|LME nickel is trading softly this morning, falling back to $5.08/lb.
|Metals market was rocky today as prices gained as quickly as they had
lost yesterday, and then settled down. LME nickel ended the day at
$5.10/lb. We predicted a few week's ago that
we felt the market would settle down to the $5/lb range - took longer than
we predicted but hopefully we won't see any more major increases in the near
* Thanks to strong sales from its recently acquired Bethlehm Steel,
The International Steel Group reported earnings of $70.9 million during the
first quarter, compared to a loss during the same period last year of $2.3
* Tally Metals increases price of stainless 3-5% effective May 3rd.
Tally is a division of Carpenter Technology, which announced a net income
of $9.5 million in the first quarter of 2004, compared to $1.7 million in
the first quarter of 2003.
* LME nickel gained some ground this morning as investor's jumped
in after yesterday's massive sell-off. Feeling the market was over-sold,
nickel jumped to $5.41/lb by mid morning.
|* Metals hit the panic mood today after Rueters published an interview
it had done with China Premier Wen Jiablo, who stated China would take forceful
actions to cool its economy. LME nickel ended the day at
* Mining company stocks took a beating today as metals prices fall.
* Is China entering the "Year of the Burn-out". Business Week examines
the Chinese economy in an interesting article
Could make a big difference in future stainless prices.
* AK Steel adds manganese to its stainless steel surcharges. Allegheny
Ludlum already has a surcharge for manganese but it only affects 200
series stainless steel.
* While metals markets are nervous about tightening Chinese credit,
some steelmakers are telling stockholders that they expect the growth in
China to continue, keeping production and pricing levels high, and inventories
tight. China consumed nearly 1/3 of all the steel produced in the world in
* Japan's largest steelmaker, Nippon Steel, reported profits of $380
million dollars in the first quarter of 2004, compared to a 2003 loss of
$470 million dollars.
* LME nickel continues to slide as concerns grow stronger that China
is putting the brakes on its economy. LME nickel was at $5.07/lb in early
|LME nickel ended today's trading at
* China's business newspaper, The Standard, is reporting China's stockpile
of steel products increased by 40% during the 1st quarter of the year. This
news will not make traders happy, and could mean the country may be facing
over production, which could lead to a glut of product and factory closures.
They also quote J.P. Morgan's analyst, Henry Kwon, who is predicting
China steel prices will remain strong and peak during the 2nd or 3rd quarter
* U.S. Mint increases prices on collector coin's for the first time
since 1998, due to increasing costs in silver, nickel, zinc and copper.
* I add incidents of metal's theft to this log, not only to give you
an idea of how bad it really is out there, but some of them are just hard
to believe. Russian media is now reporting a 30 meter tall (98 feet tall
), 9 ton radar tower was stolen from one of their (not so) secret miltary
bases last week. Since the base was so secret, employee's on the base
are suspected of cutting it down and selling it for scrap. Utah is seeing
a rash of boat stainless steel propellor thefts, although officials doubt
they are being sold for scrap. Union City. CA officials are angry that scavengers
are stealing metals from city recycling bins and wants a law to make stealing
their trash a crime??
* Interesting analysis of the shift's in world steel production over
* AK Steel increases surcharge on carbon steel from $97 per ton in
April to $120 per ton for shipments beginning May 1st. The transactional
price, which increased by $150 per ton in April, remained unchanged.
* US Steel reports first quarter profits of $58 million, compared to
a loss of $38 million during the first quarter of 2003.
* LME nickel continues to slide, selling at $5.17/lb, it's lowest level
since last October, and surprising analyst's. China could start buying again
at these lower prices. Imports of nickel had fallen by over half in the first
three months of 2004, as China turned to lower grades of stainless and used
up nickel stockpiles. How much China buys could be a determining factor in
where nickel goes from here.
|The analyst's may still be predicting higher nickel prices, but the market
isn't buying it - yet, anyway. LME nickel closed down at
* Norando, Canada's largest mining company and 59% holder of Falconbridge,
the world's 3rd largest nickel producer, announced its net income had risen
to $153 million dollars in the first quarter of 2004 compared to $40 million
loss this time last year. It also reported that the cost to produce a pound
of nickel was averaging $2.60/$2.95/lb, depending on the facility.
* For all you steel users wondering why your prices went up so fast,
one factor is China's demand for raw material's. China's steel output reached
nearly 61-1/2 million tons in the first 3 quarters of 2004, up 26% over the
same period last year. Official statistics from Bejing also show sales at
China's 66 major steel companies were up nearly 72% ($29.19 billion) and
profits rose 126% ($2.4 billion) over the same period.
* Scrap Magazine is publishing Access Economics Pty of Australia's
forecasts of future metal prices. Nickel is predicted to be at $6.53/lb by
June and $6.00/lb by December 2004. It is unknown if these predictions were
published before the fall experinced last week.
* Macquarie Bank of Australia isn't convinced we've seen the end
of higher nickel prices. It credits some of the lowering in demand due to
China using old stocks and shifting to lower grade stainless. As old stocks
deplete, Macquarie predicts buyers will re-enter the market and
drive prices back up.
* International Nickel Study Group revises its prediction for 2004,
lowering the projected nickel deficit from 30M/tonnes to 20M.
* LME nickel was quiet in early morning trading, bucking the trend
of most metals that were selling higher. Nickel was at $5.40/lb.
|Top 5 Steel Mfg Countries of 2003
||Top 10 Nickel Producing Companies / 2003
3. United States
5. South Korea
4. BHP Billiton
10. Murrin Murrin
|(source International Steel Association)
(source Macquarie Research)
|LME nickel ended the week at $5.44/lb
* China confirms first SARS fatality since last July. Last years SARS
outbreak had a major negative economic impact on China and killed 744 people
* Nucor Steel reported first quarter earnings of $113 million, compared
to $17.8 million last year. AK Steel announced Tuesday that it also turned
a profit in the first quarter, but without the sale of its subsidiary, Douglas
Dynamics, it would have lost money. Carpenter Technology saw its net income
increase from $1.7 million to $9.5 million, comparing Jan thru March 2003
to 2004. For the most part many US steel manufacturers are reaping the benefits
of increased use and higher prices. Still others, do not appear to be benefiting
financially from the booming market.
* LME nickel stocks increased by 288 metric tons yesterday, after falling
216 tonnes since Monday.
* LME nickel opened quietly, selling at $5.51/lb in early morning trading.
Some traders are predicting nickel has fallen too low and recommending buyers
take advantage. We'll see.
|For the second day in a row, buyers stayed quiet until nickel fell below
$12M/tonne, then they bought. Nickel closed the day at
* Allegheny Technologies announces it lost $50.4 million in the first
quarter of 2004 compared to a loss of $27.1 million last year.
* Universal Stainless & Alloy Products of Bridgeville, PA announces
it made a profit of $277M in the first quarter of 2004, compared to a loss
of $584M during the same period of last year. Universal Stainless is a specialty
* Overseas buyer says he has seen 316 stainless fasteners jump an
additional 20% in price since last week.
* Higher molybdenum prices will cause 316 stainless prices to continue
to rise, but it's good news for U.S. based Phelps Dodge, the world's largest
producer. Their mine near Henderson, Colorado, produces more moly than any
other mine in the world. Molybdenum is currently selling at
$16/lb...approximately 8X what it was 2 years ago.
* Is this the beginning of the end of high nickel
prices? Will China be successful in slowing down its economy, and
how much does it really want to? Would higher interest rates really slow
the U.S. economy? How much stonger will the U.S. dollar get? With mines producing
as much nickel as they can, will the increase offset the predicted deficit
this year? Will higher prices turn away stainless buyers and lower nickel
demand? Or will any disaster, natural or man made, disrupt the critical flow
of nickel worldwide? If you can predict the answers to these questions, among
others, then you'll have your answer. We'll keep our fingers crossed, but
we don't advise you hold your breath.
* Inco reported its net earnings for the first quarter of 2004 were
$229 million, compared to $64 million during the same period of last year.
Under Canadian accounting principles, called GAAP, the figures would be $229
million this year compared to $33 million last year.
* LME nickel was untraded in early morning trading, sitting at $5.60/lb.
At one point in yesterday's trading, nickel got as low as $5.33/lb.
|With the US dollar strengthening, continuing news that China is trying
to slow down its economy, and Greenspan's remark's potentially slowly the
US economy, LME metals took a big hit. Nickel closed at
$5.60/lb, with the additional news from Norilsk.
That is the lowest so far this year, and lowest since December 1, 2003.
* Inco advised stockholders that its new Voisey Bay mine should start
shipping orders by the latter part of next year. They also advised they would
have an update on the development of the Goro Project in New Caledonia by
* Interesting article on issues facing China
* Norilsk announces it may sell an additional 15,000 tonnes above
what it reported last week.
* Greenspan, testifying before Congress, hinted even harder today
that higher interest rates were close at hand for US business.
* PBS Nova program "World in the Balance" aired last evening ,revealing
some aspects of the amazing growth China has seen in the last 20 years. While
program theme was pollution, one of the many interesting facts revealed included
that in 1995 there were 2 million cars in China. Today, there are over 20
million, and one car manufacturer executive interviewed, reported his company
is expecting an 80% increase in sales this year. The Chinese people, still
under Communist rule, are beginning to share similar dreams to Westerner's.
Their rate of growth, however, is causing worldwide problems of supply/demand
from metals to oil to food.
* All metals traded on the LME were down this morning on renewed strength
in the US dollar. Nickel was selling at $5.71/lb.
|LME nickel closed the trading day at
* Market analyst's begin analyzing what Greenspan said today, after
Greenspan hinted banks were ready for a rate hike (interest rate). Some think
it will happen immediately while many others think more economic data is
necessary before Greenspan will make any definitive move. With nothing definitive
coming from the testimony, it will be interesting to see if this has any
affect on the LME metals market tomorrow.
* Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan due to testify today to US Senate
Banking Committee at 2:30 pm Eastern time - tomorrow before Joint Economic
Committee. Metals traders watching closely for interest rate news.
* Nickel trading at $5.81/lb on early morning LME floor.
|LME nickel ended the day at $5.73/lb.
* China's Commerce Dept is reporting the price of China steel was 39.9%
higher during the first quarter of 2004 compared to the same period last
* Confusion in the press surrounds the deal announced 2 weeks ago about
Norilsk Nickel's offer to purchase 20% of a South African gold field. At
first, the Russian government had no comment about why they hadn't been asked
to approve such a deal, now they are investigating it. Norilsk had announced
that Citibank had loaned them $800 million dollars with no collateral required,
and then Citibank advised they had taken a 50M/tonne nickel stockpile as
collateral. This type of stockpile, unreported before now, is making nickel
traders very wary about what the true level of nickel deficit is facing the
world. It is believed Norilsk, usually very secretive about their nickel
operation, originally denied the Citibank report, in an attempt to keep
nickel prices up. As the world's largest producer, Norilsk has the most to
loose by faltering nickel prices.
* Norilsk announced today it will not increase production of
nickel this year. The statement is sketchy about surplus levels, which Norilsk
has been known to keep, and therefore, it is unknown how this statement will
affect LME prices. While most analysts still predict a production deficit
in 2004, recent moves on China's part to slow their economy down has helped
bring nickel pricing down from its earlier high's (although current prices
are much higher than this time in 2003).
* LME nickel opened lower than its Friday close, selling at $5.85/lb.
|Nickel recouped its earlier losses, closing the week at
$5.93/lb, climbing back over the $13/M tonne mark.
* Falconbridge, the world's third largest nickel producer, announced
profits of $184,000,000 for the first quarter of 2004, compared to $38 million
during the same period in 2003. It also announced that the strike had dropped
nickel output during the same period from 27,450 tonnes last year to 26,858
tonnes this year.
* Considering the high prices American manufacturers pay for US made
stainless steel wire, the following make come as a bit of a shock. After
a preliminary investigation, the Canadian government announced that temporary
provisional duties have been attached to imports of stainless steel
wire from 4 countries. Investigations into imports from China and Taiwan
were determined to be unfounded and further investigation into these countries
was dropped. The countries that were determined to be dumping into Canda,
and the temporary duties attached, were Korea (108% duty), Switzerland
(108% duty), the United States (100% duty), and India (6% duty).
Canadian law defines dumping as "Dumping occurs when goods are sold to importers
in Canada at prices that are less than the selling prices in the exporter's
domestic market or at unprofitable prices." Canadian offical's now will conduct
a more thorough investigation and announce a final decision on duties on
* LME nickel selling at $5.70/lb in early morning trading.
|* Good news finally?? LME nickel closed down again today, ending
the day at $5.74/lb. After a sudden increase in
LME inventories of an additional 234 tonnes of nickel, some traders tell
Reuters they expect the slide to continue - to possibly the $5.50/b range.
* LME nickel was selling at $5.77/lb in early morning trading.
|* Bad news for our aluminum customers as LME aluminum hit an 8
year high. LME nickel rebounded a bit, closing at $13,000/tonne or
* Inco reached an agreement with its non production workers today and
the union is recommending its members accept the 3 year contract.
* More good economic news yesterday from US makes metals traders nervous.
Why? The report yesterday that retail sales had jumped by 1.8% in March shows
the economy in the US is on the fast track to recovery. But with this positive
news, comes a fear of inflation and the real pssibility the the US Fed will
raise interest rates to "cool the growth". China has already done this, and
with the US dollar increasing in value, traders are very nervous.
* LME nickel trading at $5.98/lb in mid session.
|* Nickel closed below $6 today for the first time since March 15th,
ending at $5.85/lb. The strengthening US dollar
and higher interest rates in China helped bring prices down. The strengthening
dollar makes investing in metals more expensive, and the raising of interest
rates in China is the Chinese governments attempt to slow down
* The theft of metal to sell as scrap continues with another bizarre
report from Salem, OR that someone stole the metal bleachers from a softball
field. After cutting them up, they attempted to sell the pieces as scrap
- but were arrested. There are also reports from Great Britain and China
that manhole covers are disappearing, causing serious road hazards.
* LME trading resumed this morning after a 4 day break. At mid-day,
nickel was selling at $6.21/lb.
|* How long will the current metals boom last?
* Allegheny Ludlum's new surcharges show a slight drop for May on 304
and 316 stainless. Only the surcharge on iron increased. (the drop in 316
is not expected to last - see last entry)
* Molybdenum took a huge leap last week, thanks once again to China.
Mo03, used in the making of 316 stainless steel was selling at $3.51 at the
beginning of 2003. By the end of last year, it was selling at $6.96/lb. In
January and February of this year, the price was hovering in the high
$7/lb range. In March the price jumped from $7.35/lb to $10.95/lb by month's
closing. Last Monday, April 5th, the price leaped to $14.60 and spent the
entire week on the rise. By week's end it was selling in the $18-$19/lb range.
Expect to see 316 stainless to continue to increase in price.
* LME markets are closed Monday for the Easter holiday and will resume
|* The Freedonia Group's April 2004 report predicts the global demand
for industrial fasteners willrise by 5% per year thru 2008 to $48 billion.
It also predicts China, which accounted for 10% of world fastener consumption
in 2003, will surpass Japan within the next 4 years, to become the second
largest user of fasteners in the world, behind the U.S. Contact the Freedonia
Group to purchase the complete report.
* LME trading is closed for Good Friday
|LME ended the trading day at $6.26/lb.
* In the world of molybdenum mining, Phelps Dodge finally secured 155 acres
in Colorado from the US Bureau of Land Management, that it had filed
a claim on in 1992. Phelps purchased the land from the government under an
1872 Mining Act law and paid the required $5 per acre. Now, after fighting
environmentalist's for years to secure the land, Phelps has announced it
has no intention of building a mine. Before you feel sorry for them, land
in the area is selling for around $1 million dollars an acre. Local and county
officials are screaming 'foul'.
* Bloomberg is reporting that nine metals analyst's polled believe nickel
will average $14,000/tonne ($6.35/lb) through June. For the complete article
and a breakdown of the predicitons, visit
(If this proves true, don't anticipate any lowering of stainless steel
prices thru the next 5 months).
* Yieh Trading Corp is reporting China's top 4 stainless steel producers
have agreed to cut stainless production by 20% for April and May, in an attempt
to drive down raw material cost's.
* Very little activity is expected on the LME trading floor today, as traders
prepare for a 4 day holiday, beginning tomorrow. In early trading, LME nickel
was at $6.26/lb.
In 2003, China produced 23% of the world's steel, and
|LME nickel traded quietly, as traders prepared for a 4 day weekend beginning
Friday. Ended the day at $6.31/lb.
* LME nickel selling at $6.43/lb in early morning trading.
|Nickel on the LME trading floor re-gained its losses from yesterday and
closed at $6.49/lb.
* Inco is in negotiations with non production employee's over a new labor
contract, due to expire on April 15th. United Steelworkers of America, which
also represented production employee's in their strike last year, is representing
the non-production employee's. It is unclear if production workers would
honor their counter-parts picket line, should a strike be called. As the
world's second largest producer of nickel, any disruption to nickel production
at Inco, could be serious to world nickel prices (Update - Union says production
workers would be allowed to cross picket line if non-production members were
* WMC Resources CEO Andrew Michelmore advised investors at the company's
annual meeting today, that the market could not sustain nickel prices above
$6/lb for much longer, or the high costs could have a long term negative
impact on the industry. He also advised he would like to see prices stay
in the $4 to $6 range. WMC is one of the top 5 producers of nickel in
* The Deutsche Bank has revised its forecast for 2004-5 metal's prices. It
anticipates nickel will average $6.28/lb in 2004 and $5.35/lb for 2005.
* Eramet is predicting China will use about 35% of the world's specialty
metals, 30% of its carbon steel, and 25% of the world's stainless this
* LME nickel opened higher this morning, selling at $6.41/lb.
|* LME nickel tumbled today as the US dollar strengthened against the
Euro. Closed at $6.28/lb.
* Reports from Zimbabwe that 36 tonnes of platinum have been hijacked
and disappeared. Last month, hijackers stole 40 tonnes of nickel.
* PT Indonesia (Inco) resident director Bing R Tobing told Antara News that
nickel prices would remain high thru 2004. While PT is involved in litigation
with the Indonesia government over a few of its mines that were forcibully
shut down, Tobing also advised its Indonesia mines would increase production
from 155 to 160 million pounds of nickel this year.
* Canada advises China that it may begin investigation into allegations of
dumping of stainless and steel fasteners into that country from China and
* LME nickel opens the week and trades at $6.45/lb in early morning trading.
|LME nickel closed the week at $6.53/lb.
* Toronto based Rio Narcea Gold Mines Ltd announces its new Spanish nickel
mine is still on target to begin production around Septemeber. In its statement,
Rio reports the mine could add an additional 18 million pounds of nickel
and 11 million pounds of copper per year to the world market.
* One pessimistic analyst's take on nickel over the next 10 years
* Dollar rises against foreign currencies as March employement figures show
308M new U.S. jobs created in March, triple that of Wall Street expectations.
Increases in dollar value usually makes metals traders nervous.
* Universal Stainless announced yesterday that they were raising stainless
steel bar products by 4% for new orders shipped after April 15th.
* LME nickel opened quietly as traders await employement figures to be released
from the U.S. LME nickel was at $6.61/lb in mid-day trading.
Reuters reported one trader as saying "it's unbelievable - the money just
keeps piling in". Funds traders invested heavily this first day of the new
quarter, and drove all metals up, including nickel which closed at
$6.58/lb ($14,500/tonne). Other metals testing
multi-year high's with copper close to an 8 year high, aluminum nearing a
6 year high and tin looking to beat a 14 year record high.
* MEPS is now predicting world stainless steel production to increase by
5.6% in 2004.
* US Public Debt on 3/31/04 - $7,131,067,950,647.32. U.S population -
* LME nickel gained this AM on fresh buying as traders gamble on economic
reports due out of the US today. Selling at $6.42/lb in mid-day trading.
|LME nickel ended the day at $6.35/lb.
* According to the Wall Street Journal, Chinese steel producers are preparing
to set up mills in the U.S., Brazil, and Australia to help it keep up with
its booming steel demand.
* US officials advised the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional
Forum that the Malacca Straits west of Malaysia was a potential target of
terroists. Known as the world's busiest shipping lane, with 1/4 of the world's
shipping trade and up to 50% of shipped oil passing thru the Straits, terroism
experts fear any successful attack in this region could be devastating to
world economic trade.
* The leading importer of stainless steel fasteners in the US, which sells
solely to distributors, is reporting shortages on numerous items.
* Nickel producers are wary of reports China is turning to the production
of lower grade stainless steel by substituting manganese for the higher priced
nickel. This produces the austentitic 201 series stainless. Manganese is
at 7 year high's but still sells from substantially less than nickel - at
around $ .77/ lb.
* For the second year in a row, China was the world's largest non-ferrous
metal manufacturer in 2003. Output of finished copper products rose 32%,
while finished aluminum goods rose by 33%.
* Welcome to our new format. We hope you will find it easier to read. LME
nickel opened slightly softer this AM in light trading, selling at $6.28/lb.
|LME nickel ends the day's trading at
LME nickel softens in early morning trading - at $6.31/lb.
|LME nickel closed at $6.32/lb.
* Japanese Metal bulletin is advising prices on stainless shipping
in May from that country are not increasing and will remain the same
as April shipments. Nickel has fallen off its record high but remains in
the mid $6 range, double that of early 2003. The bulletin also advises we
shouldn't expect to see stainless prices falling anytime soon as chromium
is now increasing.
* South African ferrochrome producers have settled on a 12 cent per lb price
increase for second quarter 2004 shipments. This follows a 7 cent increase
for the first quarter and takes pricing to $ .69/per lb.
* Tally Metals, a subsidiary of Carpenter Technology, announced a
3% increase in stainless steel shipments beginning April 12.
* Nickel bucked the trend of all other early gaining metals in morning trading,
down at $6.29/lb.
Today's LME Nickel Trading Support at N/A and Resistance at N/A
April 2003 comparison figures
Average LME nickel price - $3.59/lb
Allegheny Ludlum Surcharges for April