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Stainless Steel News and Nickel Prices

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Daily Nickel Market News & Stainless Steel Prices

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 Nickel Prices

Thursday, March 31 (final day of 1st quarter)

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 15 to 1,530. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Imports From China Threaten Brazil Manufacturers as Bilateral Trade Grows // Walmart China Chief Executive Chan Says Seeking Land to Build More Stores // Japan Sold 692.5 Billion Yen in March Intervention, Finance Ministry Says // Fukushima Workers Threatened by Heat Bursts; Sea Radiation Rises // Japan Manufacturing Deteriorates at Fastest Pace in Nine Years After Quake // Portugal Misses 2010 Deficit Target, Raising Chances of Bailout // Irish Government Said to Consider Merging Allied Irish With EBS in Bailout // European Inflation Unexpectedly Accelerates to Fastest Since October 2008 // German Joblessness Falls to Lowest Since 1992 as Crises Don't Deter Hiring // European Stocks Slide as Inflation Accelerates; Banks Lead Drop, H&M Falls // Fed to Name Banks That Borrowed From Discount Window // U.S. Detects Trace Amounts of Radiation in Milk, Poses No Threat to Health // Fed Releases Discount-Window Loan Records Under Order // U.S. Jobless Claims Fall, Consumer Confidence Improves // S&P 500 Fluctuates at End of Best First-Quarter Gain Since 1998
  • The Euro is presently trading over 4/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up over 1.8% and trading at $106.19/barrel. Gold is up 1% and trading near a record, and silver is higher by 3/4%.  Base metals ended the session higher, giving an extra boost by the falling Dollar. Indicator charts show nickel on a rocky path today, first up, then sharply lower, then a strong recovery. For the day and month, we show nickel ending the session at about $11.88/lb . Nickel stored in LME approved warehouses saw their totals slump on Wednesday, and now total just under 123,700 tonnes. Sucden hadn't updated their chart this week yet, so we link to Reuters nickel chart (chart here). News was on the disappointing side again today. Oil back over $105/barrel. Jobless claims for last week fell, but only because teh numbers from last week were revised to reflect a higher unemployed number by 14,000. A huge and disappointing revision. The Commerce Department reported factory orders slipped in February. The Chicago PMI reading slipped a tad as well. The rebels in Libya are falling back - again. Tomorrow has become a typically tumultuous day in other Middle East countries. Fox News is reporting workers at the Japanese nuclear reactor have conceded amongst themselves that some of them may die within weeks or months due to exposure to dangerous levels of radiation. Bloomberg is reporting trace readings of radiation are now showing up in US milk. The readings are supposedly miniscule but this will not help dairy farmers and their "Got Milk?" campaign.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Which Fed Official Moves Markets Most? - more
  • Q&A: Rajan Says Governments Can’t Afford Another Crisis - more
  • Fed’s Hoenig: Policy Providing Tinder for Asset Bubbles - more
  • CEOs Expect to Boost Sales, Hiring, Spending - more
  • It’s Tracking Your Every Move and You May Not Even Know - more
  • Cryptanalysts - Help Solve an Open Murder Case - more
  • What Happened to the American Declaration of War? - more
  • Fukushima Workers Threatened by Heat Bursts; Sea Radiation Rises - more

  Anglo American delivers first production from Barro Alto nickel project in Brazil - Anglo American announces that it has delivered first production on schedule from its US$1.9 billion Barro Alto nickel project in Brazil. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:05 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.06/lb higher, with most London traded base metals higher this morning. The Euro is presently trading 7/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is nearly 1% higher and trading at $105.24/barrel. Gold is up over 1/2 of 1% and silver is up 3/4%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China off 1% . European markets are trading lower this morning, and US futures show Wall Street has yet to decide which way it will open. Nickel inventories ended the month with another decline.    
  • LME Morning - Metals mixed on jumpiness ahead of quarter-end, soft dollar provides some relief - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper prices ended sharply lower yesterday in what was a rather surprising sell-off, dragging most of the group down with it. There was not much in terms of news to trigger such a sharp correction, and neither was there any apparent weakness in any of the other markets. Instead, we suspect that rather thin trading conditions, coupled with growing concerns about the durability of Chinese metals demand moving forward, triggered the initial selling, and this likely took out some deep-lying stops in the process. In addition, we could be seeing sharp moves ahead of end-of-the quarter rebalancing. Copper prices are now off by 12% from their mid-February peaks of $10,190 per ton in London and $4.6575 per lb on COMEX. This morning, earlier gains in Asia faded, and we are now only modestly higher on the back of a weaker dollar. There is some nervousness about the possibility that funds may start paring down some length once the first quarter is out of the way in order to raise cash for what could be a bumpy second quarter. Certainly, things out of Europe look like they could be heating up. The ECB most likely will raise interest rates next week, while stress test results should also start coming through as well. Already, the Irish press reports that banks will admit that they have a $35 billion hole in their capital, likely resulting in more mergers. In this regard, the government is expected to fold the EBS building society into the country's second largest lender, Allied Irish Banks. The insurance arm of Irish Life would also be sold, and the government would create special vehicles to take 80 billion Euros off the balance sheets of four banks. The Irish Times also reported that the Finance Minister would call for a "watershed" scheme for passing on bank losses to bondholders, but gave no details. In a related item, three Spanish savings banks rejected a plan to merge into the nation’s third-largest caja, forcing one of them to seek a state bailout instead. The decision may complicate government efforts to rebuild confidence in the Spanish banks. On the US macro front, the ADP employment report was a nonevent yesterday, and did not have much impact on sentiment. Tomorrow's release on the nonfarm payroll number --expected at 185,000-- will likely be more influential. Later today, we get weekly initial claims readings (expected at 383,000), Chicago March PMI (expected at 69.5), and February factory orders (expected up .4%). In other markets, the Euro is now back over $1.42 against the dollar, shrugging off the Irish and Spanish banking news, and apparently pushing higher on expectations of a rate increase slated for next week. Oil prices are higher today by about $1 a barrel, likely because the market is picking up the sense that momentum is shifting against the rebels Libya. In this regard, three small towns have apparently fallen in the last 24 hours in what must be a disappointing turn of events for the coalition. Not surprisingly, the US government is now considering arming the opposition, and ABC news reported late in the day on Wednesday that CIA agents were in fact in the country. However, this plan is meeting some resistance from the head of NATO, who said that the alliance is not interested in supplying weaponry and will seek to enforce the arms embargo. Despite rebel setbacks, we should recall that it was Libyan government troops that were suffering heavy losses over the weekend, and we would not be surprised to see the tide of battle could turn once again, especially if agreement is reached to buttress rebel forces with some light arms.  ... Nickel is at $26,100, up $70, and pretty much where we were at this time yesterday. Charts remain neutral at this point, as about half of the recent advance has been given up.  (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (PT) Russia’s Norilsk Nickel RAS net profit up 12.2% on year in 2010
  • (SBB) Yusco to cut 300-series export prices by up to $130/t
  • (MP) Chinese Jan & Feb molybdenum imports down 49%
  • (FS) Self-sufficiency of Nickel and HC Ferrochrome up to 70% and 54% in China

  Pacific Metals' nickel plant shut after quake - Pacific Metals Co said on Thursday it does not know when it will resume operations at its 44,000 tonnes-a-year Hachinohe nickel plant in northeast Japan after it was submerged in a devastating tsunami on March 11. - more

  Ambatovy Mine To Begin Initial Output in Second Half - Korea Resources Corp. said the $5.3 billion Ambatovy nickel project in Madagascar will begin initial production in the second half and is set to become one of the top three nickel mines in the world by capacity. - more

  Output Of Crude Stainless Steel By Major Stainless Steel Companies / Japan In January 2011 = Total Quantity Produced By Major 7 Mills In January Decreased To 336,000 Tons - The total quantity of crude stainless steel produced by seven major stainless steel companies of Japan in January of 2011 decreased by 3.3% to 336,722 tons in comparison with that (347,985 tons) produced in the previous month of December of 2010. - more

  Vale director Tito Martins a top CEO pick--sources - Vale director Tito Botelho Martins is a leading candidate to become the next CEO, two sources with knowledge of the situation said on Wednesday, a choice that would likely be welcomed by markets as a benign end to a fight over the company's leadership. - more

  China's Baosteel 'optimistic' about 2011 prices - China's Baoshan Iron and Steel Corp , the country's biggest listed producer, said it remained positive about the direction of steel prices in 2011 even in the face of a weakening market. - 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

Wednesday, March 30

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 27 to 1,545. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Japanese Oil Ports Still Open to World’s Five Largest Crude-Tanker Lines // Sushi Exports From Japan Canceled on Concern Over Radiation Contamination // Asian Stocks Rise to Highest Since March 11 on Japanese Factory Restarts // Irish Stress Tests May Leave Government in Control of Banks // Assad Faces a Critical Moment as Syrians Seek Freedoms, Multiparty System // Consumer Confidence in Euro Region Declines More Than Economists Forecast // European Stocks Climb a Sixth Day in Longest Winning Streak Since December // History Backs Bernanke Betting Volatility Variable Won’t Hurt // U.S. Companies Add 201,000 Jobs in Sign Labor Market Recovering, ADP Says // Stocks Rise on Jobs Growth as Portuguese Bonds, Yen Retreat
  • The Euro is now trading over 1/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is trading slightly lower and at $104.76/barrel. Gold is up 3/10 of 1% and silver is up over 8/10 of 1%. Base metals ended the session lower, and indicator charts show nickel having the exact opposite of a day that it had yesterday, with a gradual and consistent decline eating up yesterday's gains. For the day, we show three month nickel closed around $11.79/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell on Tuesday, and now sit just over the 124,100 tonne level. Reuters chart shows nickel trading thru yesterday (chart here). Equity markets are higher on economic recovery speculation, while commodities, for the most part, were lower on opposite concerns.  

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (CB) Crowflight Minerals Inc. says ore production will resume next month at the Bucko Lake nickel mine in northern Manitoba after it was shut down last October to install underground mining equipment and make other adjustments.
  • An explanation where none is needed - more
  • Inflation Expectations More Firmly Anchored in Euro Zone - more
  • Where Are Americans Most Miserable? - more
  • Most of Beijing’s Olympic Pollution Cleanup Evaporated a Year Later - more
  • Mortgage Applications Decrease in Latest MBA Weekly Survey - more
  • Following a potential radiation cloud around the globe - here
  • Japan Atomic Industrial Forum Reactor Status Updates - more

  First US chromite mine to start production in April - Oregon Resource Corporation, the US subsidiary of ASX-listed Industrial Minerals Corp, plans to start operations in April from its Coos Bay mineral sands mine and nearby processing facility, ramping up to full production by July, Oregon COO Dan Smith said in an interview. - more

  Flat product steel prices around the world rose this month. The increases were attributed to the high cost of raw materials. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:10 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.16/lb lower, with all London traded base metals lower this morning. The Euro is presently trading over 1/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down 1/3 of 1% and trading at $104.43/barrel. Gold is higher by 3/10 of 1% and silver is up nearly 1.4%.  In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China off slightly. European markets are trading higher this morning and US markets appear to want to continue with yesterday's bullish momentum. Nickel inventories fell Tuesday.
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Declines on Concern About the Strength of Global Economic Expansion - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals mixed but traders confident of end-Q1 rise - more
  • Reuters - Copper eases, doubts about China demand dominate - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals staged a gradual recovery over the course of the day yesterday, with copper snapping a three-day losing streak. Aluminum rose to a 2-1/2-year highs, while the rest of the group also experienced modest gains. Despite the better tone, volume remains quite light, something we are seeing in a number of other commodity complexes as well. Volume in COMEX copper, for instance, was running at about 40% below the 30-day moving average, crude oil volumes were off by 52%, while US equity volumes hit their second lowest mark of the year. It remains to be seen whether things pick up as we approach the quarter’s end, but we suspect not given how quiet things have been all this week. We are off slightly in all the metals right now, with copper giving up whatever modest gains it made yesterday. Energy markets are off by about $.20/brl, while the dollar is holding steady, now trading at just under $1.41 against the Euro. The Euro is holding up well despite renewed concern about sovereign debt issues, as investors are bracing for a rate hike that could come as early as next week. In addition, European bank stress tests will be conducted tomorrow. In the meantime, out of the European bond market, Portugal’s 5-year bond yield breached 9%, a new high, but Italy held a well-received auction of fixed and floating rate earlier today. There really is not much new in terms of news; the Japanese situation continues to weigh on sentiment, with reports out today saying that seawater near some of the plants are testing at its highest levels yet, while the president of the plant operator (TEPCO) has reportedly checked into a hospital with hypertension. The latest radioactivity findings underlines the urgent need to power up the cooling systems, and although workers succeeded in reconnecting some parts of the plant, there are pools of radioactive water that is hindering their work, as pumping it or storing it has its own issues. TEPCO now plans to spray resin on the ground around the plant to keep radioactive particles from spreading or seeping into the ocean. The company will test the method Thursday in one section of the plant before using it elsewhere. Out of the Middle-East, it seems that Col. Qaddafi's troops made some serious headway in reversing some of the opposition's latest gains in a number of towns yesterday, as they pummeled the rebels with rocket fire and tanks. Oil prices seem to sell off every time the rebels advance, while conversely, they rise when Libyan troops make progress, or when the fighting gets bogged down. We suspect, however, that despite the ebb and flow of the battle, Col. Qaddafi's days are numbered, as the coalition will likely get more involved with the opposition and its cause. As a result, oil prices will likely move lower following Qaddafi's drawn-out trajectory out of power, but the ride will be extremely uneven, as we doubt he will go willingly. ... Nickel is at $26,340, down $260, and pretty much where we were at this time yesterday.  (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Bloomberg) Bloomberg reported that POSCO will increase domestic prices of the alloy used in home appliances and cars by about 5% in April 2011 because of rising raw material costs. Mr Chung Jae Woong spokesman for POSCO said that prices of the 400 series hot rolled coil will climb by KRW 100,000 a tonne to KRW 2.04 million in April 2011.
  • (MBN) Antam says nickel ore shipments to Japan unaffected
  • (SBB) Italian stainless market to grow 20% in 2011, Cogne
  • (CIDN) China achieves 70% self-sufficiency in nickel supply in 2010
  • (CD) Trace radiation found in more Chinese areas - more
  • La Niña weakens as Pacific warms - more
  • March Job Cuts Decline 18% to 41,528 - more

  (Press release #1) Effective with shipments Friday, April 1, 2011, ATI Allegheny Ludlum is increasing base prices by approximately 6-9% for stainless cold-rolled and hot-rolled sheet and strip, tubular-quality sheet and strip, continuous-mill-plate products, and emission-control alloys. This increase is achieved by reducing the functional discount by two percentage points on most stainless products and increasing the base price on continuous-mill-plate and emission-control alloys by $0.04/lb.

  • (Press Release #2) Effective with shipments April 1, 2011 NAS is increasing prices on all Cold Roll and Hot Roll flat products. The approximate 6 – 9 % increase is achieved by reducing the functional discount by two percentage points on Cold Roll and increasing the base price by $ .04/lb. on Hot Roll and Automotive grades.

  High Level In Chinese Production Of Ni-Contained Pig Iron Is Supported By Imports Of Nickel Ore = In Spite Of Rainy Season - The output of nickel-contained pig iron in China is supposed to have maintained a high level in January of 2011 and afterwards. This high level in Chinese production of nickel-contained pig iron has been supported by the active imports of low grade nickel ore from Indonesia and Philippines. - more

  HudBay to defend itself against gang rape claims - Canada's HudBay Minerals plans to "vigorously" defend itself and its subsidiary against claims by a group of Guatemalan women who have filed a class-action lawsuit against the companies over what they call "mining-related gang rapes." - more

  Mindoro has high hopes for Philippines mine - Explorer Mindoro Resources Ltd has released a bullish assessment of its major Philippines mine predicting it will extract nickel twice as quickly as is done in Australia.  - 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 29

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 13 to 1,572. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Container Ship Rejected in China Had ‘Barely Detectable’ Radiation Levels // UPS Joins FedEx in Adding Asia Flights as Economic Recovery Stokes Demand // China Stocks Decline for First Time in Three Days Amid Tightening Concerns // Japan Weighs Scrapping Corporate Tax Cut, Increasing Levies on Households // Tokyo Electric Discovers Plutonium in Soil Near Damaged Fukushima Reactor // European Bank Funding Threatened as Basel III Rules Clash With Solvency II // BP Managers Said to Face U.S. Manslaughter Charges Review // Libya Troops to Fight Rebels in Qaddafi Hometown as Obama Defends Decision // Portugal, Greece Downgraded by S&P on Restructuring Concerns // European Stocks Advance as Rally in Mining Shares Offsets Decline by Banks // G-20 Criticism of Fed Is Muted as Officials Combat Japan Crisis, Portugal // U.S. Stocks Advance as Home Depot, AK Steel Help Offset Europe
  • The Euro is trading less than 1/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar at the moment. NYMEX crude is up nearly 2/10 of 1% and trading at $104.16/barrel. Gold is down nearly 3/10% and silver is up nearly 6/10%. Base metals ended the session higher, across the board. Indicator chart show nickel in a steady climb throughout today's trading session. We put today's closing at about $12.02/lb , traders once again capturing the $12/lb level. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose for only the third time this month and now sit just over the 124,500 tonne level. Economic news wasn't real good today, ok, let's say it stunk to high heaven, but the markets are apparently tired of being discouraged, and are up. In the US, consumer confidence in the recovery fell sharply, its worst drop in a year. The Case-Shiller home-price index fell for a sixth consecutive month, which has now got real estate economists arguing over whether the housing market is in a double dip recession, or did it ever come out of the first. We hope the idiots decide soon. Odds makers are starting to favor a U.S. government shut down. Japan's struggle to get control over the leaking nuclear power plant appears to be a losing one. Over in Europe, the S & P cut their rating on Spain and Portugal 's debt, with Portugal now one notch over junk. Gaddafi has apparently pulled back his troops in Libya, and consolidating positions under NATO air attacks. Then there are political problems today in Syria, Bahrain, Jordan, Iraq, and Yemen. And in a sign of the times we live in, the interim Egyptian cabinet, chosen to govern until elections can form a new government, is outlawing all demonstrations, strikes, sit-in's and protests.  Isn't that how these guys got their temporary jobs? 

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Q&A: Orszag on Social Security Reform, Budget Battles, More - more
  • Fed’s Lockhart Maintains Net Positive Economic Outlook - more
  • Comparing Japan’s Radiation Release to “Background Radiation” - more
  • William Hogeland: How John Adams and Thomas Paine Clashed Over Economic Equality - more
  • Top 10 Dying Industries - more

  Arsenic a challenge to Avebury mine reopen - Chinese-owned miner Minmetals Resources Ltd is facing a major technical challenge to revive its mothballed Avebury nickel mine in Tasmania. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:10 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.04/lb higher, with other London traded base metals mixed and mostly higher. The Euro is down over 1/10 of 1% against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down nearly 8/10 of 1% and trading at $103.17/barrel. Gold is off 1/2% and silver is lower by 1-1/4%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended slightly lower, with China off nearly 1%. European markets are trading lower this morning, while US futures show the bulls would like to rebound after yesterday's loss on Wall Street. Nickel inventories rose for only the third time this month.
  • LME Morning - Base metals brace for another slide downward, bearish tone pervades - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper prices fell sharply on Monday, bringing the rest of the group down with it, as renewed worries about Chinese demand continued to pressure prices. In addition, risk appetite has been curbed somewhat by ongoing concern about Japan’s crisis and expectations of tighter monetary conditions practically the world over (apart from the US). Overnight, Chinese markets were once again rattled by talk that another interest rate increase may be in the cards by next month, which is why we are lower again today across the board with aluminum being the exception. In other markets, energy prices continue to retreat, we WTI now down by $.80 a barrel, despite the fact that the Euro is somewhat stronger today, hovering at just under $1.41.  ....  Nickel is at $26,222, down $22, coming off a particularly weak session on Monday. Prices have now given back almost half of the $2000/ton rise they incurred since mid-March. For the moment, we would still watch things from the sidelines.  (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) China’s Baosteel announced to cut its ex-work prices of 300 series stainless steel for April by RMB 1,600/ton on average owing to sluggish spot market and dropping price of nickel.

  Posco Increases Auto Stainless Steel Prices on Scrap Costs - Posco, the world’s second-biggest maker of stainless steel, will increase domestic prices of the alloy used in home appliances and cars by about 5 percent next month because of rising raw material costs. - more

  Copper Will Lead Base-Metals Rally on Shortage, Brook Hunt's Kettle Says - Copper will lead a rally in base metals this year as increased consumption in China reduces inventories and higher prices encourage stockpiling, according to researcher Brook Hunt, a Wood Mackenzie company. - more

  Victims of Gang-Rape in Guatemala Announce Lawsuit Against Canadian Mining Company - Rosa Elbira Coc Ich and ten other indigenous Mayan Q'eqchi' women filed a lawsuit today against Canadian mining companies HMI Nickel, and its corporate owner, HudBay Minerals, regarding mining-related gang-rapes suffered by them near a Canadian owned mining site in El Estor, Guatemala. - more

  Sustainability In Nickel Projects: 50 Years of Experience at Vale Inco - Looking at the industry’s past and present with a view to projecting into the future can be a valuable exercise for executing and maintaining sustainable development - more

  Global steel output, prices may fall in Q3 on restock end: bank - Steel consumption in developed economies may steady at below 2006-2008 pre-crisis levels principally as a result of construction inactivity, with a drop in output and prices likely in the third quarter before conditions improve in 2012, according to Macquarie Commodities Research. - more

  Mining tax to stay as is, says Gillard - Prime Minister Julia Gillard will push ahead with corporate tax cuts funded by the mining tax, despite a new push by the Greens to use the money for health and community services. - more

   Courtesy AISI - In the week ending March 26, 2011, domestic raw steel production was 1,843,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 75.4 percent. Production was 1,770,000 tons in the week ending March 26, 2010, while the capability utilization then was 73.2 percent. The current week production represents a 4.1 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending March 26, 2011 is down 2.0 percent from the previous week ending March 26, 2011 when production was 1,807,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 73.9 percent.

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

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

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - no change  to 1,585. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Rice Planting in Fukushima May Be Abandoned Amid Soil Tainted by Radiation // Food Contamination Set to Rise as Japan Fights Radiation Crisis at Reactor // Ship Rejected in China Port on ‘Abnormal’ Radiation Heading Back to Japan // Wal-Mart to Open Half of Japan Stores Closed After Quake // Asian Stocks Fall on Japan Nuclear Situation, Earnings That Miss Estimates // Spain Is Building a ‘Firewall’ Against Contagion, Pimco’s Bosomworth Says // Ireland Wants Bondholders to Share Bank Burden, Minister Says // Euro Falls for Second Day After Merkel’s Party Defeated; Dollar Advances // Oil Drops for a Third Day in New York Following Victories by Libyan Rebels // Hazardous Radiation Detected Outside Damaged Japanese Reactor // European Bank Bonuses Said to Be Scrutinized by Regulator Amid Criticism // Most European Stocks Advance; Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Lead Technology Rally // Companies Lift Spending as U.S. Productivity Bypasses Jobs // Colder-Than-Normal Weather Grips U.S. as Forecasters Are Split on Duration // U.S. Economy: Consumer Spending Increases More Than Forecast // Fed Should Weigh Curtailing $600 Billion in Bond Purchases, Bullard Says // Stocks Advance as Consumer Spending Tops Forecasts Amid Growth in Incomes
  • The Euro is now trading higher against the US Dollar, but by less than 1/10% currently. NYMEX crude continues to trade lower, and at $104.42/barrel. Gold is down 2/3% and silver is off over 8/10%. Base metals joined the commodity sell off, all trading lower for the day. Indicator charts show nickel opened lower and slumped thru the session. For the day, we show nickel ending at about $11.88/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME recognized warehouses fell on Friday, after a Thursday gainer broke the March streak of losing days. Records now show nickel stores sit just over the 124,000 tonne level. Sucden did not update their hourly nickel trading chart but we have a daily chart from Reuters (chart here). Besides all the geopolitical turmoil, and natural and unnatural disaster news happening, primarily out of Japan, there is industry related news that Brazil has forced Vale to replace their CEO Roger Agnelli. There is also reports of what could be come a major new headache for world shipping, as China refuses entry to a Japanese ship that tested positive for radiation. Besides the Norilsk ongoing soap opera, it's been pretty quiet this month for our industries.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Number of the Week: Food Inflation Foments Political Unrest - more
  • Most U.S. States Post Unemployment Decline - more
  • Made in Japan: What Is Country Exporting? - more
  • We’re Number One! - more

  Vale CEO ousted, gov't seeks replacement: report - Brazilian mining company Vale has pushed out Chief Executive Roger Agnelli under heavy government pressure and is in discussions to replace him with an executive from within, local media reported on Sunday. - more

  So. Cotabato governor seeks review of mining ban - The governor of a southern province that imposed a ban on open-pit mining said Monday that he would push for a review of the controversial code even after he signed formal rules setting off its implementation. - more

  Ship Rejected in China on ‘Abnormal’ Radiation Heads to Japan - A ship that had “abnormal” amounts of radiation after passing 67 nautical miles (124 kilometers) off Japan’s Fukushima prefecture, site of a crippled nuclear-power station, was heading back to the country after being rejected by authorities in China. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:10 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.19/lb lower, with all London traded base metals lower this morning. The Euro is trading 4/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is off over 8/10 of 1% and trading at $104.51/barrel. Gold is lower by more than 1-1/4% and silver is down 2.2%. In overnight trading, Asian markets  started the week lower, with China off over 1/10 of 1%. European markets are trading slightly higher this morning and US futures shows Wall Street may open slightly higher as well. Nickel stocks fell on Friday.   
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Falls Most in Two Weeks as Japanese Carmakers May Suspend Activity - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals sober up as nuclear crisis deteriorates - more
  • Reuters - Copper prices stumbled as renewed worries about Japan's crisis - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper ended slightly lower on Friday, as did most other metals in very quiet conditions. Trading was subdued in a host of other markets as well, unlike previous Fridays, where we saw a strong finish heading into the weekend. A drop in U.S. consumer sentiment readings to its lowest level in more than a year curbed some of the buying enthusiasm, as did last week's macro numbers out of the US, with many of these coming in well below estimates. The dollar also weighed on metals and other commodities on Friday, as debt issues out of the EU trimmed some of the Euro's recent gains. We have started the new week on a negative note in metals, with good-sized losses seen across the board. Energy markets are lower, as is the Euro, and both are playing a role in pressuring metals as well. Oil prices are off by $.75/barrel, while the Euro is now at $1.4040, and likely on track to take out the psychologically important $1.40 mark. The news cycle has not been particularly bullish for the European currency in recent days given the collapse of the Portuguese government, the ensuing credit rating downgrades, and a delay by euro zone leaders in increasing a rescue fund. This morning, the currency came under further pressure on news that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives lost a key state election, with early poll results showing the Greens surging to their first premiership in Baden-Wuerttemberg state. However, the prospect of an interest rate increase next month - the first of many in our view - has kept the Euro from falling precipitously thus far, but a breach of the $1.40 mark could lead to more aggressive selling. ... In terms of our short-term price outlook, Libyan rebel advances herald the possible end to Col. Qaddafi's regime and a likely decline in the risk premium attached to oil. In addition, the Japanese situation seems to be settling into a protracted and drawn-out recovery effort, which means that there will not be any V-shaped snapback in Japanese commodity demand anytime soon. Both these factors could weigh on metals over the short-term, especially if the complex is not able to tee off as easily against a weaker dollar as it once did.  .... Nickel is at $26,650, down $400. We are still not getting a clean read on nickel chart-wise, and particularly, whether the recent advance that has added some $2000/ton to prices since mid-March will now fade. For the moment, we would watch things from the sidelines.  (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Interfax) China's steel industry saw its profit increase 26.1 percent year-on-year in the first two months of 2011, according to March 27 figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
  • (Reuters) Foreign mining firms in Zimbabwe must sell a majority stake to local blacks within six months, according to a release in the Government Gazette on Monday.
  • (JMB) Tight Japan Cr Series Stainless Supply for Temporary House
  • (SBB) Chinese nickel imports slow in February
  • (RN) Fitch says affirms Russia's metals giant Norilsk Nickel at BBB-, outlook Stable.
  • (SM) According to the American Forest & Paper Association's February 2011 Printing-Writing Paper Report, total printing-writing paper shipments decreased 6% in February compared to February 2010.
  • Heightened inflation a concern in China - more

  Weda Bay Nickel plans $4.5b investment - Mining firm PT Weda Bay Nickel said Sunday it had allotted US$4.5 billion for nickel mining and development of a processing factory in Ternate, North Maluku. - more

  Nickel price may rise as Japan rebuilds: analyst - An independent analyst says the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan could lead to higher nickel prices later this year. - more

  Molybdenum Demand and the Rebuilding of Japan - The molybdenum market, as with almost all other commodities markets, has been affected by the recent crisis in Japan and the ongoing violence in the Middle East. While these events, and the the impact on the markets have been covered ad nauseam since the earthquake, most reports concern the negative affects on the price of many base metals. - more

  Vale CEO Agnelli Power Struggle Spurs Bond Drop - Vale SA, the world’s biggest iron- ore producer, is underperforming peers in Brazil’s bond market as the government pushes to replace Chief Executive Officer Roger Agnelli after a dispute over investments in the country. - more

  European Nickel - Commissioning of European Nickel’s Acoje heap leach trial site on the island of Luzon, Philippines, is progressing well. The pad is presently being stacked with agglomerated ore and it is expected that irrigation with acid will commence shortly. - more

  Iron Ore-Spot prices tick up on slow Chinese buying - Spot iron ore prices edged up on Friday, as some Chinese mills restocked on the steelmaking ingredient, but purchases were far from brisk given lacklustre steel prices. - more

  Japanese steel production back on track - In Japan, steel production has mostly recovered to pre-disaster levels after the 11 March earthquake that triggered tsunami waves and an energy crisis. - 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 25

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index -  plus 2 to 1,585. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Wheat Climbs on ‘Surprise’ Purchases From China, Concern Over Dry Weather // Reactor Core May Be Breached at Damaged Fukushima Plant // Japanese Swap Fish for Burgers, Soy Milk on Radiation Contamination Fears // Japan Cows Barred From Grazing as Damaged Plant Leaks Radiation // GEU Cuts Future Aid Fund’s Startup Capital on German Demands // Trichet, King Haunted by BOJ’s Premature Interest-Rate Errors // German Business Confidence Falls Less Than Forecast in March // Portugal Doesn't Need Rescue Fund, Can Use Market Financing, Socrates Says // European Stocks Advance, Extending Biggest Weekly Increase in Six Months // Bernanke Betting Briefings to Bring Clarity, Not Volatility // U.S. Consumer Sentiment Fell More Than Forecast in March // Buffett Says Buy Businesses Over Long-Term Bonds as Dollar Value to Erode // Fed Has Less Need for Extra Stimulus as Economy Gains Monthly, Evans Says // U.S. Stocks Gain on Earnings; Portugal Bonds Fall, Aussie Rises
  • The Euro is trading over 3/4 of 1% lower against the US Dollar at the moment. NYMEX crude is off over 1/2 of 1% and trading at $105.08/barrel. Gold and silver are both down a 1/4%. Base metals ended the session mostly lower. Indicator charts show three month nickel opened lower, then spent most of the day in a slow and gradual recovery, until near closing, when traders bailed and nickel fell again. For the day and week, three month nickel closed at about $12.25/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses rose for only the second time this month and now sit just over the 124,250 tonne level. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel is back in an uptrend, albeit a quiet one (chart here). Lot of mixed signals floating around about how well the world economy is doing. While still in recovery, it would appear that we may be seeing some of that slowness we saw last summer, that by fall, had many talking double dip. We don't see that repeating itself, but these political conflicts and natural disasters are not helping matters. Death count in Japan went over 10,000 today officially, with another 17,000 plus missing. The problems at the nuclear power plant appear to be getting worse after a few days of good news. Libya is turning out to be a real mess, Syria is start to implode, and Yemen already is. Oil is over $105/barrel and we are relieved its no higher, while just a month ago, $105 shocked us. Gold and silver are off yesterday's record highs, telling us the market is betting wither on high inflation - or end times. China bought a whole bunch of wheat yesterday and Texas joins the major food producing areas of the world being plagued by a drought. All in all - just a wonderful week.
  • Enjoy your weekend. It all starts over again next Monday.    

  Reports

  Vale CEO Roger Agnelli Takes Technology Underground – With skills in banking and a passion for engineering, Agnelli aims to make Vale the biggest mining company in the world. - more

   EU Appeals WTO Ruling Against Duties on Chinese Steel Fasteners - The European Union appealed a World Trade Organization ruling saying the bloc’s method of applying extra duties on imports of Chinese iron or steel fasteners it considers to be unfairly priced breaks global trade law. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:05 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.01/lb lower, with other base metals also quiet and trading mixed. The Euro is trading over 1/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar at the moment. NYMEX crude is up over 1/10 of 1% and trading at $105.76/barrel. Gold is nearly 1/10% higher and silver is up almost 1.4%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up 1-1/3%. European markets are trading slightly higher this morning and US futures show Wall Street may open higher. Nickel inventories rose on Thursday - yes, rose.  
  • LME Morning - Prices drift as outlook for base metals becomes cloudy - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metal prices ended mostly lower on Thursday, and there was a mild sell-off in most other commodity complexes as well, although agricultural's bucked the trend and rallied, their first strong advance in about a week. US stocks rose for a third straight session, as earnings season gets underway the week after next. One earnings survey service projects that about 75% of US companies should either meet or beat their estimates, while only 25% will disappoint. This should set the stage for a rather decent April for the US stock market, assuming of course, that things do not get derailed by another "Black Swan" event. In fact, there have been so many "Black Swans" this year, that one of our colleagues appropriately coined the barrage of unpredictable events that have set in so far, as being more like a "Black Flock". (If that phrase actually makes it into the financial lexicon, you heard it here first). We are holding steady right now in base metals in uneventful trading; copper and ali are both up modestly, while there are minor losses in the rest of the group. Energy prices are up by about $.10/brl, while the Euro is hovering at $1.4140 against the dollar, and steady. The Euro seems to be taking a likely Portuguese bailout somewhat in stride, mainly because it is not as daunting a prospect in terms of the overall numbers, and more importantly, the country has already started putting its fiscal house in order. There was not much in terms of macro news yesterday except for the fact that US durable goods readings for February came in much worse than expected, dropping by .9%, and falling well short of forecasts calling for a 1.1% increase. The disappointing figure comes on the heels of very poor data coming out of the US housing sector this week as well, where both existing and new home sales have nose-dived. ...  Nickel is at $27,100, down $100, and basically where we were at this time yesterday; conditions remain quiet. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (MNP) Nickel is set for a price break-out in the next 12-18 months, says Warren Gilman, vice-chairman of Canadian investment bank CIBC World Markets.
  • (Interfax) With the announcement this week that China's steel mills are expected to more than double overseas iron ore investments by 2014, a number of industry experts have told Interfax that a change in investment strategy is needed.
  • (MBN) Baosteel Stainless cuts exw prices by $244

  China sees strong commodities, weak dollar in 2011 - Loose monetary policies in developed economies will place more upward pressure on global commodity prices and weigh on the dollar this year, the Chinese central bank said on Friday. - more

  Long Harbour camp delays have workers waiting on jobs - Construction delays have hotel and restaurant workers waiting on jobs in the construction camp for Vale’s nickel-processing plant in Long Harbour. - more

  Iron ore monopoly may end by 2015 - The monopoly held on China's iron ore supply by a small number of international companies will be "thoroughly" broken up by 2015 as increased investment in the sector boosts global production, according to an expert in China's mining industry. - more

  Iron Ore-Spot prices tick up on slow Chinese buying - Spot iron ore prices edged up on Friday, as some Chinese mills restocked on the steelmaking ingredient, but purchases were far from brisk given lacklustre steel 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 24

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 18 to 1,583. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Manufacturing Growth Is Accelerating on Export Orders, Survey Shows // Hong Kong Bars Some Japan Produce After Finding Elevated Radiation Levels // Curbs on Food Imports From Japan Widen Amid Nuclear Contamination Concern // Toyota To Resume Prius Production in Japan; Honda Extends Plant Closures // Evacuation Ordered After 3 Nuclear Workers Burned by Radiation // Asian Stocks Rise on Commodity Price Gains, Factory Resumptions in Japan // Japanese Beverage Makers Struggle to Meet Tokyo Water Demand // Asian Stocks Rise on Commodity Price Gains, Factory Resumptions in Japan // Socrates Defeat Pushes Portugal Closer to EU Bailout // U.K. Retail Sales Declined More Than Forecast in February // Qaddafi's Forces Hit as Allies Near Agreement on NATO Control of Campaign // European Stocks Rise as Portuguese Prime Minister Resigns; Carmakers Climb // Worst Texas Drought in 44 Years Hits U.S. Wheat, Beef Supply // U.S. Durable Goods Orders Unexpectedly Fell in February // Global Stocks Gain for Sixth Day, Gold Climbs to Record
  • The Euro is up 2/3 of 1% against the US Dollar. NYMEX crud eis down over 1/10 of 1% and trading at $105.61/barrel. Gold is up slightly, while silver is higher by 2.3%. Base metals ended the day mostly higher. Indicator charts show nickel jumped early, then quietened down for the rest of the session. We show three month nickel closed about $12.30/lb . Stores of nickel stored in LME recognized warehouses fell yet again on Wednesday, making it a solid stretch from March 2nd on. Total stocks now sit just under the 123,600 tonne level. Cancelled warrants hover under 6% and stock withdrawals have been from locations all around the globe recently. Economic news form the US wasn't exactly positive today, with US Durable Goods falling for the 4th out of the last 5 months, taking analysts off guard. But world markets are in a rebound mood and climbed higher today. Meanwhile, back in the US, snow has been, and continues to fall thru parts of the country, proving yet again that Punxsutawney Phil is no more than a groundhog, and sucks as a weather forecaster.  

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Recession Caused Sharp Decline in Start-Ups - more
  • Japan Quake Could Have Big Impact on U.S. Output - more
  • Global Fiscal Positions: How Does U.S. Rank? - more
  • It's not structural unemployment, it's the corporate saving glut - more

  EU Steel Prices Stall But Further Increases Expected - There is something of an impasse in the west European flat products market as customers prefer to sit on the sidelines rather than place business at the inflated prices being demanded by the domestic producers. - more

  Governments should fund railroad to Ontario’s Ring of Fire mining camp – by Stan Sudol - The commodity super cycle is back, and with a vengeance. China, India, Brazil, Indonesia and many other developing economies are continuing their rapid pace of industrialization and urbanization. In 2010, China overtook Japan to become the world’s second largest economy and surpassed the United States to become the biggest producer of cars. - more

  [Canada Mining] Underground Takeover – by Mike Blanchfield - Foreign Companies are lining up to buy the extraction rights to Canadian oil, nickel and potash and spending billions in the process. Are we selling our birthright? - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:05 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.15/lb higher, with other London traded base metals quiet and mixed. The Euro is trading over 1/3 of 1% higher against the US Dollar at the moment. NYMEX crude is up over 1/2% and trading at $106.33/barrel. Gold is trading flat, while silver is up over 9/10%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, while China fell by 4/10 of 1%. European markets are trading higher this morning and US futures show Wall Street has an early morning bull charge planned. Nickel inventories fell yesterday. Another incredibly quiet day for nickel and/or stainless related news.
  • LME Morning - Base metals mixed as euro woes stem rises; Japanese supply, demand outlook supports - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper had another very strong showing yesterday, rising over 2% to a two-week high amid a general surge in most markets. The Reuters-Jefferies commodity index finished up for a sixth straight day, with precious metals hovering near record territory, while energy also pushed higher, as did the US stock market. Agricultural's were alone in sitting out Wednesday’s rally. Once again, it was increasing turmoil in the Middle East that led to a generally firmer tone in energy, and this likely pulled the rest of the group higher. This time, an unexpected attack in Israel by a suicide bomber -- the first in several years -- rattled investors. One person was killed and 25 were injured at a Jerusalem bus stop where the bomb went off. Hostilities between Israel and Hamas have escalated sharply over the past 10 days, but have gone relatively unnoticed amid more urgent headlines. We are seeing a somewhat more negative tone in base metals as of this writing, as most complexes have come off their earlier highs. In other markets, energy prices are higher today by about $.30 a barrel, while the dollar is holding steady against the euro at $1.4140. The greenback rallied by almost a full one and half Euros yesterday on news that José Sócrates, Portugal’s prime minister, offered his resignation after losing a crucial vote on proposed austerity measures. This will push Portugal towards early elections and a likely international bail-out, as local bond markets start to seize up. In a televised address, Mr. Sócrates accused opposition parties of triggering the crisis at the worst possible moment on the eve of a European Union summit that was “crucial for the future of Europe and Portugal”. Lisbon needs to refinance 4.5 billion Euros of sovereign debt in April, which will most likely push the country to request aid. For their part, European Union leaders-- who are meeting for a two-day summit today and tomorrow-- said they were unlikely to make a decision as to how to strengthen the Euro zone's bailout fund until June. A draft of their position paper (seen by Reuters on Wednesday) made clear that a decision on boosting fund reserves will only be taken when leaders formalize the structure to put in place a permanent fund that will replace the temporary facility now in effect until 2013. On a side issue, the EU is also unlikely to grant concessions to the Irish in the form of lower interest rates on its debt. Dublin says the rates it is paying are high, but is at loggerheads with the EU over its exceedingly low corporate tax rate (12%). Despite these apparent policy splits, vaguely reminiscent of the lack of coordination we saw when the crisis first erupted at this time last year, the euro is holding up surprisingly well. We suspect that investors are not overly concerned with Portugal as much, and are more likely propping up the euro on the widespread expectation that the ECB will raise rates next month. Data released earlier today reinforces this scenario; although Euro-wide manufacturing and services index readings both continued to show strong growth in the latest month, input prices in both sectors rose sharply.  ... Nickel is at $27,100, up $275, and the complex is making slow and steady progress, as it inches towards resistance at $27,500. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (JMB) Japanese steel industry's production would shift to plants in eastern Japan to western plants when severe electricity shortage could continue longer period of time due to serious damage on Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
  • (MF) Mr. Artemio F. Disini, Director of Chamber of Mines of Philippine, had pointed out a lot of nickel related projects would be put into production in turns in next 10 years and nickel output would soar to 236,000 tons, ranking No.7 in the world.
  • (SBB) 'Flood' of new nickel pig iron output expected: Macquarie
  • (MBN) Jinchuan raises nickel price by 1.5%
  • China set for No 1 spot by 2030 - more

  Antam sees delay to nickel shipments to Japan - Some nickel ore shipments from Indonesian state miner Aneka Tambang Tbk to its Japanese buyers may be delayed after this month's devastating earthquake, but nickel demand is expected to be strong in the long-term as Japan recovers, said the firm's chief on Thursday. - more

  Japan's Consumption Of Nickel Metal In January 2011 = Consumed 3,826.83 Tons As Increased By 7% Compared To That In Dec. 2010 - According to the data compiled and released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan consumed 3,826.830 tons of nickel metal in January of 2011, which increased by 6.8% compared with that in the previous month of December of 2010 but decreased by 1.1% compared to that in the same month of 2010. - more

  Government accepts 98 recommendations from mining tax review - Fortescue Metals chief executive Andrew Forrest said today the government's mining tax remains unfair, despite the government agreeing to the broad-ranging changes recommended by Don Argus. - 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

Wednesday, March 23

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 22 to 1,565. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Can Grow 8% for 20 Years to Top U.S., World Bank Economist Lin Says // China May Match India as World's Biggest Gold Consumer on ‘Amazing’ Demand // Japan's Megaquake Is Template for U.S. Shock: Roger Bilham // Japan's Quake Damage May Swell to $309 Billion, Four Katrina's // Tokyo Warns on Water as Radiation Hampers Nuclear Cleanup // Millions of Japanese in Tsunami-Hit Region Face Cold Weather, Lack Water // Asian Stocks Drop on Concern Over Iodine in Tokyo Water, Reactor Struggles // BOE Voted 6-3 to Hold Rate, Saw ‘Merit in Waiting’ on Policy // Pound Drops Below $1.63 as Central Bank Minutes Disappoint `Greedy Bulls' // Allies Prepare to Attack Qaddafi's Ground Forces, Debate Command Structure // Yemen Parliament Backs State of Emergency as Saleh Cracks Down on Protests // Bank of Spain Underestimates Funding Gap Faced by Lenders, Idealista Says // Socrates Faces Vote Threatening to Push Portugal to Polls // Osborne Cuts 2011 U.K. Growth Outlook to 1.7% in Budget // NATO Struggles to Define Libya Role as U.S. Prepares Strikes // Fed to Conduct Reverse Repos With Funds Added as Counterparties This Year // Foreclosure Terms May Pose ‘Moral Hazard,’ State Attorneys General Say // Stocks in U.S. Fluctuate After Home-Sales Report; Treasuries, Euro Retreat
  • The Euro is currently trading 1/2 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up over 1% and trading at $106.07/barrel. Gold is higher by 3/4 of 1% and silver is up nearly 2.2%. Base metals ended the day higher as traders rushed into commodities of all kinds. Indicator chart show nickel shrugged off the lower Euro, jumped early and refused to give it back, gaining more as the day wore on. For the day, three month nickel ended at about $12.13/lb , and basically back to where it was on Friday. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell yet again yesterday, keeping the solid losing streak since March 2 going. Stores now total just over the 124,000 tonne level. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel trading thru yesterday (chart here). Commodity traders were in a buying mood today, and they did not allow equity trading skepticism or a lower Euro to deny them.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Citigroup) It is with great sadness that we publish today's Commodities Daily and advise of the sudden passing of Alan Heap. Alan was a key member of Citi’s research globally for more than 18 years. He was always passionate about commodity research and a driving force behind our commodity research platform. Our deepest condolences are with his wife, Deanna, and his family. He will be missed
  • Baby Boomers and the Labor Force - more
  • Higher Inflation Expectations Are Spreading - more
  • A Note on the Slowness of Recovery... more
  • Tokyo Warns on Water as Radiation Hampers Nuclear Cleanup - more
  • Mortgage Applications Increase in Latest MBA Weekly Survey - more
  • Architecture Firm Billings Increase Slightly in February - more
  • FedViews - more

  Russia's MMK says steel prices up 20 pct from end-'10 - Russia's Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works chairman Viktor Rashnikov said average prices at the company's main facility are up about 20 percent since end-December on firm raw material prices and demand. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:05 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.19/lb higher, with other London traded base metals higher as well. The Euro is trading 1/3 of 1% lower against the US Dollar at the moment.NYMEX crude is higher by nearly 2/10 of 1% and trading at $105.16/barrel. Gold is up 3/10% and silver is over 4/10% higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China up 1.3%. European markets are trading lower, while US futures show Wall Street has yet to decide a route. Nickel inventories fell yesterday. European benchmark price for ferrochrome will be $1.35/lb for second quarter, compared to $1.25/lb in the first quarter.    
  • LME Morning - Metals drift as risk appetite remains low - more
  • Reuters - LME copper opens lower, mired by China Japan, MidEast doubts - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - We had a strong session in the commodity markets yesterday, with base metals moving higher once again, as did energy prices, which rose late in the day on continued tensions emanating from Yemen and Syria. Of course, neither country matters much in terms of the global oil equation, but the fact that the unrest is taking place in a region responsible for one third of the world's oil supply is causing understandable alarm among investors. In yesterday's developments, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Yemen, clamoring for President Saleh to step aside. Although he offered to remain in office only until the end of the year, he likely will step down sooner given that most of his military support has now dissolved. Elsewhere in the Middle-East, protests grew in Syria, where hundreds of people marched in a southern towns for a fifth day after the government arrested a key opposition figure. Tensions also flared in Gaza, where Israeli tank fire killed four Palestinians, while protests were also reported in Egypt after a constitutional referendum passed overwhelmingly on Monday. The Interior Ministry was also apparently torched by striking workers. The Egyptian stock exchange opened briefly, fell by 10%, and was promptly closed again. The weaker US dollar helped support commodities yesterday, as the greenback slumped to a 15-month low against major currencies. The Euro soared to a five-month high after investors began to discount a likely ECB rate increase that could come through as early as next month. Sterling was also quite strong on similar expectations for an interest-rate hike. There was not much new out of Libya; the coalition action continues, although at a much reduced rate. A standoff of sorts now seems to be setting in, with rebels unwilling or unable to move on Col. Qaddafi's forces, which seem to be holding the civilian population hostage in the cities they control. Out of Japan, power has now been restored to all six nuclear reactors, but workers are still trying to assess whether or not the equipment that the electricity is supposed to run is indeed working. We should know something more on this later today when preliminary tests are conducted. Concerns are also shifting to traces of radiation being picked up in food and water, extending all the way to the tab water in Tokyo. Vegetables remain suspect, with US officials announcing a block on Japanese dairy and other produce from the region. The crisis is emerging as the world's most expensive natural disaster on record, likely to cost up to $309 billion, this according to a government estimates put out today. More tragically, the death toll continues to mount, with almost 24,000 people now either dead or missing. Metals are higher currently, with aluminum hitting a fresh 2011 high, but we see little in terms of sector-specific news in any of the metals. The dollar is holding its ground against the Euro right now, and is flat at around $1.42, as markets focus on a renegotiation of Ireland's rescue package and an upcoming vote in the Portuguese parliament on the amended austerity package. If the Portuguese government fails to agree on a budget, the Prime Minister said he will resign, and that could possibly lead to the country seeking emergency financing. In the U.K., Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will deliver his budget statement shortly. .... Nickel is at $26,800, up $450. Despite the recent gains, the complex still look somewhat sluggish to us.  (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Merafe) Shareholders of the Company are advised that the European benchmark ferrochrome price has been settled at $1.35 per pound for the second quarter of 2011, an increase of 8% from $1.25 per pound in the first quarter of 2011.
  • (Yieh) Recently, Asian steel mills have decreased the export quotes of stainless steel as the nickel prices have dropped and the demand has remained weak.
  • (Interfax) China will likely see steel consumption plateau, rather than decline, after hitting a peak in the next five to 15 years, said Luiz Meriz, China president of Vale S. A., at a conference in Beijing on March 23.
  • (PR) The American Trucking Associations' advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 2.9% in February after increasing a revised 3.5% in January 2011. The latest drop put the SA index at 113.3 (2000=100) in February. In January, the SA index equaled 116.6. During December 2010 and January 2011, the SA tonnage index jumped a total of 6.1%.

  Price Of Ni-Based Stainless Scrap In Kanto Area Is Still On Basic Tone To Fall Further = Anxiety For Radioactivity Causes To Suspend Deliveries of Cargoes As Already Collected - Domestic price of nickel-based stainless steel scrap (new clippings) prevailing in Kanto area of Japan has still continued on a weak tone and the Kawasaki Plant of Nippon Yakin Kogyo has reduced on the 16th of March their purchase price of this scrap by 10,000 per ton, having resulted in new price of Yen 185,000 per metric ton delivered to mills. - more

  MSCI: Metals Growth Rate Declines in February - Inventory-to-sales ratios of steel and aluminum products at North American service centers rose in February as shipments of those products, while still above levels of a year ago, increased at lower growth rates than in January, according to the latest Metals Activity Report from the Metals Service Center Institute, Rolling Meadows, Ill. - more

  Interros gets four seats on Norilsk board, RusAl two - Norilsk - Interros holding company, an owner of about 30% of the country's largest nickel producer Norilsk Nickel, has received four seats on the board of the mining firm, while another core Norilsk shareholder, RusAl, and Norilsk management got two seats each, Norilsk said on Wednesday following an extraordinary shareholders' meeting. - more

  Nunavik Nickel mine looks to 2012 start-up - If Nunavik’s second mine project gets the go-ahead to build a port and other docking facilities at Deception Bay near Salluit this spring, the Nunavik Nickel mine, located 20 kilometres south of Xstrata’s Raglan nickel mine, should be in production for 2012. - more

  Palmer wants more mineral processing - Outspoken mining billionaire Clive Palmer says his private company's Yubulu nickel refinery in Queensland is proof Australia can compete with Asia in mineral processing.- more

  Fortescue Metals CEO beats Rupert Murdoch to top BRW executive rich list - Andrew Forrest has displaced Rupert Murdoch at the top of BRW's Executive Rich List as rising iron ore prices lifted his wealth in the past 12 months by almost a third to $6.2 billion. - 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 22

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 12 to 1,543. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Wheat Seen Rebounding 11% as Global Stockpiles Decline the Most Since 2007 // Premier Wen Jiabao Says ‘Urgent Steps’ Needed on China’s Trade Imbalance // China Stocks Rise as Rally for Oil Producers Outweighs Tightening Concerns // Japan Economy’s ‘V-Shaped’ Rebound From Quake Depends on End to Blackouts // Japan Cash at Central Bank to Hit Record on Emergency Measures // All Clear Sounded as Markets Shrug Off Multiple Black Swans // ECB Officials Signal Rate Increase Still Likely After Quake // Euro Reaches 5-Month High on Rate Outlook; Pound Soars on Inflation Data // Crude Oil Retreats on Speculation Mideast Risk May Be Confined to Libya // Portugal Government May Collapse Tomorrow on Austerity Vote, JPMorgan Says // Glencore Said Near to Hiring Eight Banks for $10 Billion IPO // Fed’s Court-Ordered Disclosure Shows U.S. ‘Right to Know’ //  Walgreen’s Profit Rises 10 Percent, Helped by Prescriptions // U.S. Stocks Retreat Amid Concern About Debt Crisis in Europe //
  • The Euro is now trading 2/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up 1.4% and trading at $103.76/barrel. Gold is down over 1/10 of 1% and silver is over 4/10 of 1% higher. Base metals ended the session higher, except for nickel. Indicator charts show nickel opened slightly lower, fell hard in early afternoon trading, before recovering some of what it had lost. We show nickel closed at around $11.95/lb for the day. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell for the 15th straight session on Monday and now sit just under the 124,500 tonne level. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel trading thur yesterday (chart here). Not a lot to talk about today so we take you back to 2002 when a little stainless steel saved an Ohio nuclear power plant from a disaster of their own. "In March 2002, plant staff discovered that the boric acid that serves as the reactor coolant had leaked from cracked control rod drive mechanisms directly above the reactor and eaten through more than six inches[10] of the carbon steel reactor pressure vessel head over an area roughly the size of a football (see photo). This significant reactor head wastage left only 3/8 inch of stainless steel cladding holding back the high-pressure (~2500 psi) reactor coolant. A breach would have resulted in a loss-of-coolant accident, in which superheated, superpressurized reactor coolant could have jetted into the reactor's containment building and resulted in emergency safety procedures to protect from core damage or meltdown. Because of the location of the reactor head damage, such a jet of reactor coolant may have damaged adjacent control rod drive mechanisms, hampering or preventing reactor shut-down." (source) And the problems continue "Problems at the Davis-Besse nuclear reactor near Toledo are worse than expected" - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Brazil's government is applying pressure to controlling shareholders of mining giant Vale SA in an effort to oust CEO Roger Agnelli, according to Tuesday's edition of the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper.
  • Why I Am Never Going to Own a Home Again - more
  • Chicago Fed Index Indicates Slow Economic Improvement - more
  • Analysts see gas headed back to $4 a gallon - more
  • Are huge earthquakes linked? - more
  • Price dynamics - more

  From BSSA website - "The bridge on the left was made using normal rebar and lasted 30 years compared to the one on the right built 60 years ago using 304 rebar and is still going strong."

  Supply monopoly to keep iron ore prices high-China official - Spot iron ore prices will remain high this year as supply remains controlled by a few big suppliers, an official from China's industry group said on Tuesday, although traders said slower demand from top buyer China may weaken prices in the near term. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:10 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.05/lb lower, with other London traded base metals quietly higher. The Euro is trading nearly 1/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down nearly 1/10 of 1% and trading at $102.25/barrel. Gold is down slightly, while silver is lower by nearly 3/10%.  In overnight trading, Asian markets ended the day higher, with China up 1/2 of 1% and Japan up 4-1/2%. European markets are trading only slightly higher at the moment, and US futures are also slightly higher. Nickel inventories fell on Monday.
  • LME Morning - Dollar weakness conceals bearish momentum in base metals - more
  • Reuters - Copper bounces, but risk appetite still fragile - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper prices staged a rather dramatic reversal yesterday, giving up its earlier gains to end lower, while dragging the rest of the metals off their highs as well. The sell-off was quite unusual in that the precious metals group, energy, US equity markets, and the Euro all ended up higher, but did little to stem the selling in copper. Instead, it seemed that a sharp 12.5% reduction in February Chinese copper imports (referenced in yesterday's commentary), coupled with poor existing US home sales data, both weighed on the complex more. In housing's case, sales of existing home sales fell in February after three straight monthly increases, coming in at an annual rate of 4.88 million, well below forecasts, and off 9.6% from January levels. The decrease was also accompanied by an increase in supply, where inventories rose 3.5% to 3.49 million units--an 8.6-month stockpile at the current sales rate. Out of China, copper was not the only commodity that saw a month-over-month decrease in imports, as a number of other sectors were also badly hit. The two commodities that slowed the most in February, were iron ore and coking coal, with the former coming in at 48.8 million tons, down sharply from the 69 million tons recorded last month. Coking coal imports collapsed by almost two-thirds in February, falling below 2 million tons for the first time since May 2009, as the impact of Australia's floods pinched supplies. Overall shipments of regular coal fell to 6.8 million tons, with major suppliers seeing orders dropping by a third, while imports of liquefied natural gas fell to their lowest level in nine months. China's crude oil shipments were an exception to the trend, up to their third-highest level ever in February, as overall apparent oil consumption rose by 10.2% from year-ago levels. However, it seems that much of the rise in demand was due to stockpiling of diesel. March import levels should result in a measurable improvement in all of these import categories. However, if we do not recover, markets will grow quite worried, as this could be the first sign that red-hot Chinese commodity demand could finally be coming off the boil. We are seeing a rather uneventful session so far today, with most of the metals showing modest gains, except for lead and nickel. A weaker dollar is helping the firmer tone, as the Euro continues to strengthen, now at $.14240, a five-month high, as investors discount a rate increase coming out of the ECB sometime next month. The yen is also strengthening, and is now at 80.90. Energy markets are lower by about $.20/barrel, while US stocks are called to open higher. .... Nickel is at $26,636, down $114. The short-term downtrend remains somewhat intact. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) Reportedly, China’s Taiyuan Iron & Steel Group (Tisco) released the new price policy for April delivery. The company decided to cut the ex-factory prices for 304 series cold rolled/hot rolled stainless steel coil and medium heavy plate by RMB2,200/ton average; that for 430 series cold rolled stainless steel has remained unchanged.
  • (SO) The government of the Chinese province of Fujian has inked a strategic cooperation agreement with Chinese steelmaking giant Baosteel to build a new stainless steel production base called Baosteel Desheng Stainless Steel Co., Ltd at Luoyuan Bay. The project will be implemented in collaboration with private sector enterprise Desheng Nickel Co. Ltd.
  • (Macquarie) Chinese imports of nickel ore are surprisingly high, suggesting very high nickel pig iron production.
  • (SBB) Chinese stainless 304 export offer prices fall $100-280/t
  • (JMB) Japan Crude Steel Output Decreases by 7.5% in February
  • (Interfax) China aims to reduce the number of steel firms operating in the country to 100 major groups by the end of 2015, state media reported on March 21.
  • Japan's reconstruction may fuel China's inflation - more

  Mincor reduces Otter Juan production -  Mincor Resources NL has reduced production from its Otter Juan underground nickel mine in Kambalda as a result of a sudden deterioration in ground conditions in the lower most levels of the mine. - more

  Market Tendency On Imports Of Ferro-Alloys At 15th March 2011 = Large Earthquake Disaster, Interested In Marking Issue of Shutdown At Chuo Denki Kogyo - The market tendency by item on imports of ferro-alloys into Japan at the 15th March of 2011 is as follows - more

  Zim Alloys builds massive furnace - Zimbabwe’s only ferrochrome producer, Zim Alloys, is building a multi-million dollar furnace, which when completed will be the country’s biggest. - more

  Japan steelmakers resume ops, iron ore supply seen tight - Japan's top two steelmakers resumed normal production as the disaster-hit country begins a long way back to recovery that could stretch already tight global supplies of key steelmaking material iron ore. - more

  China rare earth prices explode as export volumes collapse - China's exports of rare earth metals burst through the $100,000-per-tonne mark for the first time in February, up almost ninefold from a year before, while the volume of trade stayed far below historical averages. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending March 19, 2011, domestic raw steel production was 1,807,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 73.9 percent. Production was 1,770,000 tons in the week ending March 19, 2010, while the capability utilization then was 73.2 percent. The current week production represents a 2.1 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending March 19, 2011 is down 2.2 percent from the previous week ending March 12, 2011 when production was 1,847,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 75.5 percent.

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

  • London Metal Exchange inventory figures/changes - (for today's figures see MF Global report above)
  • Today's almost official prices here  /  Yesterday's actual LME official prices here or here (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 21

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - no change to 1531  (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Qaddafi Vows to Repel ‘Christian States’ as Mullen Says Strikes Effective // Wheat Rebounding 11% as Global Stockpiles Drop Most Since 2007 // Asian Stores, Eateries Drop Japan Food on Radiation Fears // China Stocks Rise as Rally for Oil Producers Outweighs Tightening Concerns // Yen Undermined as G-7 Combines With Deficits After High // Japan May Take Five Years to Rebuild After Quake, Tsunami, World Bank Says // Fukushima Evacuees Fleeing Japanese Radiation Face Uncertain Return Home // German Bonds Decline as Japan Cools Damaged Reactor Before Trichet Hearing // European Stocks Jump as Japan Nuclear Crisis Eases; Deutsche Telekom Gains // VIX Rises Most in 10 Months Driving S&P 500 Down 1% in 20 Years of History // AT&T to Buy Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile USA for $39 Billion in Cash, Stock // U.S. Existing Home Sales Slump in February // Pimco Buying Emerging Market ‘Rising Stars’ as Inflation Looms // Stocks Gain, Yen Drops as Japan’s Nuclear Risk Eases; Oil Rises
  • The Euro is now trading over 1/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up over 1.1% and trading at $102.04/barrel. Gold is up 6/10% and silver is over 1.8% higher. Base metals ended the session mixed and quiet. Indicator charts show nickel rose early, fell, then staggered around going no where fast. For the day, we show three month nickel closed around $12.10/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored worldwide in LME approved warehouses continue to fall, as they have ever since the 2nd of March, and now sit just over the 124,800 tonne level. Sucden's day old chart reflects nickel's late week charge (chart here), helped partly by a weaker Dollar. This week is starting out like last, with very little trade specific news. And with the 'no news is good news' scenario overshadowing equity markets, base metals markets seemed to be taking a 'wait and see' attitude.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Number of the Week: Household Debt May Be Accelerating Again - more
  • Inflation Slowly Showing Signs of Life - more

  Copper, tin prices could double: Ebullio - "They are well supplied but eventually they are going to come, and they will come in the second quarter," he said. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:05am CST show 3 month nickel trading around  $.04/lb higher, with all London traded base metals higher and mostly quiet. The Euro is trading nearly 1/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar at the moment. NYMEX crude is up 1-3/4% and trading at $102.86/barrel. Gold is up over 8/10% and silver is 2-1/2% higher.  In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China down 1/4% and Japan up nearly 2-1/2%. European markets are trading higher this morning and US futures show Wall Street plans to continue its bullish rebound. Nickel inventories fell on Friday.
  • LME Morning - Metals rise as demand outlook eclipses global turmoil - more
  • Reuters morning - Copper rises; eyes China tightening, MidEast turmoil - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper prices eased slightly on Friday, but the rest of the metals finished slightly higher, as did a number of other commodity complexes. With Libyan-related geopolitical tensions rising as we headed into the weekend, there was not much appetite for getting too short in any of the markets. As it turned out, the weekend was anything but quiet, with an allied coalition pounding Col. Qaddafi's forces with air strikes and cruise missiles. (A missile apparently hit the compound where the Libyan leader was thought to be residing). Crude oil prices are now higher by about two dollars a barrels, and metals are up in sympathy as well, with copper and aluminum both trading at just under $9530 and $2580, respectively. However, we suspect investors will soon have to focus on the very real possibility that Col. Gaddafi's days are numbered given the formidable array of forces lined up against him, not to mention the equal likelihood that oil exports may resume sooner rather than later—and under a new government. This could mean that oil prices could possibly give up some of their recent gains later in the week, and to the extent that metals have been pulled higher in sympathy, they could also see a modest retreat. Elsewhere in the Middle-East, Yemen's president dismissed his entire cabinet and also declared a state of emergency after at least 52 protesters were killed at anti-government rallies this past week. Tens of thousands of people still protested again on Sunday, where funerals were held for people killed in the attacks, and some generals are said to be moving against the president, as are members of his tribe. There were demonstrations in Syria as well, among the most authoritarian of Arab regimes. Crowds apparently set fire to the headquarters of the ruling Baath party in the city of Deraa and to two other government buildings. The demonstrations have now lasted for three straight days, with protesters calling for trials for the members of security forces that shot protesters, the abolition of Syria's emergency law, more political freedom, and an end to widespread corruption. In Saudi Arabia, a second "Day of Rage" protest took place on Sunday, with authorities arresting several people demonstrating in front of the Interior Ministry. The size of the crowd was estimated to be around 100, with protesters demanding the release of imprisoned relatives. In the meantime, the Saudi King gave another speech on Friday, this time unveiling yet another ambitious spending package, although giving up little in terms of meaningful political reform. A second situation that will remain the focus of the markets this week, and likely will continue to exert a drag on commodity prices over the weeks ahead, is the fact that the Japanese economic rebound will likely be slow and torturous. Over the weekend, the World Bank said that Japan may need five years to rebuild from the disasters, with growth will likely be impaired in the short-term. In the meantime, the Japanese nuclear disaster seems to be dragging on; workers have had some success in cooling two of the six reactors under observation, with units five and six now declared safe. Unit two, where workers connected a 1 mile power cable over the weekend, remains a main source of concern, and unexpected smoke from unit 3 has also prompted a temporary evacuation from that facility. As if all this were not enough, very small amounts of radioactive iodine has been detected in tap water in Tokyo, while trace elements of the substance was also found in food, milk, and water in the vicinity around the plant. In response, the government slapped restrictions on food produced in two provinces surrounding the stricken plants. The Japanese dual disasters have now claimed about 8,277 lives, with more than 12,722 missing. ....  Nickel is at $26,825, up $75. The complex has been making a modest recovery off its lows, but the move higher is nothing dramatic, with the short-term downtrend still remaining somewhat intact. On the upside, we view next resistance at $27,500.  (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) Industry sources indicated that the Europe’s ferro-chrome contract prices were expected to soar by 10% in the Q2 due to strong demand. Hence, it has been seen that the prices would rise to US$1.40/lb. from the current US$1.25/lb.
  • (SBB) Chinese 304 stainless prices in southern Guangdong province's Foshan market slipped further last week as nickel prices continued to drop.
  • Lundin rejects C$4.8 bln takeover plan by Equinox - more

  Nickel shipments to Japan not disrupted – Nickel Asia Corporation does not expects its export shipments to be materially affected this year despite the suspension of the operations of its customer following the tsunami in Japan. - more

  Iron Ore-Prices rise for first time in a month as buyers return - Spot iron ore prices rose for the first time in a month and offers held firm on Friday, as Chinese steel mills returned to the market to replenish dwindling stockpiles. - more

  • Iron ore prices to drop for first time in five years - For the first time in five years, contract prices of iron ore - the key raw material for making steel - will soften, as Japanese steel mills, that account for about 13% of global iron-ore consumption, have cut down on their requirement following production cutbacks. - 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 18

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 2 to 1,531. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China’s Smaller Cities Lead Home Price Gain as Beijing, Shanghai Add Curbs // China Raises Bank Reserve Requirement for Third Time in 2011 on Inflation // U.S. Planning Japan Airlift as Authorities Battle to Prevent Nuclear Leaks // // China’s Stocks Rise as G-7 Intervenes to Support Japan // G-7 Sells Yen in First Joint Intervention Since 2000 // Yen Drops on G-7 Intervention as UN’s Libya No-Fly Vote Spurs Rally in Oil // Stress Test Banks, EU Pass Rate Unknown a Month Before Deadline // U.K. Consumer Confidence Declines to Record Low on Economy, Jobs Concerns // Qaddafi Troops Near Benghazi May Face Air Attack Soon // Bahrain Funeral May Spark More Protests After Opposition Leaders Arrested // Trichet Says ECB Policy Makers Have ‘Nothing to Withdraw’ on Rate Stance // European Stocks Climb as Libya Declares Cease-Fire; Parmalat Shares Rally // Obama Says U.S. Not at Risk From Japanese Nuclear Plant’s Radiation Leak // Stocks Rally as Banks Boost Dividends; Yen Falls on G-7 Moves
  • The Euro is presently trading 1.1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down 4/10% and trading at $101.01/barrel. Gold is higher by nearly 1% and silver is up 2-1/3%. Bae metals ended the session mixed and for the most part, ended quietly. Indicator charts show nickel was anything but quiet today, opening higher. It stalled for most of the session, but tin the last half hour, it took off. For the day and week, we put an estimated closing price at $12.11/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses have fallen every day this month so far, except for the first day. Today they register in at just over 125,000 tonnes. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel's bounce yesterday (chart here). It has been a wild week, with the week old earthquake and tsunami catastrophe, overshadowed by the ongoing nuclear situation. Two week old hot topics, while still as relevant as they were, seem to be forgotten. Libya, Bahrain, Yemen - all with serious internal problems. Inflation reared its ugly head in China and the US again, but with oil off its highs, nobody seemed to notice. Economic news was a mixed bag, but not much cast a shadow of doubt on the recovery. Except, maybe current events.
  • Have a safe and restful weekend.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Higher Food Prices Likely Here to Stay - more
  • Some Manufacturing Sectors Putting More Capacity to Use - more
  • Japan Raises Severity Rating of Nuclear Disaster - more

  British Judge Dismisses Rusal Application - It is now one week since Rusal obliged Norilsk Nickel to call an extraordinary meeting of shareholders for a fresh round of voting on the Norilsk Nickel board . - more

  Molybdenum Mining On The Continental Divide - The Continental Divide, North America. A boundary along the Rocky Mountains that separates river systems into the two great oceans is also the home to the most important molybdenum producing regions in the entire world. Early settlers of the region came for the vast deposits of gold and silver, but found many more deposits than just precious metals. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:00 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around  $.17/lb higher, with all London traded base metals higher. The Euro is 8/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar at the moment. NYMEX crude is up 1.4% and trading at $102.86/barrel. Gold is up over 1% and silver is 2-2/3% higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up nearly 6/10% and Japan  nearly 2-1/2% higher. European markets are trading higher this morning, and US futures show the bulls plan to charge out of the gates for a second day. Nickel inventories fell yet again yesterday.
  • LME Morning - Buying momentum stalls across complex, doubts cast on sustainability of bounce - more
  • Reuters - Copper falls as Libya woes weigh, G7 move boosts risk - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals surged yesterday, with copper notching up its biggest one-day rally since November. There were good gains in the rest of the group as well, with lead on track to close out a particularly solid week, as it breaks out to a fresh 2011 high. The Reuters-Jefferies CRB index of 19 commodities rose more than 3%, its biggest one-day gain since August 2009, while US equities also experienced a solid bounce. We are off to a much quieter start today, with copper losing some ground, while the rest of the metals are modestly higher, except for lead. Crude oil prices were higher earlier, but are unchanged now, as markets remain nervous about imminent fighting in Libya. The dollar is mixed, losing ground against the Euro, but much stronger against the yen, as G-7 has apparently intervened overnight to stem its rise. US stocks are expected to open slightly higher, working off a better tone seen in Asian equities. There was quite a bit of news out yesterday, and although some of the headlines were used to justify the buying in commodities, we suspect the across-the-board rebound was likely due to a massive technical bounce off somewhat oversold conditions. The main headline that dominated sentiment yesterday was investor concern about the Libyan situation, where Col. Gaddafi's forces are now on the verge of entering Benghazi just as the UN Security Council approved a no-fly zone late last night, and said it would take all necessary measures to prevent civilian violence in the city. We do not see how this tougher stance by the UN necessarily justifies another advance in oil prices, keeping in mind that when the conflict started, oil prices actually fell each time there were reports that a no-fly zone was being considered. In this respect, markets concluded that Gaddafi's days were likely numbered, bringing the restart of Libyan oil exports somewhat closer. In fact, we would argue that should the Libyan leader stay in power, the oil picture is somewhat more bullish, as under a strict sanctions regime, none of his output would be marketable. We will have to see what happens over the days ahead, but the tide could very well turn again, particularly if the rebels get a second wind. Another headline that was glossed over in yesterday’s massive run higher, was the fact that the situation in Japan has hardly improved over the past 24 hours. Most disappointing in this regard, was that there was nothing new on the possibility of power being switched back on to feed the four stricken reactors, although late on Thursday, the authorities did say that they were "aiming" to attach power by March 20th. Not helping matters much either, is the fact that there has been an exodus of people (mostly foreigners) leaving the country. We suspect that manufacturers are not far behind in that those who can, are likely shifting more of their production to foreign plants.  ... Nickel is at $26,250, up $325, and still attempting to claw its way back after last week’s steep decline. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) Japan’s nickel-based stainless steel scrap prices continued dropping. It’s known that the new purchase prices of nickel-based stainless steel scrap from Nippon Yakin Kogyo mill were at ?18,5000/ton, dropped by ?10,000/ton.
  • (Interfax) China's iron ore imports are expected to increase by 40 million tons in 2011, a year-on-year growth of approximately 6 percent, Xu Xu, president of the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals, and Chemical Exporters, said March 17 at the 2011 Int'l Steel and Minerals Conference in the city of Kunming, Yunnan Province.
  • (MBN) Jinchuan nickel price flips back up
  • China Raises Bank Reserve Requirement for Third Time in 2011 on Inflation - more

  Indonesian Samudera nickel cargo ship hijacked off Somalia - Somalia pirates hijacked a nickel cargo ship owned by shipping firm PT Samudera Indonesia, a director of the firm said on Friday. - more

  Firing up northern nickel mine - Crowflight Minerals Inc. is expecting to announce plans to reopen production at the Bucko Lake nickel mine in Wabowden as early as next week. - more

  Actual Quantities Of Molybdenum Exported By Chile In CY 2010 = Exports Of Roasted Mo-Ore Decreased By 15%, Exports Of FeM0 Had An Increase - The quantities of molybdenum exported by Chile in the calender year (January - December) of 2010 were known. Namely, the actual quantities (on material base) of molybdenum exported from Chile in 2010 were roasted molybdenum ore (MoO3) : 50,048 tons, unroasted molybdenum ore (MoS2) : 14,558 tons and ferro-molybdenum : 12,485 tons. - more

  Steel Execs Charged With Inside Trading - The SEC charged four steel executives and four of their family and friends with making $320,000 from illegal inside trading, based on tips that at Steel Technologies was about to be bought by Mitsui & Co., of Japan. - 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 17

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 5 to 1,533. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Japan’s Quake Fallout Goes Global in a Hurry: William Pesek // China Halts Nuclear Projects Approvals; Asia on Alert for Japan Radiation // Vale Iron Ore Sales to Japan Unaffected by Earthquake, Director Zhu Says // Japan Government Bond Risk Rises to Record Amid Fukushima Reactor Crisis // U.S. Urges Nationals to Leave Japan on Radiation Fears // Japan Disaster Looms Over Global Economy: Mohamed El-Erian // Asian Stocks Drop on Radiation Crisis at Japan Reactor; Exporters Retreat // Spain Sells Bonds in Test of Europe’s Bailout Enlargement: Euro Credit // Qaddafi Hits Benghazi, Son Says War ‘Finished’ in 48 Hours // G-7 May Help Japan Weaken Yen After Currency Rises to Record, Analysts Say // European Stocks Rally After Six-Day Drop on Speculation G-7 to Calm Market // Bernanke in Testimony Can Show Paul How QE2 Works // Industrial Production in U.S. Falls 0.1%; Manufacturing Gains // U.S. Plans to Airlift Nationals From Japan Amid Fears of Nuclear Meltdown // Stocks Gain in Europe, U.S. as Yen Appreciates to Postwar High
  • The Euro continues to trade over 8/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up nearly 3% and trading at $100.86/barrel. Gold is still ever so slightly higher, while silver is now lower by 1/3%. Base metals had a solid rebound day, across the chart. Indicator charts show nickel in a slow consistent climb all day, taking a break late in the session. We show three month nickel ended the session around $11.70/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME warehouses continue their decline, down for their 12th consecutive day yesterday. They now show totaling just shy of he 125,600 tonne mark. Cancelled warrants remain in the 6% range for a second day. If it doesn't have something to do with Japan, Libya, Bahrain, or today, the G-7 meeting, it probably isn't getting much coverage these days. And that includes the nickel and stainless steel industry. And Japan is just getting too depressing so let's end today's report with a flash back to last week. Rebels in Libya had the upper hand, and it appeared the Quadaffi regime had days left before it fell.  Here was the lead sentence from a CBS report one week ago today. "Sen. Lindsey Graham, a prominent Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Thursday that President Obama should replace General James Clapper, director of National Intelligence (DNI), after Clapper said that Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi "will prevail" eventually over the armed rebellion in his nation." Reports today are that the rebels may have hours left, and our US President, who was reluctant to ok a 'no-fly' zone' just hours ago, now is telling everyone we may need to bomb Qaddafi to save the Rebels. Some days you have to wonder who makes this stuff up! 

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • U.S. Life Expectancy Hits All-Time High - more
  • Late Winter Lull Hits Economy Again - more
  • UN: Radiation to Hit U.S. By Friday - more
  • Yet another Japan reactor post - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:10 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.31/lb higher, with all London traded base metals higher as well. The Euro is helping metals, up nearly 9/10 of 1% against the US Dollar. At teh moment, NYMEX crude is up  2% and trading at $99.99/barrel. Gold is up slightly and silver is up 2/3%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China off 1.6% and Japan off less than 1%. European markets are trading higher this morning and US futures show Wall Street will try to shake off the bear. Nickel inventories fell hard for a second day, possibly reflecting some extra buying in light of halted production in Japan.    
  • Bloomberg morning -
  • LME Morning - Metals extend corrective bounce, dollar weakness aids trend - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals ended mixed yesterday, with copper prices posting their biggest one-day gain in 2-1/2 weeks after hitting a three-month low earlier in the day. However, the rest of the metals struggled, as did a host of other markets. Needless to say, investors remain quite edgy in light of the "Black Swan" event manifesting itself in the form of the Japanese earthquake/tsunami and the accompanying nuclear disaster spawned in its wake. What alarmed markets most yesterday, were growing signs of a rift in the assessment of the nuclear crisis. In this regard, the head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission broke with his Japanese counterparts by saying that spent fuel rods in at least one of the four reactors were exposed, resulting in emissions of "extremely high" levels of radiation, and concluding that this could "possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures." The Japanese are not as certain, with the local plant operator saying it believed the reactor spent-fuel pool still had water as of Wednesday. However, today, Japanese military helicopters dumped water on one overheating nuclear plant that is the subject of most concern. In a rare piece of potential good news, the authorities say they may be able to restore power to some of the damaged reactors, hoping of course, that the rest of the equipment is still working. In the meantime, a number of countries have advised their citizens to leave Japan, and the US adopted the same position overnight, saying it would send aircraft in to help evacuate Americans. As of this writing, we are seeing a strong bounce in most markets, with base metals up strongly, as is energy. The dollar continues to weaken, now over $1.40 against the Euro, while crashing to a new low against the yen (now at 78.4). US stocks are called to open higher, but with the situation in Japan still very unsettled, we have to suspect that these bounces are not sustainable, and will likely fade over the course of the week. The specter of the world’s third largest economy sputtering to a halt, which it easily could do if this nuclear crisis is not contained, could prove to be very bearish for overall commodity demand.  ... Nickel is at $25,887, up $937, with prices hovering close to the bottom end of the trading range. We did break $25,000 support on a two-day closing basis earlier in the week, and the complex’s inability to snap back, suggests further declines could be in the cards once the current run exhausts itself. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) According to statistics, Japan produced 272.24 thousand tons of stainless steel in January, down by 0.7% slightly in comparison of 272.22 thousand tons in last December.
  • (MNP) The timeline for the redevelopment of the $A200 million mothballed Ravensthorpe nickel laterite mine in Western Australia by First Quantum Minerals has been pushed out to the second half of this year.
  • (TCP) Lundin Mining Corp. says an assessment of its Aguablanca mine suggests operations will likely restart in 2012. The base metals miner suspended operations at the nickel mine in Spain in December due to heavy rains.
  • (Interfax) In the wake of the massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked the northeastern coast of Japan on March 11, some analysts fear already flagging iron ore prices are set to tumble further as demand from Japan - the world's largest steel exporter and second-largest producer - falls.
  • (MP) Low-carbon ferro-chrome prices in the United States continue to edge higher as demand picks up and supplies remain tight amid shipping delays in Russia.
  • (AFPA) The American Forest & Paper Association released the February 2011 U.S. Containerboard Statistics Report today. For the sixteenth straight month, containerboard production rose over the same month a year ago, but may be leveling off. Total production increased 14,100 tons or 0.6% when compared to February 2010. Production fell compared to January 2011, with month over month average daily production down 2.0%.

  U.S., Canadian Metals Growth Rate Declined in February – Inventory-to-sales ratios of steel and aluminum products at North American metals service centers rose in February as shipments of those products, while still above levels of a year ago, rose at lower growth rates than in January, the Metals Activity Report from the Metals Service Center Institute shows. - more

  Fallen Nickel Price Causes To Reduce Price Of Ni-Based Stainless Scrap By Yen 20,000 / Ton At Max. = Stainless Steel Mills In Japan, Entering Into Continuous Reduction Of Price For This Scrap - Being influenced by a sudden and straight fall of 10% for price of LME nickel arisen in the last week (the 7th to 11th of March), domestic price of nickel-based stainless steel scrap (new clippings) in Japan has weakened. - more

  Minmetals to plunge into deep-sea mining - China Minmetals, the country's largest metals trader, said it has carried out research and development (R&D) work into deep-sea mining exploration and exploitation, a move designed to meet the country's growing demand for minerals and metals. - 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

Wednesday, March 16

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 10 to 1,538. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Leading Economic Index Rebounds, Easing Concern of Sudden Slowdown // China's Stocks Fall to Two-Week Low on Concern About Japan Radiation Leak // Japan Stock Turmoil Adds to Economic Pain Amid Aftershocks, Reactor Fires // Japanese Flee Disaster Zone as Government Battles Impact // Europe's AAA-Rated Economies Can't Keep Financing Debt Bill, Halonen Says // Japan Nuclear Crisis Deepens on Suspected Reactor Breach // Crude Oil Retreats as EU Energy Chief Says Japan Risks a ‘Major Disaster’ // European Stocks Drop for Sixth Day on Speculation Japan Crisis Will Worsen // Fed Signals Further Stimulus Unlikely as Recovery Strengthens // GE $1 Billion Nuclear Unit at Risk as Nations Mull Atomic Future // Federal Reserve Reschedules U.S. Bond Purchases, Citing Market Volatility // U.S. Housing Starts Fell in February to Lowest Since April 2009 // U.S. Stocks Drop, Oil Climbs; Nikkei Rebounds, Treasuries Gain
  • The Euro is trading over 1/2 of 1% lower on a Portugal debt rating downgrade. NYMEX crude is up 1-1/4% and trading at $98.41/barrel. God is higher by 4/10% and silver is 1-1/4% higher. Base metals ended mixed and mostly higher , after a volatile day of trading. Irregardless of the beating equities were taking today, indicator chart show nickel spent most of the day in good shape, trading much higher and holding its own - until someone in Europe made a remark about how serious the nuclear situation was in Japan. With that, nickel dropped like a rock, but in the end, still managed to pull off a gainer day. For the da, we show nickel ended at $11.32/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME warehouses fell hard yesterday and now register in at just over 126,500 tonnes. Cancelled warrants barely slipped below 7% today, with four separate warehouses shipping nickel out and none taking any in. Sucden updated its day old chart (chart here). SStoch and RSI show a market opening this morning in seriously oversold territory. Markets are in flux at the moment, and that most dreaded of trader's demons, uncertainty, rules the roost. Market news was very quiet today. Posted a few links from Japan below for those who would rather get their news directly from the source, and not from the news agencies.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) The global nickel market was in a small deficit of 1,000 metric tons in 2010, the World Bureau of Metal Statistics said Wednesday.
  • Japan - Before and After - more
  • Parsing the Fed: How the Statement Changed - more
  • Social Security Suicide - more
  • Economists React: If Worst Happens in Japan, All Bets Are Off - more
  • Four People Who Get Why Wall Street Can Scoff at the SEC: Susan Antilla - more
  • Japanese reactors status reports - more
  • Japan Weather, CLimate and Earthquake updates - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:10 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.31/lb higher, with other base metals trading higher after Japanese markets rebound overnight. The Euro is trading nearly 4/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up 2% and trading at $99.15/barrel. Gold is up 2/3% and silver is higher by 1-1/2%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up 1-1/3% and Japan up 6-2/3%. European markets are trading slightly lower at the moment, and US futures are still showing in the negative. Nickel inventories fell hard yesterday. 
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Advances for First Time in Six Days on Demand for Japan Rebuilding - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals higher, seen benefiting once Japan rebuilds - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - next report on Thursday
  • (MBN) Yusco cuts stainless export prices by up to $100
  • (JMB) Japan Special Steel Output May Decrease after Mega Quake
  • Japan quake sends shockwave through Chinese economy - more
  • China May Start Importing Rare Earths to Meet Demand, Mining Official Says - more
  • Tropical Pacific Ocean warms - more

  World Output Of Nickel In CY 2010 Increased By 8.5% = Nickel Production In Western World Decreased By 1.4%, Because Of Strike Continued At Vale - The world output of nickel in the calender year (January - December) of 2010 came up to 1,430,200 tons, having increased by 8.5% compared with that in the preceding year of 2009. - more

  Nickel Asia client closes Japan plan - Nickel Asia Corp. said Tuesday that shareholder and client Pacific Metals Co. Ltd. of Japan has stopped operations at its Hachinohe plant in Japan due to damages caused by the earthquake and tsunami. - more

  Norilsk Nickel buys airline company - Russian industrial giant Norilsk Nickel buys all shares in the regional airline company Nordavia from Aeroflot. - 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 15

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 11 to 1,548. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China’s Stocks Fall to Two-Week Low on Concern About Japan Radiation Leak // Rate Swaps Fall Most in Two Years With Wen Cutting Loans 25%: China Credit // Japan `Big One' May Raise Quake Risk for Years, Help End Mystery of Plates // Bank of Japan Fails to Contain Investor Panic as Nuclear Danger Escalates // Ford, Boeing, Samsung Produce While Awaiting Word From Japanese Suppliers // Toyota Production Loss May Top 40,000 Vehicles Amid Japan Power Shortages // Japan Sovereign Bond Risk Rises to Record After Nuclear Plant Explosions // Euro Nations Divided Over Method to Boost Rescue Fund’s Lending Capacity // German Investor Confidence Unexpectedly Drops for First Time Since October // Shipping Rates Poised to Decline 34% After Two-Week Rally: Freight Markets // Commodities Tumble, Led By Oil, as Japan Quake Threatens Demand // Stocks in Europe Fall Most Since May on Japan Radiation Concern; RWE Drops // Fed's Next Steps Divide Economists as Asset Purchases Slow // Import Prices in U.S. Increase More-Than-Estimated 1.4% on Oil, Food Costs // Fed's Next Steps Divide Economists as Purchases Wind Down
  • The Euro is trading just over 1/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar, and well off earlier lows. NYMEX crude is down 2.8% and trading at $98.37, also off session lows.  Gold is down over 2-1/2% and silver is lower by 5%. Base metals also ended the day lower joining the worldwide equity sell off in the face of so much uncertainty coming from Japan. Indicator charts show nickel opened lower, and spent the session in a slow steady decline. For the day,. we have three month nickel ending at $11.22/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME warehouses fell yet again yesterday, and now sit just under the 127,700 tonne level. Lost amongst all the bad news coming from Japan, was the news from Vale that Onca Puma is now producing ferronickel. With a capacity of 53,000 tonnes, this could be classified as the successful start up of a mega nickel mine. We thought we would throw that in just to mess the three remaining people in the world who actually think fundamentals still matter. Here are some more fundamentals for you. Stainless steel production in China appeared to be slowing before the Japanese earthquake. The China stainless steel index we follow hit a high of 122.66 back on the 3rd of February and today we are at 117.20. Nickel did not peak until later in February, so the pricing index indicates demand, which has apparently slowed and having a hard time re-starting after the Chinese New Year break. There is still a lot of bull left in the world economic recovery, although the bear is trying his best with social melt downs in the Middle East and nuclear meltdown potentials in Japan. The concern on everyone's mind, is will it all lead to another economic meltdown. And while these poor people have more than enough already on their plate, the number and intensity of aftershocks is still worrisome (here).

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Yieh) According to statistics, Russia exported 42,076 tonnes of ferroalloy in January 2011, down by 46.9% in comparison of 79,217 tonnes in December 2010. Also, it was the lowest level since June in 2007.
  • Import Prices Gain on Higher Raw Materials Costs - more
  • Most Don’t Turn to Government in Tough Times - more
  • A First Person Account From Japan's Ground Zero - more
  • Shipping Rates Poised to Decline 27% After Two-Week Rally: Freight Markets - more

  Chaos as angry mine workers block roads - About 600 mine workers at Hernic Ferrochrome mine have caused havoc at the company’s operation in Brits, North West. - more

  POSCO joins hands with IMFA, ensures economy of ferrochrome supply - The world's third-largest steel maker, Pohang Iron and Steel Company, or POSCO has signed a joint venture agreement with Indian ferrochrome giant, IMFA (Indian Metals & Ferro Alloys), to establish a ferrochrome manufacturing plant in Orissa. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:10 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.22/lb lower, with other base metals trading lower as well as Japanese nuclear concerns grow. The Euro, which traded higher yesterday, is lower by 8/10 of 1% this morning, as German investor confidence unexpectedly dropped.  NYMEX crude is down over 4% this morning and trading at $97.13/barrel, as dropping Japanese demand overshadows trouble in the Middle East. Gold is down 2.4% and silver is off 5.4%. In overnight trading, Asian markets traded lower, with China down 1.8% and Japan off a staggering 9-1/2%. European markets are trading lower this morning and US futures show Wall Street could plummet at the opening. Nickel inventories fell yesterday.
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper in London, Shanghai Declines as Japan Says Radiation Risk Growing - more
  • LME Morning - Metals sink as risk aversion grows, copper at lowest since mid-December - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - no report today
  • (Dow Jones) Liberum Capital is "becoming more cautious on ferrochrome" and believes there is a rising "possibility of another disappointing quarterly settlement." Says "stainless steel scrap prices have slumped 9% since the beginning of the month which is a strong lead indicator of the market."
  • (SBB) Asian stainless mills believe they will not be severely affected by the outage at Japan's largest ferro-nickel producer Pacific Metals Co (Pamco) as they will seek other nickel sources if necessary.
  • (JMB) Japan Stainless Steel and Ferroalloy Makers Stop Operation by Mega Quake
  • (JMB) Sumikin & Nippon Steel Stainless Steel Pipe/ To raise prices of stainless steel pipes
  • (SBB) China increasingly self-sufficient in stainless raw mats
  • (CEN) China's power consumption in February rose 15.82 percent from a year earlier to 313.6 billion kilowatt-hours (kwh), the National Energy Administration (NEA) said on Tuesday.
  • Wen calls inflation a 'tiger' - more

  Vale starts nickel production at Onça Puma - Vale informs that it started production at Onça Puma, a nickel operation (mine and processing plant) in the Brazilian state of Pará with nominal capacity of 53,000 tons per year of nickel contained in ferro-nickel, its final product. - more

  Exports And Imports Of Ferro-Alloys By China In January 2011 Decreased In Both = Exported 63,530 Tons And Imported 171,787 Tons - According to the customs-statistics released in China, the quantities (on material base) of ferro-alloys exported and imported by China in January of 2011 were as per the tables (1) and (2) attached hereto. - more

  16 Items Excluded From Korean AD Duty On Stainless Heavy Plates From Japan - South Korea's Ministry of Strategy & Finance has approved the exclusion of 16 items from the imposition of a 13.17% antidumping duty on imports of stainless heavy plates from Japan for the next five years, according to information made available in Tokyo. - more

  Brazil’s Dilma Ponders Suzano’s Maciel as Vale CEO, Estado Says - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff may push major shareholders of Vale SA (VALE5) to name Suzano Papel e Celulose SA’s Antonio Maciel Neto to replace Chief Executive Officer Roger Agnelli, O Estado de S. Paulo reported, without saying where it got the information. - more

  China steelmakers hold prices steady for April - Two leading Chinese steelmakers will keep their main product prices unchanged for April despite current weak demand and rising inventories, giving the sector a much-needed shot in the arm. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending March 12, 2011, domestic raw steel production was 1,847,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 75.5 percent. Production was 1,770,000 tons in the week ending March 12, 2010, while the capability utilization then was 73.2 percent. The current week production represents a 4.4 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending March 12, 2011 is up 1.1 percent from the previous week ending March 5, 2011 when production was 1,827,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 74.7 percent.

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

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

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - minus 3 to 1,559. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Japan Adds $183 Billion to Economy, Doubles Asset Purchases // Japanese Stocks Plunge After Strongest Earthquake; Tokyo Electric Tumbles // Japan Battles Nuclear Meltdown as Millions Without Power, Water // Chinese Banks Extend Less-Than-Expected $81.5 Billion of Loans Last Month // Japan Nuclear Meltdown Forces China Review as India Sees Safety Backlash // Roubini Earthquake Gloom Meets `Shock Doctrine': William Pesek // India's Inflation Unexpectedly Quickens to 8.31%, Adding to Rate Pressure // EU Puts Burden on Bailout States to Stop Crisis: Euro Credit // Euro Strengthens as EU Leaders Broaden Rescue Package for Indebted Nations // European Stocks Drop for Fourth Day as Reinsurers, Utilities Fall on Quake // Slower Growth Signaled by Wal-Mart Shares as Commodities Depress Consumers // Treasuries Inflation Gauge Tumbles 9.5% as $100 Oil Fails to Move Forwards // U.S. Stocks Fall as S&P 500 Drops to Lowest Level Since January
  • The Euro continues to trade higher against the US Dollar, now up 6/10 of 1%. NYMEX crude refuses to give up $100/barrel, trading at $100.27 and lower by 9/10%. Gold is up 1/3 of 1% while silver is trading flat. Base metals ended the session mostly higher. Indicator charts show nickel took an early session dip, opening lower, then rebounded into positive territory, before falling back to about where it started. For the day, we show three month nickel ending the day around $11.70/lb . Dow Jones published prices are now issued an hour later with the daylight savings time change and thus the closing price is not official and an estimate. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses slipped under the 128,000 tonne mark on Friday, but by only a few thousand tonnes. Sucden has not updated their chart since Friday. The Baltic Dry Index dipped today after 11 straight gainers, with analysts predicting a potential slowdown in iron ore transports to Japan hurting this reading over the next few weeks. Markets were trading somewhere between a "holy crap" moment and the 'numb' aftermath. Video from Japan over the weekend showing explosions at multiple nuclear power plants, or hearing reports that thousands of bodies were washing ashore with the tide this morning, have many around the world affixed to that initial moment of shock, attempting to understand the incomprehensible. Metals traders are as confused as everyone else, trying to determine the implications of what has, and is, happening. And there is something about watching buildings holding nuclear reactors blowing up, that has world markets having a hard time finding confidence in the world around them today. Stephen Wood, the New York-based chief market strategist for Russell Investments, told Bloomberg “It will be very difficult to handicap and assess a worst-case nuclear disaster scenario.” Yet another once-in-a-lifetime event we hope to never again witness.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Reuters) Vale announced that it has started production in Onca Puma, a nickel operation located in the state of Para, with a nominal production capacity of 53,000 metrical tons per year of nickel contained in iron-nickel. The Company announced that the first of two iron-nickel production lines commenced production on March 4, 2011, and expects the second production line to be start operations on the second semester of 2011.
  • Number of the Week: Companies’ Cash Hoard Grows - more
  • Quake Aftershocks Could Hit Markets Days Later - more
  • DON'T Take Potassium Iodide Unless You Are Exposed to Radiation - more
  • FDIC Bank Failures - more
  • Another Inside Job - more
  • Putting an end to Wall Street's 'I'll be gone, you'll be gone' bonuses - more
  • Welfare State: Handouts Make Up One-Third of U.S. Wages - more
  • Lessons from Anonymous on cyberwar - more
  • Saudi troops sent into Bahrain - more

  Sumitomo Metals Announces Effects of the Earthquake on Kashima Steelworks and its Responses - more

  Russia's Metalloinvest expects its official to sit on new Norilsk board - Metalloinvest, one of Russia's largest metals producers, expects its official Farkhad Moshiri to sit on a new board of directors of the country's largest nickel producer Norilsk Nickel, which was elected last Friday, a representative of Metalloinvest's core owner Alisher Usmanov, who owns 4% in Norilsk, told RIA Novosti on Monday. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:10 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.09/lb lower, with other base metals mixed. The Euro is presently trading at 1/3 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down over 1-1/2% and trading at $99.57/barrel. Gold is up over 1/2% and silver is higher by 7/10%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower with China up nearly 1/2 of 1%, and Japan down 7-1/2%. European markets are lower this morning, and US futures are lower as well. Nickel inventories fell on Friday.    
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper, Aluminum Use in Japan to Drop as Factories Shut on Power Shortages - more
  • LME Morning - Metals mostly pressured, Japan quake aftermath heightens uncertain mood - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Markets were all over the place on Friday after news of the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami hit the wires. We had a very choppy day in base metals, as the complex sold off early on, but then staged a respectable comeback by the close. Copper closed practically unchanged after plunging to a three-month low, but nevertheless, it registered one of its worst weekly performances since June 2010. Other markets were generally weaker, with crude oil prices closing down $1.50 on the day after being off by about $3.50 at one point earlier. The complex was also pressured by the fact that Friday's planned "day of rage" protest in Saudi Arabia fizzled. US stocks erased early declines and finished slightly higher. This week most investors will continue to monitor developments out of Japan, where things have deteriorated substantially since news of the tragedy first broke. The death toll continues to climb, and is now estimated to be around 10,000, up from about 32 reported in the first few hours of the quake. Some 6 million homes--almost 10% of the entire country-- have no power, and there is wide-spread destruction to many northern oil refineries, industrial facilities, ports, and basic infrastructure. Entire towns seem to have been decimated, and estimates of the damage currently stand at $100-$200 billion, with only a third likely covered by insurance. Perhaps most alarming, is the threat of multiple nuclear reactor meltdowns; plant operators are working frantically to try to keep temperatures down in several crippled reactors, and have already purposely wrecked at least two by flooding their cores with sea-water in a last-ditch efforts to avoid meltdowns. A critical holding room in one nuclear reactor has exploded, and it is not certain whether a partial meltdown has taken place there. Officials have confirmed a second explosion at that same facility today, but radiation levels being monitored are still fairly low. Tokyo Electric said today that it has failed to cool another reactor, and that plant workers were preparing to inject sea water there as well, a move that could lead to yet another explosion. In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of people are struggling to find food, water, and shelter. Dozens of countries have offered assistance; two US aircraft carrier groups were off Japan's coast and being equipped to help, while two US rescue teams of 72 personnel each and rescue dogs arrived Sunday, as did rescue teams from a number of other countries. The Japanese prime minister said this was the nation's worst crisis since World War II, and he is likely right. We did not have a particularly quiet weekend in the Middle East. The fighting is raging on in Libya, where rebels seem to be suffering a series of setbacks as they retreat from key Western towns. In the meantime, the Arab League has asked the UN Security Council on Saturday to impose a no fly zone over the country, and its move will now put the US and the NATO alliance in a tough spot as they decide whether to take the lead in structuring the no-fly zone if given the legal mandate. Outside of Libya, tens of thousands of protesters rallied in front of Bahrain's royal palace, demanding political freedom and the ouster of the King. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was visiting the country, warned the ruling family that "baby steps" towards reform would not be enough to address the political grievances sweeping the region. In Yemen, fighting escalated between anti-government protesters and security forces, with four people reported killed. There were also protests in Jordan, but this time, about 10,000 people took to the streets to voice support for King Abdullah, apparently outnumbering the size of opposition protests. There were small demonstrations noted in Azerbaijan as well, where protesters called for the resignation of President Aliyev, whose family has been ruling the country since the collapse of the Soviet Union. With respect to today's action, base metals are modestly higher, with the exception of nickel. However, we suspect that the group will remain under short-term pressure as the fall out from the temporary implosion of Japanese demand makes itself felt. Investors may begin to breathe a little easier once the authorities get the nuclear dimension of the crisis under control, so that reconstruction efforts could start, but that still seems to be a work in progress at this stage. Other commodity complexes are mixed. Gold prices are higher, while uranium prices have plunged (no surprise here). Oil prices are off as well, down some $1.50/brl now. The yen is now at 82 against the dollar, and slightly weaker after it soared earlier in the day to a high of 80.61. The biggest market carnage is seen in the Japanese equity markets, where the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished about 6.2% lower on the day, wiping out a massive $287 billion of market, its worst daily decline since October 2008. US stocks are faring better, with only modest losses being shown so far in pre-market trading.  ... Nickel is at $25,819, down $131, and basically where we were at this time on Friday. The short-term chart bias, however, remains lower. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch - "These concerns are in our view warranted, considering  every U.S. recession during the past 40 years was preceded by an oil price spike."
  • China's February new loans hit 535.6b yuan - more

  Both Prices Of High Carbon And Low Carbon FeCr Rise For Shipments In Q2 / 2011 = Negotiations With European Mills On Price Of South African Charge Chrome Are Taken Place From This Week - Spot prices of high carbon ferro-chrome (charge chrome) and low carbon ferro-chrome have currently risen substantially and, accordingly, the prices of ferro-chrome in both grades of high carbon and low carbon to be settled with regular consumers for shipments in the second quarter (April - June) of 2011 are anticipated to rise considerably. - more

  New Finnish mining law to pass, miners critical - Finland's parliament is expected to pass a new mining law on Tuesday that miners fear will increase bureaucracy and compensation to landowners, making future operations more difficult. - more

  Chinese steel price slide has no more room - MOFCOM - According to the report revealed by Ministry of Commerce of the People Republic of China, China steel price witnessed straight two weeks' fallout down 1.6% compared to that of the previous week. - more

  • CISA: Chinese Steel Mills Face Downward Pressure - Domestic steel prices are bound to fall in May, if not in April, said an industry expert. Some end-users in Shanghai have suspended their bookings due to difficulties derived from higher ex-works prices than transaction prices. - more

  Japan steelmakers cut output, China benefit seen small - Key Japanese steelmakers halted production at some plants on Monday as the country managed power supply to cope with devastation following a massive earthquake and tsunami, although analysts say overcapacity elsewhere may curb any impact on steel 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

Friday, March 11

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 24 to 1,562. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Inflation, Factory Output Exceed Forecasts, Add Tightening Pressure // Oil at $100 Kills Brain Cells, Impairs Logic: Caroline Baum // China's Surprise Trade Deficit May Help Nation Parry U.S. Yuan Criticism // Japan Hit by Biggest Quake on Record as Tsunami Engulfs North Coast Towns // BOJ Pledges Liquidity on Japan Quake as Toyota Shuts Plants // Asian Stocks Fall on Middle East Violence, U.S. Unemployment; IHI Declines // Eni Chief Scaroni Warns of Risk That Libya Could Turn Into a Failed State // EU Summit Clash Looms as Irish Prime Minister Rejects Merkel Bailout Terms // Portugal Fails to Assuage Bailout Concern With Increased Spending Measures // U.K. Producer Prices Climb for Fifth Month on Rising Costs of Energy, Food // U.S., NATO Allies Say They Lack Authority to Impose No-Fly Zone Over Libya // Bernanke Recovery Flawed as Companies Get Credit Denied to U.S. Consumers // Retail Sales in U.S. Rise Most in Four Months, Spurred by Employment Gains // Fed's Dudley Says Encouraged by U.S. Job Growth in February // Oil Tumbles, Yen Rallies on Japan Quake; Stocks in U.S. Rise
  • The Euro is presently trading nearly 6/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is trading 1.6% lower and trading at $101.06/barrel. Gold is up 2/3 of 1%, while silver is up 1-2/3%. Base metals ended the session mostly lower, although slightly and many went positive in after market trading, helped by a stronger Euro, weaker oil, impending Japanese reconstruction demand, and we believe, a general bear burnout before the weekend break. Indicator charts show nickel opened lower, slipped, and then, before US markets opened, began a long and steady recovery. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day and week at $11.77/lb . Nickel appears to have gone positive in after market trading, which it seriously needed, having closed last Friday at $13.06/lb. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses continued to slide Thursday and now sit just over the 128,400 tonne level. This is the eighth straight decline recorded this month. Sucden finally updated its day old chart nickel trading chart (chart here) and it shows the weekly drop we have been recording. The devastation we are seeing in Japan today is another chilling reminder of just how weak man is in its attempt to tame our planet. Few would argue that if there was any nation that was 'prepared' for earthquakes, it is Japan. Now with a death toll of over 1000 and climbing, our hearts go out to the people of this suffering nation, and you can't help but feel bad for the poor engineer's, who are tasked with beating this underground monster. Is it us, or have there been an unusual number of 'record breaking' natural disasters in the last few months?
  • Have a safe and restful weekend!!

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) Alexander Voloshin, the former chairman of OAO Norilsk Nickel , appeared to draw some support from two feuding groups of Norilsk shareholders during a meeting to select a new board Friday.
  • (SMM) Base metals prices remain high despite of significant declines in early March, and SMM predicts base metals prices will likely move lower in the near future in view of the unrest in Middle East, soaring energy prices, and expectations of tightening monetary policies triggered by China’s inflation data in February.
  • (WSJ) China's crude steel output in first two months of the year set new records, with daily average volumes in February and the monthly total in January both reflecting an unprecedented pace of production.
  • State Unemployment Gives Mixed Signals - more
  • Dumbing Deficits Down - more
  • (China) Steer clear of US debt, expert warns - more

  Tycoon Potanin seen cementing control of Norilsk - Shareholders in Norilsk Nickel voted on Friday to elect a new board, with the results expected to strengthen tycoon Vladimir Potanin's position in the battle for control of the world's largest nickel and palladium miner. - more

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

  • Awoke this morning expecting the market to be reacting to what was or was not happening in Saudi Arabia. But instead a massive earthquake and Tsunami in Japan has the headlines.  Indicators at 7:20 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.19/lb lower, with other base metals also trading lower. The Euro is trading 1/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is off nearly 2-1/2% and trading at $100.20/barrel. Gold is trading flat, while silver is off more than 2-1/2%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China off 1%. European markets are trading lower this morning, and US futures show Wall Street will also open lower. Nickel inventories continued to slide yesterday. Here is the latest on the Japanese earthquakes from the USGS (here) and the entire Pacific region is under a Tsunami alert (here). For updated news and video from Japan, visit here.
  • Reuters morning - Copper falls after Japan quake, China data - more
  • LME Morning - Copper hits 2-1/2 month low under $9,000, metals retreat as Japan quake curbs risk appetite - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper prices were trading lower for most of the session yesterday, but a sharp drop in energy prices during the mid-day US session triggered a round of buying off the lows. However, crude prices staged an abrupt about-face, and started to move higher late in the day on reports that the Saudis had fired on demonstrators in the country's eastern provinces, this coming one day before "Day of Rage" protests are supposedly scheduled to take place today. (So far, we are not hearing of anything major going on, although there have been reports of minor protests). Although energy prices rallied yesterday, they still finished slightly lower on the day, and did not materially impact the modest recovery we saw in metals. US equity markets did not fare as well, closing sharply lower instead. Yesterday’s developments are paling in comparison to what we have woken up to, as commodity and equity markets are reeling on account of a powerful earthquake hitting Japan overnight. The 8.9 quake unleashed water that swept across entire towns and villages, with at least 32 deaths reported so far and more casualties feared. Reports out of Tokyo reveal that the capital was not badly hit, but all Japanese ports area now closed. Four Japanese nuclear power plants closest to the quake were safely shut down, although we are hearing conflicting reports that one was apparently damaged. The quake is the fifth-strongest in the world since 1900, and the most powerful to hit Japan. Shortly after it hit, the U.S. National Weather Service issued tsunami warnings for at least 20 countries, including Russia, Indonesia, Guatemala, El Salvador Costa Rica, Hawaii, and the western of the US coast. Water is supposed to be hitting Hawaii in about an hour. In the commodity markets, base metals are sharply lower, as is WTI crude, which is off by more than $2.50/brl, and has broken below the $100 mark. Brent is hovering around $112, down the same amount. Dow Jones futures are pointing to a 70 point opening loss, and the dollar is higher against both the Euro and the yen. ....  Nickel is at $25,675, down $375, and on track for an eventual test of $25,000. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Citi) Platts has reported that Anglo American has struck a deal with Japanese customers to sell coking coal at a record $330/t FOB Australia for 2Q11, 46.6% higher than in the 1Q11 price.
  • (WFP) The United Steelworkers and Thompson Creek Metals have reached a tentative collective agreement covering workers at the company's Endako mine and milling operation, the union said Thursday.
  • (MBN) Chinese nickel output falls 15% in Feb
  • (YNA) South Korea plans to supply state-held nonferrous metals at lower prices temporarily as part of efforts to ease price hikes driven by growing demand for such materials, the nation's procurement office said Friday.
  • (Reuters) Ukraine's largest steel mill, owned by ArcelorMittal, reduced crude steel production to 890,400 tonnes in the first two months of this year from 948,500 a year earlier, the plant said on Friday.
  • China Feb CPI up 4.9% - more

  Cuban Nickel Industry Turns Fifty Years - The nickel processing plants in Moa and Nicaro were operated by US companies until 1960 that the Cuban government seized control and began operating them under the skill of Cuban workers and technicians. - more

  Japanese Out To Maintain $3,900 FOB Price Level For Ni-Based Stainless Sheets - Japan's stainless steel manufacturers are out to maintain a price level of US$3,900/ton FOB in their export deals of nickel-based stainless CR sheets for shipments to Asian destinations amid violent fluctuations of US$12-13/lb in LME nickel prices. - more

  Talvivaara Targets Nameplate Capacity At Sotkamo - Talvivaara Mining Co. expects its Sotkamo mine to be operating at capacity by September, which would involve producing nickel at a rate of around 50,000 metric tons a year, its senior executives said Thursday. - more

  Activist wants better control on nickel dust - Vale should cut production when it exceeds the provincial government's nickel emission standards, a retired mining health and safety activist says. - more

  Four arrested in Haridwar nickel robbery, 16 at large - The city police on Wednesday claimed to have detected a brazen `40 lakh nickel dacoity that took place in SIDCUL industrial area on February 22. While four persons including the alleged mastermind have been arrested, 16 other co-accused are still at large and cops are on their lookout. The police have also seized about 200 kg of the stolen nickel and a Maruti Alto car that the accused had used to execute their plan. - more

  ACTU hits back as employers fight Fair Work Australia industrial action ruling - Unions have hit out at employer attempts to overturn a Fair Work Australia ruling that opens the door to workers taking industrial action before workplace bargaining has started. - 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 10

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 66 to 1,538. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Reports Unexpected Trade Deficit as Export Growth Cools // Bullish China Call Options Overshadow Bear Puts For First Time Since 2009 // China’s Home Prices to Fall After Sales Decline, Central Bank Adviser Says // Wuhan, Angang Turn to Niche Steel, Overseas Expansion Due to Domestic Glut // Japan's Economy Shrank 1.3% in Fourth Quarter, More Than Previous Estimate // Asian Stocks Drop on Spanish Downgrade; U.S. Futures Decline, Dollar Strengthens // BOE Keeps Stimulus as Recovery Concerns Outweigh Inflation // Greece Debt Default Bets Increase as Spain Exits 'Sick List': Euro Credit // Crude Oil Trades Near One-Week Low in New York on European Debt Concern // Qaddafi Strikes Oil Targets as Libya's East-West Split Hardens // Euro Weakens as Spain's Credit Downgrade Revives Debt Concerns in Region // Bank of Spain Says 12 Lenders Need $21 Billion More to Meet Capital Rules // European Stocks Slide as China Export Growth Slows; BHP, Home Retail Drop // Gross Dumping Treasuries Leads Managers Calling Three-Decade Rally's End // Home Remodeling to Rebound in U.S. as Owner Confidence Improves // Fed Giving Credit Markets Clues on Path to Exit From Unprecedented Easing // Foreclosure Filings Hit Three-Year Low as U.S. Servicers in `Dysfunction' // Household Worth in U.S. Increases by $2.1 Trillion on Stock Gains, Saving // Stocks Slide as Dollar, Treasuries Gain on Economic Concerns
  • The Euro is presently trading 2/3 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is trading 2-1/2% lower on economic slowdown fears and at $101.78/barrel. Gold is off more than 1-1/2% and silver is lower by nearly 3%. Base metals ended the session mixed. The indicator chart for nickel looks more like a cardio---monitor, with nickel up and down within a $500 tonne range most of the session. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended at $11.82/lb , well off session lows. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses slipped slightly on Wednesday and remain just over the 128,600 tonne level. Sucden still has not updated their trading chart, which is a shame, because we have not seen a sell off in nickel with this much intensity since - well only 4 months ago. And some in the nickel industry wonders why users spend so much time looking for alternatives. It's a love hate relationship. Love the end product's stability, but loathe the raw material volatility. Traders may like to gamble, and miners may be forced to as part of their profession, but buyers like stability, and it has been a long time since nickel offered them that luxury. Speaking of volatility, oil is down today, thanks primarily to debt concerns returning in Europe, and a possible slowdown in China. Markets are also warily watching to see what unfolds tomorrow in the called for 'Day of Rage' in Saudi Arabia.  

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Dow Jones) U.S. nickel imports rose 49.3% in January from last month, and was up 45.8% from the previous year, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.
  • (Dow Jones) U.S. nickel exports rose 38.0% in January from the previous month, but was down 51.7% from the previous year, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.
  • Deutsche Bank - “Food prices are likely to start falling later in 2011 but will remain high for the rest of this decade. We expect spikes in food prices to occur with increasing frequency, mostly due to weather disruption and climate change.”
  • Too Early for Talk About Strategic Oil Reserves - more
  • (China) Regional officials considering changes to population policy - more
  • February Foreclosure Activity Plummets 14%, Biggest Annual Drop Ever - more
  • Unexpected Trade Deficit in China - more
  • US farmers fear the return of the Dust Bowl - more

  German Jan basic metals output rebounds 8.2% from Dec: Destatis - German output of basic ferrous and non-ferrous metals bounced back in January by 8.2% month-on-month to a 27-month high as the production of pig iron, crude steel and ferro-alloys gained fresh impetus from the revival of construction activity, an analysis of provisional government data released Wednesday shows. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:10 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.07/lb lower, with other base metals trading mixed and quiet. The Euro is trading 6/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar, as Moody's downgrades Spain's debt. NYMEX crude is trading over 1.6% lower, and at $102.70/barrel. Gold is down 3/4% and silver is off more than 2%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China off 1-3/4%. European markets are trading lower, while US futures is lower at the moment. Nickel inventories fell slightly on Wednesday, and nickel is recovering as oil prices slip this morning.    
  • LME Morning - Metals battered again, prices hit multi-week lows as liquidation spreads - more
  • Reuters morning news - Copper falls on demand concerns, EU debt crisis - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper prices fell sharply yesterday, with the selling cascading throughout the day in practically all the metals with the exception of aluminum. Zinc and lead were particularly badly hit, each losing about 7% and 4% on the session, respectively, following a similar percentage rout (6%) seen in nickel earlier in the week. Tin also struggled, down almost $1000 on the day after holding up fairly well for most of this week. A combination of soaring energy prices, a stronger dollar, and continued concern about the macro economic outlook in light of rising inflationary pressures, all combined to trigger the selloff. Of the items on this list, we suspect energy had the greatest impact. In this regard, although the US-based WTI contract lost about $.50 on the day yesterday, Brent soared by almost $3 a barrel, as an escalation in the fighting in Libya sparked this more politically sensitive contract. Colonel Gaddafi's forces were said to have recaptured Zawiya, the city closest to the capital that had fallen into opposition hands, although late last night, reports came in that rebels had retaken the city in some of the fiercest fighting yet since the crisis began. There was also quite a bit of damage done earlier in the day; government shelling struck an oil pipeline, while bombs were also dropped on storage tanks in the Ras Lanuf oil terminal area. Libya's top oil official said that the unrest has cut oil output to about half a million barrels per day from 1.6 million bpd, but even if this somewhat generous figure were true, it is unlikely that any oil is getting out given the logistical squeeze being put on exports from both the banking and transportation sides of the equation. Of course, more fighting could simply destroy what functioning oil assets remain in place as well. This morning, the action in metals is mixed; copper is lower again, and at one point, dipped below critical support at $9200 a ton, but we would like to observe the action over the next day or two to see whether or not the area around this key support level holds. Lead is also quite weak today, down another $58, but most of the rest are holding on to modest gains. Things likely would have been much worse were it not for the fact that energy prices are taking something of a breather, with both oil contracts down by roughly $1.60 a barrel. However, metal prices are still responding negatively to the stronger dollar, which is now trading at $1.3800 against the euro, and also have been taken aback somewhat by the latest Chinese trade data. Here, the government reported earlier today that China sustained a $7.3 billion trade deficit in February, the first such red ink in almost a year, as both imports and exports came in much lower than expected. We would not read too much into these numbers, as manufacturing activity was well off over the course of the month on account of the Chinese New Year when a number of commercial enterprises shut down. However, copper prices still reacted to the poor headline number showing February copper imports falling to 235,469 tons, a decline of a third compared to the previous month. Weakness was evident in other commodity classes; iron ore imports were off some 30% from the January record, while February crude imports also fell, coming in at 19.95m tons – 2m tons lower than in January.  ... Nickel is at $25,900, down $250, and still looking quiet weak on the charts. We are looking for an eventual test of $25,000. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Kitco) Commerzbank says nickel “should profit initially from the high level of stainless steel output, as about 70% of its use is in the stainless steel industry.” However, the bank continues, “we do not expect sharp rises in the price of nickel, though, as the fundamental situation on the nickel market is clouding. A lot of new production will enter the market in the next two years and much positive news should be already priced in.”
  • (TEX) Stainless steel companies of Europe are now watching carefully about domestic price of high carbon ferro-chrome prevailing in China and domestic price of this ferro-alloy in China is becoming a barometer to settle benchmark price of South African charge chrome for shipments to Europe in April - June quarter of 2011. From this point of view, South African producers have held back to sell charge chrome (high carbon ferro-chrome) at discounted prices in China. Spot price of charge chrome offered for export has risen to a level of 115 US-Cents per lb. of Cr.
  • (SO) According to the data issued by the Japan Iron and Steel Federation (JISF), in January this year Japan's stainless steel exports amounted to 93,842 mt, registering a decrease of 17.3 percent compared to December 2010, but a 9.2 percent increase compared to January 2010.
  • (SO) In 2010, the aggregate crude steel output of the world's top 20 steelmakers amounted to 612 million mt, accounting for 43 percent of the total global crude steel output..... ArcelorMittal remained the largest steelmaker in the world in terms of crude steel output.
  • (SBB) Asian stainless buyers and sellers are staying out of the market to monitor the situation after nickel prices plunged $1900/tonne overnight early this week.
  • (MS) Minara Resources provided a market update in regards to the Murrin Murrin Nickel/Cobalt project has recovered from the flooding which disrupted water supply from the plant's borefields as reported to the market on 22 February 2011. Flood waters have receded and the availability of process water into the plant has been restored. Consequently normal production has been re-established through the process plant.
  • The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index™ (PCI) fell 1.5% on a seasonally and workday adjusted basis in February, after falling 0.3% in January. - more
  • Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) Rose 0.9% in January from December - more
  • (China) Adviser: Inflation to hit 5% - more
  • China's trade deficit hits $7.3b in Feb - more

  Commodity trader Glencore aims for May IPO: source - Glencore GLEN.UL, the world's largest commodity trader, is aiming for an initial public offering (IPO) in May, a source close to the situation said. - more

  Vladimir Potanin raises Norilsk stake to 30%-paper - Vladimir Potanin has raised his stake in Russian miner Norilsk Nickel to nearly 30 percent from 25 percent ahead of a shareholder meeting, Vedomosti 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

Wednesday, March 9

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 48 to 1,472. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China's Property Boom Driven by `Unreasonable' Speculative Demand, Qi Says // China May Deflect Geithner Pressure With Smaller Trade Surplus // China Car Sales Growth at Slowest Pace in More Than Two Years as Perks End // Asia Central Banks Step Up Inflation Fight With Thai, Vietnam Rate Rises // Asian Stocks Climb for First Day This Week on Oil, Japanese Machine Orders // Portuguese Bonds Rebound on Speculation ECB Sought Prices on Region's Debt // European Stocks Decline on Libya Concern; Alcatel Retreats, Tognum Climbs // Birinyi Buying as Biggest Bull Market Since '55 Hits Third Year // U.S. Stocks Fluctuate as Libya Tempers Economic Optimism
  • Currently, the Euro is trading nearly 1/10 of 1% lower, NYMEX crude is trading at $104.86/barrel, down over 1/10 of 1%, gold is up slightly, while silver is down nearly 2/10 of 1%. Base metals got hammered in today's trading, with the sell off in nickel intensifying in afternoon trading. Indicator charts show nickel opened a little higher, but then went into a slide that did not end all day. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $11.86/lb .  That compares to an average price of $12.82/lb for February, and off this month's trading high of $13.25/lb on March 1st. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell to their lowest level since October 2010 Tuesday, and now total just over 128,600 tonnes. Sucden did not update their trading chart. Nickel, which was looking so strong just a week ago, now appears to be in trouble, as it took out support with such a vengeance on Friday, that the market appears to be having a hard time finding new footing. Until it does, nickel will continue to slump. Cancelled warrants finally slipped back under the 7% level today, but just barely, and they remain well above where they normally are. Edward Meir of MF Global has next strong support level at $11.34/lb.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Bowles, Simpson Say Fiscal Crisis Could Come in 2 Years or Less - more
  • The 25 Best Financial Blogs - more

  PDAC 2011: Royal Nickel CEO will look to Asia, higher liquidity - In the nickel business, most major deposits going into production in the next few years have big technical challenges and are in tough political environments (think Madagascar and New Caledonia). - more

  Brazil wants Vale to pay $2.4 bln royalties-report - Vale, the world's largest iron ore producer, could be forced to pay up to 3.9 billion reais ($2.4 billion) in back royalties to the Brazilian government, the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo said on Wednesday. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:10 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.12/lb higher, with other base metals mixed and quiet. The Euro is trading nearly 2/10 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down slightly and trading at $104.93/barrel. Gold is up 1/3% and silver is up nearly 1/2%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher with China markets flat. European markets are trading higher this morning, and US futures show Wall Street is going to attempt bull run day two. Nickel inventories fell yesterday.      
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Rises for Second Day on Reduced Concern About a Slowdown in Growth - more
  • LME Morning - Metals sustain covering rally, outlook bumpy - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper bounced higher from a two-week low yesterday, although not all metals participated, with lingering weakness seen in nickel, lead, and tin. The pullback in crude oil prices seen yesterday was more firmly behind copper’s advance, in stark contrast to Tuesday's session, when similar weakening dragged it sharply lower. In addition to a firmer copper complex, we saw good gains in some of the agricultural's, as well as US equities, which at one point, recouped almost all the losses sustained over the past two days. Right now, metals are higher, with energy prices mixed; the WTI crude oil contract is down by about $.20, while we are seeing $.50/barrel gains in Brent. The Euro weakened yesterday, but is back over $1.39 today, as talk of further rate hikes is overriding ongoing sovereign debt concerns now surfacing over Greece and Portugal. ... Nickel is at $26,971, up $145, and trying to make up a bit of the sharp losses nickel has sustained over the last two days. Nevertheless, the chart damage looks quite serious, and the complex has quite a bit of work to do. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Interfax) China's largest privately-run steel mill, Jiangsu Shagang Group (Shagang Group), has signed an agreement with South Korea's Pohang Iron & Steel Co. Ltd. (POSCO) to build a two million-ton special steel plant in the coastal city of Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province, an official with the Lianyungang Economic and Trade Commission told Interfax March 9.
  • (CMJ) Toronto-based First Nickel says its project to restart production at the Lockerby nickel mine near Sudbury is on track for first ore in Q3 2011. The project will ramp up to full production - 10 million lb nickel and 7 million lb copper per year - by the middle of 2012.
  • (MBN) Jinchuan cuts nickel price by $761
  • (JMB) JFE Steel Increases Flat Rolled Stainless Steel by 25,000/t
  • The 2008 crash isn’t over, only covered up - more
  • CR Index: At last, consumers' financial lives improve- more
  • (China) Labor crunch 'structural problem' - more

  Ramu mine admits spill but denies serious - RAMU NiCo, developers of the Ramu nickel project in Madang, has denied claims that there has been “a serious chemical spill” at its Basamuk Bay processing plant. - more

  Output Of Molybdenum In Western World In CY 2010 Increased With Some Restraint = Expansion Was Limited To 15% Compared To That In 2009, Output In North America Exceeded South America - The output of molybdenum in the western world in the calender year (January - December) of 2010 was 269.04 million lbs., which increased by 15.4% compared with that (233.23 million lbs.) in the preceding year of 2009, and this expansion of molybdenum production in 2010 was thought to have been restricted in comparison with production activities of other metals. - more

  Specialty Steel Imports Outpace Consumption - Total specialty steel imports of 763,015 tons were up 72.5 percent through the first 11 months of 2010 compared to the previous year, according to the latest data from the Specialty Steel Industry of North America, Washington, D.C. - more

  Interview-Daewoo Int'l looks to Africa for metals - South Korea's top trading firm Daewoo International is looking into investing in copper, nickel, tin, bauxite and steaming coal mines in Africa, a top company official said on Wednesday. - more

  Rio, BHP, Xstrata contend with UK Bribery Act as nations beat down bribery - Governments in emerging and developed nations are tightening anti-bribery laws to pressure the world's mining companies to better monitor employees and operations in countries where payoffs and corruption have been more common. - 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 8

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 42 to 1,424. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Faces 60% Risk of Bank Crisis by Mid-2013, Fitch Ratings Gauge Shows // China Vanke Says Demand For Homes to Withstand Measures to Prevent Bubble // China's 10% Growth Faces Risk of 10% Inflation: William Pesek // Asia Confronts Oil-Price Shock as Central Banks Pressured to Raise Rates // Japan to Revise Mining Law, Seeking $3.6 Trillion in Undersea Resources // Most Asian Stocks Rise as Hitachi Advances, While Chip-Related Shares Drop // Weber Indicates ECB May Increase Interest Rates Several Times This Year // Euro Weakens Against Dollar Amid Concern European Debt Crisis Will Deepen // Ivory Coast Conflict Escalates as Gbagbo Seizes Control of Cocoa Shipments // Libya Rebels Push to Regain Town as NATO Weighs No-Fly Zone // Failure at Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant Raises Concerns About Safety // Confidence at U.S. Small Companies Hits Three-Year High // U.S. Home Sales Accelerate as Prices Decline Amid Rebound // Fed Presidents Signal No Urgency to Expand Bond Purchase Plan // Roubini Sees Double Dip for Advanced States If Oil Hits $140 // Stocks in U.S. Gain as Oil Retreats; Sprint Shares Rise, McDonald’s Falls
  • The Euro continues to trade over 4/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is trading nearly 1/2 of 1% lower and at $104.97/barrel. Gold is off 1/4% while silver is lower by 1/3%. Base metals ended the session mostly higher, with only tin and nickel in the red. Indicator charts show nickel spent most of the day in a slow climb, but it came after a steep morning dive. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the session at $12.16/lb . Stockpiles of nickel stored worldwide in LME approved warehouses fell Monday and now sit just over the 129,100 tonne level. Sucden's day old nickel chart show yesterday's sudden fall thru support (chart here). And even though the RSI and SStoch numbers showed trading opened today with a seriously oversold market, yesterday's collapse thru support spooked traders early today. So nickel is down nearly $1/lb in a week's time. Excited yet? Very few in the nickel to stainless steel industry tend to get overly excited when prices drop this far, this fast. First they question, will it stick? As fast as nickel has fallen, it has risen with equal veracity, and this market has shown a propensity to turn on a dime. Secondly, if it does hold - or drops further, the long term pricing for stainless will gradually fall - but in the mean time, those who have purchased nickel - or stainless steel product - now sit with overpriced raw and finished material. Yet again. This has always been a concern, but in the last 4 years, it has become a costly problem to down stream users with mini bull run's being followed by mini bear collapses. The only ones who benefit in this costly dance are the traders.   

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • Small Businesses Hire, Aim to Raise Prices - more
  • Consumer Debt Rises, but Credit-Card Use Falls - more
  • Oil Jump Presents Conundrum for Fed - more
  • Libya, Gas Prices, and the Big Payday at Your Expense - more
  • Bankruptcy Filings Climb in February, But Looks Can Be Deceiving  - more
  • Speculators Gone Wild? - more
  • Ted Kaufman's Friday Hearing - more
  • Sheen Is Surrounded by a Coterie of Enablers - more

  Analysis -Would Glencore IPO herald end of commodity boom? - Investors have a good reason to question whether Glencore's prospective share listing heralds the end of the commodity bull run. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:10 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.39/lb lower, with all base metals trading lower this morning. The Euro is trading over 4/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down nearly 6/10% and trading at $104.83/barrel. Gold is up over 1/10 of 1% and silver is over 3/4% higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up only slightly. European markets are trading lower this morning and US futures show the bulls will make another run early. Nickel inventories fell Monday. So far this morning, nickel is getting hammered for a second straight day.
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper, Tin, Nickel Drop as Inflation May Prompt Interest Rate Increases - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals maintain weakness as investment interest falters, risk aversion weighs - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper suffered its biggest one-day decline in nearly four months yesterday, and the rest of the metals were pulled sharply lower as well, with nickel having a particularly bad day, down nearly 5% on the session. The selloff was rather surprising, as it paralleled a sharp retreat off earlier highs in oil prices. Recently, we have been seeing that declining oil prices seem to revive both base metals and US equity markets, but this was not the case yesterday, as the weaker tone in oil triggered a synchronized series of down moves across a number of markets. In addition to the selloff in base metals, agricultural's also ended sharply lower, as did precious metals and US equities. In fact, with two days of selling now behind it, the Dow Jones industrial average has practically given up all of Thursday's 168 point gain. We suspect that metals also buckled under the weight of other factors besides energy. In copper's case, inventory levels have been increasing for several weeks now, and physical premiums have been quite sluggish as well, not necessarily supporting a scenario calling for even higher prices and acute deficits. In addition, participants may be getting wary about Chinese growth prospects after a series of pronouncements in recent weeks by the government saying that their emphasis would be on moderating growth and combating inflation going forward. Right now, metals are mixed, with modest declines seen in copper, but lead, nickel, and tin, are all fairly weak. In other markets, oil prices are off by about $1.20 a barrel on Brent on renewed talk that Libya’s Col. Gaddafi is in touch with opposition forces in order to negotiate his departure from power. In addition, there are reports that OPEC may agree to raise production, something the group was reluctant to do thus far, leaving it to the Saudis to provide the extra barrels almost unilaterally. In a change of tone, the Kuwaiti oil minister confirmed earlier in the day that the cartel is in “consultations about a potential output increase”. If Col. Qaddafi is indeed leaving and if OPEC also increases production, oil prices could sell off rather significantly in the days ahead. The question then becomes what will be ramifications for base metals? In such a case, we would expect a measure of strength to set in despite yesterday’s “disconnect”, where we saw the two complexes move lower together. However, ultimately, metals will not be trading on oil, and have to stand or fall based on their own fundamentals. For the moment, the fundamentals look less than inspiring, and make the case for a modest decline from here. ... Nickel is at $26,600, down $875. Yesterday’s decline proved to be quite serious on the charts, as it has taken out the short-term upchannel. Next support seems to be between $25,000-$25,500.  (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (PR) Minara Resources Ltd says that the Murrin Murrin nickel/cobalt project in Western Australia has recovered from the flooding which severely disrupted water supply from the plant's borefields as reported on February 22. Flood waters have receded and the availability of process water into the plant has been restored. Lack of access to sufficient process water has affected Murrin Murrin production by approximately 900 tonnes of nickel (Minara's share: 540 tonnes). Minara said it would attempt to recover the lost production over coming months.
  • (MF) According to statistics, Japan imported 15,746 tons of stainless steel scrap in January, 2011, up by 28.8% in comparison of 12,253 tons in last December.
  • (SBB) Ferro-chrome price in Europe strengthen as demand rises
  • (MNP) Flooding continues to wreak havoc on some Western Australian operations with Fortescue Metals Group forced to downgrade its production guidance for the March quarter by 500,000 tonnes, while operations remain suspended at Crosslands Resources’ Jack Hills site.
  • (CASS) Compared to February of last year, North American shipment volume in February 2011 was up 11.4%. The year-to-year difference in expenditures was more dramatic, at a 35% increase. A number of factors have been at work pushing rates upward: tightening capacity, soaring fuel prices, and climbing overall carrier operating costs. This trend of rate increases will continue.
  • (China) Rural per capita net income up 8.9% annually in 2006 - 2010 - more
  • Made in America: small businesses buck the offshoring trend - more

  European Nickel restarts direct shipping ore operations at Acoje, Philippines - European Nickel PLC said Direct Shipping Ore (DSO) operations have recommenced at its flagship Acoje project in the Philippines. - more

  PNG Ramu Nickel landowners claim they've been evicted - Landowners in Papua New Guinea's Madang province have claimed the Chinese developers of the billion dollar Ramu Nickel Mine has forcefully evicted villagers from their traditional land. - more

  QR National reopens final flood-hit rail line - Australia's largest coal hauler is set to have its entire rail network operating today for the first time since heavy flooding around Christmas washed away track and damaged bridges. - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending March 5, 2011, domestic raw steel production was 1,827,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 74.7 percent. Production was 1,736,000 tons in the week ending March 5, 2010, while the capability utilization then was 72.6 percent. The current week production represents a 5.2 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending March 5, 2011 is down 0.8 percent from the previous week ending February 26, 2011 when production was 1,841,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 75.3 percent.

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

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

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 36 to 1,382. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Inflation Endangering China `Dream' Spurs Wen Pledge on Prices // China Adding to $1 Trillion of Treasuries Limits Yields Amid U.S. Selling // China’s Spending on Internal Police Force in 2010 Outstrips Defense Budget // China Stocks Jump on Economic Plan to Become Asia's Best Market This Year // Asian Stocks Fall as Oil Drops on Libya, U.S. Employment Data Disappoints // Greek Debt Rating Cut 3 Steps by Moody's on Rising Default Risk // Irish `War Cabinet' May Seek Senior Bank Bond Law as Government Debt Rises // Morgan Stanley Says No Longer `Bearish' on Euro, Raises Year-End Forecasts // Most European Stocks Fall; Inmarsat Drops, Bulgari Soars on LVMH Takeover // Oil at $110 May Trigger Pain CEOs Weathered at $100 // Stocks Decline as Chipmakers Tumble, Crude Oil Surges; Treasuries Advance
  • The Euro is now trading over 1/10 of 1% lower against teh US Dollar, giving up earlier gains. NYMEX crude is up 1/4% and off earlier highs, trading at $105.88/barrel. Gold is down slightly, while silver is higher by 1%. Base metals ended the session lower as North African strife adds fuel to oil speculators, which in turn, adds questions about teh sustainability of the economic recovery. Indictor charts show nickel was in trouble all day, but none more so than late n the session, when it fell $750 tonne in the matter of a minute or two. Dow ones reports three month nickel ended the first day of the week at $12.45/lb , surrendering the $13/lb level again, and this time, with some gusto. Stores of nickel stockpiled in LME approved warehouses fell Friday and now sit just under the 128,400 tonne level. Sucden's day old nickel trading chart shows traders in quandary over the negative potential of an oil price shock on the economic recovery, and is the recovery strong enough to resist a slowdown (chart here). The announcement over the weekend that President Obama a is considering releasing some oil from our country's reserves indicates the administration is not as confident as some economists. Everyone is watching the average price of a gallon of gas (posted here) and trying to figure what, if any, effect it will have on the Main Street USA.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (MFG) Russia's Norilsk Nickel will not make any more buy out offers to its shareholder RUSAL, after a $12.8 billion bid for 20% of Norilsk shares was rejected, the company’s president said.
  • Number of the Week: Workers Not Benefiting From Productivity Gains - more
  • Tale of Two Jobs Surveys - more
  • Jobless Rate Drop: It’s for Real — Mostly - more

  China still has no say in iron ore pricing-Wuhan - China continues to have no say in setting global iron ore prices despite being the world's biggest consumer of the key steelmaking ingredient, Wuhan Iron and Steel president Deng Qilin said on Saturday. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:10 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.11/lb lower, with most London traded base metals lower as well. The Euro is trading over 1/4 of 1% higher against the US Dollar this morning. NYMEX crud eis up over 2-1/3% and trading at $106.85/barrel. Gold is up over 7/10 of 1% and silver is up 2.9%. In overnight trading, Asian markets started the week lower, with China up nearly 2%. European markets are trading higher at the moment, and US futures have yet to send a noticeable signal. Nickel inventories fell on Friday.  
  • LME Morning - Base metals mixed as Libyan conflict saps market appetite - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals started somewhat higher across the board on Friday, but another burst in energy prices by mid-day made short work of the advance, sending metals, many of the agricultural's, and the US equity markets, all sharply lower. In fact, at one point, Thursday's entire 168-point gain in the US Dow Jones Industrial Average was erased before the market pared its losses by the close, ending down 88.  ....  Energy prices are up once again today, and keeping the tone in metals fairly muted. Not only is the fighting in Libya behind the advances, but developments elsewhere in the Middle-East are leaving investors worried as well. In this regard, there were protests in Bahrain over the weekend, while Egyptians also clashed with army units, as crowds tried to enter the Interior Ministry building and remove files that they suspect are being destroyed in an effort to eliminate evidence of crimes committed by former officials. Trading in the Egyptian stock market remains suspended after it was supposed to open last week. Markets are perhaps most nervous about developments in Saudi Arabia. There was a third rather small demonstration in the country’s Eastern province demanding the release of a Shiite Sheikh over the weekend. In the meantime, more than 100 activists, writers, and academics warned King Abdullah of “the prevalence of corruption and nepotism” and the “widening gap between state and society" and called on the king to move the country towards a constitutional monarchy. Bracing for possibly more demonstrations this week, particularly on the 11th and the 20th of the month, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry decreed that any demonstrations, marches, and sit-ins are now “strictly” prohibited, setting up a potential showdown. With all that is going on, it is hard to imagine any prolonged price weakness setting in on the energy markets; this will likely mean that both metals and the US stock market will continue to struggle heading into the week. We should also keep in mind that at these price levels, oil prices will start to have an increasingly greater impact on economic growth and consumer spending. This point is addressed in detail in a good Bloomberg article we highlight in the link referenced in our attachment (in red).  .... Nickel is at $28,489, down $311, but still looking very strong on our charts. It does seem, however, that the $30,000 barrier remains a psychological resistance point. (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) According to data of Special Steel and Alloys Association in Russia, the country’s stainless steel imports in this January decreased by 33.1% to 12,932 tons in comparison of that in last December.
  • (SBB) Tang Eng raises March stainless export prices by $100/t
  • Fed’s Beige Book survey finds ‘slow and steady improvement’ - more

   Stainless steel production in 2010 - According to ISSF the global stainless steel melting activities increased by 24.9% to a new record high of 30.7 million metric tons (mmt). - more

  Jinchuan Group Chairman: Exploring Forex Hedging Tools - Jinchuan Group, the world's fourth-largest nickel producer, is actively exploring foreign-exchange hedging tools, Chairman Yang Zhiqiang said Monday. - more

  IMFA sees upside in ferro chrome prices: Mr. Subhrakant Panda - However, IMFA expects the cost pressure to continue in the fourth quarter of FY11, Mr. Panda said. - more

  Oil spike could end rally in base metals, Coxe says - The recent spike in oil prices could derail one of the biggest bull runs for base metals in history, said Donald Coxe, one of Canada's most influential money managers. - 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 4

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 29 to 1,346. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg)  China to Boost Defense Spending by 12.7% as Military Extends Global Reach // Chinese IPO Risk in U.S. Tops American Offerings, Options Show // Wen Jiabao Sees Billionaires When Communists Convene as Wealth Gap Widens // Gillard's Concern at Aussie's Impact Shows 'Dutch Disease' Risk // Faber Says Now Is Time to Buy Japanese Stocks After a 20-Year Bear Market // High World Food Prices May Persist as Demand Rises, IMF Says // Dollar Reaches Four-Month Low Against Euro Before U.S. Jobs Data Release // House Prices in U.K. Fell 0.9% in February as Sales Stay Low, Halifax Says // Qaddafi Strikes Rebels in West Libya; Battles Rage in Oil Ports // FTSE 100 Index Declines, Led by WPP; Shares of Serco Advance in London // Container Shipping Shares Boom as Dry Bulk Carriers Wane: Freight Markets // Crude Oil Advances to a 29-Month High as Libya Unrest Threatens to Spread // Fed Policy Makers Signal Abrupt End to Bond Purchases in June // U.S. Retail Share Slide Since Black Friday Shows Margin Squeeze // U.S. Payrolls Rose 192,000; Jobless Rate at 8.9% in February // U.S. Stocks Drop After Wages Data as Oil Rises
  • The Euro is up less than 1/10%, NYMEX crude is up 2.1% at $104.05/barrel, gold is over 9/10% higher, and silver is  over 3% higher. Base metals ended the session lower and quiet. Indicator chart show nickel in a slow decline much of the first half of the session, and stabile thereafter. For the day and week, Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended the day at $13.06/lb . Nickel inventories fell yesterday and slipped back below 130M tonnes for the second time in the last few weeks.  Stockpiles now total just under 129,900 tonnes. Cancelled warrants remain above the 7% threshold for the sixth consecutive session. Markets looked to be accepting higher oil prices yesterday, but a government report today showed wage growth in the US stagnated, so traders are more worried today that higher fuel prices will bite. And what were they thinking yesterday??
  • Have a safe and relaxing weekend!!

  Reports

  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Reuters Metals Insider - pdf here
  • North American Stainless April Surcharge - more

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • "Stallman doesn’t deny that agriculture is a big business and admits that only around 10% of the nation’s 2.2 million farms produce around 85% of the food — “it’s all about efficiency,” he says." - more
  • US Food factoids at a glance - more
  • Roubini Says Slow Growth May Mean Debt Restructuring - more
  • China Is Number One… in Riskiness - more
  • Accountants Get More Optimistic - more
  • How to Kill a Recovery - more
  • Golden Years? - more
  • Game Changers - more

  Rolling out a higher grade of product - China, the world's biggest steelmaker, should produce more high-grade alloy to meet demand arising from increased investment in railways, nuclear power plants and other major projects, a government adviser said.  - more

  Indian Steel Prices Rise Sharply in February - In India, steel product quotations increased dramatically in February. The price rises have been attributed to successive hikes in raw material costs. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:10 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.04/lb higher, with other base metals trading mostly higher. The Euro is currently trading slightly lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up nearly 9/10 of 1% and trading at $102.80/barrel. Gold is nearly 2/10% and silver is up over 8/10%. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up 1-1/2%. European markets are trading higher, and US futures seem to be dismissing higher oil prices as well. NIckel inventories fell yesterday,    
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Poised to Advance for First Time in Four Weeks on Economic Optimism - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals rise in early end-of-week trade, look to build higher - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper prices hit two-week highs yesterday, as prospects of a peace plan for Libya sent oil prices sharply lower. However, the Libyan story got confusing as soon as it was announced; Venezuela said Muammar Gaddafi had agreed to a proposal for an international commission to negotiate an end to the turmoil, but Gaddafi's son said there was no need for any foreign mediation, while the Arab League was noncommittal, saying only that the plan "under consideration". We have our doubts such a plan was ever taken seriously by the oil markets, but the idea was nevertheless used to trigger a round of profit-taking that was long overdue. This morning, oil prices are higher by about $.60, but metals are holding on to modest gains, having recovered from earlier losses. US stocks are expected to open slightly higher. US macro numbers were quite constructive yesterday, sparking a surge in the US stock market, which had one of its best daily gains in some three months. Among the releases, was a report showing that the number of Americans filing weekly jobless benefits falling to its lowest level in more than 2-1/2 years, this coming on the heels of a strong ADP report out on Wednesday. Consequently, estimates are being hiked for today's upcoming nonfarm payroll report-- the current forecast is around 185,000, but some economists are raising their estimates to between 220,000-250,000. (Even if we do get a very strong number, we should remember that January's increase was a paltry 36,000 likely on account of poor weather, so the two-month average is what economists will be focused on). Other reports released Thursday showed that business productivity picked up in the fourth quarter and that U.S. retailers posted stronger-than-expected sales gains in February. In addition, the February index of non-manufacturing business service activity increased to 59.7 from 59.4, coming in slightly higher than forecast. With US macro numbers running on the stronger side for much of this week, one would expect the dollar to strengthen, but because the Fed is determined to keep interest rates low, the greenback has not been responding as forcefully to positive macro data. Instead, the dollar sold off to $1.3970 at one point against the Euro yesterday, and is hovering again right now. It weakened considerably yesterday after the ECB's Jean-Claude Trichet strongly hinted that the central bank will likely raise rates in April after leaving them unchanged this month. We now are in a situation where practically all of the world's leading central banks are raising interest rates (the Brazilians were the latest to do so on Wednesday) with the exception of the Fed. This divergence in the rate structure is what is behind the weaker dollar, and although base metals should be doing much better in such an environment, the recent surge in energy is holding the complex back somewhat. We suspect that we will get an even firmer tone in energy prices over the course of today’s trading, as there always is the possibility of renewed protests heading into the weekend. This suggests that we could see rather limited upside in metals today, assuming the nonfarm payroll number does not surprise. More protests are scheduled in Bahrain for this weekend and rumblings out of Saudi Arabia are also making us somewhat nervous; Reuters reported yesterday that around 100 Saudi Shi'ites staged a protest in the country's oil-producing Eastern Province on Thursday, demanding the release of prisoners they say are being held without trial. In addition, "Day of Rage" protests have also been called on Facebook, tentatively scheduled for March 11 and March 20. ... Nickel is at $29,000, up $145, and slowly pushing towards its recent high of $29,425.  (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) According to the statistics from the Iron & Steel Institute Japan (ISIJ), Japan imported 13, 228 tons of stainless steel in this January, decreased by 12.4% in comparison of 15,095 tons in last December.
  • (Yieh) According to the data of the Iron & Steel Institute Japan (ISIJ), Japan’s exports of stainless steel in January totaled 93,842 tons, down by 17.3% in comparison of 113,045 tons in last December.
  • (SBB) Asian stainless prices rise another $100/t
  • (Interfax) The Indian government raised the export tax for iron ore fines and lumps on March 1, stoking fears in China over increasing iron ore prices, though industry analysts who spoke to Interfax are hardly unanimous in their assessment. Export taxes for iron ore fines and lumps, previously 5 and 15 percent respectively, have now been raised to 20 percent.
  • SNAP Monthly - more

  Stainless steel types, applications and new developments - Stainless steel is an attractive material for a variety of applications, usually due to the corrosion resistance and strength but sometimes also for aesthetics. - more

  worldsteel members top Fortune list of world's most admired companies - POSCO, ArcelorMittal and ThyssenKrupp are the top three names in the metals industry category of Fortune magazine's recently published 'most admired companies' list. - more

  Rusal Rejects Norilsk’s $12.8 Billion Offer - United Co. Rusal, locked in a battle for control of OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, rejected a $12.8 billion bid from the mining company to buy back 20 percent of its shares. - more

  Baosteel wins US trade case - Baoshan Iron & Steel Co Ltd (Baosteel) has won an anti-dumping case in the United States involving imports of drill pipes to the country. - 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 3

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 36 to 1,317. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Qaddafi Says May Replace Western Oil Firms With Chinese, Indian, Brazilian // China Joins Russia in Signaling Potential Opposition to Libya No-Fly Zone // China Needs to Focus on Managing Inflation Expectations, CPPCC's Jia Says // Shanghai Stocks Fall on Concern Economic Growth is Slowing, CPI Rising // World Food Prices Increase to a Record, United Nations Says // Asian Stocks Gain as Improving U.S. Jobs Data Offsets Middle East Unrest // ECB Keeps Key Interest Rate at 1% as Trichet Faces Oil Shock // Henkel to Raise Prices to Keep Pace With Soaring Commodity Costs, CEO Says // European Stocks Advance as Earnings Outweigh Outlook for Higher ECB Rates // Bernanke Says Stronger Recovery Would Reduce State Woes // U.S. Services Expand, Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Fall // Stocks Rally on Economy, Oil's Drop; Euro Gains on Rate Outlook
  • The Euro is now trading 1/2 of 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is off 1.7% and holding above $100 at $100.49/barrel. Gold is down 1-1/3% and silver is off 1-1/4%. Base metals ended the session higher, and off earlier highs. Indicator charts show nickel was in a climb for the first half o the day, but after conquering the $29,000 tonne level, it went into reverse. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $13.09/lb , refusing yesterday's slip below $13/lb. Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses worldwide fell for a second consecutive day, and now show totalling just over 130,000 tonnes. Sucden did not update its day old chart today. The Baltic Dry Index continues to rebound, and equity markets are higher today.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • War of Words: Taylor Disputes Bernanke’s Description of Interest-Rate Rule - more
  • Ben Bernanke, Ron Paul Debate Dollar’s Definition - more
  • 97% of All U.S. Mortgages are Backed by the Government - more
  • China Takes Giant Step Towards Making Yuan the World's Reserve Currency - more
  • Everything Stinks - more (Paul is having a bad week)

  Chinese companies push for Oakajee shake-up - Chinese-backed companies in Western Australia's emerging Mid West iron ore province will hold talks in a bid to force a radical shake-up of the ownership of the $4.4 billion Oakajee port and rail project.- more

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

  • Indicators at 7:10 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.14/lb higher, with other base metals higher as well. The Euro is trading 1/10 of 1% lower against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is down 1.1% and trading at $101.10/barrel. Gold is off by 2/3% and silver is down 4/10 of 1%. In overnight trading, Asian markets advanced, while China fell 2/3 of 1%. European markets are trading higher this morning and US futures show a higher opening as well. Nickel inventories fell yesterday.   
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Fluctuates on Report of Libya Mediation, Stocks at Seven-Month High - more
  • LME Morning - Base metals supported by Venezuelan peace plan - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Metals held on to minor gains yesterday, as rising energy prices trimmed a much stronger opening advance. Also helping the metals was the fact that the US equity market held up yesterday, unlike Tuesday when stock prices buckled under the weight of a much more furious advance in energy. We suspect that the better-than-expected ADP private payroll gain of some 217,000 jobs also played a part in steadying US equities. In the currency markets, the dollar weakened to a 4½ year low against the Euro yesterday, and has been unable to benefit from any kind of "flight to safety" buying following the unrest in the Middle East. Instead, that role seems to have been filled, instead, by gold, silver, and the Japanese yen. On the geopolitical front, the situation in Libya has moved past the stage of passive protests that characterized the start of the crisis and now seems to have deteriorated into an all-out civil war. The Libyan leader launched a land and air offensive to retake territory in the east yesterday, and also warned against U.S. or other Western intervention, saying that foreign troops coming into his country "will be entering hell and they will drown in blood". A Libyan warplane dropped a bomb near an oil exporting terminal and pro-government soldiers tried to retake it shortly thereafter, but the opposition managed to fight them off. Two more towns in eastern Libyan were bombed again today, but there were no reports of injuries or damage. In Benghazi, a self-declared "interim government council" formed by the opposition called on foreign nations to carry out airstrikes, but the Pentagon dialed back talk on imposing a "no-fly zone", saying that this would involve taking out Libya's defense facilities. In the meantime, the fighting has sparked a massive exodus of 180,000 refugees heading towards Libya's borders, with several nations, including the UK and Egypt, launching emergency airlifts and sending ships in to handle the crush. We are seeing modest gains in metal prices this morning, as a slight retreat in energy is allowing some buying to set in. The weaker tone in oil prices (Brent was down $3/barrel at one point today before recovering) may be attributable to talk of some sort of peace plan for Libya being put forward by the Arab League. However, we think this will be dead on arrival with the protesters, particularly given that it has Venezuelan President Chavez's fingerprints on it. The dollar is unchanged today, trading at $1.3860 against the euro, this despite the fact the European Union is nearing a March 25 deadline for a plan to help debt-strapped countries with no clear consensus emerging. In fact, the Germans, who earlier had signaled some flexibility on reducing loan rates levied on countries seeking aid, have now stepped back from this position, saying that they will only cut rates only in return for further budget cuts. In the meantime, there is increasing talk of Portugal possibly being next country in line for a bail-out. We do not have much to add to what we have been saying in previous commentary-- the unrest in the Middle East will likely limit the extent of any price declines in oil, as investors will continue buying the dips. ... Nickel is at $28,900, up $300, with prices moving along the short-term upchannel (see our chart below). Support is at $27,700, while the recent intraday high of $29,425 marks resistance.  (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (JMB) NSSC Raises Flat Rolled Stainless Steel Prices in March and April
  • (MS - CHina) According to Mr Deng Qilin GM of Wuhan Iron & Steel Group Co Ltd, steel industry profitability decreased last year and large and medium steel enterprises average sales profit margin witness only 2.91% last year far lower than national industries average profit margin of 6%.
  • (MP) Exports of chrome ore from Turkey were 52,791 tonnes or 20.6% lower in February that in January this year
  • 5 Charts That Prove Inflation Is Here - more

  Anglo American Commences To Produce Ferro-Nickel In Brazil From March 2011 = AAC Expands Its Capacity For Nickel Production To 160,000 Tons / Year In 2016 - Anglo American (AAC) has been proceeding to develop the Barro Alto nickel project in Goias State of Brazil and is scheduled to commence its ferro-nickel production from March of 2011. - more

  Plans for Solomons nickel plant to ship ore overseas for processing -  The Australian company planning to exploit a huge nickel resource in Santa Isabel in Solomon Islands intends shipping the ore overseas for smelting. - more

  Norilsk: Nkomati output at 20,000 T/yr by end 2012 - Russia's Norilsk Nickel (GMKN.MM: Quote) expects nickel output at its South Africa joint venture to reach 20,000 tonnes a year by end 2012 from about 6,000 tonnes now, a top official said on Thursday. - more

  Zimasco Finalises Expansion Plan - Zimbabwe Mining and Smelting Company says its ambitious US$300 million expansion plan involving upgrading its blast furnaces will start in the second half of this year. - more

  MMC Norilsk Nickel Will Decrease Emissions Considerably - OJSC MMC Norilsk Nickel (hereinafter – MMC Norilsk Nickel or the Company) will decrease SO2 emissions (main factor of the Company’s industrial pollution) as part of program aimed at gradual decrease of air emissions of Company’s metallurgical production facilities located in Norilsk (Polar Division of the Company). - more

  Courtesy AISI - In the week ending February 26, 2011, domestic raw steel production was 1,841,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 75.3 percent. Production was 1,720,000 tons in the week ending February 26, 2010, while the capability utilization then was 71.1 percent. The current week production represents a 7.0 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending February 26, 2011 is up 1.2 percent from the previous week ending February 19, 2011 when production was 1,820,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 75.3 percent.

  ATI announces its president to take over as chief executive - Allegheny Technologies Inc.'s president and chief operating officer will take the reins of the specialty metals company when its CEO for the last seven years retires on May 1, the company said yesterday. - 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

Wednesday, March 2

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 19 to 1,281. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) Gold Buying in China Jumps as Inflation Flares, Boosting Demand, UBS Says // Christchurch May Move Business District After Quake Condemns 755 Buildings // Australian Economy Expanded 0.7% Before Floods Ravaged Nation's Northeast // Asian Stocks Fall for First Time in Four Days as $100 Oil Spooks Investors // European Producer-Price Inflation Accelerates More Than Forecast on Energy // Food Crisis Not as Bad as 2008 Because of Rice Price: OECD // Dubai Shares Slump to 7-Year Low, Lead Drop in Gulf on Saudi Risk Concern // Dollar Falls Versus Most Peers as Oil Climbs; Euro Advances on Price Data // European Stocks Fall for Second Day on Rising Energy Costs; Daimler Drops // Bernanke Signals No Rush to Tighten When Asset-Buying Ends / Amazon.com Threatens to Cut Ties With Its California Affiliates // Bernanke Doesn't Rule Out More Bond Buying to Aid Economy // Gross Says U.S. Yields Too Low as Fed Approaches End of QE2 // Congress Approves Temporary U.S. Budget Bill, Avoids Shutdown // U.S. Stocks Fluctuate as Higher Energy Prices Temper Optimism
  • The Euro is now trading 2/3 0f 1% higher against the US Dollar. NYMEX crude is up nearly 2% and trading at $101.58/barrel. Gold is up 1/4% and silver is higher by 1/3%. Base metals ended the session mixed and mostly lower. Indicator charts show nickel stumbled early and was never able to recover. For the day, Dow Jones reports three month nickel closed at $12.97/lb , falling out of the $13/lb range after only a few days in it, for the third time in the last month.Stockpiles of nickel stored in LME approved warehouses fell slightly yesterday and now register just over 130,400 tonnes total. Sucden's day old nickel trading chart (here). Cancelled warrants remain above 7% for a fourth consecutive day. Oil appears to have breached the $100 barrel level with some sticking power today, and equity markets are not sure if they are ready to accept the new higher price or not.

  Reports

  • Commodities Daily - pdf here
  • Reuters Metals Insider - pdf here
  • AK Steel Stainless Steel April Surcharge - pdf here
  • MF Global Monthly Commodity Round-Up - March 2011 - pdf here

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (Citigroup's Alan Heap) - "Our bullish view on nickel is our most non-consensus call .... The reason is the market is assuming the pressure acid leach projects in the pipeline will come in on time and on cost. We take a different view."
  • Bankruptcy Filings Ticked Up Last Month - more
  • U.S. Getting Closer to $14.29 Trillion Debt Ceiling - more
  • World-Wide Factory Activity, by Country - more
  • The Rearview Mirror - more
  • In "Dangerous World", Unions Fight "Assault" on Middle Class Families, Elizabeth Warren Says - more
  • Why the Dollar's Reign Is Near an End - more

  Ferrochrome price spike unsustainable - The European contract price of ferrochrome is set to rise in the second quarter, but is unlikely to be sustainable because consumers will start substituting with stainless steel scrap, traders said. - more

  Work on Halmahera Smelter to Start in 2012 - Construction on a nickel smelter in Halmahera, North Maluku, is expected to begin next year, an executive said. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:10 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around $.14/lb lower, with all London traded base metals trading lower. The Euro is trading 1/3 of 1% higher against the US Dollar, but has become a non factor in recent base metals trading. NYMEX crud eis up slightly and trading at $99.70/barrel. Gold is down slightly and silver is over 1/10% higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended lower, with China off 1/3 of 1%. European markets are trading lower this morning and futures show Wall Street may try to recapture some of yesterday's lost ground. Nickel inventories fell yesterday.
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Falls in London Trading as $100 Oil Revives Slowdown Speculation - more
  • Reuters Morning - Copper reverses loss, up 0.2 pct as oil trims gains - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper snapped a three-day winning streak to end slightly lower yesterday, as ongoing unrest in the Middle East resulted in yet another surge in crude oil prices, with Brent getting to $116.76, not too far from its recent high of $119.79. Oil markets pushed higher on reports -- later denied -- that Saudi tanks were rolling into Bahrain to provide support for the government there. There were also reports of more protests in both Oman and Iran. US equity markets sank on the oil spike, while gold hit a new record high. Limiting some of the downside damage yesterday, were remarks made by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who said that the fallout from rising oil prices should be fairly limited, unless inflationary expectations start to take root, in which case a aggressive response from the Fed would be forthcoming. Also helpful a limiting the downside damage, was the release of the latest US ISM manufacturing survey, which came in slightly above estimates, and is now at its highest reading since 2004. The situation in Libya remains chaotic, and it seems that about half the country's oil exports are now off-line. Although more members of the military have reportedly moving to the opposition, Gaddafi's supporters appear to be holding a tight grip on western parts of the country, including Tripoli. In the meantime, the number of refugees and displaced persons are reaching crisis proportions, and there are worries that the ongoing violence could disrupt aid networks. At this juncture, it seems that the regime will not collapse quickly, but is rather digging in and bracing for a fight, which means that we are not going to see any relief in terms of lower oil prices anytime soon, particularly if the unrest intensifies in other parts of the Middle East. his morning, oil prices are up again by about $.40 a barrel, leading to slight losses in base metals. US stocks are called to open higher as of this writing, but we would not be surprised to see these gains fade by the open. In terms of macro news, focus will be on the ADP employment report, which comes out ahead of Friday's key payroll numbers. ADP is expected to report that 175,000 jobs were added in February compared with 187,000 the month before. We do not have much to add to what we have been saying lately in terms of our short-term outlook; with oil prices continuing to push higher, it will be increasingly difficult for inflation trends to work lower, particularly in emerging markets economies. We are even seeing inflation start to rear its head in developed economies as well. In this regard, data out this morning shows that European producer-prices accelerated by 6.1% in January from a year earlier after increasing 5.3% in December, the fastest since September 2008. This increase does not include February data, where price pressures were likely more pronounced. As a result of growing inflationary pressures, interest rates will be hiked in quicker succession over the months ahead in a number of countries, leading to a deceleration of growth heading into the second half of the year. This scenario does not put us into the camp with those who are looking for ever-increasing commodity prices over the course of 2011. ... Nickel is at $28,460, down $315, and fairly quiet.  (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) Finland’s Outokumpu announced 2010 sales reports, the company’s sales volume of stainless steel products in 2010 totaled 1.32 million tons, up by 27.7% in comparison of 1.03 million tons in 2009.
  • (MW) The black-controlled JSE-listed ferrochrome company Merafe Resources is lobbying for the South African government to impose restrictions on the export of raw chrome ore from South Africa this year.
  • (MS) China daily production of crude steel rallied about 6% in the first twenty days of February versus January. The inventory of major steel mills increased to 9.46 million tonnes from 7.57 million tonnes posted in January end.
  • (MBN) Eramet's Weda Bay Bay nickel project aims for 2017 start
  • China holds $1.16 trillion of US debt - more
  • La Niña continues to weaken in the tropical Pacific - more

  Benchmark Price Of FeCr For Shipments To Europe In Q2 / 11 Is Viewed To Rise = Reflecting Rise Of Spot Price And Active Production Of Stainless Steel - The benchmark price of South African charge chrome for shipments to Europe in the second quarter (April - June) of 2011 is strongly expected to rise. - more

  Korean AD Duty Imposition On Stainless Heavy Plates From Japan - Japan's exports of stainless heavy plates to South Korea are on track to incur an antidumping duty for the next five years in the wake of a Feb 23 determination by the Korea Trade Commission (KTC) that local stainless steel reroller Daekyung Corp (DKC) has suffered injury from imports of Japanese stainless heavy plates. DKC filed its AD case with the KTC in March last year. - more

  Merafe to unveil plans to increase stake in Xstrata joint venture - Merafe Resources will unveil a scheme in the next three months to grow its stake in a ferrochrome joint venture with Xstrata to 26%, lifting its exposure to SA’s lowest-cost producer of the stainless steel ingredient. - more

  • Merafe swings to FY profit, outlook positive - South Africa's Merafe Resources (MRFJ.J), the country's largest ferrochrome producer, reported a return to full-year profit on Tuesday, helped by higher metal prices and said it expects strong results ahead. - more

  London court rejects RusAl request for documents from Norilsk lawyers - The London High Court has rejected a claim filed by RusAl, one of the core shareholders of Russia's biggest nickel producer Norilsk Nickel, to access confidential documents on Norilsk's deals from the metal giant's lawyers, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, Norilsk said late on Tuesday. - 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 1

  Daily Nickel/Stainless Steel Wrap-up
  • Baltic Dry Index - plus 11 to 1,262. (chart)
  • Dollar graph in lower right corner of this page - (chart of dollar index) (live java chart)
  • Headlines & leaders - (Bloomberg) China Manufacturing Grows at Slowest in Six Months After PBOC Tightening // Home Prices in China Increase at Slowest Pace in Six Months, SouFun Says // Inflation Above 9% Shows Bankers Aren't Gods: William Pesek // China Stocks Rise as Slowing Manufacturing, Home Prices Ease CPI Concerns // New Zealand Pauses to Remember Earthquake Victims // Asian Stocks Advance as U.S. Incomes, Falling Oil Boost Recovery Optimism // Germany's Unemployment Shrinks Three Times as Fast as Economists Estimated // Commodities in Longest Winning Streak Since '04, Beating Stocks // Crude Oil Climbs From One-Week Low as Iran Protests Add to Supply Concern // Manufacturing Expands in Europe at Fastest Pace Since 2000 as Exports Grow // European Stocks Slide Amid Concern Mideast Unrest May Spread; HSBC Drops // Bernanke Tempers Republican Criticism With Deficit-Plan Calls // Ford's February U.S. Sales Rise 14%, Beating Estimates for 9.9% Increase // Bernanke Sees Temporary Inflation Gain From Commodities // Oil Surges on Mideast Unrest, Wiping Out Gains in U.S. Stocks
  • The Euro is now trading lower against the US Dollar, but by less than 1/10%. NYMEX crud is up 1-3/4% and trading at $98.67/barrel, worrying equity traders again. Gold and silver are both up 1-1/4%.  Base metals ended the day mixed. Indicator charts show nickel tried to gain early, but collapsed and was never able to come back. Dow Jones reports three month nickel ended at $13.05/lb . Trading was fairly quiet today and helped make technicals more favorable tomorrow. Cancelled warrants remain above 7% for a third day. Stockpiles of nickel stored worldwide in LME approved warehouse started the month of March with a gain, and now show just under 130,600 tonnes. Sucden's day old chart shows nickel on a firm rebound although technical signals shows the market is in overbought territory (chart here). Nickel inventories have now risen on four of the last six trading days.

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Articles and Comments

  • (MFG) China's average daily crude steel output was 6% higher in the first 20 days of February than in January, despite a week-long holiday at the start of the month, data from the China Iron & Steel Association showed on Tuesday. Daily output averaged 1.814 million tons in the Feb 11-20 period, equivalent to annual production of 662.1 million tons.
  • China Owns a Lot More U.S. Debt Than Previously Thought - more
  • High Oil Prices Complicate Housing Recovery - more
  • Chicago Manufacturing Data Indicate ‘Pervasive Growth’ - more
  • Economists Expected Growth to Pick Up Though Rising Commodity Prices Pose Risk - more
  • Much of Month's Move Is on First Day - more
  • The GDP Effects of a (Brief) Government Shutdown (-0.2 in Q1)  - more
  • Shocking mug shots reveal toll of drug abuse - more

  Work on Halmahera Smelter to Start in 2012 - Construction on a nickel smelter in Halmahera, North Maluku, is expected to begin next year, an executive said. - more

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

  • Indicators at 7:10 am CST show 3 month nickel trading around  $.03/lb lower, with other London traded base metals quietly mixed. The Euro is over 1/1 0 of 1% higher against the US Dollar this morning. Gold is 3/4 of 1% higher, while silver is 1.3% higher. In overnight trading, Asian markets ended higher, with China up nearly 1/2%. European markets are trading higher this morning, and US futures show Wall Street would like to continue yesterday's bull run.  Nickel inventories rose yesterday. 
  • Bloomberg morning - Copper Advances for Fourth Day Before Manufacturing Report; Aluminum Gains - more
  • LME Morning - Metals drift as demand outlook becomes cloudy - more

  Reports

  Commodity/Economic Comments

  • Edward Meir of MF Global Morning Comments - Copper ended higher for a third straight session yesterday, recovering impressively from the one month low it set last week, as fairly restrained energy prices gave metals the leeway to push higher. Good US macro data also fueled the advance, particularly the release of the Chicago PMI, which handily beat estimates as it surged to a 22-year high. Investors were also reassured by a Federal Reserve board member's speech saying that the US economy should do well despite higher oil prices. Commodities, in general, also found support from the currency markets, with the dollar falling to a 3-1/2-month low, and weakening on perceptions that there is little from either the fiscal or monetary side of the ledger that indicates conditions will get “tighter" anytime soon. We are mostly higher in base metals again today, but gains were more modest than what we saw at this time yesterday, and have actually receded in the past 30 minutes. There is a raft of relatively strong data out this morning, mostly from the manufacturing side. Chinese data was the arguable exception in this regard, in that although the Chinese reported that manufacturing activity expanded yet again in February, it was at its slowest pace in seven months. The official purchasing managers’ index fell to 52.2 from 52.9 in January, but despite the dip, the input prices sub-index, a measure of how much factories pay for raw materials and intermediary goods, rose to 70.1 in February from 69.3 in January. In contrast with China, India’s manufacturing grew at the fastest pace in three months, a survey by HSBC and Markit Economics revealed today, adding to pressure on the central bank to increase interest rates for an eighth time. Japanese manufacturing activity also rose at its fastest clip in eight months, while February European manufacturing accelerated to its fastest pace in more than 10 years. However, Euro zone inflation rose as well, to its highest level since October 2008, and although it was in line with estimates, it is riding well above the ECB's target band, fuelling speculation the ECB will join a number of emerging central banks and raise rates fairly shortly. Not surprisingly, the euro is slightly stronger today, now trading at $1.3830. Rounding out the manufacturing numbers, we get data from the US later today when the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing numbers comes out (expected at 61.5). January construction spending comes out later in the day as well (expected at -1.0%). Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is also scheduled to deliver a semi-annual report on monetary policy today to the Senate Banking Committee and is due to testify to the House Financial Services Committee tomorrow. ... Nickel is at $28,850, down $140, and fairly quiet today.  (read Ed Meir's complete morning base metals report here)
  • (Yieh) Reportedly, Yieh United Steel Corp. (Yusco) announced the stainless steel price policy for March on February 25th. It’s known that the domestic prices of stainless steel have been up by NT$1,000~NT$9,000/ton average; meanwhile, the export prices have increased by US$50~US$350/ton.
  • (Yieh) Taiwan’s Tang Eng has released new price policy for March. The domestic prices of 300 series stainless steel have been by NT$7,000/ton; that for 202 series has increased by NT4, 000/ton and that for 201 series has remained unchanged.
  • (MBN) Jinchuan nickel price back up again
  • (SBB) China’s nickel imports flat, exports slump in January
  • Commodities in Longest Winning Streak Since '04, Beating Stocks - more
  • (CD) The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) of China's manufacturing sector weakened to 52.2 percent in February, a six-month low, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP) said Tuesday.

  Stainless steel prices driven by nickel traders not market fundamentals - Stainless steel basis prices are increasing, on top of a rapid climb in alloy surcharges over recent months, although there has been no significant upturn in real demand reported from any part of the world. - more

  Steel industry cheers scrapping custom duty on stainless steel - Welcoming the Budget proposal of reducing the custom duty on stainless steel scraps to zero, the industry on Monday said it will make imports cheaper and benefits of it will be passed on to the customers. - more

  First Nation group setting up blockade in northern Ontario - A First Nation is setting up a blockade near the massive chromite deposit in northern Ontario known as the Ring of Fire. - more

  Poseidon poised for Windarra mine re-open - Andrew Forrest-chaired Poseidon Nickel Ltd says it has taken a key step to re-open the mothballed Mt Windarra nickel mine in Western Australia. - more

  Australian mining company secures Solomons nickel deposit - An Australian mining company, Axiom, has secured what it says is one of the world’s largest nickel deposits under a 50-year deal in Solomon Islands. - more

  Benguet unit to get Zambales nickel asset - Benguetcorp Nickel Mines Inc., a unit of Benguet Corp., is increasing its capital stock to P2 billion from P10 million through a property infusion. - more

  Metals Sector Will Witness Robust Demand With Budget Triggering Growth In Various Sectors - According to the Union Budget Reaction – 2011-12 by S Venkatesan, Director, Metals & Minerals Practice, South Asia, Middle East and North Africa, Frost & Sullivan; the Metals sector will witness a robust demand with the budget triggering growth in the Automotive and Infrastructure sector, thus increasing demand for Steel and Aluminium. - more

  $45 million ore plant hiring in Coos Bay - A $45 million plant at Coos Bay expects to begin sifting sand for minerals such as chromite in April. - more

  Morning Nickel Inventory and Price Statistics & Figures

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

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