Articles in Category: Best of MetalMiner

With the Federal Reserve hinting at an increase in interest rates soon and a few metals gaining at least a little bit of their lost values back, the search for a market bottom is on.

MM-IndX_TRENDS_Chart_November-2015_FNL-TOPVALUE100This month we saw some encouraging signs that the metals undergirding our MMIs, such as Copper and Stainless, were posting gains but the overall trend still pointed to historically low prices. The underlying prices comprising our steel, aluminum, construction and renewables indexes all fell again.

Even the strong performers in this bear market, such as copper and stainless, come with a caveat: that their gain — for copper, a 1.5% increase and a 1.4% increase for automotive — or simply steady performance could very well be mere pauses in a year of losses, rather than true market bottoms. The Stainless and Rare Earths MMIs managed to hold their low price levels from October. Certainly good news for producers in this market, but not indicative, yet, of any real potential for future increases.

The Global Precious MMI showed a genuine increase of 4.1% with strong price performance from all its individual metal components. This includes increases in gold and silver as hedges against what some investors perceive as a future move to weaken the US dollar’s continuing strength against commodities and other currencies, an increase in interest rates.

It’s still too early to tell but maybe, just maybe, some of these metals are poised to bottom out.

This is part two of a series on how 3D model-based design and materials quantity take-off enabled the restoration of Wrigley Field in Chicago. See part one if you missed it.

Steel Fabrication and Erection

The structural design of Wrigley Field’s bleachers maintains the historic nature of the ballpark and presents some unique challenges for fabrication and erection. The design’s connections, column sizes and thicknesses required a complex fabrication, welding and installation plan.

Free Sample Report: Our Annual Metal Buying Outlook

Lenex Steel of Indianapolis developed a 3D model for the fabrication, which took between 16,000 and 17,000 man-hours to complete the project. It required three different production foundries to supply the volume.


The historic restoration of Wrigley Field’s bleachers meant structural steel with many difficult installation angles and a veritable collision maze of supports, piping and electrical fixtures. Image: Jeff Yoders

Most of the steel came from supplier Steel Dynamics, Inc., which shipped its rough beams and long products from its facility in Jeffersonville, Ind., directly to Lenex for fabrication or to the site. Read more

Welcome to crazy MetalMiner’s low, low price week of falling metal prices, oil prices and devalued currency.


…maybe prices will be lower next week? Who can tell in this crazy market? Check out our Metal Price Outlook for MetalMiner’s expert opinion. Free sample in the link.

Bears Everywhere

Our August MMI Report shows that nine of the 10 metals we track have hit an all-time low since we started tracking them in January 2012. It’s been a gradual fall for sub-indexes such as raw steels and renewables, whereas aluminum and copper suffered big drops this month that coincided with historic London Metal Exchange lows.

Three Best Practices for Buying Commodities

The strong dollar continues to drag down all commodities, shunting investment dollars elsewhere and depressing prices of investment metals such as gold, which hit a six-year low last quarter, according to the World Gold Council. Guess what else hit a six-year low? Oil, of course! Read more


There’s no reprieve from the bearish metals environment in this month’s MMI Report.

More Analysis: The July Metal Price Forecast

With the exception of the very specialized grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES) market and the Renewables MMI®, all of our indexes lost ground in June and could not gain traction amid falling commodity prices and a strong US dollar.

The one index that was steady from last month, which tracks raw material inputs of the renewable energy sector, has been stagnant for two years and, until trends show otherwise, its steadiness is more a measure of a lack of market activity than anything close to a turnaround or a new trend toward increasing prices.

The Stainless MMI is flirting with two-year lows and our Raw Steels index is up against lows not seen in years as well. Weakness in the Chinese stock market has put additional pressure on metals that were already reeling from the effect of the strong dollar. This is bad news for steelmakers, miners, refiners and smelters by itself, but coupled with increased supply in most of the metals we track, it’s become a real deterrent to profitability.

Moreover, both Europe and the US have higher-than-normal inventories of semi-finished products at service centers. Mill lead times remain short suggesting weak demand. Weak demand will continue to place downward pressure on prices.


Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 11.56.49 AMIt’s been a wild ride, but after three months of adding, subtracting, nip/tucking and perfecting, we are finally at the July metal buying outlook – the third and final complimentary MetalMiner™ Monthly Metal Buying Outlook – the only July metal price forecast and market commentary you will ever need.

Lisa Reisman, CEO, Azul Partners and executive editor, MetalMiner, is back with her tool kit and expert insight into the industrial metals aluminum, copper, nickel, lead, zinc, tin and steel (HRC, CRC, HDG, Plate) so you can formulate your short- and long-term buying strategy.

While this is the last complimentary Monthly Metal Buying Outlook, we are excited to announce the launch of the commercial product on Aug. 1.

Beginning in August, we will offer the Monthly Metal Buying Outlook for $899/year. That’s less than $75/month for 12 reports, or an annual subscription.

Check out the complimentary July report!

More About Lisa

A third-generation metals enthusiast, Lisa Reisman founded MetalMiner in 2007 – 13 years after she began trading semi-finished aluminum metals and 3 years after she was tasked by the CEO of a Tier 1 automotive company to save his company some money on their direct material spend. Lisa is an ex-big 5 consultant who built MetalMiner into the largest online publication for metal-buying organizations, and has the experience and depth of insight to produce this one-of-a-kind invaluable monthly report to impact your industrial metals purchasing strategy.

As we pointed out last month, the US dollar is showing some weakness for the first time in almost a year. That dollar weakness has helped metal prices during the second quarter. However, the recent price movements aren’t reason enough to suddenly become bearish in the dollar.

Why Manufacturers Need to Ditch Purchase Price Variance

The dollar increased in value very quickly in 2014, so it’s not weird to see the dollar taking a breath before it continues on its way up. Technically, this is called a “correction within an uptrend.”

The question now is whether the dollar has weakened enough already or if it’s due for further declines.

Dollar Index since 2014

US dollar Index since 2014. Source: MetalMiner.

The dollar index stopped declining last week as it approached a key support level. The dollar index has already retraced 38% of the steep move that started last summer. Read more


Yoders quickly took of this suit, donned a Hawaiian shirt and board shorts and booked the first flight to Puerta Vallarta after this picture was taken.

In February, we told you about Assistant Editor Jeff Yoders’ nominations in two categories for the 2015 Jesse H. Neal Awards from American Business Media.

A Building Design + Construction team series that included Jeff’s BIM coverage – “5 tech trends transforming BIM/VDC” – won the Neal Award for Best Subject-Related Package last week.

After being notified of his win last Friday, Yoders checked out a giant “win second Neal Award” box on a large t0-do list in the MetalMiner conference room and filed retirement papers with HR.

Jeff wrote two parts of the five-part series including an examination of how the Department of Energy overhauled its EnergyPlus building simulation program and another about tech trends that are transforming building information modeling and virtual design and construction.

“Back when I started writing about BIM and VDC in 2005, I vowed that I would not rest until we revolutionized the way construction projects are procured and delivered,” Yoders said. “Well, at long last, that day is here. Well, bye!”

FREE Download: The Monthly MMI® Report – covering the metals markets of the Construction sector.

Over his many years covering the design and construction industries, Jeff has documented how the inclusion of general and specialty contractors in the design phase of a project has resulted in fewer change orders and construction problems, how cloud computing is solving collaboration issues and how to save $18,000 on printing alone on a hospital project.

Read more

This week on the London Metal Exchange, the 3-month LME nickel price fell to its lowest level since 2009. It’s certainly not the first industrial metal to hit a 6-year low in this bearish year for base metals.

Free Download: Cut Your Nickel Shipping Costs

There has been a lot of talk recently about nickel’s supply side. Indonesian authorities have not changed their minds about refusing to export raw ore and the ensuing ban on exports of nickel ore to China continues. There is no flow of material between the two countries.

NPI Demand Drops

However, it’s important to remember that China’s nickel pig-iron producers had built up significant quantities of stocks prior to the January 2014 ban, compensating for the supply decrease. At 2 million metric tons, imports of Philippine ore this year are slightly higher than last year but are still nowhere near enough to offset the loss of Indonesian supply.

Chinese demand is weak and global demand, overall, is weak as well. Stainless demand is suffering from the same macroeconomic pressures as other industrial commodities. You don’t need to be an economist to see that. Just by looking at the performance of other base metals, it is clear that a bear looms.

Nickel making 6-year low (3m LME price since 2010)

Nickel’s 3-month LME price has hit a 6-year low. Source: MetalMiner/LME

Nickel is falling to new lows in heavy trading volume. Nickel’s LME fall also coincides with the launch, yesterday, of the Shanghai Futures Exchange nickel contract. Some analysts say the new contract prompted a surge in LME volumes.

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This week we examined several metal/currency movements which were not what they’d outwardly appear to be.

Free Download: Cut Your Zinc Shipping Costs

Whether it’s the supposed zinc deficit, the seemingly sharp fall of the US dollar or the USA dropping to fourth in steel production, our reaction was largely “We know better than to panic about that.”

All the more reason for you to trust MetalMiner for all your metals’ sourcing needs. We won’t steer you wrong 😉


“I swear to God I’m in deficit. No, really!”

Honey, I Shrunk the Zinc Deficit

This week, my colleague Stuart Burns asked where that supposed zinc deficit is? As recently as January major bank HSBC was insisting that the zinc market was in deficit. Even The World Bureau of Metal Statistics said in their February report that the zinc market was in deficit by 262,000 metric tons during the January to December 2014 period, compared to a 95,000-mt surplus for 2013.

Yeah, not so much.

Read more

Welcome to MetalCrawler, your daily fix for industrial metal news, price movement updates and complaints about the design of new buildings. Larry Summers doesn’t like the amount of infrastructure investment and U.S. Steel just learned everyone at the planning commission is a critic.

Wait, That’s All There is?

United States Steel New HQ

Rendering courtesy of Clayco.

Pittsburgh’s planning commission got its first glimpse Tuesday of the proposed U.S. Steel headquarters to be built in the city’s Hill District and they were not big fans. Chairwoman Christine Mondor told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “I’m just concerned that it looks like it could be anywhere,” she said of the new building. “It looks like it could be a suburban office building somewhere.”

Free Download: Lock in International Shipping Costs

The L-shaped headquarter will prominently use steel and glass, two of the products that have figured prominently in the city’s history, according to developer Clayco. Everyone’s a critic these days.

Summers: Net-Zero Infrastructure Investment in the Western World

Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said in a speech at Princeton that investment by major industrialized US and European nations  in infrastructure is not expanding.

“At this moment . . . the share of public investment in GDP, adjusting for depreciation, so that’s net share, is zero. Zero,” Summers said. “We’re not net investing at all, nor is Western Europe. In other words, total federal, state, and local government investment is enough to cover only the amount of wear and tear on bridges, roads, airports, rails, and pipes. Can that possibly make sense?”