Articles in Category: Metal Prices

U.S. Flat-rolled steel prices have dropped $20-40/ton so far in August, bringing hot-rolled coil down to $580-600/ton ex-works Midwest.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

There are two schools of thought. First, the current dip reflects a typical holiday slowdown and prices will hold or come back in September. In that scenario, buyers need to secure Q4 requirements and will return to ordering in September. On the supply side, mills are taking downtime in October and Q4 for maintenance, there is still some idled capacity (U.S. Steel and AK Steel) while higher-than-expected final HRC duties and tariffs will keep out imports. The steel market will, therefore, tighten and prices will hold at the current high levels.

U.S. HRC, CRC, HDG Imports (000 tons)

Steel_insight_us_hrc_crc_HDG_imports_082316

Source: AISI, Steel-Insight.

Steel-Insight could not disagree more. While we don’t expect freefall just yet, we do expect HRC prices to be back in the high $300s/ton at some point next year. Read more

Tin prices are up as shipments have fallen off and the Philippines is, once again, considering a raw ore export ban in a bid to bolster local processing.

Tin Shipments Fall, Prices Rise

Falling shipments from top tin exporter Indonesia and predictions that a surge in mining in Myanmar is tapering off has led to a scramble for the metal, sending inventories to the lowest level in over seven-and-a-half years.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

This provides a potential for further price gains for the metal mainly used to make solder for the electronics industry, already the second-best performer among industrial metals this year.

Filipino Lawmaker Revives Ore Ban

A Filipino lawmaker has revived a proposal to ban exports of unprocessed minerals to spur domestic processing, in a move that may tighten global nickel supply and make it an even tougher business environment for miners in the world’s top producer.

Free Download: The August 2016 MMI Report

The Philippines has vast but largely untapped mineral resources, limiting the contribution of mining to its economy to less than 1%. The sector is now facing a tough regime under the government of firebrand President Rodrigo Duterte who has suspended some miners causing environmental destruction.

Tin prices continue to march higher. Tin is one of the best performers among industrial metals this year, up more than 40% from its January’s lows.

3M LME Tin. Source: MetalMiner analysis of Fastmarkets data

Three-month London Metal Exchange tin price. Source: MetalMiner analysis of Fastmarkets.com data.

The metal continues to rise on a bull narrative of supply shortfall this year.

China’s Tin Production Falls

The Chinese administration began environmental inspection at eight major provinces starting July 19th, leading to smelters in China either suspending or cutting back production.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

The recommended plant relocations and maintenance operations are expected to keep smelters idle for more than a month in some cases, with many mills not yet clear on possible restart dates. Read more

The London Metal Exchange and CME Group took action recently to, respectively, cut fees for traders and stop a spoofer.

We’re Sorry: LME Cuts Fees

The London Metal Exchange has cut fees in half for open outcry trades during August as a goodwill gesture after it had to vacate its premises because of structural problems, it said on Monday.

Free Download: The August 2016 MMI Report

Ring trading moved to its disaster recovery site in Chelmsford, east of London, in July after a potential safety issue was discovered in the building that houses its offices in London’s financial district.

CME Suspends Spoofer

CME Group, Inc. suspended a futures trader from its markets for spoofing on Monday, the exchange operator said, the latest regulatory action over the manipulative trading practice.

The company — which owns Comex, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and other exchanges — barred Andrey Sakharov from trading for 60 days and could extend his ban, according to a disciplinary notice.

On multiple dates starting last month, Sakharov entered electronic orders in CME’s gold and natural gas markets that he did not intend to trade, the disciplinary notice said.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

The practice of placing bids to buy or offers to sell contracts with the intent to cancel them before execution is known as spoofing and is illegal. It is used to create an illusion of demand in markets, so that spoofers can influence prices to benefit their market positions.

Construction has been one of the few pockets of strength in the U.S. economy – until recently. Construction payrolls have declined since March and spending in May rose less than 3% from a year earlier, the lowest rate since 2011.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

Coming after strong growth of 10% last year, the question now is whether the sputtering is just a blip or something more lasting that portends a significant drag on the economy.

The Associated Builders & Contractors, American Institute of Architects and National Association of Home Builders‘ chief economists recently gathered in Washington, D.C., for a mid-year market forecast, outlining stable to strong residential and commercial project activity through 2017.

Each economist discussed present and future indicators for sector performance, including ABC’s Construction Backlog Indicator (8.6, 1Q2016); AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (52.6 in June) and the Construction Consensus Forecast (5.6% growth in 2017); and, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (60, August 2016).

While all of the economists predicted growth in 2017, they had varying degrees of optimism.

Anirban Basu, ABC Chief Economist: “Nonresidential construction spending growth will continue into the next year with an estimated increase in the range of 3 to 4%. Growth will continue to be led by privately financed projects, with commercial construction continuing to lead the way. Energy-related construction will become less of a drag in 2017, while public spending will continue to be lackluster.”

Robert Dietz, NAHB Chief Economist: “Our forecast shows single-family production expanding by more than 10% in 2016, and the robust multifamily sector leveling off. Historically low mortgage interest rates and favorable demographics should keep the housing market moving forward at a gradual pace, but residential construction growth will be constrained by shortages of labor and lots and rising regulatory costs.”

Free Download: The August 2016 MMI Report

Kermit Baker, AIA Chief Economist: “Revenue at architecture firms continues to grow, so prospects for the construction industry remain solid over the next 12 to 18 months. Given current demographic trends, the single-family residential and the institutional building sectors have the greatest potential for further expansion at present.”

Another Chinese steelmaker, Bohai Steel Group, has been given a bailout and Japan’s Tokyo Steel Manufacturing has left prices unchanged for three months.

Bohai Bailout

Bohai Steel Group, the indebted state-owned conglomerate, may receive help from a local government bailout fund to restructure its debts, the online financial magazine Caixin said over the weekend.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

Bohai Steel, which was created in 2010 through the combination of four manufacturers, holds liabilities of $28.9 billion (192 billion CNY) from 105 creditors, alongside assets of nearly CNY 290 billion, Caixin reported.

The Tianjin government plans to create a local asset manager to assist in the debt workout of Bohai Steel, alongside other troubled Tianjin enterprises, the magazine said.

Restructuring of the group represented the biggest since the global financial crisis, Standard & Poor’s analyst Christopher Lee told Reuters in March.

Tokyo Steel Leaves Prices Unchanged

Tokyo Steel Manufacturing, Japan’s top electric arc furnace steelmaker, said on Monday it would keep product prices unchanged for the third month in September, reflecting a slow recovery in its local market.

Free Download: The August 2016 MMI Report

Tokyo Steel’s pricing strategy is closely watched by Asian rivals such as POSCO, Hyundai Steel Co. and Baosteel, which all export to Japan.

a handful of granular zinc on a white backgroundPreliminary data from the International Lead and Zing Study Group reveals the global market for refined zinc metal was in deficit from January to May this year with reported total inventories also declining over that same time frame.

Decreases in output from India, Australia, Peru, Ireland and the U.S. led to the significant 7.7% reduction in global zinc mine production in the first half of 2016, compared to the same time period in 2015.

Want a short- and medium-term buying outlook for aluminum, copper, tin, lead, zinc, nickel and several forms of steel? Sign up for your free trial to our monthly buying outlook reports!

“World output of refined zinc metal declined by 3.6% with reductions in India, Japan and the U.S. being partially balanced by increases in the Republic of Korea and Namibia,” the ILZSG report stated.

The report also stated that world demand for refined zinc metal grew 0.6% due to the rise in Chinese apparent usage, to the tune of 8.2%, that offset declines in Japan, Taiwan, the Republic of Korea and the U.S.

Lastly, Chinese imports of zinc contained in zinc concentrates fell substantially, by 26% with the country’s net imports of refined zinc metal growing by 112%.

Metal Prices Bullish on Global Stock Markets

Investors are becoming more positive on the health of the global economy, which could translate to industrial metals demand growth. The reason? Global stock markets continue to rise, and have already made up for their losses following Brexit.

You can find a more in-depth zinc price forecast and outlook in our brand new Monthly Metal Buying Outlook report. Check it out to receive short- and long-term buying strategies with specific price thresholds.

Reuters_zinc_prices_vs_zinc_stocks_550_081616

Source: Thomson Reuters Datastream.

London Metal Exchange warehouse zinc stocks have steadily fallen since mid-2012, despite mostly stable prices during that period.

Three-month Aluminum on the London Metal Exchange hit a new 13-month high this week, retaking the $1,700 level.

3M LME Aluminum hits 13-month high

Three-month LME Aluminum hits 13-month high. Source: MetalMiner analysis of Fastmarkets data.

Recently we talked about the decline in aluminum exports this year. China exported 390,000 metric tons of unwrought aluminum in July, down 9.3% from July of last year. Chinese aluminum exports have fallen around 7% for the first seven months of 2016. Lower aluminum exports are supporting aluminum prices this year.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

Despite the fall in exports, the U.S. is considering asking for a reclassification of aluminum products to stop a flood of “fake semi-finished” aluminum products entering the global market. The reason is that Chinese aluminum exporters seem to be avoiding export duties while simultaneously qualifying for Chinese export subsidies for semi-finished products, for products that are being shipped specifically for remelting as unwrought. Read more

At least according to a European Union official familiar with the Union’s steel sector plans, says Reuters.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

The E.U. is certainly ramping up the pressure. This year, alone, the European Commission has 37 anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures in place for steel products, 15 of them concerning China, slapping anti-dumping duties on products such as rebar, cold-rolled carbon steel and cold-rolled stainless steel, ranging between 18.4 and 25.3% for imports from China.

Everybody Gets on the Tariff Bandwagon

The E.U. is scheduled to rule on plate and hot-rolled coil from China in November and while rates haven’t been at the same level as the U.S. where up to 520% duties are have been applied, they are estimated by the industry to need to be in the 30-40% range in order to be effective.

Steel mills Molten iron smelting furnace production line

Can China’s zombie steel mills be shut down? Beijing is trying a new tactic. Source: Adobe Stock/ZJK.

Yet despite the unprecedented level of action, carbon steel imports in the year to May rose 21% with China now representing 27% of total E.U. imports, while stainless steel imports rose 17% over the period, E.U. data shows, even though demand remained almost flat. Read more