Humor

The big news in metals this week was China’s economy growing at the slowest rate since 2009. If our bearish markets are to turn around this year, it would appear they’re going to have to do it without help from the world’s second-largest economy.

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But that’s not all that we learned from China this week. In many ways, China doesn’t really look like an economy growing at even 7%, with exports plunging in March, power generation dropping 3.7%, and a host of other indicators pointing to sluggish growth. This is bad because the most of the demand for our metals is based on China at least maintaining 7.5% economic growth. In today’s world economy, if you’re not growing, you’re dying.

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As we struggled through a week of bearish forecasts and weak growth, bears just started popping up everywhere, too. No matter how much you tried to not think about it, the bearish outlook for our metal markets was omnipresent.

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One of them was staring at us from our Q2/Q3 forecast webinar. Vladimir Putin was riding one in toy form. Even the beloved, cuddly ones like Winnie the Pooh and his new movie made us think of poorly performing markets and surplus stocks. That’s when we thought, is this bear market really that big and bad?

Respect the Bear

Should we really fear bear markets? Sure, everyone WANTS bull markets, but bears serve a valuable purpose by creating supply and demand equilibrium and separating visitors to national parks from their pick-a-nick baskets. Bull markets can’t even exist without the occasional bear putting things right.

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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 announced his retirement.

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!”

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

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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 😉

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.

Burns deftly explains how the London Metal Exchange’s Commitments of Traders Report (COTR) shows that longs have moved to shorts, suggesting not just that investors switched when they saw the prices fall, but may well have created the fall by bailing out of long positions they had built up in the expectation of supply shortages that were not materializing.

Stick with us and you’ll know which deficits and surpluses are real and which ones are phantoms.

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U.S. Steel Corp. received approval for its Alabama electric arc furnace this week.

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Wouldn’t it be great to have your own backyard EAF? You could make your own steel products — such as big, giant swords — from scrap such as old appliances and discarded steel or tin cans. Even if you’re not reusing the metal, you could melt just about anything.

King of Random Grant Thompson explains how on YouTube. This lifehack shows how the electrodes from lantern batteries and an alumina-silicate refractory brick can be used to make your own mini EAF. There is also a nice tutorial on how to make your own zinc ingots here, too.

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Are you seeing things in your graphs? Florida’s Gulf Coast in raw steel movements? San Francisco’s Nob Hill in US dollar index if you flip it to its side?

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You may have graphmind. There’s no cure.

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MetalCrawler crawls the web for the latest metal news so you don’t have to. We even get that hard to reach metal news from China.
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We’ve also got more on the Gold Apple Watch and Chile’s copper mining industry.

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Metalcrawler finds metal news so you don’t have to.

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MetalCrawler scours the web for the latest metal news, whether it’s Apple inventing a new gold alloy just for its devices, major acquisitions, the price of steel or whether Marvel/Disney will finally cave and accurately change the name of its trillion dollar movie franchise to Titanium Alloy Man.

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China’s economy expanded at its worst pace in 24 years last year (7.4%). It’s been a rough 18 months for our friends in Beijing. They were happy to take the last week off and say goodbye to the year of the horse, which has left a big Charlie horse on their economy’s figurative leg. The weeklong Lunar New Year Celebration ushered in the year of the sheep. Or, if you prefer a different translation, the year of the goat.

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This is appropriate because China has been the scapegoat for everything that’s wrong with our metal markets. China’s shadow banking sector was blamed for falling copper prices last year. China’s rare earths export quota policy was blamed by the World Trade Organization for protectionist pricing, scarcity of rare earths and increasing prices for years until China finally gave in and lifted the quotas at the end of last year.

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With base metal prices down and oil, while recovering a bit, still far below its 2014 highs, more trucks and SUVs are being purchased and the cost savings of even the most proven renewable technologies, such as roof-mounted solar panels, isn’t the savings it was just a few months ago.

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Yet, much of our coverage was devoted to renewables this week. BP released its Energy Outlook 2035 and the predictions were, well, not good.

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