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2003
Fourth Quarter

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18


Nickel Averages Oct - Dec 2002
October 2002 - $3.09/lb
November 2002 - $3.32/lb
December 2002 - $3.26/lb
10/1 -  LME trading was extremely light as China was closed for a national holiday. LME nickel closed at $4.56/lb, down a penny from yesterday.
10/2 - After a day of heavy buying upon news that Norilsk Nickel was predicting prices would increase by another 10% by mid 2004, LME nickel closed at its highest point yet this year, $4.68/lb. LME inventory is at approximately 34M metric tons, which is the largest known excess stockpile in the world, and is about an 11 day supply. This is increasing the belief that supply and demand are running about even, and with worldwide economies growing, a deficit could be possible in the future.
10/3 - On surprisingly positive news from the US, all metals traded on the London Metal Exchange gained. At one point LME nickel was trading at its highest in 13 years, before settling down and closing at $4.74/lb. Inco CEO reports world nickel demand running about +7% over last year.
10/6 - Traders expect a quiet week as LME celebrates LME week and most economic date will come out next week. Nickel closed higher, however, at $4.76/lb.
10/7 - The market has not turned out to be as quiet as traders had hoped, as many metals near multi-year highs. After breaking another 13 year high at $4.83/lb earlier, LME nickel closed at $4.78/lb. Inco reports all major nickel producers are running at capacity with no new supplies of any magnitude coming on board in the near future. With demand rising as world economies recover, they say conditions are similar to 1988-89 when nickel ran  about $6 per pound. None of this is good  news for the stainless steel consumers.
10/8 - Inco reports to its stockholders that its cost for mining and processing nickel is now running about $2.05/lb, compared to $1.45/lb last year.
10/8 - LME nickel scored a big raise today, closing at a 13 year high. $4.87/lb has not been seen since Sept 1990.
10/9 - Theage.com.au is printing a story that quotes Macquarie Bank commodity strategist Jim Lennon. He advises that worldwide nickel inventory levels could become chronically low in the next six to nine months, and that prices could easily double again. He is predicting nickel could be selling in the area of $9.00/lb in the next 15 months, due mostly to a ravenous Chinese nickel market and recovery in Europe and US markets.
10/9 - Nickel soared again today, leaving traders speculating how high and leaving many of them shaking their heads. Expecting a slow week, they have seen just the opposite. The speculators that had thought an adjustment was over due, are now being silenced by those predicting further gains. Since the first of the month, nickel has now gone up by 9%, closing today at $4.95/lb. This is another 13 year record. Aluminum also rose, setting a 2-1/4 year record.
10/10 - Numerous articles appeared in the world press yesterday as nickel's bull run gets overdue attention. Early trading at LME Friday took a breather and fell slightly, on news that China's State Reserves Bureau had put nearly 4,000 tonne on the market. And while the market seems to be taking the long overdue correction that traders have been predicting, no one is saying the peak had been hit. Reuters reports the International Nickel Study Group is still predicting nickel production to only increase 2.8% in 2003, while consumption is expected to increase 6.9%. The news for 2004 is less pessimistic as production is expected to increase 5.3% and consumption only expected to gain 4.6%. This still leaves the 2003 and 2004 markets in deficit by 30M tonnes in 2003 and 2004. Reuters also reports steel makers in Japan alone could come up short by 20M tonnes of nickel this year.Taiwan's largest stainless steel producer reports that it has already started producing lower nickel content stainless, known as 200 series. And South Korea's third largest steel maker is predicting prices to stay in the $5/lb range over the next year. Traders are advising the release by the Chinese Reserves reflect the shortage of nickel for stainless steel producers in that country.
10/10 - The overdue correction that many have said must come, did not materialize. After an initial drop in morning prices, LME nickel ended at a new 13 year record, closing the week at $4.96/lb.
10/10 - Courtesy Allegheny Ludlum Products - Market Monthly Averages - Nickel - Chrome - Molybdenum 

10/13 - LME nickel rose in early trades, breaking thru the 11M tonne barrier ($5/lb). However, midday markets received news that Norilsk announced its 2003 production would increase from 220M tonnes last year to 300M tonnes this year.
10/13 - In other market news, Scrap.org reports that speaker Larry Pryor commented to the Nickel/Stainless Steel Roundtable September meeting in Pittsburg, PA, that the ferrochrome market remains to be bullish and that indications are that the 2004 deficit may be in the area of 50M tonnes. If stainless steel production remains strong he predicted prices, currently in the 49 cents per pound range (27 cents at the end of 2001), could reach 80 cents per pound next year. This could be mean bad news for stainless steel consumers and future pricing. South African producers, supplying over 50% of the world's ferrochrome, are being charged a new shipping surcharge, presently at $3/tonne but expected to possibly go to $8/tonne next year.
10/13 - LME metals all rose, with nickel gaining a new 13 year high. LME nickel closed at $5.11/lb.
10/13 - Price graphs of stainless steel ingredients, courtesy MacSteel
10/14 - A Taiwanese website is reporting the growth in the stainless steel industry is out pacing the growth in steel. Steel is growing approximately 1-2% with population while stainless is growing 5%. It is unclear by the article if this is a worldwide trend, or strictly regional.
10/14 -The International Stainless Steel Forum has adjusted its projection for 2003 stainless steel projection and now predicts it will grow by 5.8%, lead primarily by China. This is 1.8% higher than previously predicted and will help keep nickel prices up. Worldwide production during the first half of 2003 was 8.2% higher than last year. They also predict a shortfall of 30M tonnes of nickel supply/demand in 2003 and 2004.
10/14 - After hitting a new 14 year high, profit takers jumped in and in what one trader called a healthy correction, fell to $4.99/lb.
10/15 - LME nickel held steady at $4.99/lb. Stainless steel fastener import prices remain stable, and have been since early spring 2003. Probable reason - pricing war amongst Far East fastener manufacturers. While this is good for fastener users in the short term, it is not necessarily positive in the long term as smaller factories, that force the larger factories to stay competitive, could be put out of business. For the year so far, the summer saw the stainless steel producers eat the increases in nickel and ferrochrome, due to slow economic growth, and their own price war. Now that the economy is improving, these producers are passing on the higher costs in rod and wire, and the fastener manufacturers overseas are eating the increases in material. In light of historical precedence established over years of stainless steel pricing closely following the up's and down's of nickel costs, the importer, distributor and end-user of stainless steel fastener's have so far enjoyed a "fortunate" year.
10/16 - Reuters reports LME trader IFX states "Maybe it is safe for the children to come out to play with many traders feeling that a price above $11,500 ($5.22/lb) is unobtainable and although we may not see the price much below $10,500 ($4.76/lb) over the near term the upside is becoming more predictable."
10/16 - LME nickel closes at $5.01/lb. JP Morgan is forecasting nickel to average $4.05/lb in 2003 and $4.55/lb in 2004. They also predict a 28,300 metric ton shortfall in 2004.
10/17 - LME nickel selling at $4.89/lb after a Friday over profit-taking and what some traders said was an overdue adjustment. Closes at $4.90/lb.
10/17 - Falconbridge, the world's third largest producer of nickel, forecast a surplus of nickel for 2003 by 13M tonnes, but also predicts a 33M tonne deficit for 2004. This pessimistic forecast echoes those mentioned above.
10/20 - Analysts predict nickel shortage could continue until Canada's Voisey Bay mine becomes fully operational sometime in 2006. There is general agreement that should anything happen to negatively affect the production or transportation of nickel, and demand continue to remain positive, then we could see further dramatic increases in nickel pricing. South Korea's POSCO has announced plans to  jointly build a $700 million dollar stainless steel plant in China, adding this is in response to predictions that stainless steel demand will grow about 20% annually in China. LME nickel closed trading at $5.04/lb.
10/21 - Nickel continues to recover the small drop from last week, closing at $5.11/lb.
10/22 - LME nickel closes at $5.16/lb.
10/23 - Copper prices dropped dramatically today, pulling the rest of LME metals with it. Nickel closed at $5.06/lb.
10/24 - With copper continuing to fall, nickel speculators nervously bailed on nickel also, ending the week at $4.93/lb. JP Morgan revised its predictions for future nickel prices this week. The predict nickel will sell at an average of $5.65/lb for 2004 and $5.75/lb for 2005. Some analysts feel the recent small drops reflect an overdue correction in nickel prices and an anticipation of the flurry of deliveries made by producers in anticipation of potential winter delivery troubles. Norilsk, the largest nickel producer in the world, has been plagued in the past by harsh Siberian winters and frozen waterways. Now that they have direct control over nearly every phase of production and transport (from power generation to nuclear icebreakers and the ports of Dudinka), the chances of future transport problems are lessened. Molybdenum averaged $5.67/lb for the third quarter of 2003, which compares to $4.71/lb during the same period of 2002.. Moly was selling at $5.87/lb yesterday and is an ingredient in Type 316 Stainless Steel.
10/27 - After what one trader called a "very slow, and very nervous" day. LME nickel rose to $5.07/lb. Pessimism seemed to rule the day, as the overdue correction that began last week, keep trading low key today. Reuters reports one analyst claimed "we could be at the beginning of the end of the bull market". Europe's economic recovery has not grown with the speed many had hoped. Another analyst stated nickel would probably see further correction before reboundung with any longetivity, but he predicted it would not fall below $4.53/lb anytime this year.
10/28 - Less pessimistic traders voiced their optimism for future price gains today as nickel climbed in early trading. All eyes are on the US as US durable goods data for Sept will be released later this morning. While the market is very nervous, positive news from the US could cause another surge in prices. Nickel pricing is responsible for up to 60% of stainless steel pricing. Others still expect a period of correction and increased volatility before a long upward trend that most agree is coming, will be established.
10/28 - Once again, the nay-sayers ruled the day. While economic news from the US was better than expected, usually a springboard for activity, the metals market remained quiet, many wondering if prices were already too high. LME nickel closed up at $5.09/lb.
10/29 - LME nickel closed at $5.15/lb.
10/30 - LME nickel closes at $5.32/lb on news the US GDP jumped to a 20 year high for the third quarter.
10/31 - LME nickel closed the week at $5.39/lb reaching new record highs after early week pessimists predicted an overdue correction had begun (see 10-16). Even month end profit taking which usually  takes place on the last day of trading, was muffled>
11/3 - LME nickel hit a new 14 year record in early trading, selling at $5.45/lb or $12,000/tonne. Early afternoon trading saw the metal prices slip back to $5.36/lb. European, Japanese and Korean steel producers announce new price increases for stainless steel cold roll exports. Closed the day at $5.29/lb as investment funds liquidations drove all metals down.
11/4 - MacSteel keeps an up to date page on current and historical 304 Stainless Steel surcharges - and their reasons. See the MacSteel Service Center Metals Update page. LME nickel slightly lower in early morning trading on profit taking, while fundamentals remain strong. Chinese steel makers are the most recent of the world producers to become verbally nervous about the availability of nickel and the price increases they are being forced to pass on in stainless due to the increase in nickel.
11/4 - LME nickel surges in afternoon trade and closed at a new 14 year record high of $5.54/lb.
11/5 - LME nickel dropped a little in early morning trading as traders remain jittery about the recent sudden gains.

Fastener Update - In stainless steel fastener news, importers are beginning to see the first hints of price increases. While still involved in a competitive price war, many of the overseas manufacturers are beginning to pass on a small part of the increases they have been seeing in stainless rod. So far, the increases are minor, but importers such as Marine Fasteners, are being advised we could see huge increases in the first quarter of 2004. While these claims have been made before, with the absolute opposite happening, if nickel remains stabile or only loses a little ground in the coming months, we could very well see the increases the manufacturers are claiming. The last large increase seen in stainless steel fastener prices was in the year 2000, with nickel being the driving force of that increase. Nickel prices failed to hit the highs in 2000 that it has this year. While at this time making any long term prediction is a "crap shoot", it is extremely doubtful we will see any decreases in stainless steel fastener prices in the coming months, and the more likely bet is we could see some substantial price increases in the near future. Blanket orders commitments are a fairly safe bet at this time, and very possibly a smart move.

11/5 - LME nickel closed down as traders resisted the $12,000 tonne peak for the second time in as many weeks. Markets closed with nickel at $5.35/lb in light trading. In other news, Barclay's metal analyst Ingrid Sternly revised his earlier predictions for 2004 nickel price averages, raising his estimate 25% to $5.55/lb.
11/6 - One Taiwanese trade periodical announced today that stainless steel billet prices have gone "sky-high" because of nickel and producers are forcing end-users to pay it. LME nickel closed up. In late trading nickel closed at $5.42/lb.
11/7 - LME nickel ends the week at $12M/tonne or $5.44/lb. Taiwanese and Chinese steel makers follow other nations by announcing further stainless price increases for December. Macquarie Research has now adjusted their official predictions and is now projecting an average nickel price for 2004 and 2005 at $6.00/lb. They stated many reasons including the protracted strike at Inco, the underestimation of Chinese  and Asian demand, the economic recovery of US and European markets, a foreseen shortfall in supply, and a possible work stoppage at Falconbridge in the coming 3 months (contracts ends on 1/31/2004). Stainless steel scrap dealers are seeing the highest prices for stainless scrap they have seen since 1995.
11/10 - LME nickel steady in early morning trade.
11/10 - Union contracts to watch in 2004 with possible effects on nickel production - Falconbridge in Canada has a contract with the CAW ending 1/31/2004 and with the USW ending 2/28/2004. Sherritt Inc of Canada has a contract with the CEP ending 3/31/2004.

There is 56 lbs of stainless steel in the typical family vehicle. In 1977, the typical vehicle had only 26 lbs of stainless. (source - American Metal Markets).

11/10 - LME nickel closed down, after all metals were dragged down by a heavily traded and losing day for copper. LME nickel closed at $5.33/lb.
11/11 - LME nickel rebounds and  recovers its losses from Monday closing at $5.47/lb.
11/12 - Merrill Lynch fund managers announced today that China's appetite for metals, which they refer to as voracious, shows no signing of slowing thru 2008. This is good news for those producing metals, not necessarily good for those of us that use or sell stainless product.

11/12 - Fastener Update Marine Fasteners senior purchasing agent advises he is seeing large price increases from fastener manufacturers in the past few days. As the price war among foreign manufacturers appears to be falling apart, the market could see significant increases in the next few months. If that news isn't bad enough for users of stainless fasteners, LME nickel hit a new 14 year record high today at $12,325/tonne before settling down to close at $5.56/lb.
11/13 - Nickel had a rocky day, climbing early in the trading day to a new 14 year record high of $12,400/tonne before profit takers stepped in and drove it back down. Closed at $5.48/lb.
11/13 - Inco's asst vice president of marketing, Brent Rochon, told a Seoul seminar that the supply of nickel will not be able to keep up with demand at least through 2006, according to an article by Forbes. He also expected prices to continue to rise in 2004, to help curb some of the demand. With worldwide producers running at maximum to take advantage of record prices, Rochon saw very little room for increased production in 2004. Rochon also advised China's imports of nickel increased 210% so far this year and domestic Chinese production of stainless steel was supplying less than 25% of that countries demand.
11/13 - 2 pages of interesting data on nickel production in the world. The 1st shows the largest producers in 2002, by country and company, located here. The second similar information, including world stainless production thru 2002, located here.
11/14 - LME nickel bounced higher to new record levels in early morning trading, reaching $5.64/lb. Analysts now see the $12,500/tonne ($5.67/lb)as the next psychological target to beat.
11/14 - LME nickel continued to soar most of the day, before easing back a bit at the close. After rolling over the $12,500/tonne mark, LME closed at $5.66/lb - another 14 year record high.
11/17 - LME nickel feel today, on heavy profit taking. No one seems to be predicting this as anything more than an overdue adjustment, but stainless steel producers welcome any downturn, however momentary. LME nickel closed at $5.47/lb, negating the record breaking gains of last week.
11/17 - Interesting article about one of the complainant nations in the Bush steel tariff case, India and its interpretation of the free trade.
11/18 - LME nickel closed up slightly at $5.48/lb after a wild up and down day of trading. Traders are beginning to pay closer attention to upcoming labor talks at Falconbridge (see 11/7). Nickel could still use some more market adjustment, but overall market showing stability.
11/19 - LME nickel spent another day of bouncing up and down before settling down at $5.47/lb.
11/20  - Fastener Update - One of Taiwan's largest manufacturers of fasteners finally succumbed to rising wire rod prices and advised its worldwide distributors it could no longer honor past quotes, thus negating all prior quotes. New quotes, usually valid for 30 days, would be valid for a period of 5 days only. This company had been instrumental in keeping overseas stainless fasteners prices in check, even while the large increases in nickel have been raising prices on stainless steel wire and rod for the past 3 months. Prices have been on the increase for the past few weeks from other manufacturers, and this company's change is seen as further bad news for consumers of stainless steel fasteners worldwide. LME nickel was trading at $5.33/lb at noon in Europe.
11/20 -  LME nickel closed at $5.37/lb.
11/20 -  Norilsk Nickel is in negotiations with a Finnish company to purchase 4 ice breaking ships. This would help alleviate Norilsk's dependance on Murmansk Sea Shipping to clear shipping routes during the winter months. The Melbourne Hearld Sun, in an article yesterday, polled international resource experts attending the JP Morgan Metals and Mineral Conference on which metals they felt would most likely outperform during the next year. Nickel received the majority of the votes with 37%, with zinc at 20% and copper at 17%. The Thailand Stainless Steel Association posted an appeal calling for more stainless steel fabricators to assist it with domestic demand. Projecting demand of stainless steel would hit 18.5% this year, and an estimated 20% next year, an advisor to the organization called for an additional 1000 fabricators.
11/21 - LME analysts tell Reuters the next few weeks could be interesting for nickel as the room is still open for further correction, but that all signs indicate nickel is in an upward market. LME nickel closed at $5.34/lb after a day of up and down trading.
11/24 - While little movement is expected this week, LME nickel closed up on speculative buying at $5.48/lb. Flaconbridge announcd today it will begin formal negotiations with its largest union on December 1st.
11/25 - ThyssenKrupp of Germany, the world's largest producer of stainless steel, announced that while China is the single largest consumer of stainless steel, it could soon beat Europe as the single largest continental user. Combined usage of European countries is approx 3.3 million tons per year, while China is currently using approx 2.6 million tons. With the anticipated growth in China expected to exceed 7%, Europe, which has always lead the way in stainless steel production and usage, could become second to China. LME nickel was selling up this AM.
11/25 - LME nickel closes at $5.42/lb.
11/26 - In anticipation of the US Thanksgiving holiday, trading was light in all LME metals today. Nickel rose to $5.46/lb on better than expected economic news from the US. Taiwan's Industrial Fastener Institute advised its members that a recent trip to the US revealed fastener inventories were low and with the recovering economy, they anticipated exports of fasteners to increase in the coming months. They also predicted the presidential election would help stimulate further growth in the economy. Our next update will come 12/1. Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers!.
12/1 - LME nickel regained all of its adjustment over the past few weeks and closed at the $12,500/tonne range. This puts the closing price at $5.66/lb - only a few pennies shy of the highest peak its hit this year and the 14 year record. Traders are nervously watching the Falconbridge union negotiations which started today with the union making threats in the media.
12/2 - LME nickel kept climbing, closing today at $5.69/lb. It is now only $35/tonne shy of a setting a new 14 year record.

Stainless steel and specialty steel consume 90% of world processed ferrochrome. South Africa accounts for 60% of the world's production.

12/3 - LME nickel had an erratic day, rising, then falling, then rising again. At day's end, nickel closed at a new 14 year high, ending at $5.81/lb.
12/4 - After breaking a new record high yesterday, LME nickel settled down today and closed at $5.76/lb. Nickel averaged $3.26/lb last December.
12/5 - On news both parties at the Falconbridge negotiations were talking tough, LME nickel rebounded and closed at $5.81/lb.
12/8 - LME nickel soared in early morning trading, jumping to its highest level since May 1989, hitting the $13M/tonne mark ($5.89/lb).
12/8 - LME nickel closes day at $5.83/lb.
12/9 - Unless you own a nickel mine, the daily news of 14 year record high prices for nickel, can become redundant and depressing. In early trading this AM, LME nickel hit $5.99/lb, with some analysts looking at $6.80, as a very attainable selling price in the future. While molybdenum is more stabile, having witnessed smaller increases in the last month, 316 stainless steel prices are also rising, in lieu of their nickel content.
12/9 - The Cru Monitor is advising ferrochrome prices will increase an additional 7cents/lb in the first quarter of 2004, due in part to continued depreciation overseas of the US dollar. They advise molybdenum is also approaching the $7.00/lb mark again, due in part to disruptions in supply.
12/9 - LME nickel remained strong throughout the trading day, closing at $6.00/lb.
12/10 - LME nickel scored another 14-1/2 year record high, selling at $13,415/tonne before settleing down to close at $5.99/lb.
12/10 -
Allegheny Ludlum Products announces revised stainless steel raw material surcharges to offset steep climb in nickel.
12/11 - LME nickel was quiet in early morning trading today. Markets are keeping a keen eye on union negotiations at Falconbridge. With supply so tight and analysts still predicting a 30M tonne deficit in nickel production next year, the mere thought of a possible strike at Falconbridge, which supplies 5% of the world's nickel, has traders very jittery.
12/11 - LME nickel traded quietly today, closing at $5.95/lb.
12/12 - In early morning trading, LME nickel regained a few pennies from yesterday. Molybdenum at $6.85/lb.
12/12 - LME nickel ended the wekk by - no surprise - breaking a new record high. LME nickel closed the week at $6.12/lb as traders are getting more edgey about the union talks at Falconbridge.
12/15 - LME nickel stayed put, closing at $13,500/tonne or $6.12/lb. While traders do not expect too much to happen in this market before the first of the year, much hinges on the Falconbridge union negotiations. One trader told Reuters fundamentals looked strong to as high as $16M/tonne.
12/15 - Taiwan is starting to see the first signs of extreme nervousness in the stainless steel industry, though in no way limited to stainless fasteners. As stainless products continue to increase dramatically in price, end users are beginning to order heavily. In turn, this forces the manufacturers to go back to the mill for more stainless wire and rod. This week, major stainless rod producers in Taiwan announced they were running at full tilt, and were not quoting additional wire rod orders. Even those manufacturers offering higher prices are being turned down. Further increases in prices for stainless steel products coming from the Far East are a safe bet. Delays in shipments is now a real possibility. 2004 is taking shape to be a difficult year, at least in the first half, for stainless steel products, including fasteners.
12/16 - If you are in the minerals business, you are a very happy person. If you use minerals or any of their end products, you've seen better days. Nickel has done nothing but go up since the fall of last year, and it continues today, reaching another 14 year record high at $14, 350/tonne before cooling off to close at $6.48/lb, in itself a new record closing price. One analyst warned that this huge increase was too far from reality and that the market was setting itself for a huge drop. (webmaster opinion - While this may be true, the fundamentals still are very strong and with a looming deficit predicted in nickel for next year, any forseeable drop due to a quick agreement at Falconbridge or other reason would not be below November levels - thus ensuring a continuation of higher stainless prices.)
The National Post, in an article published today, quotes analysts with Canaccord CapitalCorp and Merrill Lynch predicting average prices for 2004 to be $5.45 and $5.15/lb respectively. This compares to $3.23/lb in January 2003.
12/17 - LME nickel started another  trading day, literally out of control.  As a fresh input of speculative fund buying hit early morning trading, nickel soared to $15,138/tonne before calming down a little to $15M/tonne ($6.80/lb). - note the all time record high for nickel was $8.17 in April 1988. Nickel's historical effect on stainless

12/17 - LME nickel closes at $6.62/lb.
12/18 - LME nickel traded higher this morning, but unlike the first 3 days of this week, did not appear to be going to break another 14-1/2 year record. Stainless steel production in 2004, already planned to grow next year, will now grow higher, as another country fast becomes a major player. The Indian Stainless Steel Development Association was advised by the Indian Army that it has plans to use stainless steel in some major architectural applications in the upcoming years. The ISSDA has stated this will cause a major boost in domestic stainless steel production. India has already been classified by some market watchers as one of the fastest growing stainless markets in the world, and already a major supplier to China.
12/18 - LME nickel closed at $6.72/lb.... and while not hitting a new record high for the day, it would classify as a new record closing price in 14 years. Trading accelerated after better than expected economic news from the US. Worth watching - with China being the leading force in nickel consumption due to its insatiable appetite for stainless, it is worth keeping an eye on the reports coming out of Taiwan of a newly discovered case of SARS. While the patient was a doctor who was researching the disease, and most everyone that has come into contact with the indivual is now quarantined, any outbreak in this region could cause nervousness in the business market and could indirectly cause pessimism in the nickel markets.
12/18 - The Australian Herald Sun is quoting some interesting findings by Macquarie Research and predicting we are far from seeing the end of nickel's bull run. Factors include a 46M/tonne deficit they predict for next year's world market(most others predict 30M/tonne but all agree it will be a major deficit in the supply of nickel to demand), inventories below that which were seen during the 1980's when prices soared to $19M/tonne, "absolutely no prospect" of the shortage being eased before 2006, and a 9.7% increase in world stainless production this year.
12/19 - LME nickel ends week at $6.76/lb.
12/22 - LME nickel traded up, closing just under the $15,000/tonne mark at $6.80/lb.


Nickel Pricing 1999 - 2003
courtesy London Metal Exchange statistics  

12/23 - LME nickel hits new 14-1/2 year high in early AM trading, hitting $15,725/tonne.
12/23 - LME nickel trading ended at a new record high, ending the day at $7.08/lb. This gain was mostly due to an influx of fund buying. Traders are expecting the bubble to burst at any time with some market corrections overdue. The relative strength index on nickel is presently sitting at 95%, with anything over 75% reflecting an overbought market. And while market watchers predict a correction is due, no one has dared to predict we have seen the end of record breaking prices.
12/24 - Bucking the news that the metal is overbought, LME nickel crossed the $16M/tonne mark in early morning trading. Closed at $7.14/lb. Trading to return 12/29.
12/29 - LME nickel continues its upward spiral, closing today at $7.53/lb ($16,400/tonne). .


Employing nearly 1/4 of the 230,000 inhabitants of the closed city of Norilsk, the Norilsk Nickel company and its head Vladimir Potanin, usually get whatever they want. Thus, the victory by a former plant labor leader over the hand picked candidate of the mining giant in the city's October mayoral race, came as a stunning surprise. Valery Melnikov had actually gathered the largest percentage of votes in a May poll, but spent the summer fighting Norilsk to have his name put on the ballot. The election committee, controlled in part by the nickel plant and its parent company Interros, finally certified Melnikov the winner of the race on Oct 29th, while announcing it would take him to court for exceeding campaign spending limits. While it is apparent to everyone that Norilsk Nickel will do whatever it can to ensure Melnikov does not become the mayor of its city, Melnikov has given them reason to be concerned. He told The Moscow Times that the top priority of his administration will be to squeeze more money out of Norilsk Nickel and that the company's leader and one of Russia's richest men, Potanin, should stay out of his way.

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