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Daily Nickel & Stainless Steel Prices
Market Pricing

Worldwide Metal Market News


December  2004

(Nickel prices are followed here daily as they are responsible for up to 60% of the cost of stainless steel)
(Molybdenum prices are for molybdenum oxide)

(all ton listings are metric tons = 2204.6 pounds)

12-31

LME nickel was hit by some profit taking and ended the year at $6.75/lb.
*    LME nickel inventories bumped backup by 84 tons to total 20, 892 tons. The year began with inventory on January 2, 2004 at 24.030 tons.

12-30

LME nickel closed at $6.91/lb.
*    LME nickel inventories fell by 54 tons  yesterday to total 20,808 tons.

12-29

LME nickel closed up at $6.90/lb
*    China to start a 2% export tax on nickel January 1st.
*    Molybdenum continues to climb. At $34.50/lb.
*    Nickel inventories steped back Friday, dropping 234 tons to total 20,862 tons.

12-27

*    LME markets closed today and tomorrow.

12-24

LME nickel closed at $6.69/lb.
*    Nickel inventories swelled yesterday as inventories grew by 732 tons to total 21,096 tons.

12-23

LME nickel closed at $6.67/lb.
*   Nickel inventories in LME warehouses continued to grow after yesterday's one day set back, gaining 300 tons to total 20.364 tons.

12-22

LME nickel ended the day at $6.65/lb.
*    Mann Financial in their morning report is quoting Chinese custom figures out showing exports of refined nickel increased by 49.5% thru November over last year, while imports fell 23.4%. Imports of nickel concentrate, however, have increased by 246.9% over last year.
*    Thanks to Adanac Moly Corp for allowing us to add the molybdenum price graph at the bottom of this page. The graph links directly to their site.
*    For the first time in a few weeks, LME warehouse inventories of nickel backtracked a little, loosing 90 tons to total 20,064 tons.

12-21

LME nickel ended the day at $6.78/lb.
*    Scrap Magazine is quoting Macquarie Research as one of those bullish on nickel prices for 2005. They predict prices to terade in the $6-$7 range throughout 2005 with the average price of $6.75/lb.
*    China to resume export tariff's on nickel, copper and aluminum on January 1, 2005 to discourage exports.
*    Reuters published an article yesterday evening in which the following trader statement was quoted in reference to the nickel market. "I would be very surprised if these levels are sustainable. It is slightly overcooked at the moment," the trader said. Read the article here.
*    For the first time since January of this year, LME nickel inventories rolled over the 20M ton mark. On Monday an additional 246 tons put the total on hand at 20,154 tons.

12-20

LME nickel ends the day at $6.65/lb.
*    Mann Financial's Daily Metals Report is quoting a Reuters article that states the Economist Intelligence Unit is predicting nickel demand would continue to outpace supply until 2006. They (EIU) predict a deficit of 14M tons next year.
*    Commentary - Until last week, nickel had been drifting slowly down in price. Then Inco sent out its big guns, telling anyone that cared to listen, that the sky was not falling and that demand would remain high for nickel next year and continue to outpace supply. To put an exclamation mark on the point, they announced they would be shutting down a major source of world nickel for a month long maintenance, timed to coincide with Norilsk Nickel's annual inability to ship due to seasonal flooding. With the two largest suppliers now facing hurdles to ship next spring, and the dollar slightly lower against the Euro, traders appear to be scrambling to buy and prices have risen over 10% since.  
*    Another gain in LME nickel inventories Friday. An additional 258 tons put total warehoused LME nickel at 19,632 tons. This is the highest since January 15th of this year. Again, traders seem to be dismissing this positive news and prices are up in early morning trading.

12-17

LME nickel ended the day at $6.17/lb.
*    Molybdenum up another dollar - to $33.00/lb.
*    American Institute for International Steel reports US steel  prices are the highest in the world and while early price increase in 2004 were driven by world demand, increases by the third quarter were working under their "own head of steam". The report also predicts further increases very possible in 2005. It also reports import volumes for the first 10 months of 2004 were up 52%, and 88% in October compared to last year.
*    Nickel inventories on the LME continue to climb, gaining an additional 258 tons to total 19,632 tons. Traders seem unconcerned and prices continue to climb.

12-16

Nickel ended the day at $6.02/lb.
*    LME inventories swelled yesterday by 474 tons to 19,374 tons. This is the most inventory of nickel the LME has warehoused since January 16th of this year.

12-15

Nickel on the LME ended the day at $5.99/lb.
*    Xinhuanet.com has an article today that states China used 2.09 million tons of stainless steel in the first 6 months of 2004, an increase of only 0.7% over the year before. Scott Hand, CEO of Inco, predicts nickel demand in China could grow 17% a year for the next 11 years, according to a Bloomberg article.
*    Average monthly prices for last month (1) Nickel - $6.37/lb (2) Chrome - $.68/lb (3) Molybdenum - $24.00/lb (4) Iron - $435/GT (courtesy AK Steel)
*    For those interested in keeping track of what is going on in the China business world from a Western perspective, might bookmark this site. "Journal of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China" is free to read online - check the November 2003 issue for a nice metals report
*    LME nickel inventories gain once again, adding 192 tons yesterday for a total of 18,900 tons.

12-14

Trading was timid today, with nickel sliding back to $5.85/lb.
*    Fed raises US interest rate for 5th time this year, by a quarter point to 2.25%.
*    Stainless steel users can expect to see further increases in 316 stainless as molybdenum hits $32/lb.
*    Inco announces it will shutdown its Sudbury operation for a month in May of 2005, for maintenance. Inco's COO Peter Jones also advised 2005 nickel prices could go even higher than 2004, as China expands its stainless steel production. Jones stated the shutdown will cost the company 20 million pounds of nickel and 25 million pounds of copper in lost production in 2005. (May and June are typically when # 1 nickel producer Norilsk is unable to ship due to seasonal flooding)  
*    Be careful opening e-Xmas cards - newest virus alert here
*    May 2004 - Chinese steel exports for a single month reach 1 million tons for the first time. September 2004 - China exports more steel than it imports for the first time, exporting a total of 1.95 million tons compared to 1.87 million tons this month. So far this year, imports have fallen 15% compared to a growth in exports of 67%. (better download that Chinese font you been thinking about)
*    Molybdenum seems to have no peak, rising to $32.00/lb. This is double what it was a few months ago, which, at that point, was already 4 times higher than it was in 2002. What is molybdenum?
*    International Stainless Steel Forum reports worldwide stainless steel production increased 9.3% in the third quarters of 2004, compared to 2003. For the first 3 quarters, overall production has increased 7.3%. Asia leads the growth with approx 11% growth. The America's stainless production grew a little better than 4-1/2%, and European production fell by a comparable figure.
*    Inventories of nickel in LME warehouses gained again yesterday, adding 186 tons to total 18,708.

12-13

Nickel rebounded today, closing at $5.88/lb. Copper rose 2% and other metals were affected by the buying.
*    Brazil's Companhia Vale do Rio Doce SA president Roger Agnelli, told reporters that iron ore prices should increase another 20% in 2005, compared to an increase of 19% so far this year. Doce is the world's largest exporter of iron ore.
*    LME nickel inventories gained 90 tons on Friday to total 18,408 tons.

12-10

Nickel closed the day and week at $5.73/lb.
*    LME inventories gained 90 tons Thursday to total 18,408 tons.

12-9

Nickel continues to succumb to profit taking  and concern over inventories - $5.67/lb.
*    Pollution Watch issued a report today ranking Inco as Canada' second largest polluter. It should be noted that Inco has seen decreases in both emissions of dust particles and sulfur dioxide over the past few years.   
*    Zimbabwe announced its nickel output increased by 42% in the first 8 months of 2004. This totals an increase of 5012 to 7097 tons. Zimbabwe has approximately a 2% share of the world nickel market.
*    Inventories of nickel in LME warehouses increased by another 108 tons yesterday to total 18,318 tons.

12-8

LME nickel ended the day at $5.85/lb. Most metals suffered from a rebounding dollar today, while nickel is feeling the pressure of growing inventories.
*    Falconbridge is telling Australian media it will probably be the first quarter of next year before it decides whether to proceed with its multi-billion dollar New Caledonia nickel project.
*    Nickel inventories on the LME went over the 18M ton mark for the first time in months when 246 tons were added yesterday. Total is 18,210 tons.

Tidbits of history - courtesy Minerals Yearbook 1932-33
In 1932, the US used over 1/2 of the world's production of nickel, with Canada producing over 3/4 of the world's supply. International Nickel Company of Canada (now Inco) produced over 60% of that total, and with fellow mining companies Falconbridge Nickel Miners Inc, and Caledonickel Co of New Caledonia, controlled world production. Nickel prices had been fairly stable in the .35/lb range since 1910.
Also in 1932,  the vice president of Climax Molybdenum Co announced their mine in Climax, Colorado, contained enough molybdenum that, based on the world's consumption of 1929, would meet world demand for the next 200 years. In 1932 world consumption was approximately 1800 tons. (Climax, Colorado, once the largest mining town of molybdenum in the world, is now a ghost town) Ferromolybdenum sold for .50 cents a pound that year.
(for more interesting tidbits visit the University of Wisconsin's online library of Minerals yearbooks here)

12-7

LME nickel edged up a little, ending at $5.92/lb.
*    Scrap Magazine is quoting Bloomsbury as stating the worldwide refined copper deficit could reach 1 million tons this year (the highest prediction to date). Macquarie is quoted in Australasian Investment Review as stating the deficit in copper will continue until the second half of 2005, with further price increases in the short term expected. Societe Generale is quoted in Bloomberg as predicting the deficit of copper will fall too 100M tons in 2005, from 850M tons this year with prices averaging $2610/ton ($1.18/lb) compared to $2875/ton ($1.30/lb) this year. Codelco of Chile estimates copper prices to run between $1.10 to $1.20/lb in 2005. Chile is the world's largest producer of copper and molybdenum, surpassing the US and China in 2003.
(Copper figures are worth noting as production figures directly affects molybdenum production - moly averaged $3.77/lb in 2002 and $2.36/lb in 2001. Over the past 40 years it has averaged $2.80/lb. Today it is selling for $28.75/lb.)
*    Yieh.com is reporting China's import of stainless from Far Eastern neighbors remains strong and prices rose another 2% this week.
*    So far nickel is up this AM - selling in the $6/lb range.
*    LME nickel inventories gained yet again yesterday by another 126 tons to total 17,964 tons.

12-6

LME nickel ended the day at $5.86/lb.
*    Two months ago on October 5th, the International Nickel Study Group forecast the worldwide nickel deficit of 10M tons seen this year, would disappear in 2005 with a balanced market. Since then prices have fallen from $7.16/lb (the day of the announcement) by about 20%. LME nickel inventories have risen approximately 10% during that same 60 day period. To compare - nickle prices during the fourth quarter of last year averaged $5.62/lb, and $3.28/lb for the fourth quarter of 2002.  
*    Molybdenum is up for the second time in a week, now selling at $28.75/lb. This is 5-1/2 times higher than the 2003 average cost. Molybdenum is primarily a by-product of copper mining and has a history of price volatility. Between 1979-1982, prices rose to over $30/lb, while 10 years later they had slid to nearly $2/lb. Nearly 2/3 of molybdenum is used in stainless steel, while the majority of the balance is used in catalysts to remove sulfur from crude oil (which has increased in production). GSJB Were predicted in August moly prices would average $13/lb in the second half of 2004, $10/lb in the first half of 2005, and $7/lb in the latter half of 2005.
*    LME nickel inventories gained again Friday by 144 tons to total 17,838

12-3

LME nickel ended the day at $5.88/lb.
*    Traders are nervous after yesterday's profit taking shed 8% off nickel prices. Markets this AM are quiet and looking for a direction.
*    LME inventories were flat yesterday, maintaining 17,694 tons.

12-2

Fund selling gave nickel a bashing today, closing at $5.92/lb - losing 8% of its value in one day.
*    Molybdenum seems to have no ceiling - rising to $26.75/lb.
*    Nickel prices down 7-1/2% by noon EST today. Dollar rebounds after setting 5 record lows during last week. Barrel of oil below $43.
*    LME nickel inventories gained another 336 tons yesterday to total 17,694 tons.

12-1

LME nickel closed the day at $6.43/lb and inventories gained another 354 tons to total 17,358 tons.


[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

This live chart does not follow actual LME prices but gives a good indication of current market activity.

courtesy Adanac Moly Corp


Average November 2004 LME nickel price - $6.37/lb
Average December 2003 LME nickel price - $6.42/lb

Allegheny Ludlum Surcharges for December

Nickel Chrome

Moly

Iron

2003
2004

304

.2892
.4355

.0267
.0718

NA

0
.0884

2003
2004

316

.3615
.5448

.0246
.0638

.0665
.4323

0
.0859

arrow denotes price comparison to prior month

courtesy Allegheny Ludlum



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