Author Archives: MetalMiner IndX Reports

LME copper prices, Chinese lead prices, and Korean aluminum premium prices rose this week, while US HDG steel prices and US palladium prices dropped. For exact price points of all of these and more, click below!

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The US dollar weakened and eased concerns about its impact on corporate profits, while the euro recovered from a 12-year low in trading today.

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After months of strong jobs data, expectations have been growing that the Federal Reserve would signal a June rate rise at a meeting that begins on Tuesday. A stronger dollar erodes purchasing power for commodities. That, plus questions over China’s economic growth after comments by Premier Li Keqiang added headwinds to copper, analyst Joel Crane of Morgan Stanley in Melbourne told Reuters.

“What we’ve seen on China’s data indicators so far is fairly negative, so it’s not surprising that people would be worried about whether the post-New Year recovery is underway,” Crane said.

Premier Li vowed to keep China’s economy growing at a reasonable speed, even as he also said authorities could do more to stoke growth, which triggered a rally in Chinese equities.

The prospect of more Chinese stimulus, and a rise in interest rates in the US, helped copper to a weekly gain. Prices have been gaining ground as China’s factories ramp up after the Lunar New Year, climbing from 5-1/2 year lows of under $5,400 a metric t0n in January, but slowing economic growth and ample refined supply has blunted momentum.

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U.S. Steel on Thursday announced more layoffs as it continues to fight lower-priced, surging imports and declining demand in the energy sector, saying it will temporarily idle one of its iron-ore operations in Minnesota, affecting 412 workers.

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The idling of the plant in Keewatin, Minn., which ships to U.S. Steel mills, will take place on May 13 and affects six million tons of iron-ore production capacity, or 27% of U.S. Steel’s overall iron-ore output last year. U.S. Steel said the move is temporary in a statement.

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California and the federal government will move forward on less than half the California desert land initially designated for renewable energy plants, officials said Tuesday, leaving millions of acres in limbo as local governments decide how they want to handle large-scale solar, wind and geothermal projects.

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Regulators will initially focus on about 10 million acres of federal land overseen by the Bureau of Land Management in the Mojave and other Southern California deserts. Their initial plan, unveiled in September, designated 22.5 million acres across seven counties.

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3-month copper surged to a six-week high on Tuesday after Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said it was preparing to consider rate rises on a meeting-by-meeting basis. Greece also secured its bailout extension from the EU and oil prices rebounded.

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Yellen said it would be several months before the Fed expects to raise interest rates but the consideration was now on the table. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange jumped to a session peak of $5,846 a metric ton today, the strongest since Jan. 13, and closed 2% higher at $5,785.

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Alcoa Inc. said it would acquire Pittsburgh-based RTI International Metals Inc., one of the world’s biggest makers of fabricated titanium products for the aerospace and automotive industries, in a transaction with an enterprise value of $1.5 billion.

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For New York-based Alcoa, the world’s biggest aluminum producer by value, the stock-for-stock deal is part of its strategy to focus more on manufactured products for the aerospace and automotive industries.

Alcoa wants to become less reliant on its old-fashioned smelting business, which is suffering from weak prices for raw aluminum. Alcoa on Friday said it would look at closing up to 14% of raw smelting capacity. Since 2007, it has taken almost a third of its smelting capacity out of production.

RTI shareholders will receive 2.8315 Alcoa shares for each RTI share, representing a value of $41 per RTI share based on Alcoa’s closing price on Friday. RTI shares, which closed Friday at $27.28, jumped 28% to $35 in premarket trading Monday

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North American Palladium‘s stock rose by 51.8% in the past month. This combination of strong price performance and favorable technical data, could suggest that the stock is on the right path.

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North American is an established PGM producer that has been operating its main revenue source, its Lac des Iles mine in northern Ontario, Canada, since 1993.

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Alcoa Inc. on Friday said it is considering curtailing aluminum smelting and refining operations via closures and divestment as part of a continuing effort to improve its profitability.

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Over the next year, Alcoa said it would consider curtailing, shutting down or shedding up to 14% of its global smelting capacity and 16% of its refining capacity. The company said has already idled some of its operations.

The New York-based aluminum firm with major operations in Pittsburgh has been benefiting from past efforts to close unprofitable smelters in high-cost areas. The company said it has curtailed, closed or sold about 31% of its highest-cost global smelting capacity since 2007.

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After the fallout from the Chinese documentary “Under the Dome,” many nickel pig-iron producers are under pressure to clean up their act or shut down.

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Could nickel prices get a boost from the most recent closures at NPI producers in Linyi City, Shandong Province, China?

“The closures will not boost nickel price,” an analyst told CS.com.cn, citing high LME nickel inventories, tumbling nickel prices, and a strong dollar.

Supply of low-grade NPI is also sufficient, the analyst told the website.

Linyi is a major producing region of low-grade NPI in China, with output accounting for 75% of China’s total.

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The gold price fell to a two-month low on Friday, after data showed the US economy created more jobs than expected last month, bolstering the case for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates around the middle of this year.

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Gold for April delivery, the most actively traded contract, was recently down 0.9% at $1,185.70 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. That is the lowest intraday level for the most active gold contract since Jan. 5.

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