Articles in Category: Humor

Zinc, lead and tin all hit multiyear highs this week and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries finally agreed on a production — with its own members and Russia — to cut back production so oil prices are up, too.

MetalMiner Price Benchmarking: Current and Historical Prices for the Metals You Buy

We were already in a metals and commodities bull market before the beginning of the week but it’s now more like a bull stampede. They’re even running in India. Lead Forecasting Analyst Raul de Frutos notes that this bull market is particularly unusual because it coincides with a strong U.S. dollar. Since commodities are valued in dollars it’s odd that they’re both up — and rising — at the same time.

MetalMiner co-founder and editor-at-large Stuart Burns also chimed in with vexing information, noting that tin is up while there seems to be abundant to robust supply of the stuff in the Earth’s crust with stable nations and reliable companies set to mine it.

Bulls stampeding in a Madrid sculpture

Don’t get stuck under these guys in the rush to get into this market. Source: Adobe Stock/Kyrien.

So, supply and demand aren’t fueling tin’s rise and that’s likely true for other metals as well. “New money,” as they say, is flowing into metal markets as investors are excited about Chinese construction demand and the prospect of a still nebulous $1 trillion infrastructure plan here in the U.S. China is, once again, driving the demand boat as the U.S. consumes only about 8% of commodities worldwide and the People’s Republic consumes the most. Read more

This abridged, holiday week saw both the U.S. dollar, which recently hit a one-year high, and metals prices surge, abandoning their usual behavior, as investors grew excited about the prospects for both infrastructure spending and a stronger U.S. currency.

MetalMiner Price Benchmarking: Current and Historical Prices for the Metals You Buy

How strong is the dollar? The predictions of a December Federal Reserve interest rate increase are above 90% and the euro is headed in the opposite direction as the currencies are already nearing parity.

The recent rise in metals prices has had some strange market effects. The supposedly more reliable “upstream business,” that Alcoa, Inc. recently separated its aerospace and automotive products into, Arconic, was expected to have a higher stock price and better prospects than the commodity aluminum business that retained the Alcoa name. So much so that CEO Klaus Kleinfeld left with Arconic. Well, Alcoa’s stock has soared since the October split became official. Arconic’s hasn’t.

Now might be the time to buy aluminum forward. We’re not so sure about the long-term prospects for copper, but it’s rise in the last two weeks has been meteoric, nonetheless.

Here in the U.S., we celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday and the traditional beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Retailers are offering big discounts as they hope that consumers, weary of the election that finally came early this month, are ready to spend, particularly on rare-earth-using electronics.

Online shopping was on pace to reach $2 billion on Thanksgiving Day, up 16% from a year ago, according to Adobe Systems Inc., which tracked visits to e-commerce sites. Even our friends in the U.K. are chasing the online deals.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

If consumer spending increases this season it will be another sign that the U.S. economy is ready to turn a page and maybe, just maybe, return to strong growth. We may have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.

Republican Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election this week, and markets have responded favorably since. Metals producers are generally upbeat as it looks as if much of the regulation over power plants and energy consumption that the Obama administration championed will be scrapped.

MetalMiner Price Benchmarking: Current and Historical Prices for the Metals You Buy

The Environmental Protection Agency Clean Power Plan appears to be dead. Trump promised to kill it on the campaign trail and the Supreme Court has already put it on hold.

Regulation: You’re Fired

Any national limit on carbon pollution produced from power is remote in a Trump administration and climate change activists are already concerned about who he might appoint to head the EPA. Let’s get some popcorn and watch.

When it comes to international trade, Trump has been even more of a hawk than he has on environmental policies. He has promised to “renegotiatie” the North American Free Trade Agreement, promised to not sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership and said then there’s the wall he said he’d build between the U.S. and Mexico.

Is all of this campaign bluster? Will Trump speak differently once he’s actually in office? What does this mean for actual policy? We asked Wiley Rein International Trade Practice Attorney Alan Price about it and he said there’s cause for actual concern.

Meanwhile, in actual metals markets this week, the bull market that started early this year shows no signs of letting up. If anything, the election was good for metals. Copper broke resistance and hit a 15-month high this week. It looks as if the bulls will run well into 2017, too.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

The sun rose again on Wednesday. When President-elect Trump met and shook hands with President Obama a sense of normalcy even seemed to return (despite protests in some cities). One can only hope for a break from the bitterness of this very tough presidential campaign. The country needs it.

As oil prices flirted with $55/barrel this week, U.S. shale drillers expanded production and most metals saw their prices rise as energy and transportation costs went up, too. What a better week to report strong price increases in the October MetalMiner IndX? But it wasn’t all climbing prices.

MetalMiner Price Benchmarking: Current and Historical Prices for the Metals You Buy

The breakout metals star this year, zinc, has started to fall. Our own Raul de Frutos warns that it’s nothing to be worried about. Don’t expect zinc to turn bearish or anything. Meanwhile, in China, manufacturing provinces have found a way to curtail power costs, no matter what the price.

Liquid Molten Steel Industry

Why sell parts manufacturers boring ol’ formed products when you can sell them liquid aluminum that they can make into anything they want? Source: Adobe Stock/kybele.

As MetalMiner co-founder Stuart Burns explained, Chinese aluminum smelters are taking advantage of close proximity to manufacturers there to make molten aluminum — no refiring — their, umm, hottest product. Read more

This week we saw precious metals, particularly gold, fall as the Federal Reserve board looked increasingly hawkish about finally raising interest rates significantly by December. They really mean business this time!

MetalMiner Price Benchmarking: Current and Historical Prices for the Metals You Buy

The strong dollar has been causing metal prices to fall for the last two months, but this week it hit a seven-month high. If the dollar was Nickelback, precious metals would be Bon Jovi. When investors put their money into the metal, itself, it directly affects the value of the dollar, a commodity that’s merely a certified paper version of the valuable metal and, in this case, vice versa. Why is the dollar riding so high? The rally is based, partially, on those hawkish Fed governor comments. But there’s another reason…

The U.K. and E.U. Can’t Stop Their Brexit Bickering

Yes, the nation that brought you “Fawlty Towers” and “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” is punking its soon-to-be-former European Union partners by drawing up lists of what it gets in the divorce and generally demanding access to the Europe’s single market when it finally leaves.

Other European leaders are rattling the sabre right back and threatening punitive sanctions and zero access to the U.K. once it leaves. French President Francois Hollande seems to be leading the charge but, honestly, most French people would gladly give the U.K. anything it wants if they’d simply promise to take Hollande off their hands. He’s seriously the most disapproved of president in French history.

This has to do with metals because the back-and-forth finally resulted in a flash crash in the pound’s value and that dragged the Euro down against the dollar, too. Here in the U.S. our presidential election has turned childish bickering into somewhat of an art form. Nice that the Europeans have taken notice and are trying the same. It’s helping to boost the dollar.

Alcoa’s Last Stand (Kind of)… As One Company

Meanwhile, Alcoa, Inc., will be splitting itself in two next month. The company reported disappointing earnings in its last earnings season kickoff report as a unified group. A spin-off will take its aerospace and automotive metals business into a new direction while leaving its money-losing primary aluminum smelting business gets to… still smelt.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

Anyway, the company posted a higher third-quarter profit, but revenue fell and that discouraged investors who punished the company’s stock. I bet the titanium and nickel-alloy business unit members of Alcoa thought to themselves, “not my problem anymore.”

How anyone can even contemplate bringing such a freakish looking robo doll into their home I cannot imagine. Not since “The Conjuring,” a 2013 film about a possessed doll called Annabelle, has quite such a scary looking item been released on the unsuspecting public. What was Toyota thinking?

MetalMiner Price Benchmarking: Current and Historical Prices for the Metals You Buy

What am I talking about? Toyota’s 10-centimetre (4-inch) tall talking robot called Kirobo Mini, which will be sold in Japan from next year for $392 (¥39,800) and claims to have the intelligence of a five-year-old.

Source Financial Times

Kiroboo Mini. Source: Financial Times.

The idea of the robot is that it is supposed to provide an emotional connection, maybe particularly relevant for Japan’s aging population bereft of company, Kirobo is said to be able to learn phrases and recognize facial expressions with a built-in camera and sensors. A veritable helper robot with a personality.

Artificial Creepiness

The firm is heavily into artificial intelligence although they do not suggest Kirobo will go that far, yet, rather they are building on the platform built by Sony with their Aibo robotic dog; Toyota will be partnering with Vaio, the personal computer company that was spun off from Sony. Vaio’s plant in Nagano prefecture is also where Sony’s Aibo robotic dog was formerly produced.

As anyone who has lived with a five-year-old in the house will confirm, they can be the most manipulative and capricious of individuals. One hopes Toyota’s programmers do not take the “abilities of a five-year-old” too far or Kirobo may be rather more of a handful than Japan’s elderly but lonely seniors can cope with.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

You wonder if Toyota has their target audience right, sure domestically in Japan their demographic may be crying out for such a product but internationally one could imagine plenty of single people living in rented accommodation who cant have animals would find something to talk to and have talk back an improvement on Siri. If they would just change that face….

In a hilarious article, the Financial Times likens British government officials eying up of the European Union’s assets to divorce lawyers circling their client’s ex-half’s possessions in an attempt to secure the best settlement.

MetalMiner Price Benchmarking: Current and Historical Prices for the Metals You Buy

In the case of the E.U., the claims are substantial, the paper contends. Any exit deal must settle complex liabilities including the U.K. share of guarantees on €60 billion of Eurocrat pensions and almost €20 billion of European Investment Bank loans. At a minimum, the U.K. will continue to pay into the E.U. budget until it leaves in the Spring of 2019, but Brussels is pressing the payments to continue long after 2019, saying commitments to fund projects with longer dates should be honored.

AdobeStock_martialred_brexit_550_100816

Divorce/Brexit can be so hard… especially dividing up your stuff! Source: Adobe Stock/MartialRed.

Apart from snapping shut the checkbook, you might think the U.K. doesn’t have a whole lot of leverage… not so, U.K. officials say! Read more

Welcome back to the MetalMiner week-in-review. This week, the aluminum world got together in Washington to discuss the threat of overcapacity and the particular problem of Chinese overproduction.

MetalMiner Price Benchmarking: Current and Historical Prices for the Metals You Buy

The U.S. International Trade Commission is involved now. Read our investigation of Chinese overproduction and how it affects aluminum companies around the world while the ITC deliberates.

Source: Thomson Reuters Datastream/China Customs 8/9/2016

We’ve seen Chinese steel exports consistently climb. Source: Thomson Reuters Datastream/China Customs 8/9/2016.

Oil Overproduction

Speaking of overproduction, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has finally agreed to its first production cuts since 2008. Read more

Welcome back to the MetalMiner week-in-review! This week we’ve got in-depth reporting on China and market economy status, India getting tough on aluminum imports and Canada… well, you’ll see what happened in Canada.

We Know Gold Prices Have Gone Up… Butt This is Ridiculous

The theft of about $140,000 worth of gold ($180,000 in Canadian dollars) from the Royal Canadian Mint, was supposedly an inside job… in more ways than one.

MetalMiner Price Benchmarking: Current and Historical Prices for the Metals You Buy

After a trial that concluded in Ottawa on Tuesday, Leston Lawrence, a 35-year-old employee of the government mint in Ottawa, stood accused of foiling the facility’s high security and smuggling out 18 7.4-ounce pucks — this is Canada, after all — worth about $6,800 each. He sold most of the pucks, cooled into the size of a purity testing dipper used at the mint, to an Ottawa Gold Sellers retail store at a nearby mall. The accused criminal mastermind also had four more of the pucks in a safe deposit box.

AdobeStock_John_Takai_security_gold

“Go ahead, scan me with the wand. Nothing to see here.” Source: Adobe Stock/John Takai.

The question the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or the Mint, couldn’t figure out is how he got past the state-of-the-art security that featured full-body metal detectors and secondary screenings with a wand for anyone that tripped the first scan?

Before Lawrence was fired from the Mint and arrested in 2015, investigators also found a tub of Vaseline in his locker. While the wand scanners can pick up even small pieces of metal in a person’s clothes, security officials from the Mint said they probably would not detect dipper-sized gold pucks that were forced between someone’s buttocks using the vaseline.

Ewww, Canada. Read more

The tin market, along with nickel and zinc, has been a standout performer this year.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

Whereas copper, aluminum and other ferrous metals have languished due to oversupply, the tin price has risen steadily and robust demand has met a constrained supply market. According to the World Metal Statistics August report, the tin market recorded a deficit of 7,200 metric tons during January to June 2016. That’s less of a deficit than in the equivalent period in 2015, true, but still a deficit and with no DLA deliveries during the period total reported stocks fell by 2,600 mt during June. In spite of rising production of refined metal in Asia, a 12.6% increase in demand from top consumer China kept the market under pressure.

Strongbow!

Against such a backdrop, the reopening of previously abandoned mines is not unexpected. What does raise an eyebrow is the tactics of one junior miner in employing the image of the hit UK BBC period drama “Poldark” in trying to entice investors onto its $150 million fund.

Strongbow Exploration is invoking the romance of the series set in the 18th century mining industry of northern Cornwall to buy-a-bit-of-history, according to the Telegraph. The TV series featuring the dashing Aiden Turner and delectable Eleanor Tomlinson has been a massive hit here in the U.K. — and may prove equally popular to the “Downton Abbey” series once it’s rolled out around the world. It’s just starting its second series (or “season” to you Americans) with even higher viewing numbers.

Poldark: Courtesy of PBS/Masterpiece.

“One Day, this will all be yours.” “What, the curtains?” “No, all that you bloody see!” Poldark is taking audiences by storm and igniting memories of romantic tin mining. Image courtesy of PBS/Masterpiece.

Strongbow may well raise its capital on the romantic idea of buying into a 400-year-old mining tradition, but hard-nosed investors may like to know that with modern recovery technologies, Strongbow’s South Crofty mine has at least a 10-year lifespan.

Read more