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Daily Nickel & Stainless Steel Prices
Market Pricing

Worldwide Metal Market News


June 2004


6-30

LME nickel recouped its losses from yesterday, plus some, closing at $6.86/lb.
*   According to petrochemical giant BP, the world's oil reserve will last another 41 years at current level's of production.
*   LME nickel trading is light this AM selling at $6.53/lb at 8:30 AM EST.

6-29

LME nickel dropped on speculation about tomorrow's announcement from the US on the expected increased in the prime lending rate of 1/4 point. Closed down at $6.52/lb
*    LME nickel current price not available this AM, and inventory nudged down yesterday by 78 tonnes to stand at 8,460 tonnes.

6-28

LME nickel closed lower today, ending the day at $6.68/lb.
*    China announces investment into its steel industry increased by 76.6% in the first 5 months of 2004. Steps have been taken to slow this growth down.
*    All eyes are on the Federal Reserve this week as interest rates are expected to increase by at least a quarter point on Wednesday.
*    LME nickel inventories fell by 90 tonnes Friday, and prices were at $6.74/lb at 8:30 AM EST.

6-25

LME nickel ended the day at $6.78/lb.
*    Merrill Lynch lowered its forecast for 2004 nickel prices  from $6.50/lb to $6/lb yesterday. It also estimates nickel in 2005 to run $5.75/lb.
*    Man Financial is advising nickel demand has fallen sharply in China in 2004. While exporting more than double than last year, it has imported nearly 1/2 as much during the first five months of 2004.
*    LME nickel was selling at $6.78/lb at 8:30 EST. Nickel inventories lost 90 tonnes yesterday, after its first increase in weeks the day before.

6-24

Trading on nickel was erratic today, with an early sell-off, then investors bought in. In the end, prices gained to end at $6.79/lb.
*   YUSCO of Taiwan has announced to its customers that there will be a price increase on stainless steel for July - with the exact increase yet to be determined.
*   LME inventories of nickel grew for the first time in weeks, gaining 744 tonnes to hit 8,724 tonnes of stock. This morning LME nickel seems to be in flux, and was at $6.68/lb at 8:30 EST

6-23

News LME nickel inventories actually grew today but the market shrugged it off, closing at $6.77/lb.
*   According to Scrap Magazine, JP Morgan has lowered their 2004 forecast for nickel from $6.97/lb to $5.97/lb. SG is advising we may see nickel prices climb back to the $6.80/lb range, possibly by the last quarter of the year. And the HSBC Bank offers $5.75/lb as their forecast  average price for 2004.
*   Nickel inventories dropped below 8M tonnes to 7,980 yesterday. After some profit taking early, LME nickel rebounded to sell at $6.75/lb by 8:30 EST.

6-22

LME nickel took a small step back, but traaders are saying its only a short pause in an otherwise climbing market. Ended the day at $6.72/lb.
*     Norilsk Nickel also announced the port of Dudinka has re-opened! This could make some traders nervous.
*     Norilsk Nickel Deputy CEO Leonid Rozhetsky told a news conference yesterday that nickel prices will stay high for a long time without any significant fluctuations. He said Norilsk is considering if it would be appropriate to expand production in 2005.
*     LME nickel inventories fell another 276 tonnes yesterday and now sits at 8,022 tonnes. Pricing at 8:30 EST was at $6.77/lb.

6-21

LME nickel ends the day at $6.75/lb.
*     The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics predicts nickel mine production is expected to increase 3.2% in the next 12 months. It is also predicting the current upswing in prices will continue in the latter half of 2004.
*    Yahoo Finance has published an article this AM quoting some new price predictions for nickel. They are also advising that 1,464 tonnes of the 8,298 tonnes we listed this morning as LME inventory is cancelled warrant - meaning it doesn't exist and will be removed in the coming days. With the current usage sucking nearly 1000 tons a week, and a nearly 1500 ton write-off approaching, you can understand why experts are calling the current inventory levels "critical". ANZ Investment Bank is predicting the current up-trend in pricing will exceed the Jan 6 high of $8.06/lb. Macquarie Research, one of the most well known and respected research group's, is now predicitng nickel will average $6.80 to $7.70/lb during the next 6 - 12 months, but even they admit "the sky is the limit" in the panic market we are witnessing. Both expect downward adjustements, as the market is overheating, but they estimate these adjustements will be temporary. If this proves true, then the slight decreases we are now starting to see overseas in stainless steel pricing will end, and we could see stainless steel climb even higher by winter. 
*    Nickle opened the week strong again this week after stocks of LME nickel fell 186 tonnes Friday to 8,298/tonnes. These low levels were last seen in October 1991, and some industry experts say they are reaching "critically" low levels. Selling at $6.85/lb at 8:30 EST.

6-18

Bulls had the morning, with bears taking the afternon. LME nickel ended the day and week at $6.62/lb, 13% higher than it ended last week.
*    LME nickel continues its bull run this morning as inventories slip again, now down to 8,484 tonnes after another 270 were taken yesterday. At 8:30 am EST, nickel was at $6.70/lb.

6-17

The bulls took complete control of the nickel market today, driving prices up to end the day at $6.32/lb. The market only showed it got nervous when prices went over $14/M tonne. This is the first time since early April nickel has sold over $6/lb and does not bode well for future stainless steel prices.
*   Nickel mine in Australia reporting mine ventilation problems - setting back production by 2 weeks.
*   LME nickel inventories fell again yesterday, falling by 252 tonnes to 8,754. Another decline in stock has driven prices higher this AM with nickel selling at $6.04/lb at 8:30 am EST.

6-16

LME nickel prices rode a roller coaster ride today and ended at $5.82/lb.
*    US Dollar recovers after falling yesterday.
*    LME nickel stocks fell again yesterday by 258 tonnes, and now inventories sit at 9,006 tonnes. Current LME price unavailable.

6-15

After some morning profit taking and news of a falling dollar, LME nickel regained what it had lost and closed at $5.85/lb.
*   The Specialty Steel Industry of North America announced that consumption of stainless steel rose 8% in the first quarter of 2004 compared to the same period of 2003. Imports took a 23% market share of US comsumption. The International Stainless Steel Forum reports production of stainless steel rose by 6.3% worldwide in the first quarter of 2004. Asia's 15% growth was the largest while North and South America production grew at 5.3%.
*   For all you steel users, Nucor announced its second quarter earnings will be higher, thanks to "increased margins" and continued high demand, in a statement by President DiMicco, and quoted by Reuters. Nucor is America's largest steelmaker.
*   Thank China for the high chromium prices. In the first quarter of this year, they imported 119,000 tons compared to 89,000 tons the entire prior year.
*   LME nickel inventories slipped lower Monday, down 90 tonnes to 9,264 tonnes. Finally buckling to pressure caused by the higher US dollar, nickel is selling lower this AM, at $5.72/lb at 8:30 EST. Market will watch Greenspan's testimony to the US Senate closely today for hints about interest rate increases.

6-14

Nickel remained strong and ended the day at $5.85/lb.
*    People's Bank of China denies reports of impending interest rate hike.  States rate will only be considered if consumer price index hit 5%; currently at 4.4%.  
*    China stock market slips on fears of interest rate hikes in both US and China. If these fears are felt in London, we may see a temproary downward correction in LME nickel.
*    LME nickel remains strong in early Monday trading, selling at $5.80 at 9 am EST. LME inventories are now down to 9,354 tonnes.

6-11

LME closes the week at $5.78/lb.
*    Molybdenum, used in 316 stainless, is up again, selling at $16.35/lb.
*    US dollar hits 3 week high but nickel traders shrugs this off and increase price.
*    Some industry analysts are predicting we may see another price spike in nickel, before falling again. Low stockpiles are playing a key part in this prediction, as well as an increase in funds investment. 
*    South African ferrochrome producers, supplying over 3/5th's of the world's supply, have advised they will be asking for increases of up to 15% for third quarter shipments. This would put prices in the $.78/lb range. Chromium makes up 18% of 300 series stainless steel.
*    The recent evacuation of foreigners from Inco's Indonesia nickel mine will end soon, as police announce the arrest of a dentist who admitted making the "terrorist" threats because he feared he would lose his job to a foreigner. Inco had taken the death threats seriously, as had the Indonesia governement, which increased security at the mine with hundreds of additional police. Approximately 50 Australian and Canadian mine employee's had left the country upon the advice of their embassies but the alert is expected to be cancelled.
*    Falconbridge has service maintenance scheduled at its Sudbury operation beginning in late June and lasting for 7 to 8 weeks.
*    LME nickel was selling at $5.72/lb at 8:30 EST. Nickel inventories available thru the LME fell below 10M tonnes to 9,732 tonnes. This is nearing the record low of 8304 tonnes, hit on March 20, 2001.

6-10

US dollar lost some of its value today, and this with the news from WMC drove nickel prices higher, closing at $5.70/lb.
*   May factory production figures from China lend support that the country is successfully slowing down its economy without crashing, as some had feared. For the first time in 4 months, China claims it exported more than it imported.
*   WMC Resources is shutting down on of its neckel smelters for 2 weeks for maintenance later this month. While it states this will not affect their annual production, this unscheduled shutdown, during a period when Norilsk is unable to ship, will not make traders feel an easier about nickel supplies.
*   LME nickel rebounded this AM, opening at $5.31/lb and currently at $5.56/lb. Inventories fell yet again, and nearly below the 10M/tonne mark - currently at 10,020 tonnes. A month ago, inventories were at nearly 15M tonnes, with a gradual drop every day since.

6-9

A surge in the dollar against the euro, up 1.6% by noon EST, brought nickel prices down, closing at $5.42/lb.
*    Reuters quoted Falconbridge as predicting prices on nickel will increase again, before heading back down.
*    LME nickel was trading lower this AM after US Federal Reserve Greenspan made remarks yesterday stating the Fed is ready to raise interest rates. Selling at $5.58/lb. Nickel inventories continue to fall, loosing 660 tonnes yesterday to reach 10,170 tonnes. This steady decline is very concerning to traders.

6-8

Nickel remained strong, closing on the LME trading floor at $5.59/lb.
*   Scrap Magazine is quoting Barclay's Capital as predicting nickel will average $6.58/lb in the third quarter. Not good news for stainless users.
*   LME nickel was selling at $5.61/lb at 8:30 am EST. LME nickel inventory falls below 11M tonnes to 10,830. With falling inventories, strong demand, and Norilsk shipments sidelined by seasonal floods, prices remain strong.

6-7

Nickel on the LME sold higher today. Nickel closed at $5.53/lb.
*    Norilsk Nickel releases information on its proven and probable nickel reserves for the first time in its history. The report gives the amount of proveable nickel reserves  at the Talnakhsky deposit to be 5.335 million tonnes and puts the probable at 4.484 million tonnes. At the Zhdanovsky deposit add an additional 1.302 million tonnes of proveable nickel reserves and 466M tonnes of probable.
*    LME nickel opened higher this AM selling for $5.53/lb. Inventories continue to fall, now sitting at 11,016 tonnes.

6-4

Nickel on the LME exchange ended the day and week at $5.45/lb.
*   On a lighter note, was I the only one looking for a giant asteroid in the sky last night after the CIA Director announced his resignation for reasons as lame as  those given in the movie "Deep Impact"?
*   The Taiwan-Mainland China relationship, never good, seems to be getting more sour. Annual military games, to be held in June by China, has Taiwan overly nervous, and now rumors of possibly trade embargo's against Taiwan has investor's nervous. Taiwan claims it is independent of China, while the latter holds that Taiwan is a rogue state that could be militarily brought "back into the fold". While past administration's have publically backed Taiwan, President Bush, last year, told Taiwan he did not recognize their independence. While it is doubtful anything serious will come of it, it is the modern day David & Goliath scenario. With much of the worlds supply of stainless steel fasteners coming from these two nations, it is worth noting..   
*   LME nickel was lower in early morning trading, selling at $5.45/lb. Nickel inventories at LME continue to fall, now at 11,124 tonnes.

6-3

LME nickel regained some of its losses from yesterday, closing at $5.53/lb.
*     Allegheny Ludlum announces it has completed the acquisition of J&L Specialty Steel. This now leaves 3 dominating producers of stainles stele in the US...Allegheny, AK Steel, and North American Stainless.
*     Those propane trucks that the FBI put a national alert on yesterday, were recovered late yesterday.
*    World's 10th largest container line, China Shipping Container Lines Co Ltd, says it expects container freight rates to climb 11-13% this year, as demand continues to exceed supply.
*    LME nickel is at $5.54/lb in early morning trading, although the Kitco graph above does not appear to be working. LME nickel inventories fell again yesterday, to 11,190 tonnes.

6-2

News out of China and Greenspan's remarks on rate hikes spooked the market and LME nickel fell to close at $5.42/lb.
*    The FBI put out a national alert Tuesday for two propane trucks, stolen sometime over the holiday weekend in Texas, and all of the major media outlet's pick up the story. The week earlier ,hardly anyone noticed when NASA reported it can not account for $2,000,000,000 of taxpayer's money! We live in complicated times.
*   China's Ministry of Commerce has posted on their web site a prediction that their economy will grow at 9.8% during the first half of 2004, above the 7% target set by government officials who are attempting to slow the rate of growth down. In 2003 the economy grew 9.1%. On the other hand, and more important to the nickel market, Asia Pulse is reporting experts predict stainless growth in China may drop to 5% during the next few years, after a phenomenal growth of 30.72% over the past 3 years.
*   Molybdenum is moving back up, selling at $14.12/lb yesterday. This is not good news for 316 Stainless users.
*   LME nickel opened morning trading at $5.62/lb. Nickel inventories on the London Metal Exchange fell slightly yesterday, down to 11,376 tonnes.


6-1

After an inital spurt of fund buying drove markets higher this morning, LME nickel prices went into limbo, closing at $5.63/lb.
*    US crude oil closed at $42.38 a barrel, an all time high. If you dont see the increase at the pumps tonight, you will tomorrow.
*    POSCO of South Korea announces its first price cut this year on 300 series stainless, advising prices will be cut by 7.6% effective on shipments made in mid June.
*    Report by International Energy Agency "Analysis of the Impact of High Oil Prices on the Global Economy" pdf
*    Economic news out of US today shows a mixed bag. The good news is factory employement is way up, Reuters reporting a 31 year record high. Construction, as well as planned corporate lay-off's, was also up. US crude oil hit a 21 year record, at $41 per barrell. And the healthy economic news is about guaranteeing a interest rate hike laster this month.
*    LME nickel soared in early morning trading, opening the week and month at $5.68/lb. Much of this is fresh investment from funds, common at the beginning of each month, but in light of weekend terrorist activity in Saudi Arabia, it is doubtful this sharp increase will continue or last long. Nickel market does remain strong however, as LME nickel inventories fell again Friday to 11,442 tonnes.  


Why do nickel prices matter in regards to stainless steel? Our article.

June 2003 comparison figures
Average LME nickel price - $4.03/lb

Allegheny Ludlum Surcharges for May

Nickel Chrome

Moly

Iron

2003
2004

304

.1526
.3677

.0099
.0821

NA

0
.0386

2003
2004

316

.1908
.4596

.0088
.073

.0476
.2654

0
.0375

arrow denotes price comparison to prior month

courtesy Allegheny Ludlum


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