tightening and premiums have risen sharply in all regions.
  • (SBB) IFM ceo confident of 'substantial' ferro-chrome price rise
  • (JMD) Nickel market price falls below 10 dollars again/ Speculators close out trades
  • (SMM) Jinchuan Group cut ex-works nickel prices by RMB 6,000/mt to RMB 160,000/mt on March 12th.
  • (CCR) China's power generation in the first two months surged 22.1 percent from a year earlier, official data showed on Mar 9, extending a recent trend of fast rises as the economy gathers growth momentum.

  Strike by New Caledonia nickel miners - A trade union representing the majority of New Caledonia nickel mine workers has called a strike over concerns about the impact the industry is having on the environment. - more

  Power uncertainty causing ferrochrome project standstill as demand lifts – Merafe - Ferrochrome producers are very bullish on future demand, but electricity uncertainty has caused the project pause button to be pushed. - more

  Analysts see steel industry recovery despite roadblocks - Some analysts said Thursday concerns abound in the North American steel industry, although signs point to a vastly improved operating environment now than in the deepest part of the recession. - more

  At the Capitol / Mining 'damage deposits' put on hold - An effort to require future copper-nickel mining projects to pay so-called "damage deposits" so the public isn't hit with expensive cleanup costs is dead for the session, its chief Senate sponsor conceded Thursday.  - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  • About 3,050 hourly rated production and maintenance workers, members of United Steelworkers Local 6500, have been on strike since July 13. Another 130 USW Local 6200 members in Port Colborne are also on strike. About 450 members of USW Local 9508 in Voisey's Bay have been on strike since Aug. 1.
  • Sudbury Star // Northern Life
  • Vale/Inco offer // Vale/Inco Company Site
  • Union Strike Site //  USW  Local 6500
  • Sudbury TV // Sudbury Northern Life Videos
  • Vale Sudbury workers reject settlement offer - Striking workers at Vale's nickel operations in Ontario, Canada decisively rejected a contract settlement offer from the company, meaning the 8-month work stoppage will continue, a union official said on Thursday. - more

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  • Special Coverage Spy Case  / China Daily Coverage Iron Ore Talks 2010
  • SINA
  • Chain of Events
  • Vale, BHP, Rio Suspend Talks With Chinese Steelmakers, Dow Says - Vale SA, BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group suspended talks on benchmark prices with Chinese steelmakers, Dow Jones Newswires reported, citing an industry executive it didn’t identify. - more
  • Steel mills head home for ore stocks - Surging spot prices of iron ore are forcing steel mills to look for more domestic supplies, something that would also reduce their dependence on costly imports, industry insiders said. - more
  • European steel industry outraged at announcement of the iron ore industry to massively increase iron ore prices - 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, March 11

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 86 to 3,316. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Inflation, Production Accelerate, Adding Pressure for Stimulus Exit // Metals Fall, Yen Strengthens on Speculation China Will Restrain Expansion // Japan's Economic Growth Revised Down to 3.8% as Business Spending Slumps // Asia's Billionaires Doubled Wealth at World's Fastest Pace, Forbes Says // HSBC Private Bank Suisse Says `Serious' Data Theft Affects 15,000 Accounts // Swiss National Bank Keeps Benchmark Rate Near Zero as Economy Strengthens // European Stocks Decline, Led by BHP Billiton, Lagardere; Volkswagen Gains // Foreclosures in U.S. Rise at Slowest Pace in Four Years on Obama Efforts // El-Erian Says World Economy May Face Disruptive Sovereign Debt Imbalances // Household Wealth in U.S. Increases at a Slower Pace as Home Values Decline // Trade Deficit in U.S. Unexpectedly Shrinks as Oil, Automobile Imports Drop //
  • At the moment, the Euro is trading nearly 1/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude oil is down nearly 1/3 of 1% and under $82/barrel. Gold is trading flat and silver is up nearly 1/2 of 1%. Base metals ended the day mixed and mostly lower. Indicator charts show nickel opened lower, then spent the day in choppy trading within a $350/tonne range. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $9.66/lb , and well off session lows. Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell for a eight consecutive session overnight, and now rest just under 159,400 tonnes. Sucden's day old nickel chart shows LME trading thru yesterday (chart here). Canceled warrants have slipped to 1-1/2% and inventories have fallen off their record high by nearly 7100 tonnes. They remain 1,474 tonnes above the level they ended 2009 at. So far this month the overall level has fallen by 3,282 tonnes. The Baltic Dry Index rose 86 points overnight to 3,316. World markets are having another ho-hum day of trading, with primary focus today centered on fears that China may take aggressive action to slow its growth and nip hints of inflation.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Dow Jones) India's nickel imports in 2010-11 are likely to rise 12.5% on year to 45,000 metric tons on the back of an increase in demand for nickel-coated stainless steel, a senior industry executive said Thursday. "Around 75%-80% of the nickel imported in the country is utilized by the stainless steel industry. With the Indian stainless steel industry growing at 8%-10% annually, the demand is bound to rise," said N.C. Mathur, president of the Indian Stainless Steel Development Association.
  • (Dow Jones) U.S. nickel imports fell 9.4% in January from last month, and was down 11.9% from the previous year, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.
  • (Dow Jones) U.S. nickel exports fell 8.0% in January from the previous month, but was up 252.1% from the previous year, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.
  • (MP) Brazilian mining giant Vale is exploring for nickel on lands owned by Ferbasa, the country's leading ferro-chrome producer has revealed.
  • China data point to 'overheating,' boosting rate-hike case - more
  • The Ryan Tax Plan: Higher Taxes for 90% of Americans, Less Revenue for the Government - more
  • Q&A: Atlanta Fed’s Altig on Small Business’s Potential to Derail Recovery - more
  • Unemployment Rates, by State: Most Regions Added Jobs in January - more
  • U.S. Foreclosure Activity Decreases 2 Per Cent in February - more
  • Goldman Deal-Maker Now Advocates Regulation - more
  • Greece Braces for Long, Deep Recession - more
  • It's Going To Implode: Buy Physical Gold - NOW - more
  • Gallup: Can’t Get No Satisfaction - more
  • A China Catalyst? - more

  Crowflight Resumes Milling Operations at Bucko - Crowflight Minerals is pleased to announce that milling operations have resumed at the Bucko Lake Nickel Mine ("Bucko Mine") located in the Thompson Nickel Belt near Wabowden, Manitoba. - more

  Nickel Production Heating Up - Nickel prices touched a peak of $22,765 per ton for spot delivery on the London Metal Exchange last week, before correcting 5.8% this week. - more

  Phiri to Leave Merafe for New Platinum Firm - JSE-Listed ferrochrome producer Merafe Resources announced yesterday CEO Steve Phiri would step down at the end of the month to take over the reins at a Royal Bafokeng-owned platinum company. - more

  World Bank Must Stop Plan to Finance the Second Largest Indonesian Nickel Mine - They planned to give a political risks assurance for the second biggest nickel company in Indonesia, PT Weda Bay Nickel. - more (note - keep in mind this organization is an anti-mining operation)

  Nerves of steel - Anglo subsidiary Kumba has cancelled a supply contract with ArcelorMittal SA that was meant to last about 25 years. The two have now reached a standoff, which is being felt across the economy. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.12/lb lower, with other base metals also lower. The US Dollar is trading only slightly higher against the Euro at the moment. NYMEX crude futures are quiet and barely over $82/barrel. Gold and silver both opened a little over 1/10 of 1% lower. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower with China only slightly lower. European markets are lower this morning, while US futures are slightly lower. Apparently the best phrase to describe trading this morning is "slightly lower". Nickel inventories slumped yet again overnight.    
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more
  • Reuters morning report - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metal prices retreated on Wednesday, this despite trade data out of China showing February imports of unwrought copper rising to almost 323,000 tons, up almost 10% from the previous month. Imports of copper scrap fell 17% from January, likely attributable to a lack of availability. On the whole, copper prices have not done much so far this week, with prices still hemmed in by $7600 resistance. The same is true with the other metals, with most of them slightly lower so far on the week, with the exception of lead and tin. Right now, all the metals are down, except for ali, which is clinging to a modest gain.  .... We are $21,340 on nickel, down $180, as prices are pushing lower after failing to mount a serious test of $25,000 resistance. We frankly have been puzzled by nickel's move higher to begin with, and so are not surprised by the current weakness. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • Note - China's January-February nickel production reached 28,159 tons, an increase of 8.7% YOY. February's nickel production rose 0.4% to approximately 13.7 thousand tons.
  • (MF) Japan’s stainless steel mills are increasing their production capacity to 80 percent due to improved demands.
  • (Yieh) Japan’s biggest stainless steel mill, Nippon Steel & Sumikin Stainless Steel (NSSC) has announced new ex-work price of March. In order to offset increasing nickel costs, the price for domestic market increased over US$55/ton. The company’s price of 304 cold rolled stainless steel sheets was at 365,000/ton, increased by 5,000/ton from February.
  • (AP) General Moly Inc. said Friday a Chinese firm has agreed to buy a 25 percent equity stake for $80 million and secure other funding designed to fully finance a Nevada molybdenum mine. Under the agreement, Hanlong (USA) Mining Investment Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Sichuan Hanlong Group, will arrange for and guarantee for a $665 million bank loan from a Prime Chinese Bank.
  • (MDM) Swiss fasteners distributor Bossard Group reported sales for 2009 were CHF 395.1 million (US$369.5 million), down 30.2% from 2008. In local currencies, sales were down 28.6%. Profit declined 52.8% to CHF 15.3 million (US$14.3 million).
  • (MDM) January U.S. manufacturing technology consumption totaled $130.96 million, according to the American Machine Tool Distributors' Association and The Association for Manufacturing Technology. This total, as reported by companies participating in the USMTC program, was down 40.3% from December but up 26.2% from the total of $103.77 million reported for January 2009.
  • (RITA) The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) rose 0.4 percent in January from its December 2009 level, rising after the index was unchanged in December, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today.
  • Slowing China challenges for resource investors - more
  • Volatility ahead for commodities, says Glencore - more
  • A commodities bubble looks unlikely - more
  • China - Feb inflation indexes rise as new loans fall by half - more
  • Reporter changes to man of steel  - more

 Cuba says Sherritt nickel venture at record output - Canadian mining company Sherritt International's joint nickel venture in Cuba broke production records in February, while a second plant's output was 2 percent above plan, official media reported Wednesday. - more

  Antofagasta uses LME moly prices in contracts - Antofagasta is using prices on the London Metal Exchange (LME) molybdenum contracts as a reference for its 2011 contracts, the Chilean miner said at the Reuters Global Mining and Steel Summit on Wednesday. - more

 Quantities Of Chrome Ore Imported By China In CY 2009 And Broken Down By Sources = Total Quantity Of Cr-Ore Imported By China In 2009 Was Smaller Than That Imported In 2008 - According to the customs-statistics released in China, the quantities of chrome ore imported by China in the calender year (January - December) of 2009 as well as in a single month of December and broken down by sources were as per the table shown below. - more

  China keen to invest in SAfrica mines - South Africa's mines minister said on Wednesday that China had shown strong interest in investing in the African country's mining sector, and reassured investors there were no plans to nationalize mines. - more

  China sets new record high for crude steel output in January - China produced a record 52.53 million tonnes of crude steel in January, confirming market sentiment that the government's efforts to curtail overproduction have gone nowhere. - more

  Western Areas Nickel Lucky - Nickel miner Western Areas NL and gold producer Troy Resources NL says they have accelerated drilling at their Sandstone joint venture in Western Australia after making an interesting new nickel discovery. - more

  Tata Steel hit by Orissa Govt's blanket mining ban order - The Orissa Government's order banning what it feels “illegal” mining by private companies in the State's iron ore-rich Banspani / Jarauli areas has proved too much for Tata Steel. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  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

Wednesday, March 10

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 20 to 3,230. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Emerging-Market Stocks Rise, Erase 2010 Loss; Yen Falls on China Exports // China's Surging Exports, Property Prices Add Pressure to End Crisis Stance  // Japan's Machinery Orders Fall 3.7%; Business Spending Revival May Be Slow // Thailand Keeps Interest Rate Steady at Five-Year Low on Recovery Concerns // JCDecaux Says Full-Year Net Plunges on `Worst' Advertising Slump on Record // French, Italian Output Jumped in January, Signaling Economic Recovery Gain // Hennes & Mauritz CEO Persson Says Economy This Year Is `Better Than 2009' // European Stocks Climb to a Seven-Week High; ICAP Surges, Barratt Rallies // Obama Proving Pessimists Wrong as Rebounding Economy Converges With Stocks // Senate Said to Weigh Setting Up $50 Billion Fund to Wind Down Failed Firms // Citigroup Plans $2 Billion TruPS Sale After Repaying U.S.: Credit Markets // Hedge Funds Return 0.5% in February as Stocks Recover, U.S. Rates Stay Low // Unemployment Eased in Nine U.S. States in January, Labor Department Says // Fed `Extended Period' Rate Pledge Called Inflexible by Four Policy Makers // Stocks in U.S. Trim Gains; Dow Average Declines, Led by Consumer Companies
  • The US Dollar is now trading higher against the Euro, up nearly 3/10 of 1% at the moment. NYMEX crude is down nearly 1/2 of 1% and just over $81/barrel. Gold is down over 1-1/3% and silver is off the same. Base metals ended the session mixed, with nickel leading the decliners. Indicator charts show nickel spent the entire session on the slide. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $9.76/lb . Inventories of nickel stored in LME warehouses fell for a seventh consecutive session overnight, and now sit just over the 159,700 tonne level. The Baltic Dry Index returned to the black, up 20 points overnight to 3,230. MarketWatch reports "The unemployment rate decreased in nine U.S. states in January and climbed in 30, signaling the thawing of the labor market is not broad-based." How did your state fare? (more)

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Note - The International Chromium Development Association reported that global output of ferrochrome was 6.452 million tons in 2009, 21.2% lower than 2008 figures. High carbon ferrochrome production fell 18.4%, while production of low carbon ferrochrome fell 38.2%. The world's largest producer of ferrochrome, South Africa, saw production fall 28.5% in 2009. While down for the year, global production in the fourth quarter rose by nearly 50% YOY.
  • Note - A Chinese Stainless Steel index we follow stands at 101.45 today, down 0.37% from last week, up 3.58% from the average price of last month, and down 23.8% from this time last year.
  • Note - Exports of chrome ore from Turkey surged in February, with the nation reporting it exported 186,130 tons, a 185% increase compared to Feb 2009. Except for 2,626 tons shipped to Belgium, the rest shipped to China.
  • (MP) The ferro-chrome market in the United States could be heading towards a summer supply crunch as producers in South Africa continue to report power supply shortages and the football World Cup is set to force industrial power users to make additional cutbacks, according to trade sources.
  • (MP) European molybdenum prices slip as 'Chinese material returns
  • Italy Jan industry output jumps, bodes well for Q1 - more
  • Yong Xin shares down after CEO's brutal killing - more
  • Reality Check for Bank Investors, Mortgage Investors and Home Buyers - more
  • Video: Economist Expects Greater Frequency of Recessions - more
  • Purchase Applications Increase in Latest MBA Weekly Survey - more
  • Economy Still Breeding Doom And Gloom - more
  • Researchers back cancer-fighting properties of papaya - more
  • Burger Wars - article  graph 1 graph 2

  National newspapers discuss Vale Inco strike in editorials - The nearly eight-month-long labour dispute between Vale Inco and the three Steelworkers locals in Canada who are currently on strike are mentioned in two recent editorials in national newspapers. - more

   Nickel’s ‘Roll Over’ Signals More Declines: Technical Analysis - Nickel’s “momentum roll over” after prices fell from a 20-month high last week signals further declines, according to technical analysis by Barclays Capital. - more

  Commodities Rebound in February Despite Volatile Market Conditions, Demand Expected to Drive Continued Interest in the Space - Despite recent volatility in global markets, commodities markets continue to react positively to signs of ongoing economic recovery. - more

  Iron Ore Price to Gain 60% on China, Steel Output, Goldman Says - Iron ore contract prices may surge 60 percent to a record this year as demand from China increases and steel production recovers in developed economies, Goldman Sachs JBWere Pty said. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.09/lb lower and under $10/lb, with other base metals mostly higher but quiet. The US Dollar and Euro are trading dead even at the moment. NYMEX crude futures are up nearly 1/3 of 1% and at $81.75/barrel. Gold opened up 1/3 of 1% higher, while silver is up nearly 9/10 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended slightly higher with China off nearly 8/10 of 1% as surging exports add pressure on Chinese government to end stimulus. European markets are slightly lower this morning, with US futures giving no hint of an opening direction for Wall Street. Nickel inventories slumped for the 7th consecutive session. 
  • Reuters morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - No report today - Ed is traveling (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • S.Korea POSCO to raise steel prices in Q2 -exec - more
  • (Yieh) According to data from the German steel federation Wirtschaftsvereinigung Stahl, Germany's crude steel output reached 3.42 million tons in February 2010, around the same compared to the previous month but with a 34.3 percent higher than in February 2009.
  • (Interfax) The total volume of China's steel product exports fell to 2.49 million tons in February this year, down 13.84 percent month-on-month, according to preliminary statistics released by the General Administration of Customs (GAC) on March 10.
  • (MF) Japan exported the stainless steel scrap about 13,718 tons in January, with an average price around FOB US$1,448/ton, up by 15.3 percent from last December. Among them, to Korea, the export reached about 9,422 tons, to China was 2,904 tons, and to Hong Kong was about 1,282 tons.
  • Germany's exports tumble unexpectedly darkening the outlook  - more
  • The 2010 Retirement Confidence Survey - pdf here
  • Job openings rise in January to 11-month high - more
  • U.S. millionaire ranks up 16 percent last year - more

  New projects, China may pose threat to nickel recovery - The global nickel market may be in supply deficit only briefly if producers manage to bring on line faster than expected new projects waiting in the wings. - more

  Slowing China challenges for resource investors - Commodity-related investments will remain a crucial avenue to gain exposure to the China story even if growth slows to single digits in the coming years, Mark Mobius, president of Templeton Emerging Markets said. - more

  Keangnam Enterprises sells part of stake in Madagascar nickel mine - South Korea's cash-strapped Keangnam Enterprises Ltd. said Wednesday that it has sold a 1.5 per cent stake in a nickel mine in Madagascar to the state-run Korea Resources Corp. for 35 billion won (US$30.9 million). - more

  POSCO says Thainox talks at "unfavorable" stage - South Korea's POSCO said on Wednesday its talks with Thainox Stainless Pcl , on acquiring Southeast Asia's largest stainless steel producer were currently in "unfavorable" condition. - more

  State considers tougher copper-nickel mining rules - Back in 1992, the state set up rules for a kind of mining that's never been done on any large scale in Minnesota -- copper-nickel mining, sometimes called sulfide mining. - more

  New Caledonia taps Australia for reef protection - New Caledonia on Wednesday enlisted Australia's help to protect its massive coral reef, the world's second biggest after the Great Barrier Reef. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  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

Tuesday, March 9

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 49 to 3,210. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Yen Strengthens as Exporters Bring Home Profits; Pound Slips, Stocks Fall  // China's Interest-Rate Gap Driving Pressure for Yuan Gains, Regulator Says // Gold `Unlikely' to Be Main China Reserve Investment On Price Risk, Yi Says // Merkel Says Greece Crisis Shows Urgent Need for Credit-Default Swap Rules // Eurotunnel Profit Plunges on Tunnel Fire, Train Breakdowns During Winter  // Barker Sees `Grounds for Optimism' on Britain's Recovery as Risks Diminish // Greece's Estimates of Tax Revenue May Be Overstated, Draft EU Report Finds  // Greece's Estimates of Tax Revenue May Be Overstated, Draft EU Report Finds  // Cadillac Plays Down GM Ties to Avoid Bankruptcy Stigma, Craft Own Identity // Sack Says Fed Selling Assets Would Risk Sudden Increase in Long-Term Rates // Derivatives Regulation Urged by EU, Merkel as Greece Takes Plea to Obama // U.S. Economy Could Add 300,000 Jobs This Month, First Trust's Wesbury Says
  • The US Dollar is trading 1/3 of 1% higher against the Euro, but well off session highs. NYMEX crude is down 1/3 of 1% and over $81.50/barrel. Gold is trading flat while silver is up 8/10 of 1%. Base metals ended the day mostly higher, shifting direction as the Euro regained some ground. Indicator charts show nickel slumped hard early on, but as the Euro turned around, so did it. For the day Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended at $10.09/lb , only $.02 lower than yesterday. Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses slipped for a sixth consecutive time overnight, and now register just over the 159,900 tonne level. Cancelled warrants remain above the 1-1/2% level. Sucden's day old charts shows nickel floundering over the last few days (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index halted its eight day advance and dropped 49 points to 3,210.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • China sinks $1-billion into venture with B.C. miner - more
  • U.S. Sitting on Mother Lode of Rare Tech-Crucial Minerals - more
  • Upswing in steel futures trading on the horizon - more
  • US Stocks Could Rise Further; Double-Dip Less Likely: Cohen - more
  • Small Businesses Turn More Pessimistic - more
  • CBO’s Elmendorf: U.S. Fiscal Policy on Unsustainable Path - more
  • Financial Contagion vs. Economic Contagion: Does the Market Underestimate the Effects of the Latter? - more
  • Productivity Surge May Hurt Job Growth, Fed Paper Says - more
  • Signs of a China Credit and Real Asset Bubble Are Now Unmistakable! - more
  • Gas pipeline probe uncovers shipwrecks in Baltic Sea - more
  • FDIC’s Bair Outlines Priorities For Financial Overhaul - more
  • Happy Anniversary: Top and Bottom! - more
  • More on Consumer Credit - more
  • China picks mothers for astronaut training - more (quote - Xu Xianrong, an expert at the air force general hospital, said women had advantages as astronauts over men because they were more mentally stable, better able to bear loneliness and had better communication skills.)
  • iPad: Perfectly flawed - more

  Talvivaara says port strike may halt output - Nickel and zinc producer Talvivaara Mining said a strike by Finnish port workers could halt production if it continues for a month as it would be unable to obtain vital chemical supplies. - more

  Liberty Mines expects sharp production ramp-up at Ontario nickel mine - TSX-listed Liberty Mines, which is 51% owned by China's Jilin Jien Nickel Industry, expects to see a sharp increase in output at its McWatters nickel mine, in Ontario, CEO Gary Nash said on Monday. - more

  Thompson Creek sees 2010 molybdenum demand rise - Thompson Creek Metals Co Inc looks for pent-up demand or the "rebound effect" to cause global demand for molybdenum to grow faster in 2010 than the usual 4 to 5 percent pace. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.16/lb lower, with all base metals except tin trading lower this morning. The US Dollar is trading over 1/2 of 1% higher against the Euro at the moment. NYMEX crude oil futures are down nearly 1-3/4%. Gold opened nearly 7/10 of 1% lower and silver is nearly 1-1/5% lower. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended slightly higher, with CHina up 6/10 of 1%. European markets are trading lower this morning, and US futures show Wall Street should open lower. Nickel inventories fell overnight.
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more
  • Reuters morning report - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - no report until Thursday as Ed is traveling (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Xinhua) China's biggest nickel maker raises electrolytic nickel price by 3,000 yuan/t
  • (JMB) NSSC to Hike Stainless Cold Rolled, Plate by 5,000 yen/t
  • (SBB) Barclays forecasts 9-12% demand growth for zinc & nickel
  • (AMTD) January U.S. manufacturing technology consumption totaled $130.96 million, according to the American Machine Tool Distributors' Association and The Association for Manufacturing Technology. This total, as reported by companies participating in the USMTC program, was down 40.3% from December but up 26.2% from the total of $103.77 million reported for January 2009.
  • (NFIB) The NFIB Index of Small Business Optimism lost 1.3 points in February, falling back to the December reading of 88.0 (1986=100), only seven points higher than the survey’s second lowest reading reached in March 2009 (the lowest reading was 80.1 in 1980:2).

  Avebury mine to remain shut - Minmetals Australia has no plans to restart its Avebury nickel mine, closed in 2008 due to depressed markets, predicting recent gains in nickel prices MNI3 are unsustainable. - more

  Nickel firms could restart at $25,000/T-Norilsk - Nickel producers worldwide are likely to restart idled capacity when the price of the metal reaches $23,000-25,000 a ton for a sustained period, an official from the world's largest producer said on Tuesday. -  more

  China's Imports Of Ferro-Chrome In January 2010 Increased Considerably = Imported 186,000 Tons As Doubled Compared To That In Same Month 2009 - According to the customs-statistics released in China, this country imported 185,953 tons of ferro-chrome in January of 2010, having had a considerable increase of 2.2 times compared with that (85,845 tons) in the same month of 2009. - more

  Future nickel supply dependent on success of high pressure acid leach - The future of a number of new nickel projects hinges on the ability of operators to successfully implement the third generation of the High Pressure Acid Leach (HPAL) process, T.D. Newcrest metals analysts Greg Barnes told a large audience of mining professionals and analysts Sunday - more

    ‘Protected forests’ now up for grabs for mining - The government has just issued two new regulations on forests, which could allow protected forests to be used for commercial purposes, including long-banned mining activities. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending March 6, 2010, domestic raw steel production was 1,683,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 69.2 percent. Production was 995,000 tons in the week ending March 6, 2009, while the capability utilization then was 41.7 percent. The current week production represents a 69.2 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending March 6, 2010 is up 0.9 percent from the previous week ending February 27, 2010 when production was 1,668,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 69.0 percent.

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  • About 3,050 hourly rated production and maintenance workers, members of United Steelworkers Local 6500, have been on strike since July 13. Another 130 USW Local 6200 members in Port Colborne are also on strike. About 450 members of USW Local 9508 in Voisey's Bay have been on strike since Aug. 1.
  • Sudbury Star // Northern Life
  • Vale/Inco offer // Vale/Inco Company Site
  • Union Strike Site //  USW  Local 6500
  • Sudbury TV // Sudbury Northern Life Videos
  • (Sudbury Star comments) A USW 6500/Vale contract offer vote will take place proceeding information meetings Thursday March 11, 2010. Meetings for members of USW Local 6500 will be held in Sudbury on Thursday, March 11, at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., at the Caruso Club on Haig Street. The 6500 membership will be voting to accept or reject an offer put forward by Vale (newest company offer - pdf here)

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  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

Monday, March 8

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 17 to 3,259. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China to Nullify Local Governments' Loan Guarantees as Credit Risk Grows // Shell, PetroChina Offer $3 Billion for Arrow Energy to Tap Coal-Seam Gas // China Starts `Preliminary Work' Building Guangdong Strategic Oil Reserves // China's Shrinking Trade Surplus May Ease Pressure for Yuan Appreciation // India 10-Year Government Bond Yield Rises to 8% for First Time Since 2008 // Asian Stocks Rise to Six-Week High on U.S. Jobs Report, Greece Prospects // EU Works to Establish Lender of Last Resort, Restrict Credit-Default Swaps // Iceland Faces Long Road to Settlement of Depositors' Claims, Moody's Warns // EU Top Fiscal Performer Bulgaria Faces Greek-Led Bank Decline, Fitch Says // Strauss-Kahn Says Greek Bonds `Sold Nicely,' EU Is Managing Deficit Crisis // Papandreou Warns Crisis May Spread Beyond Greece Without Speculation Curbs // AIG Agrees to Sell Alico Unit to MetLife for $15.5 Billion in Cash, Stock // New Normal Becomes Old Normal With Exports Spurring Growth in New U.S. Mix // Credit-Default Swaps Fall to Six-Week Low on Greece, Dubai: Credit Markets // Roubini Says `Super Cautious' China to Limit Yuan Gain to 4% in Token Move // Fed to Use Money Funds for Reverse Repos When It Begins Draining Reserves // Stocks in U.S. Fluctuate as AIG Climbs on Unit's Sale, Drugmakers Decline
  • The Euro is now trading less than 1/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar, having lost some earlier momentum. NYMEX crude is down nearly 3/10 and under $81.50/barrel. Gold is down 9/10 of 1% and silver is off over 1/2 of 1%. Base metals all ended the session mostly higher, except for nickel. Indicator charts show nickel jumped early but was already in a decline during our morning briefing, and continued to do so thru much of the session, before nearly falling to $10/lb and bouncing. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $10.11/lb .  Inventories of nickel stored in LME warehouses fell for a fifth consecutive time, having only gained once this month, and now sit just over the 160,200 tonne level. Sucden's day old charts shows London trading of nickel last week (chart here). The Baltic Dry Index gained 17 points to 3,259. Found an interesting piece in Bloomberg. Apparently Bloomberg polls metals analysts weekly on what they think copper prices will do the next week. Keeping in mind these are the analysts, the experts per say, of tracking and forecasting metals prices, we found the following sentence from this story an eyebrow raiser. "The weekly copper survey has forecast prices accurately in 36 of the past 78 weeks, or 46 percent of the time." (source) The USW and Vale have reportedly broke off talks over the weekend according to Canadian media.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Press release) The strike of the Finnish stevedores (AKT) has started to impact Outokumpu's operations in Rytt harbour in Tornio. All operations in the harbour have  currently stopped.  Immediately after the start of the strike on March 4, Outokumpu managed to secure operation of the private part of the harbour with the help of sub contractors. Outokumpu is currently not able to carry out these arrangements. This will consequently have an impact on Outokumpu's deliveries of stainless  steel and on the supply of raw materials. It is estimated that within a week, production of stainless steel and ferrochrome would stop in Tornio. If  production would totally cease, the financial impact of the strike on Outokumpu's result is estimated to be some EUR 1 million per day.
  • Nouriel Roubini - A slew of poor economic data over the past two weeks suggests that the U.S. economy in 2010 is headed for – at best – a U-shaped recovery. The macro news, including data on consumer confidence, home sales, construction and employment, actually suggests a significant downside risk even to the anemic 2.7% growth which RGE forecast for H1. With the positive effects of the historic levels of fiscal stimulus due to fade this year, the U.S. faces at best a 1.5% growth rate in H2, which looks too close for comfort to a tipping point of a double-dip recession.
  • Cohen Trades Secrecy for Golf With Investors Lured by 30% Gains  - more
  • The Fastest Growing Export of the Western Banking Industry is Fraud - more
  • The West faces multigenerational challenge - more
  • Real Personal Income Less Transfer Payments - more
  • Why capitalism fails - more
  • An Irish Mirror  - more

  Vale Inco, union break off Sudbury talks - In a presentation to the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention on Sunday afternoon, TD Newcrest analyst Greg Barnes cautioned that a deal to end the seven-month strike at Vale Inco's operations in Sudbury, Ontario, could put some downwards pressure on the nickel price. - more

  • USW, Vale Inco talks break off, company says - Vale Inco expressed great disappointment today over a breakdown in mediated contract talks with the United Steelworkers (USW) Locals 6500 and 6200 representing production and maintenance employees at the company's operations in Sudbury and Port Colborne. - more

  Base metals to trade sideways: SMC Research - ``Base metals are expected to trade sideways. Chilean copper shipments due to be loaded this month to China may be delayed after a massive earthquake hit the top producing nation of the metal. - more

  Iron ore price could almost double by April - Just one month ago, analysts were looking for a 40pc increase in the iron ore benchmark this year. Now some are saying an 80pc increase will still make the commodity look cheap. - more

  China Steel Sector Faces Tough Restructuring: Executive - China's huge and fragmented steel sector is facing a painful period of restructuring and only the best companies will survive, the head of one of the country's biggest mills said on Saturday. - more

  Zimbabwe's amended mining bill ready - minister - Zimbabwe has prepared an amended mining law to be presented to cabinet for approval before it is debated in parliament, but it is not clear if the amendment bill will prescribe 51 percent local ownership of all mines. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:30 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.09/lb higher, off earlier highs, with all London traded base metals trading higher this morning. The Euro is trading nearly 3/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar, giving  a boost to commodity trading. NYMEX crude oil is up over 4/10 of 1% and near $82/barrel. Gold opened slightly higher, while silver is up over 2/10 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up 8/10%, on news that Japan exports climbed a second month. European markets are trading higher this morning after the French promised support  for Greece, with US futures showing Wall Street should open on the positive side. Nickel inventories slumped again over the weekend, and the BDI added 17 points.
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals put on another solid show on Friday, with copper prices tacking on an additional 3%. Things were helped along by the fact that the dollar did not do very much, hovering around 1.3620 against the Euro. Also constructive, was the slightly better-than-expected nonfarm payroll report, showing 36,000 jobs lost in the past month, somewhat less than expected. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.7%. In fact, there was talk in some circles that were it not for the bad weather in February; the payroll number would actually have flipped into positive territory. More importantly, out of China, Premier Wen Jiabao told the ongoing annual legislative assembly that his government would continue its easy monetary policy in an effort to support economic growth going into 2010. However, his rhetoric did exactly not match the spending numbers outlined. As examples, the Chinese budget for 2010 calls for spending to grow 11% this year, down from 21% in 2009, with incremental spending declining for both infrastructure and social programs. .... We are $22,700 on nickel, up $305; the breakout we had on nickel last week was quite bullish, (red line), and as a result, we are not surprised by the complex’s subsequent strength. We look for an eventual test of the $25,000 mark based on technicals alone. A slight easing in LME nickel stocks in recent weeks is also helping the upside bias.(read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) South African ferro-chrome producer, International Ferro Metals (IFM) IFM, plans to increase its ferro-chrome production in the second quarter, 2010 as the company eyes improved demand. The ferro-chrome price is increasing due to the stainless steel market demands rebounding.
  • (Interfax) Hanlong (USA) Mining Investment Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sichuan Hanlong Group Co. Ltd. (Hanlong), has signed an agreement to acquire a 25 percent stake in American mineral company General Moly Inc. for $80 million, the companies jointly announced on March 5.
  • Molybdenum Expert Catherine Virga Sees Strength in Supply, Demand Fundamentals - story and video here
  • (China Daily) Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said it is still "too early" to assert foreign trade is growing, China Securities Journal reported on Monday. China's trade surplus fell by 50.2 percent in the first two months of 2010 over the same period last year, a result of China's strive for a trade balance by taking measures to encourage imports and stabilize exports, the report said, citing the minister.

  Economic growth to keep metal prices strong - As the global economy recovers from the worst recession in 70 years, industrial metals are expected to stay on a recovery path this year, but metal producers warn that the advance may be slow as demand remains shaky. - more

  • Global metals demand to improve in 2011-HSBC - Demand for global metals should improve radically between now and next year, due in large part to bulk consumption by Chinese infrastructure projects, a top strategist for HSBC metals said on Sunday. - more

  World Output Of Ferro-Chrome In 2009 Decreased By 21% = Survey By ICDA, Produced 6.45 Million Tons Including 2.31 Million Tons Produced In Southern Africa - According to a preliminary report released by ICDA (International Chrome Development Association), the total quantity of ferro-chrome produced in the world in the calender year (January - December) of 2009 was 6,452,000 tons, having decreased by 21.2% compared with that (8,187,000 tons) in the preceding year of 2008. This decline of the world output in 2009 followed that in 2008, which decreased successively by 4.9% from that in 2007. - more

  Universal Stainless Announces Base Price Increases - Universal Stainless & Alloy Products, Inc. today announced base price increases of 3% to 5% on all stainless and low alloy grade products manufactured at its Bridgeville and Dunkirk facilities. - more

  China's Jinchuan sees nickel prices retreating - China's Jinchuan Group expects lukewarm demand growth for nickel in China this year, with prices of the stainless steel ingredient falling back to average $18,000 a tonne in 2010, the firm's chairman told Reuters on Sunday. - more

  Western Areas in new nickel discovery - Nickel miner Western Areas and gold producer Troy Resources are accelerating drilling at their Sandstone joint venture in Western Australia after making a potential new nickel sulphide discovery. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  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

Friday, March 5

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 121 to 3,242. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Wen Warns of `Latent Risk' in China's Banks, Pledges Crackdown on Property // Currency Traders Most Bullish on Yuan in Face of China's Vow to Keep Peg // Stocks Climb, Yen Drops, Default Costs Ease on U.S. Jobless Claims, Japan // Greek Aid Plans Said to Be Considered by EU Officials After Merkel Rebuff // U.K. Producer Prices Had Biggest Increase Last Month Since December 2008 // ECB's Draghi Says `Serious' Greek Deficit Measures Are Convincing Markets // German Factory Orders Surged in January on Rising Investment Goods Demand // Fed Presidents Say Interest Rates Need to Be Low Early in U.S. Recovery // Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac May Ask Banks to Eat $21 Billion of Soured Loans // Yields on Tax-Exempt Bond Sales Reach Their Lowest Level in Three Months// Payrolls in U.S. Decline Less-Than-Expected 36,000; Jobless Rate at 9.7% //
  • The Euro is trading over 1/10 of 1% against the US Dollar and once again, off session highs. NYMEX crude is up 1-1/2% and near $81.50/barrel. Gols is up nearly 3/10 and silver is up 1-1/3%. Base emtals all ended the day higher, although off earlier highs. Indicator charts show nickel jumped early, stalled, then fell hard at the end of the day as the Euro softened. We suspect some traders took some profits for the week also. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day and week at $10.16/lb , it's second highest close for the year, and $.20/lb off Wednesday's close. That is an increase of nearly 6% on the week, and 21% for the year. Inventories of nickel stored in LME authorized warehouses fell for the 4th consecutive time overnight, and now register over the 160,850 tonne level. That level is just 2,874 tonnes higher than 2009 ended at. Cancelled warrants slipped below 2% for the first time since Feb 10th. Sucden's day old chart shows yesterday's downturn (chart here), which moved the market closer to the oversold lines on the RSI and SStoch. The Baltic Dry Index rose 121 points to 3,242, showing renewed strength. The closely watched jobs report was issued in the States this morning, and it showed US employers shed 36,000 more jobs in February, but the overall rate of joblessness remained at 9.7%. Since the 8.8 earthquake in Chile a week ago, that country has been continuously rocked by large aftershocks, including some today. Here is a map (here) and list (here).
  • Have a safe and restful weekend!

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Advice to a Young Market Participant - more
  • LTCM General Counsel: "The U.S. Stared Near-Catastrophe In The Eye, With LTCM, And Decided To Double Down." - more
  • Senator Bunning’s Universe - more
  • “Greek crisis over” – Our ability to delude ourselves has reached the next level - more
  • Germany rules out immediate aid for Greece - more
  • German MPs suggest cash-strapped Greece should sell islands - more
  • Chinese Premier: "Protectionism Is Clearly Reasserting Itself" - more

  Stainless steel buying may grow 19% in 2010 - Moderate growth in metalworking this year could boost supply of stainless steel by as much as 19% to 1.64 million net tons in the U.S., forecast Charles Turack, vice president of sales and marketing for Outokumpu Stainless in New Castle, Ind. - more

  Top 100 Metal Service Centers - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.12/lb higher, with all base metals trading higher this morning. The US Dollar and Euro are trading dead even at the moment, with the Euro off earlier highs. NYMEX crude futures are up 1/2 of 1% and over $80.50/barrel.Gold opened slightly higher while silver is up nearly 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up more than 1/4 of 1%. European markets are trading higher this morning, with US futures showing Wall Street could open higher as well. Nickel inventories fell overnight for a fourth consecutive time, while the BDI gained 121 points. Markets are awaiting February employment data, although the Northeast snow storms are already getting blamed for any increase that might be reported.    
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals retreated yesterday, with copper scoring its biggest fall since the Chilean quake as prices tumbled to a low of $7367 at one point before closing slightly above that level. A surge in the dollar encouraged the selloff, as the greenback firmed from around 1.37 against the Euro to about 1.3560 on remarks made by an EU official saying that rates in the region will remain low for the foreseeable future. Oddly, the fact that the Greeks managed to get a successful $6.85 billion bond issue off the ground did not do much to dent the dollar's strength. ... We are seeing a fairly modest bounce in today's metals action, with copper recouping about half of yesterday's losses, while the rest of the group is also higher. Oil markets are by about $.50 a barrel, and trading north of the $80 mark. The dollar is holding steady at 1.3585 against the Euro, and US stocks are called to open higher. We do not expect to see much in terms of action in any of the markets at least until later in the morning, when the US nonfarm payroll numbers for February come out. Although expected at -63,000, this month’s number could be particularly volatile, given the heavy snowfalls blanketing many regions of the US over the course of February. ... We still would be cautious about metals here, as we think copper has more work to do on the downside in that it has yet to give up most of this week’s earthquake-induced gains. In addition, the nonfarm payroll release out later in the day has the potential to generate excessive volatility in the dollar, and so the action in the markets will be particularly choppy today. .... We are $22,660 on nickel, up $360, and still on track to push higher technically amid less-than-stellar fundamentals. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (M2) Finnish stainless steel maker Outokumpu Oyj said today that the ongoing strike of the Finnish harbour workers does not have any material impact on the company's exports or imports.
  • (Interfax) Jinchuan Group Ltd., China's largest nickel producer, has raised its ex-works refined nickel price, for the second time this month, by RMB 3,000 ($439.46) to RMB 166,000 ($24,317) per ton, in line with international refined nickel prices, according to Jinchuan Group's Web site on March 4.
  • (Reuters) Japan's JFE Holdings Inc , the world's sixth-biggest steelmaker, said on Friday it had agreed with BHP Billiton to pay $200 per tonne for coking coal for April-June.
  • Amur Minerals completes ice road to supply Kun-Manie copper-nickel project in Russia - more
  • (Dow Jones) Russia January Nickel Exports 21.4% Up On Tear At 17,000 Tons
  • Three Reasons the Nickel ETF Is Soaring - more
  • Indonesia's Inco: Shareholders Approve New President Director - more
  • Second Take: South Africa's ferrochrome industry - more
  • Upward trend for commodities expected in 2010 - more
  • No plans to merge with Facor Alloys: Ferro Alloys - more
  • (Xinhua) China expects its economy to grow around 8 percent in 2010 from a year earlier, said Premier Wen Jiabao at the annual parliament session Friday, expecting a "crucial but complicated" year for economic recovery.

  World Production Of Nickel In CY 2009 Stayed On Reduction By 4% = Decreased Nickel Production In Western Countries Was Diluted By Increased Output in China - Let us trace the production activities of nickel in the world for the calender year (January - December) of 2009.  - more

  Ni-Based Stainless CR Sheet Prices To Top $3,000 C&F In East Asia - It is likely that transaction prices of nickel-based stainless CR sheets for export will top US$3,000/ton C&F before long in East Asia in the wake of what stainless steel manufacturers in China, South Korea and Taiwan executed last week as domestic price increases of Ni-based CR sheets in the equivalent of around US$200/ton each. - more

  South Africa exporting more raw chrome ore at low prices - South Africa is continuing to export raw chrome ore to China in higher quantities and at comparatively low prices, despite government objections, Mining Weekly Online can today reveal. - more

  Molybdenum Expert Catherine Virga Sees Strength in Supply, Demand Fundamentals - Commodities market research, consulting, asset management, and investment banking are all in high demand. - more

  MMG Needs Nickel Price ‘Stability’ Before Restarting Mine - Minerals & Metals Group, the Australian unit of China Minmetals Group, said nickel prices will need to remain at about $20,000 a metric ton before the company will study a restart of its Avebury mine in Tasmania. - more

  Courtesy AISI - -Based on the Commerce Department’s most recent Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis (SIMA) data, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported today that steel import permit applications for the month of February totaled 1,530,000 net tons (NT). This was a 7% decrease from the 1,644,000 permit tons recorded in January and a 6% decrease from the January preliminary imports total of 1,634,000 NT. Import permit tonnage for finished steel in February was 1,194,000 NT, which was a decrease of 5% from the preliminary imports total of 1,257,000 NT in January. February total and finished steel import permit tons would annualize at 18,983,000 NT and 14,704,000 NT, up 17% and 4%, respectively, from the 16,215,000 NT and 14,179,000 NT imported in 2009.

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  • Special Coverage Spy Case  / China Daily Coverage Iron Ore Talks 2010
  • SINA
  • Chain of Events
  • (Interfax) - Two employees from Laiwu Iron and Steel Group (Laigang) and Shoudu Iron and Steel Group (Shougang) have been charged by the People's Procuratorate in connection with the ongoing case against four Rio Tinto employees, state media reported on March 4.
  • Vale to almost double iron price for Brazil-report - Brazilian miner Vale, the world's largest iron ore producer, is planning to nearly double iron prices for domestic steelmakers by April, a steel industry publication reported on Thursday. - 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, March 4

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 210 to 3,121. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Malaysia Raises Key Rate for First Time in Four Years as Recession Ends // Japan's Fourth-Quarter Capital Spending Slides 18.5%, 11th Quarterly Drop // Indonesia Keeps Key Interest Rate at Record Low to Support Economic Growth // Japan Housing Woos Foreign Investors With Higher Yields on Mortgage Bonds // Asian Stocks Decline on Concern China Lending Will Slow; Euro Pares Gains  // Greece Starts 10-Year Bond Sale as Protests Mount Against Austerity Plan // ECB Keeps Benchmark Rate at 1% as Policy Makers Weigh Greek Fiscal Crisis // UBS May Escape Hundreds of Madoff Lawsuits After Luxembourg Court Ruling // Bank of England Holds Bond-Purchase Program Steady, Maintains Rate at 0.5%  // Europe's Recovery Almost Stalls as Investment Declines, Spending Stagnates // Trichet Phases Out Some ECB Emergency Tools, Opposes IMF Help for Greece // European Stocks Climb for Fifth Day; Vinci, Ahold, Celesio Lead Advance // JPMorgan Tops Goldman in Investment Banking as Fees Rise 13% Amid Optimism // AIG `Still Exposed' After Rescue as Mortgage Insurer, Lender Cause Losses // Pandit Thanks U.S. Taxpayers for Citigroup's $45 Billion in Bailout Funds // Pending U.S. Home Sales Decline in Sign Tax Credit Failing to Lure Buyers // Wal-Mart Increases Annual Dividend by 11% Amid `Challenging' First Quarter  // U.S. Jobless Claims Fell to 469,000, Showing Slow Labor Market Improvement //
  • The US Dollar is trading nearly 9/10 of 1% higher against the Euro, after (MarketWatch) "European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet phased out some of the emergency tools used to fight the financial crisis and said it would be inappropriate for the International Monetary Fund to give help to Greece." NYMEX crude futures are down nearly 6/10 of 1% and under $80.50/barrel. Gold is down nearly 1/2 of 1% and silver is nearly 3/10 of 1% higher. And except for aluminum, London traded base metals all ended lower on the higher Dollar. Indicator charts show nickel tried to continue its bull run early, but the rising Dollar finally put the kaboosh on the run, and nickel slid through the day as the Dollar continued to climb. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $10.11/lb, still its second best close this year.  Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses slumped for a third straight day, and now sit over the 161,500 tonne level. Sucden updated their day old nickel trading chart (chart here), with the SStoch showing the market was nearing, but not yet at, overbought levels. The Baltic Dry Index rose 210 points to 3,121, and is showing renewed strength. The US Labor Department reported productivity in non farm business' rose higher in the second half of 2009 than previously reported, with output increasing 2.5%, while hours were slashed 1.3%. As MarketWatch put it "The surge in productivity explains how the economy could grow at a 5.9% pace in the fourth quarter without creating any jobs. And the report shows that slack in the labor market is a powerful deflationary force in the economy today." The Labor Department also reported first time jobless claims fell 29,000 last week to 469,000. Factory orders rose 1.7% in January, thanks mainly to orders for aircraft. Core capital equipment orders fell 4.1%, and excluding transportation, orders only rose 0.1%. And finally, the National Association of Realtors reported pending home sales fell 7.6% to their lowest level since April of last year.

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) The London Metal Exchange will lower margins for aluminum, steel, nickel, lead and tin contracts from March 10, the exchange said Thursday.... Margins for primary nickel and primary nickel swap contracts will be reduced to $1,950/ton from $2,100/ton.
  • (NY Times) The big three iron ore miners - Vale, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton - are seeking a 50 percent hike in term prices, China Daily reported on Thursday, citing unnamed industry sources. 
  • (Macroman blog) “Speaking of painful ordeals, health care is now a banned topic, except as it impacts financial market pricing. There is really no point having (or in my case, hosting) a debate in which a significant portion of the participants essentially stick their fingers in their ears, close their eyes, and shout “the government are morons so there’s no point even trying to change anything!!!” They are of course welcome to that opinion, and should they wish to express that view, they should feel free to visit the appropriate venue to vent. But after another day of being told “ooh, you Europeans just don’t understand anything” by people whose idea of exotic travel is a visit to Bob’s Country Bunker, I’ve had enough. Off topic health care posts now incur the risk of deletion.” (well said!!)
  • Tidbits From Beige Book: More TVs, Fewer Ambulances - more
  • More Credit Card Company Chicanery: Ban on Universal Default Gutted - more
  • 2009 Unemployment Rates, by State - more
  • Consumer Agency Within Fed Seen as Victory for Banks - more
  • Great Recession: a $ 66 trillion episode - more
  • Sure sign the Greek crisis is over - more
  • Advice you can count on? - more

  Vale Inco, union to talk on Voisey's strike - The owner of the Voisey's Bay nickel mine in northern Labrador and the union representing more than 200 striking workers have agreed to negotiations to settle a long-running dispute. - more

  Norilsk In Talks With Rio, BHP Over Future Of JVs - Russian's OAO Norilsk Nickel is in talks with both Rio Tinto Ltd. and BHP Billiton Ltd about the future of the pair's exploration joint ventures, a spokeswoman for Norilsk said Thursday. - more

  Lung cancer risk associated with occupational exposure to nickel, chromium VI, and cadmium in two population-based case-control studies in Montreal - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.03/lb , with other London traded base metals mixed and quiet. The US Dollar is trading 2/10 of 1% higher against the Euro, putting pressure on commodity trading. NYMEX crude futures are flat at $80.86/barrel. Gold opened over 1/10 of 1% lower, while silver is 4/10 of 1% higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China off over 2-1/2% after China’s Industrial Bank Co. predicted slower growth from new lending. European markets are trading slightly higher this morning as Greece concerns subside, and US futures show a slightly bullish opening on Wall Street. Nickel inventories fell again overnight.    
  • Reuters morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals were up again on Wednesday, following the same pattern we saw the day before, namely, prices opening lower in Asian trading and then, gradually working higher as the day went on. Yesterday's move higher was attributable to the weaker US dollar, which sold off to 1.37 level against the Euro, and never regained its footing after the Greek deficit announcement was made earlier in the day. US macro data out yesterday was mildly constructive, but did not help stabilize the greenback either. In this regard, the ADP reported that private employers shed 20,000 jobs in February, not a very inspiring report, but at least falling in line with estimates. In addition, the Institute for Supply Management said its service index rose to 53 in February, slightly above estimates. Finally, the Fed's "Beige Book" report-- released after regular trading hours-- showed economic activity strengthening modestly in February across most districts despite heavy snowstorms in many areas. .... s of this writing, metal prices are mixed, but the pattern has been similar to what we have seen earlier in the week, with prices moving off their lows after a weak Far East session. The dollar is slightly stronger today and trading at $1.3688 against the Euro, as the long-awaited Greek bond issue gets underway. Other than that, things are fairly quiet, with crude oil prices unchanged, and S&P futures indicating a slightly lower open for US stocks.  ...... We are $22,937 on nickel, up $92. We have taken out $21,500 resistance for two days in a row, so charts look wide opened for a push to $25,000. However, fundamentals remain uninspiring, and so we would not be chasing this breakout. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Dow Jones) The London Metal Exchange said Wednesday it has accredited a warehouse in Liverpool, England to receive delivery of most of the base metals that are traded on the exchange.
  • (Dow Jones) Molybdenum oxide prices have been pushed up by speculation in the wake of the Chilean earthquake, says a trader. Notes "there's a lot of trader interest at the moment" driven by bullish sentiment as market participants "expected prices to come up off the back of the earthquake."
  • (AP) Jinchuan Group, China's largest nickel producer, Thursday raised its price for electrolytic nickel by 3,000 yuan (US$439)/metric ton (tonne) to 166,000 yuan/tonne.
  • (MB) Yabulu unlikely to restart idled nickel capacity till mid-2011
  • (CD) China's official purchasing managers' index for non-manufacturing sectors plunged to a one-year low at 46.4 in February from 55.1 a month earlier, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP) said on Wednesday.
  • Tracking the Global Economy: United States - more

  Molybdenum demand is slowly improving - After starting the year averaging $15/lb through February, molybdenum market prices have increased to $16-$17, which analysts say has been caused by improving demand from steelmakers in most geographies. - more

  Market Tendency On Imports Of Ferro-Alloys At 26th February 2010 = Prices Of High Carbon FeCr In Europe And USA Have Suddenly Risen Steeply - The market tendency by item on imports of ferro-alloys into Japan at the 26th February of 2010 is as follows  - more

  Mining stocks vulnerable to a correction - While the long-term story for commodities is very attractive, the near-term outlook is far less certain. - more

  Jubilee Platinum's smelting process sparks interest - Jubilee Platinum's ConRoast smelting technology is likely to be behind recent interest in the African-focused exploration company, analysts said on Wednesday. - more

  African Eagle in talks for Tanzania mine financing - British mining company African Eagle Ltd. is in talks with mostly Asian and European metals buyers to raise funds for its nickel project in Tanzania due to tight lending from banks, it said on Thursday. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  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

Wednesday, March 3

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 119 to 2,911. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Standard Chartered's Full-Year Profit Increases 4.3% on Corporate Lending // Google Wants U.S. to Weigh WTO Challenge to China's Censorship on Internet // Asian Stocks Gain on Greece Optimism as MSCI Asia Erases Loss; Pound Rises // Greece Passes $6.6 Billion More Deficit Cuts to Avert Fiscal `Catastrophe' // Banks Summoned to EU Meeting to Discuss Regulation of Sovereign CDS Market // Hedge Funds Said to Get U.S. Demand to Retain Records of Bets Against Euro // Pfizer Said to Offer Up to $4.08 Billion for Merckle Family's Ratiopharm // European Stocks Advance to Six-Week High; Xstrata, Solarworld Lead Surge // Fed's Fisher Calls for Accord to Break Up Endangered Big Financial Firms // U.S. Mortgage Applications Increase 15% as Lower Rates Boost Refinancing // Plosser Says Stripping Fed of Powers to Regulate Banks Would Be `Unwise' // U.S. Service Industries Grow at Fastest Pace Since October 2007, ISM Says // Companies in U.S. Cut About 20,000 Jobs in February, ADP Says in Report
  • On positive news out of embattled Greece, the Euro is trading nearly 3/4 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. Considering commodities have done well as the Dollar climbed, a typically negative for commodity traders, today's shift was certain to fire up traders. NYMEX crude - up 1.4% and nearing $81/barrel. Gold up 7/10 of 1%. Silver up 1.9%. Base metals - all traded higher. Indicator charts show nickel leapt early, stalled, rose gain, then retreated a tad before closing. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $10.36/lb , its highest close this year. Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses slipped overnight, and now sit just over the 162,000 tonne level. Cancelled warrants remain in the 2-1/2% range. Sucden hasn't updated their day old  nickel trading chart since Friday. You can read some observations we made in reference to the LME warehouse numbers and recent leap in cancelled warrants in this morning's briefing section. The Baltic Dry Index rose 119 points to 2,911 overnight. The ADP forecast the US lost 20,000 jobs in February, the 25th consecutive decline, and the smallest since January 2008, the last month the US added more jobs than it lost. (report here) The Institute for Supply Management reported their services sector survey rose to 53% in February from 50.5% in January, the best showing since December 2007. Over in Europe, the government in Greece cut another $6.6 billion from its budget in an attempt to avert an economic crisis there. And a story from the Philippines that we missed Friday, and apparently every one else did also, could put a potential squeeze on laterite ore shipments from that nation by 2016. Local 2020 overwhelming ratified the agreement its representatives reached with Xstrata over the weekend. And the USW and Vale are reportedly talking to each other privately, instead of at each other in the media.    

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Personal Bankruptcies Resume Upward Trend - more
  • ISM and Manufacturing Employment - more
  • Explaining the Unemployment Gender Gap - more
  • Lower Chinese PMI: Canary in the coal mine? - more
  • GOP Sen. Kyl: Unemployment Benefits Make People Not Want To Get A Job - more
  • It's Official: The US Housing Downturn Has Resumed in Earnest - more

  DENR eyes implementation of mining reforms - By 2016, companies engaged in mining in the Philippines may no longer ship out ores or unprocessed mineral materials. - more

  Collective Agreement Ratified Between Xstrata Nickel Sudbury Operations and United Steelworkers Workers Local 2020 - Xstrata Nickel is pleased to announce that it has successfully renewed a three-year Collective Agreement with the United Steelworkers Union, Local 2020, representing Xstrata Nickel's Sudbury office, clerical and technical employees. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:30 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.22/lb higher, with all base metals trading higher. NIckel jumped early this morning, and has been stalled for the last few hours. The Euro is up 2/10 of 1% this morning on news Greece cut their budget by $6.6 billion to avert a fiscal crisis. NYMEX crude futures are up 1/2 of 1% and back over $80/barrel. Gold opened nearly 6/10 of 1% higher while silver is up over 1.8%. In overnight trading Asian markets ended higher, with China up nearly 3/4 of 1%. European markets are slightly lower this morning, with US futures the same. Nickel inventories slumped overnight. We have posted some info below in reference to LME warehouses that is worth reading. We leave it to our readers to decide whether it is noteworthy or not.    
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more
  • Reuters morning report - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Ed's reports have been arriving after our morning update lately. We are updating the pdf as soon as we receive (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) Following China’s lead, stainless steel mills in Korea and Taiwan have raised their cold rolled stainless steel sheet price by US$200/ton. The stainless steel companies expect to raise their nickel based stainless steel export price in April; they are now paying close attention to Posco’s price. It is predicted that Posco will increase their price by US$150/ton.
  • (SMM) Jinchuan Group raised ex-works nickel prices by RMB 5,000/mt to RMB 163,000/mt on March 3rd.
  • (AP) Hebei Iron & Steel Group , one of China's steel giants, has proposed to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, to establish a national iron ore import company, so as to move the country toward a unified iron ore import price and gain better control of the raw material's prices.
  • Commodity Price Gains to be ‘Moderate,’ IMF Forecasts - more
  • (Purchasing.com) U.S. corrugated box shipments totaled 27.13 billion square feet in January, down 4% from depressed year-ago volume, the Fibre Box Association reports. At the same time, other data shows that containerboard consumption at box plants in January was 2.2 million tons, less than the 2.4 million tons produced for domestic use. (source)
  • A regular commentary on the El Niño-Southern Oscillation - more

  First Nickel Supply Shortfall in Four Years Likely, CRU Says - Nickel production may fall behind demand this year for the first time in four years on increased usage by the stainless steel industry, the biggest user of the metal, according to London-based research group CRU. - more

  Prior To Negotiation On FeCr Price For Q2 / 10, Bullish Market Is Anticipated = Comments By Yildirim President Of Eti Krom / Turkey - The negotiations with stainless steel companies in Europe and Japan on price of high carbon ferro-chrome (charge chrome) for shipments in April - June quarter of 2010 are scheduled to be taken place soon. - more

  'Very rich'mine opens Thursday - Greater Sudbury has seen a visit from Roger Agnelli, the president and chief executive officer of Vale. Now, it's going to see the top dog of the other mining giant that bought into nickel mining locally several years ago. - more

  Thoughts - What is going on with LME warehouses lately??

In the last few weeks, the following independent metals warehouses approved by the London Metal Exchange have been purchased by large investment banks and large commodity merchants. They include..

March 1, 2010 (Dow Jones) Trafigura Beheer B.V. has acquired warehousing company NEMS Ltd, the Swiss-based merchant said Monday, marking the latest move into London Metal Exchange metals storage by a commodities player.

February 18, 2010 (Dow Jones) Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) will buy U.S. warehouse operator Metro International Trade Services in a deal that gives the U.S. investment bank a business specializing in the storage of metals traded on the London Metal Exchange, a Goldman Sachs spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.

February 16, 2010 (MarketWatch) J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. said Tuesday that it will acquire the oil, metals and European energy operations of RBS Sempra (Henry Bath is part of RBS Sempra)

These moves leave Steinweg Handelsveem B.V. and the Pacorini Group as the only two major LME warehouses companies that remain independent. Why the sudden interest?

All of these purchases followed the news by Reuters on February 11th, that LME warehouses were raising their maximum rents by up to 6 percent and increasing the cost of removing metal from the warehouses. Reuters reported these increases "could trigger a rush to clear material out before before the new fees take effect on April 1." Cancelled warrants for nickel, signifying metal earmarked for delivery, have risen from 0.68% on February 1st, to 3.35% on the 12th, to just below 3% yesterday.

A few points worth keeping in mind while analysing this info. First, the metal flowing thru the LME warehouses signifies a very small amount of the nickel sold worldwide each year. We were unable to find a reliable source giving an exact percentile, but marketswiki.com quotes a user as saying "The exchange operates as a market of "last resort" and provides physical delivery – though used in less than 1 percent of trades – through a network of more than 400 warehouses in 12 countries." You should take that with a grain of salt without verifying it, but it does imply the number is very small. Second, there is no "rule" that says nickel, or any other metal that is produced, and not contractually sold to an end user, must be stored in an LME authorized warehouse. Nickel mines, dealers, users may stockpile, store, or hide any metal they want. There is no law that says this metal must be reported. Thus much of the nickel that has been "pulled out" of LME warehouses since mid-February, and is still being "pulled out", could easily be going nowhere, and not to an end user as the market would like you to believe. As Dow Jones reported yesterday "The world of warehousing has often been viewed by industry participants with skepticism--as a means of hiding metal to create a market squeeze or the appearance of a shortage. Undeniably, warehouses are used to store metal off warrant, meaning it doesn't show up in official LME data. This is legal, but can create a distorted view of underlying supply-demand fundamentals." On February 11th, Reuters quoted a Singapore trader as saying ""There are so many discount deals out there [thru non-LME approved storage options] and people are already pulling metal out of LME and finding cheaper places to store it."

The Dow Jones report adds "U.K. competition law prohibits the exchange from banning members from owning warehouses. LME warehouses, therefore, operate under guidelines known as "Chinese Walls," last revised in 1998 after a Financial Services Authority review identified problematic aspects of the relationship between warehouse companies and exchange members. The LME Warehousing Committee is expected to review the sales at a March 9th meeting. (more) (more)

  Western Areas seeks JV in Finland - Nickel miner Western Areas NL is seeking a joint venture partner for six nickel, zinc and copper exploration projects in Finland. - more

  China Steel Says Global Steel Market Returns to Healthy Levels - China Steel Corp., Taiwan’s biggest producer, said the market has returned to the levels before the global financial crisis, paving the way for price increases. - more

  Norilsk to End Rio Tinto Venture, Review BHP Exploration Accord - OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, Russia’s biggest mining company, will end a four-year exploration joint venture with Rio Tinto Group and review a similar accord with BHP Billiton Ltd. as it focuses on existing projects. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  • About 3,050 hourly rated production and maintenance workers, members of United Steelworkers Local 6500, have been on strike since July 13. Another 130 USW Local 6200 members in Port Colborne are also on strike. About 450 members of USW Local 9508 in Voisey's Bay have been on strike since Aug. 1.
  • Sudbury Star // Northern Life
  • Vale/Inco offer // Vale/Inco Company Site
  • Union Strike Site //  USW  Local 6500
  • Sudbury TV // Sudbury Northern Life Videos
  • Vale talks with striking Sudbury union to continue - Talks to end the strike at Vale's Sudbury nickel operations in northern Ontario will continue this week, a union official said on Tuesday, a development that suggests progress has been made in ending the seven-month stalemate. - more

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  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

Tuesday, March 2

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 32 to 2,792. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Australia Raises Key Rate; Currency Pares Advance on Outlook for Inflation // Hong Kong Home Sales Rise to Highest in Five Months on Low Borrowing Costs // Singapore's GIC, Abu Dhabi Face $10 Billion Loss on UBS, Citigroup Stakes // Asian Stocks Advance, Paced by Emerging Markets; Pound Declines for a Sixth Day // BP to Raise Annual Profit $3 Billion by Boosting Production, Cutting Costs // European Inflation Slows as Weakening Recovery, Job Cuts Curtail Spending // EU Sets Clock Ticking on Greece's Budget Reductions as Merkel Talks Near // LyondellBasell Board Said to Reject $14.5 Billion Reliance Industries Bid // Investment Banks Raise Pay as U.K. Efforts to Cut Compensation Fall Flat // Greece Said to Prepare $6.5 Billion of Deficit Cuts, Bowing to EU Pressure // Sovereign Credit Default Swaps Trading to Be Scrutinized by European Unio // European Stocks Climb for Third Day; Peugeot, National Bank of Greece Gain // Ford Tops GM in Monthly Auto Sales for First Time Since 1998 Amid 43% Gain // Geithner Leading Search for Fed Vacancies Points to Support for Bernanke // GMAC CEO Carpenter's Pay Package Rivals Goldman Sachs's Lloyd Blankfein // Stocks in U.S. Rise on Greek Bailout Prospects; Qualcomm Gains on Buyback
  • The Euor is trading higher against the US Dollar, up 1/10 of 1% at the moment. NYMEX crude is up nearly 2% and over $80/barrel. Gold is up 1.6% and silver is  up nearly 3%. Base metals all traded higher on the day. Indicator charts show nickel headed in one direction early on this morning and had no intention of changing. For the first time since June of 2008, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed above $10/lb at $10.09/lb . Inventories of nickel gave up on three solid days of gains, dropping nearly 400 tonnes overnight, and now sit over the 162,800 tonn level. Cancelled warrants edged higher but reamin under 3%. The Baltic Dry Index rose for the fourth consecutive day, up 32 points to 2,792. Allegheny and AK Steel announced April 2010 stainless steel surcharges and as we warned, they went up. For example, 304 rose from $.8368/lb to $.9115/lb at Allegheny, while 316 rose from $1.2478/lb to $1.3632/lb at AK Steel. We follow them monthly here. Dow Jones reports that Vale and the USW will meet again on Wednesday to discuss if formal negotitations are worth trying again.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Outokumpu annual report - Global stainless steel end-use consumption fell by 9% in 2009 following a decline of 6% in 2008. China was the only region to register positive growth in 2009 with year-on-year consumption increasing by 18%. Europe was the region that was affected worst, with demand down by 26% following a 3% fall in 2008. Demand in North America was down by 24% following a 19% fall in 2008. Global end-use consumption is expected to grow by 10% in 2010, with positive growth expected to return to all regions. Demand performance in 2009 in industry-led stainless steel consumption segments was poorer than in consumer-related industries – which were harder hit by demand declines in 2008. The largest declines in demand in 2009 were experienced in the industry-related chemical, petrochemical, energy and process & resources end-use clusters. This was a reversal of the situation in 2008 where demand reductions were lowest in industry-led clusters and highest in consumer related industries ....... At the beginning of 2010, although there are still no signs of major improvement in end-user demand for stainless, market conditions have stabilised and are clearly better than they were at the beginning of 2009. Although short-term demand remains depressed and visibility is still relatively poor, long-term prospects for stainless steel demand are robust. The long-term average annual rate of growth in global stainless steel consumption is forecast by SMR (Stainless Market Research) to be 5.5% (CAGR) in the period 2008–2020. Growth is expected to remain strong in Asian markets where capacity has also been increasing rapidly. These significant increases in capacity may cause periods of imbalance when supply exceeds demand, with a consequent impact on the global market and particularly in standard grades. - more
  • (Dow Jones) Vale Inco and the United Steelworkers union are continuing to hold exploratory talks to see if formal negotiations will be possible at the company's Canadian nickel mining operations, whose workers are in their eighth month of strike action. Exploratory talks using a mediator were held at the weekend and will resume Wednesday, the union said.
  • Philly Fed’s Plosser Takes On ‘Extended Period’ Language - more
  • What Were the Actual Losses in Madoff’s Fraud? - more
  • Chilean Quake Likely Shifted Earth’s Axis, NASA Scientist Says - more
  • Vice Chairman Donald Kohn Retires, a Look at 40 Years at the Fed - more
  • Fed Watch: Is the Fed Eager to Dismiss Deflationary Pressures? - more
  • "Maybe Debt Doesn’t Matter After All"? - more
  • Parenteau: Leading PIIGS to Slaughter, Part 2 - more
  • China Bank Chief Sees Low Global Inflation - more
  • This Is Getting Good - more

  Power woes hit ferrochrome expansions - There will be no additional ferrochrome expansion in South Africa for the next three years due mainly to the shortage of power, according to Merafe CEO Steve Phiri. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.05/lb higher, with other London traded base metals mixed and quiet. The US Dollar is trading slightly higher against the Euro and off earlier highs. NYMEX crude futures are up 8/10 of 1% and just under $79.50/barrel.  Gold opened nearly 1/2 of 1% higher, while silver is over 1% higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, while China fell 4/10 of 1%. European markets are trading higher this morning, while US futures show the early month bull pattern is holding. If you look at this chart you will see what we mean. Wall Street has typically been bullish in the first part of the month (chart). Nickel inventories declined overnight,
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Ed's reports have been arriving after our morning update lately. We are updating the pdf as soon as we receive (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (MBiz) According to data, in 2009, China's stainless steel production increased by 26.8% to 8.8mln tons. In contrast, China's stainless steel apparent consumption rose by 32% to 8.22mln tons. The oversupply was 600,000 tons, which will affect the nickel demand in short-term. Additionally, in 2009, the production and net imports of China's nickel including low-grade nickel climbed by 66% to 430,000 tons, which means that there are a large amount of nickel inventories in the market. However, it is expected that China's stainless steel production in 2010 will increase by 20% to 10.5mln tons, in the first half of 2010, a large number of nickel stockpile will be cleared up. And therein China's nickel market will become prosperous.
  • (AP) The Jinchuan Group Ltd. (JNMC), China's top nickel producer and a major copper producer, will build a large-sized project for smelting nickel and copper in Fangchengang, a port city of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, according to a JNMC insider. The two sides are currently making preparations, but hope to begin construction before this year's conclusion.
  • (MB) Yusco lifts stainless export offers by up to $150
  • (Alibaba) China 304 stainless steel price kept relatively stable in most time of Feb., but the price soared 800-1,100 yuan per ton (U.S.$117-161 per ton) after Chinese Spring Festival, as the nickel price increased to U.S.$20,000 per ton.
  • Stainless Steel Council of China reports TISCO recently produced a 35 ton stainless steel ingot for China's nuclear industry.
  • (JMB) Taiwanese major stainless flat steel maker, Yieh United Steel Corporation plans to increase the group's production by around 50% to 2.5 million tonnes in 2010 from 2009 after the firm expanded the output capacity to world largest class of 3 million tonnes through doubling the capacity to 2 million tonnes for the subsidiary, Lianzhong Stainless Steel in Guangzhou, China in December.
  • Commodities May Perform ‘Very Well,’ BMO Capital Says - more
  • Urban-rural income gap widest since opening-up - more
  • Goldman's offshore deals deepened global financial crisis - more
  • Double Dip Could Begin in This Sector: Distress Expert - more
  • The Long, Long Road Ahead - more

  World average stainless steel prices - Our forecasts are little changed from January. Rising raw material costs are expected to push world stainless steel selling figures higher in the short term, with increases predicted in all three regions. - more

  Ferrochrome Prices Expected To Rise This Year - Merafe - Ferrochrome prices are expected to increase this year despite a dip in the European benchmark price in January, South Africa's Merafe Resources Ltd. said Tuesday. - more

  Rio Tinto gets permit for Indonesia nickel project - Indonesia has given the local unit of Rio Tinto a mining permit for a nickel project in Sulawesi worth $2 billion, the company said on Tuesday. - more

  First Quantum Minerals likes copper, seeks nickel - With few copper assets available for acquisition, First Quantum Minerals is looking to add to its growing nickel asset base and sees plenty of available targets, the Canadian miner said on Monday. - more

  Australia Forecasts Commodity Sales to Rebound on China Demand - Commodity exports from Australia, the world’s largest shipper of iron ore, coal and wool, may rebound to the second-highest on record next fiscal year as China leads global economic recovery. - more

  ThyssenKrupp steel plant nearly completed (with photo gallery) - The temperature inside the three hot strip mill furnaces at ThyssenKrupp AG's complex here will hit 2,200 degrees. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending February 27, 2010, domestic raw steel production was 1,668,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 69.0 percent. Production was 1,064,000 tons in the week ending February 27, 2009, while the capability utilization then was 45.5 percent. The current week production represents a 56.8 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending February 27, 2010 is up 0.5 percent from the previous week ending February 20, 2010 when production was 1,660,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 68.6 percent.

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  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

Monday, March 1

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - up 22 to 2,760. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Prudential Plc Will Buy AIG Unit to Gain 20 Million Customers Across Asia // Hang Seng Bank Reports 2009 Net Profit of $1.7 Billion, Missing Estimates // China's Manufacturing Growth Slows on Holiday, Government Cooling Measures // Indonesia Inflation Rate Increases to Nine-Month High as Food Prices Climb // HSBC Posts Smaller-Than-Estimated Advance in 2009 Profit as Bad Debts Gain // Soros Signals Gold Bubble as Momentary Buyer While Goldman Predicts Record // Pound, Euro Slump on Deficit Concern; Copper Soars After Chile Earthquake // EU Commissioner Rehn Urges Greece to Outline Steps for Budget Deficit Cuts // Europe Manufacturing Industry Expands for Fifth Month Amid Demand Revival // European Stocks Rise for Second Day; National Bank of Greece, BHP Advance // Consumer Spending in U.S. Rises for Fourth Straight Month in Recovery Sign
  • The US Dollar is now trading 3/4 of 1% higher against the Euro. NYMEX crude is trading flat and over $79.50/barrel. Gold is trading flat while silver is trading nearly 1/4 of 1% higher. Base metals ended the day mostly higher, although nickel and copper did the best. Indicator charts show nickel leapt early, declined a little, then stalled for much of the rest of the day. Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at a new high for 2010, at $9.73/lb . Inventories of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose for a third consecutive time this morning, and totals now rest over the 163,200 tonne level. The Baltic Dry Index rose 22 points to 2,760. We have updated our worldwide PMI page (here), with China and the US retreating in February, Japan stalled, and Europe gained. Xstrata reached a tentative agreement with its office workers over the weekend, averting a planned strike.  No news from USW or Vale Inco about the meetings they had this weekend with a mediator. US stainless steel producers have yet to announce April surcharges but if you are expecting them to fall, don't. We estimate the average price of nickel increased $.24/lb for February, with chrome and molybdenum also rising. The US Commerce Department reported consumer spending increased by 0.3% in January, while personal incomes only rose 0.1% (report here). Adjusting for inflation, after-tax incomes fell 0.6% on the month. Real disposable income remained unchanged from January 2009, core inflation remained unchanged (first time since Dec 2008) and the personal savings rate declined from 4.2% in December to 3.3%.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Nickel's rally to a 20-month high may have a few months more to run before inventories and sluggish demand put a lid on prices, market participants said Monday. ..... "Above $20,000 on a 12-month basis we'd be bearish," said Max Layton, a commodity analyst at Macquarie Research in London. .... Calyon metals analyst Robin Bhar predicted prices might peak at $24,000/ton--another 10%--in the next two months before being dragged lower by inventories.
  • (Dow Jones) Rio Tinto PLC Chief Executive Tom Albanese Monday said he is "somewhat concerned" the global economy may dip back into recession, dampening demand for commodities in the next 18 to 24 months.
  • A Look at the Tax Returns of the Top 400 Taxpayers - more
  • Commercial Real Estate: More Trouble Ahead - more
  • Fighting Foreclosures Without Talking About the Bubble Is a Waste of Time - more
  • Why We’re on the Slow Boat to Nowhere - more
  • Germany leans against giving aid to Greece - more
  • Picture of A Market Crash - more

  FNX Mining eyes expansion once Vale strike ends - FNX Mining is considering restarting dormant nickel production and seeking acquisitions, but both plans are contingent on Brazilian miner Vale resolving a seven-month old strike at its Sudbury operations, FNX's CEO said on Friday. - more

  Ore imports drive record tonnage prediction - Townsville port is projecting a record tonnage of more than 10 million tonnes for 2009-10. According to the port's latest newsletter, the import of nickel ore feedstock for Queensland Nickel's Yabulu refinery is expected to reach almost 4 million tonnes for the year. - more

  European Nickel reopens debt talks with Western banks - European Nickel Plc said on Monday it had reopened debt finance talks with Western banks as a precautionary measure while it waits for previously announced Chinese financing to appear. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.12/lb higher, but sliding off earlier highs. Other base metals are mixed, with copper's opening bounce from the Chile earthquake, now giving up its early morning momentum and dragging the entire complex lower. The US Dollar is trading nearly 2/10 of 1% higher against the Euro, adding pressure to commodity trading. NYMEX crude is down over 1/10 of 1% and over $79.50/barrel. Gold opened 2/10 of 1% lower while silver is  1/10 of 1% higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up 1.3% European markets are higher this morning, and US futures show Wall Street should open higher. NIckel inventories rose for a third straight day. The big news over the weekend was the 8.5 earthquake in Chile and the tsunami that followed. The area is still quite active with constant large aftershocks (here)  
  • Bloomberg morning base metal news - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - no report this morning although weekend edition posted (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (JMB) Japan stainless export offers to rise by up to $200
  • (AMM) High-carbon ferrochrome supply tight on stainless output rise
  • China's PMI for manufacturing sector down in Feb - more
  • European PMI Manufacturing Continues its Rally  - more
  • A Guide to Commodity ETFs and ETN - more
  • (WSJ) Overall bank lending in the US economy shrank 7.4% in 2009 — the sharpest drop since 1942.
  • Imagine Investing in Commodities From 2004-2008, And Losing Money - more
  • Banks Out of the Woods? Maybe Not - more

  SMM Ni Survey: Many NPI Producers Convert Production after the Chinese New Year Holiday - After the Chinese New Year Holiday, SMM conducted a survey on 36 companies with blast furnace which produced 85% of nickel metal from all companies with blast furnace. - more

  Nonferrous price forecasts go up - Some world nonferrous metals prices may surge as 2010 progresses, boosted by Chinese buying and speculative investments, according to new market analyses by Natixis and Fitch Ratings. - more

  Texmaco Engineering plans to Invest Rs 2,200 cr in Tamil Nadu - Texmaco Engineering with operations in Indonesia and Hong Kong has floated an entity — Sundareshwar Alloy and Stainless Steel (SASS) — to promote a slew of projects in Tamil Nadu. - more

  Molybdenum unlikely to rise - Demand for stainless steel material molybdenum will be powered by the developed world this year, but higher prices are unlikely because of China's muted role in the market. - more

   Total Output Of Crude Stainless Steel By 7 Companies In Japan For Dec. / 09 Increased = Annual Production In CY 2009 Decreased By One Million Tons Compared To That In 2008 - The total output of crude stainless steel by seven major stainless steel companies in Japan for December of 2009 increased by 8.8% compared with that in the previous month of November. - more

  • Nickel Production In Japan For CY 2009 Had Slight Decrease AS Exports Increased = Output Of Ferro-Nickel Decreased By 4%, That Of Nickel Metal Had Decline Of 14% - According to the monthly statistics concerning steels and nonferrous metals released recently by the Ministry of Economy, Trade Industry, the quantities of nickel metal and ferro-nickel produced in Japan in the calender year (January - December) of 2009 as well as in a single month of December were known as per the table attached hereto. - more

  Chinese operators of Ramu mine deny restricting internet access - The management of the Ramu nickel mine in Papua New Guinea’s Madang province has denied claims that it’s censoring internet access for its workers. - more

  Aneka Tambang’s 2009 Profit Plunges as Global Slump Crushes Nickel Demand - State-owned miner PT Aneka Tambang saw its unaudited net income plummet by 59 percent last year as nickel prices tumbled during the global slowdown. - more

  Change in the Use of Scrap Metal Puts Pressure on Molybdenum Miners - Marketfriendly, inc. research finds that the conventional molybdenum market model is flawed because it does not account for scrap metal. Forecasts made from such a model will be impaired as a result. - more

  Modern uses of Sudbury's nickel  - Sudburians undoubtedly live in one of the most prominent mining communities in the world. Historically, no other region has produced as much nickel from its mines as Sudbury. - more

  Kellow new BHP stainless steel president - BHP Billiton has appointed Glenn Kellow as president of its stainless steel materials division, a position based in Perth, taking over from Gerard Bond. - more

  Sudbury/Voisey's Bay Nickel Strike Coverage

  • About 3,050 hourly rated production and maintenance workers, members of United Steelworkers Local 6500, have been on strike since July 13. Another 130 USW Local 6200 members in Port Colborne are also on strike. About 450 members of USW Local 9508 in Voisey's Bay have been on strike since Aug. 1.
  • Sudbury Star // Northern Life
  • Vale/Inco offer // Vale/Inco Company Site
  • Union Strike Site //  USW  Local 6500
  • Sudbury TV // Sudbury Northern Life Videos
  • Xstrata Nickel Sudbury Operations and United Steelworkers Local 2020 Reach Tentative Collective Agreement - Xstrata Nickel announces that the Company's Sudbury Operations has reached a tentative agreement for a new Collective Agreement with the United Steelworkers Union Local 2020, which represents Xstrata Nickel's Sudbury office, clerical and technical employees. The prior agreement expired at midnight on February 28, 2010. - more
  • Vale Inco suing Steelworkers union leaders over websites - Vale Inco is suing the senior leaders of striking Steelworkers in Sudbury for $1 million over the union's website and a controversial Facebook site. - more

  Iron Ore News // Talks / Spy Scandal Coverage

  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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