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Daily Nickel & Stainless Steel Prices
Market Pricing

Worldwide Metal Market News

August  2004

(Closing day price details - see bottom)


LMe nickel ended the day at $5.88/lb.
*    Nickel inventories on the LME swelled Friday, gaining 1032 tonnes. In response, nickel trading this morning is erratic, with traders trying to find a direction.


*    Molybdenum oxide continues to sell at record high's and John Redstone, an analyst with Desjardins Securities in Montreal, told Bloomberg he expects prices to be around $14/lb for the next few years. Not good news for 316 stainless steel users.
*    Sydney Morning Herald quotes LME broker Triland Metals as stating Friday's sell off was due to the market heavy fund and technical selling amid thin conditions, and Triland predicted further erratic price movements.
*    Yieh is reporting shipping charges increased to a four month high as China's strong appetite for coal and steel continues.
*    LME nickel markets are closed to day as Great Britain celebrates its Summer Bank Holiday.


LME nickel dropped as low as $5.75/lb, before rebounding a little and closing the day, and week, at $5.84/lb. The London Metal Exchange will be closed on August 30th for Great Britain's Summer Bank Holiday.
*    China state media announced Thursday that Bejing had ordered continued credit curbs on projects in the steel industry, among others, as these sectors were still growing too fast despite actions taken to slow it down.
*    With the addition of 552 tonnes into the LME inventory yesterday, nickel is selling below $6/lb this morning but has found some buying interest. Are we headed for $5.50/lb yet?


LME nickel ends the day at $6.05/lb.
*   Allegheny Ludlum published surcharges for September shipments show 304 stainless is a total of .6065, compared to .2156 in Sept 2003, and on 316 stainless it runs a total of .9855 compared to .3109 this time last year.
*   Mincor Resources of Australia announced yesterday that it intends to boost nickel production by 30% this  fiscal year (July 1) with the addition of 2 new mines coming onstream in the next 5 months. If successful, this would take Mincor's 2004/2005 production to 11,000 tonnes with a 36% increase forecast for 2005/2006 of 15,000 tonnes. While any additional source of nickel in a deficit market is good news, the amounts mentioned will hardly make a dent in the overall nickel deficits forecast for 2005.
*   LME nickel prices are sharply down this morning, nearing the $6/lb mark. Nickel inventories on the LME showed no change yesterday.


LME nickel ended the day at $6.16/lb.
*    Man Metals presents Nickel Outlook August 2004 here
*   Special notice
- Fastener update - As we have reported before, stainless fastener inventories in the U.S. are gradually declining to very concerning levels. The reason is clear. Most of the commercial fasteners distributed in the U.S. are imported. When prices went up in November of last year, many importers started holding off placing large orders, with history showing market rises, while dramatic, rarely last longer than 6 months. This has burnt many an importer in the past, who bought heavily when prices were up, only to see the bottom fall out, sticking them with suddenly over-priced and uncompetitive product. With this lesson in mind, few importers a have purchased heavily since November 2003. In March/April it seemed the prices had topped out and a small decrease was seen on some items. When this happened, even less was purchased by the importers, who could now see any purchase was a gamble that further decreases were coming at anytime. Instead of this decline in stainless fastener prices continuing, nickel prices soared back up and stainless fastener prices froze, or increased yet again. Importers are currently buying what they feel they have too and without this extra cushion, holes in inventory are fast developing.

Now we are at the end of summer and what the market will do in the near future, is anyone's guess. Orders placed overseas now won't hit the States until December, so we can just about guarantee few price decreases before then. Nickel is now staying in the low $6/lb range, which, if this continues, stainless wire might come down in a few months. A lot of this will depend on world demand - if it stays high, then wire manufacturers have less incentive to be generous in their pricing. There is  also little evidence to believe nickel will sell below $5.50/lb for some time. The world is still under a nickel deficit market, and this should continue thru 2005. Nickel mines are maxed out, producing nickel as fast as they can to take advantage of these higher prices, and unless some mine somewhere is stockpiling nickel for some unknown reason, then the LME inventory movements over the past few months give us a fair idea of the deficit situation. Therefore, there is little reason to foresee stainless fastener prices dropping in any great magnitude, if any, in the near future.   

As far as 18-8, or 304 stainless steel fasteners go for the U.S. market, we suggest the buyer take measures to insure their production needs are met, with future price concerns becoming less a gamble than we would normally advise in an up-priced market. The potential for the typical steep declines we have seen in years past, are not materializing in this situation. 316 stainless - forget it. Molybdenum is up over 4X its normal price and prices are still going up overseas.

Our Canadian friends to the north, have additional problems. Not only are they facing the same situation as we Yanks, but their government has already announced they could be socking imported stainless steel fasteners with a tariff, under a threat that some of these duties could be "back dated". For an importer this is an extremely concerning situation and potentially, could force Canadian customers to swallow unrealistic price increases. Canadian importers have even more reason than their U.S. counterparts to hold off making large purchases.

In a nutshell, stainless steel fastener prices should be stabilizing, inventories  are dangerously low, and there is little reason to believe it will get better anytime soon.
*    Nickel inventories in the LME warehouses slipped another 30 tonnes yesterday, and prices are down this morning.


LME nickel ended about where it started today, closing at $6.27/lb.
*   Scrap Magazine reported yesterday that "Forecasts for a global nickel supply deficit have recently been increased, adding to the uncertainty facing both buyers and sellers. Price volatility will likely remain a consistent and constant feature for this LME-based metal." I am attempting to find out who has recently increased their deficit forecasts.  
*   China - a U.S. rival or partner? Interesting article here.
*   LME nickel is slightly up in early morning trading, with nickel inventories falling by 78 tonnes yesterday to slip back under the psychological 10M tonnes.


Nickel on the London Metal Exchange ended lower today, with profit takers bringing the price down to $6.28/lb.
*   China's steel mills have increased their price for the final quarter of 2004. Taiwan mills are expected to follow this week.
*   LME nickel is lower in Monday morning trading. Nickel inventories gained 684 tonnes on Friday to sit at 10,026/tonnes.


LME nickel ended the week on the upside, closing at $6.48/lb.
*    Korean steelmaker POSCO has announced price increases on steel of 6-11%.
*    So far this morning LME nickel price appears to be under some profit taking and is down. Yesterday ,inventories fell by 102 tonnes to sit at 9,342 tonnes.


LME nickel ended up again, closing the second ring at $6.45/lb.
*    Well that militant Shiite in Iraq changed his mind about laying down arms in Iraq... bet you never guess what that means to oil prices today.
*    LME warehoused inventories of nickel gained 684 tonnes yesterday but traders are still optimistic, with prices even higher this morning than yesterday's close.


LME nickel ends the day at $6.40/lb.
*    Australasian Investment Review published an article today "Minor Metals Are Having A Great Time Too". In the article, analysts from GSJB give their estimates of pricing for a few of stainless steel's raw materials for the next few years. For ferrochrome they predict an average price of 72 cents/lb in the 2nd half of 2004, dropping to 65 cents/lb in the first half of 2005, 60 cents/lb in the second half of 2005, and back to its normal average of 42 cents/lb in 2006. For molybdenum, a key element in 316 stainless, they predict average prices of 13/lb for the remainder of 2006 (currently at $18), to $10/lb, to $7.00/lb, and by 2006 resuming its $4.50/lb long term average. Another interesting piece from the article mentions battery makers, worried about the high cost of cobalt, are looking at nickel as a possible substitute. Article here
*    Crude oil went over $47 barrel this morning.
*    In morning trading, nickel prices fell, then climbed, and have now settled down in the area of yesterday's close. LME nickel inventories fell by 96 tonnes yesterday to 8,760 tonnes.


LME nickel ended the day at $6.33/lb.
*    In an MSN special report posted today, "bankruptcy expert Elizabeth Warren of Harvard University points out, more Americans will file for bankruptcy this year than for divorce, and more Americans will officially go broke than will have a heart attack, graduate from college or be diagnosed with cancer" Story here.
*    New feature - virus alert - MyDoom.S is spreading - common to see e-mail show up with "Subject:Photo's" and body "LOL", among others. Attachment is the above worm/virus.
*    Sally Malay Mining, near Warmun in Australia announced they were processing their first ore and had processed about 95 tonnes of nickel, copper and cobalt ore in their first week. Traders seem to be shrugging news off this new source - so far.  
*    Higher oil prices, a concern to all business, is worrying the Chinese. A senior economist with the State Information Center says higher oil prices could drag their economic growth down by .8%.
*    LME nickel inventories only slightly fell for a second day - down 18 tonnes yesterday. Nickel climbed this morning, but has since fallen back some.


LME nickel ends the day at $6.20/lb.
*    Norilsk Nickel, the world's largest producer of nickel, showed net profits of $790 million dollars during the first 6 months of 2004, up 23% over this time last year. These figures are from Russian accounting standards. It also announced its production costs increased 12.9%, while profits before tax were up 27.6%. While considered by many to have been a financial blunder, Norilsk's release into the market of 600M tonnes of nickel it was holding as collateral last year, did keep the average price of nickel lower in 2003 than many had expected. Without this world reserve, prices began heading up in November 2003.
*    LME nickel is trading in the $6.30/lb range this morning. Inventories were flat, loosing only 12 tonnes Friday.


LME nickel ended the day at $6.02/lb. But before you stainless users start popping champagne, prices went way up after the second ring closing.
*   With scrap prices cooling over the last few months, we havent been seeing some of the hair raising stories of metals theft like we had in the early part of the year. But with prices of scrap metals still above average, there is still increased metals theft going on. Tanzania has temporarily halted exports of certain metals scrap to attempt to curb the theft problem in their country. This has included major thefts of telephone wires and railway parts, making hundreds of miles of rail line unsafe in that country. In Bataan, a ring of thieves was caught trying to sell electric cables they had stolen from a mothballed nuclear power plant. And the old days of young people breaking into graveyards to tip over grave stones has given way to scrap thieves stealing bronze and brass vases from grave yards. A Minnesota paper wrote about a man who caught a thief tearing off his copper drainpipes.
*   Oil hitting new record highs today on news of a massive assault being made by coalition forces on Najaf. Russia's YUKOS situation is still in the air and traders are nervous about the Chavez recall election in Venezuela this weekend. 
*   Friday the 13th sarts with nickel slightly down from yesterday. LME nickel inventories gained 312 tonnes yesterday.


LME nickel price closed at $6.15/lb.
*    Stainless steel fasteners update - inventory is becoming an ever increasing concern. As prices stay high, fastener importers are nervous about buying heavy overseas, in fear of the market suddenly dropping and making their inventory overpriced. Speaking to a representative from the largest importer of stainless steel fasteners in the United States, we were advised holes in inventory are about as bad as it has ever been. It's catch-22 time for the buyer and for fastener distributors. No one can predict where prices will go but inventory will likely get worse, before it gets better. All importers want to wait and take advantage of any potential price decrease, but the buyer has to keep production rolling and for the distributor, continue to have inventory available to their customer. At this point, we recommend buyers take whatever means necessary to protect yourself from inventory shortages. It is beginning to look like it will be awhile before we see any substantial decrease in stainless steel fastener prices.
*    LME nickel is slightly lower in morning trading, but still well above $6/lb. Nickel inventories fell by 72 tonnes to stand at 8,574.


LME nickel closes up, yet again, ending the day at $6.24/lb. After second ring sales were sliding. Nickel seems to be trying to find its footing as investors attempt to figure out how world economic conditions will affect metals consumption.
*    Australia's largest nickel producer, WMC Resources, announced its net profit for thefirst 6 months of 2004 were $515 million compared to $47 million last year. Chief Executive Andrew Michelmore has been one of the leading proponents of bringing nickel prices down as he fears pricing over $6/lb chases potential clients away to less expenisve alternatives. He told the Herald Sun that prices should remain in the $4-$6 range for the remainder of 2004, with possible spikes above that.   
*    LME inventories gained 90 tonnes yesterday and nickel prices, after gaining earlier this morning, have settled back down to yesterday's trading levels.


LME nickel closes higher for second day at $6.16/lb. LME stock fell 204 tonnes yesterday.


E-Mail Alert - If you get an e-mail today from outside or inside your company with the words "New Price" on it - delete it immediately (virus alert)

LME nickel closes at at $6.11/lb.
*    Crude oil hits new record high today.
*    Molybdenum continues to rise. Closed Monday at $17.83/lb.
*    Yieh.com is announcing cold and hot rolled carbon steel prices increased in Taiwan this week.
*   Nickel is back up over $6 this morning, and trading in the $6.05-$6.10/range this AM. LME inventories fell 1830 tonnes Friday to stand at 8,760 tonnes.


LME nickel closed at $5.98/lb today.
* The Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald is quoting some traders as predicting nickel may spend much of August in the mid $5/lb range.
*   Nickel trading is quiet this morning with little pricing movement.


LME nickel closed the day at $6.17/lb.
*    Purchasing.com is reporting Phelps Dodge does not see molybdenum prices falling until late 2005 or 2006. Molybdenum is presently at $16.02/lb, 3X higher than this time last year. Moly is found in 316 stainless steel.
*    Oil in news again today, reaching a new 21 year high as Russia clamps down on YUKOS tighter.
*    The pricing slide continues, with last reports nickel was at $6.17/lb and trading in a downward trend.
*    Nickel opened higher on the London Metal Exchange today, but started to slide quickly and is selling slightly lower at 8:30 AM EST.


LME nickel closed the day at $6.31/lb.
*    Canadian Stock Market down, including Inco and Falconbridge, as nickel falls to 6 week lows.
*   Asia Pulse is reporting China will gradually reduce imports of cold roll steel as new domestic production capacity comes online thru the rest of 2004. China is also reporting they consume more stainless steel than No #2 United States and No #3 Japan combined.
*   LME nickel is down nearly 10 cents a pound from yesterday's closing in early morning trading. Inventories of LME nickel gained over 500 tonnes yesterday.


LME nickel ends the day at $6.40/lb
*   Chinese stocks fell last night, led by falling steel stocks. The rest of the world may no longer be overly concerned about China's economic cool-down, but apparently Chinese investors are. With the US economy sending signals of a cool-down, this news may inspire nickel investors to hedge.
*   Scrap prices are on the rise again, after falling over the last few months.
*   Posco, the 5th largest steel producer in the world, has announced it anticipates worldwide steel prices to increase higher as China continues to grow in consumption.
*   Xstrata, a leading South African chrome supplier, has announced it is asking for price increase of 5-7 cents per pound for the next quarter.
*   LME nickel slightly up in early morning trading. Nickel inventories at LME fell by another 120 tonnes yesterday.


LME nickel ended the day after taking a beating, closing at $6.38/lb.
*    Chinese steel consumption rose 19.5% in the first 6 months of 2004, compared to the same period in 2003. China consumed 150 million tons during the last 6 months.
*   Yieh.com is reporting its becoming very difficult to predict stainless steel prices, as worldwide scrap is edging up again, and shipping freight, which had dropped in the past few months, is now rising again due to high oil prices.
*   LME nickel inventories fell below 10M tonnes again Friday, and prices opened slightly lower than Friday's close of $6.82/lb.

Daily market prices are courtesy London Metal Exchange.

Average July 2004 LME nickel price - $6.82/lb

Average August 2003 LME nickel price - $4.24/lb

Allegheny Ludlum Surcharges for August

Nickel Chrome















arrow denotes price comparison to prior month

courtesy Allegheny Ludlum

Closing price - you may notice different sites giving different "closing" costs. We use the price LME uses, which Joanna James at the Global FX Desk graciously explained, is the settlement price after the 2nd ring close offer. Global shows on their site the closing price taken after the last kerb. For their daily chart, visit here.

Every effort is made to provide factual information in a timely manner as a convenience to the reader. Any opinion given on this web site is just that - a mere opinion, and the author is not responsible for any action taken based off that opinion. Multiple sources are used for obtaining this info and there is no guarantee of its accuracy. Any reproduction without written permission from the author is prohibited.

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