MetalMiner Prices

Aluminum Prices

View quotes and charts of the North American Aluminum Index and current pricing for 3003-H14 Sheet

Carbon Steel Prices

View quotes and charts of the North American Carbon Steel Index and current pricing for A36 Plate, 1008 Sheet, and 1011 Sheet

Nickel Alloy Prices

View quotes and charts of the North American Nickel Alloy Index and current pricing for 625 Sheet

Stainless Steel Prices

View quotes and charts of the North American Stainless Steel Index and current pricing for 304 Sheet, and 430 Sheet

Titanium Prices

View quotes and charts of the North American Titanium Index and current pricing for TI-6-4 Bar
Articles on: Metal Prices

The Chinese government is attempting to support domestic businesses by shoring up rare earths market conditions.

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

This includes stepped up enforcement of environmental rules at rare-earth metal plants and crackdowns on illegal mining and smuggling.

Rare-Earths_Chart_December-2016_FNL

Beijing carried out a series of spot inspections on environmental measures at factories last summer. Teams of experts tested wastewater and examined pollution-reduction measures at rare-earths smelting and separation plants. Operations at facilities that did not meet standards were suspended.

Those inspections covered a total of eight provinces and regions, such as Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang and Jiangsu.

Japan is still wary of Chinese production due to a 2011 unofficial boycott of selling raw rare earths to the islands by Chinese producers. So much so that the Japanese have taken an interest in keeping Australian rare earths miner Lynas Corp. alive and helped it restructure its debts last month.

Now, some Chinese producers of rare-earth magnets are seeking to use this month’s expiration of a key patent held by Hitachi Metals Ltd. to expand exports of magnets used in products from motors to smartphones. The 17-year-old patent defines the structure of a specific type of neodymium magnet. Its expiration paves the way for previously blocked Chinese producers to sell to U.S. customers, according to Sun Baoyu, chairman of Shenyang General Magnetic Co. His company has formed an alliance with six Chinese producers to promote their products and fight Hitachi over other patents that the Japanese company says largely prevent rivals from making the magnets.

The expired U.S. patent is number 5,645,651, which describes a magnet which uses neodymium and cobalt.

The end of the patent will pit the seven producers in the alliance, and potentially others who try to tap into the market, against Hitachi and eight Chinese companies that have paid for the right to make and ship the magnet. Neodymium magnets are used in both smartphones and hybrid cars and a price war in their production could potentially bring down the cost of those end-use products.

Hitachi holds more than 600 patents for rare-earth magnets globally, some of which it acquired after taking over Sumitomo Special Metals Co. in the 2000s.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

The Rare Earths MMI did not move for the sixth consecutive month, showing just how much the market has stabilized since the last China-Japan rare earths dust up.

For full access to this MetalMiner membership content:
Log In |

MetalMiner’s Global Precious Metals MMI dropped two points this month to 79, from 81 in November; a 2.5% decrease. But that’s less the story than what happened within this precious metals sub-index.

The PGM Story

As we said last month, longer-term structural concerns remain for the platinum-group metals (PGMs), especially platinum and palladium. However, in the short term, one of those two precious metals that are instrumental in automotive catalytic converters kept the Global Precious MMI from falling even further for December.

Global-Precious-Metals_Chart_December-2016_FNL

Indeed, with gold and silver falling across all four geographic markets (see below), our U.S palladium bar price jumped to an 18-month high, rising a whopping 24% month-over-month. Japanese palladium also rose appreciably.

The platinum bar price, however, did the reverse. Our U.S. platinum bar price hit a 10-month low, dropping 7% since Nov. 1.

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

Crossing like ships in the night, one heading north, one heading south, what should buyers make of the platinum/palladium divergence?

According to HSBC senior analyst James Steel, talking to Platts, “the platinum-palladium spread has narrowed substantially, from $375/ounce before the U.S. election. This reflects clearly tighter underlying fundamentals for palladium.”

With car sales in the U.S. and China continuing to be robust, and with Johnson Matthey predicting another supply deficit in 2017, palladium could continue its buoyancy for the near future.

The Dollar –> Infrastructure –> Gold

Raul de Frutos gave MetalMiner readers this helpful rundown in late November:

A rising dollar depresses commodity prices, especially precious metals. It does have less of an effect on more economically-sensitive groups like energy and industrial metals. Indeed, industrial metals are on the rise despite a strong dollar. This is because the dollar is rising on expectations of higher rates down the road but, at the same time, metal prices are getting an additional boost because of Trump’s plans to spend big on the nation’s infrastructure. However, gold’s demand won’t be affected by infrastructure spending. As a result, investors are left without reasons to buy gold at this moment.

That still appears to be the case here in early December, as the US gold price on our MetalMiner IndX hit its lowest point in 10 months, falling to $1,173/oz on Dec. 1 — just over an 8% drop from Nov. 1.

(Silver prices followed suit across 4 markets globally, all dropping from November to December.)

For full access to this MetalMiner membership content:
Log In |

After rising strongly for the last month or more, copper prices now appear to be buffeted by every scrap of news that comes out.

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

“Copper prices fell this week as investors cashed in gains after the previous session’s rally,” news.com in Australia reported yesterday. The gist of the argument seems to be the 23% rise in the copper price last month was a step too far. The site quoted Caroline Bain of Capital Economics saying “You only have to look at the levels of investor buying to see that quite a lot of these rallies have been based on euphoria rather than grounded in fundamentals. We think we will see some profit-taking inevitably as we end the year”

Reuters, on the other hand, took a somewhat contrary view, reporting copper prices climbing mid-week, buoyed by a pickup in U.S. manufacturing. The newspaper reported new orders for U.S. factory goods recorded their biggest increase in nearly 1-and-a-half years in October, evidence that the manufacturing sector is gradually recovering after a prolonged downturn and as demand signals from China also improve. Read more

Our Stainless MMI rose 3.3% in November as nickel prices continue to look strong.

Stainless_Chart_December-2016_FNL

The Philippines’ output of nickel ore fell 16% in the third quarter from a year earlier, as a result of several mine suspensions due to environmental violations. The country has already stopped work at 10 of its 41 mines, eight of which are nickel mines. 20 More mines, 14 of which mine nickel, could see their licenses suspended.

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

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez recently said that there will definitely be more mine suspensions when the country releases rulings on those 20 mines, possibly within the next few days.

Meanwhile, Indonesia will cut the royalty charged on sales of processed and refined nickel to 2%, from the current 4%, to encourage more miners to develop smelters. In addition, the country appears unlikely to resume nickel ore and bauxite exports.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

On the other side of the equation, higher than expected Chinese demand is adding fuel to nickel’s price rally. The Caixin Manufacturing PMI in China was 50.9 in November, the fifth straight month of expansion. In addition, the U.S. is set to increase infrastructure spending as Donald Trump takes office.

Apart from the bullish narrative of more demand and less supply, prices are acting strong as it appears that bulls are still in control. Over the past few weeks, nickel prices are resting near $11,500/mt in what it looks like a pause to be followed by another price rally. Specially, considering the ongoing bullish sentiment across the entire industrial metals complex.

For full access to this MetalMiner membership content:
Log In |

Our Raw Steels MMI rose 14% in November amid rising Chinese and raw material prices and a rebound in domestic prices.

Raw-Steels_Chart_December-2016_FNL

Prices of flat steel products in the U.S. corrected since July but they finally showed some upside momentum in November. As we pointed out last month, there are reasons to believe domestic steel prices have found a floor and are set to rise as we move into 2017.

International Price Arbitrage Narrows: Imports Fall

Chinese demand from infrastructure and construction has been robust this year. So has its auto sector, a key industry for steel demand. Domestic prices fell over the past few months, but prices in China rose, trading now at their highest levels in two years. As a result, the international price arbitrage has come down to normal levels.

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

In some steel product categories,m like hot-rolled coil, this price arbitrage has narrowed enough that there isn’t much incentive for U.S. steel buyers to look for import offers. In October, The U.S. imported 2.4 million metric tons of steel, down 11% from the same period last year. Steel imports fell on a monthly basis for three consecutive months after they hit a one-year high in July. Fewer imports provide more pricing power to domestic steel producers in an otherwise well-supplied industry. While international steel prices continue to rise, domestic mills won’t find it difficult to find arguments for a price hike.

Industry Hopes After Trump’s Victory

What changes in the steel industry Donald Trump will make are still unknown. What’s clear is that the new president-elect made trade, manufacturing and the steel industry a cornerstone of his agenda. Stocks of American steel companies were the best performers in the stock market since the election as investors are optimistic that a Trump-led government will boost domestic infrastructure, which could be a boom for steel demand. In addition he has stated he would institute more measures to protect domestic steel producers.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

A good benchmark for steel prices is the Dow Jones U.S. Steel Index, which tracks major steel producers around the globe. The index recently rose to the highest level in five years. Since the stocks of U.S. steel companies are linked to domestic steel prices, this powerful price increase hints at a big rebound in steel prices.

Rising input costs

Higher input costs help to keep supply in check as mills’ margins get squeezed. Thermal coal prices in China have more than doubled this year. Iron ore prices reached a two-year high in November, with prices trading near $80 a metric ton. This rising trend in input costs will help support the recent rally in steel prices.

Industrial Metals Boom

Finally, another reason to expect a rebound in steel prices is the ongoing price strength across the metal complex. We are witnessing powerful moves across the board. Even copper, a metal whose fundamentals didn’t look appealing, rose over 25% in a matter of days. The bullish sentiment across base metals is another reason to expect a continuation of this recent rebound in steel prices.

For full access to this MetalMiner membership content:
Log In |

Our Aluminum MMI inched lower in November. A rising dollar put some pressure but prices held well overall. Indeed, we see some potential on the upside.

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

Something that has concerned aluminum investors throughout the year is the potential increase in Chinese aluminum production. However, restarts seem to be less than what the markets were expecting earlier. Rising costs of production will likely limit additional restarts.

Aluminum_Chart_December_2016_FNL

China’s clampdown on coal mining and supply disruptions in Australia has led to a spike in seaborne coal prices. Thermal coal prices in China have more than doubled this year. In addition, alumina, which is then processed to produce raw aluminum, has risen steeply in price over the last couple of months.

Meanwhile, even the most pessimistic estimates put the annual demand growth rate at about 4%. Not only that, but Chinese aluminum demand has been better than expected. Chinese demand from infrastructure and construction has been robust this year. The automotive sector, another big industry for aluminum demand, continues to look strong.

In October, China’s passenger car sales rose 20% from the same month last year, the sixth consecutive month that car sales have risen by double digits in China. Last year, China announced a 50% cut in the sales tax for cars with small engines to last until the end of this year. Some analysts expect that China will extend the tax cut to next year but if that’s not the case, we could see some moderation in China’s car sales numbers.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

Adding to the bull case for demand growth in China is the expected boost in U.S. infrastructure spending following republican nominee Donald Trump’s election victory. During the second half, aluminum prices took support above $1,600/mt from better-than-expected Chinese demand combined with lower-than-expected Chinese output. Trump’s election is helping fuel a rally across the industrial metals complex. It wouldn’t be a strange thing to see aluminum prices comfortably trading above $1,800/mt in 2017.

On another note, recently a massive stockpile of 500,000 metric tons of aluminum has been trucked out of the Mexican city of San José Iturbide and shipped to a remote port in Vietnam.The Wall Street Journal reports that the stockpile is believed to be related to the product of Chinese aluminum producer China Zhongwang. We don’t see this news impacting prices immediately but news like this could potentially bring up the case for increasing trade barriers between China and the U.S., especially under the lead of Trump, who has vowed to bring more jobs back home during his campaign.

For full access to this MetalMiner membership content:
Log In |
Long row of rolls of aluminum in production shop of plant.

Long row of rolls of aluminum in production shop of plant.

In a year that saw most industrial metals rally to record highs, aluminum has lagged behind. The reason? Oversupply.

According to a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, citing data from the International Aluminum Institute, global aluminum production grew to a record high of close to 5 million metric tons in October. It’s expected aluminum will continue to fall behind other metals in 2017 in terms of price growth as a result of oversupply.

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

“As we expect to see further production increases in the next few months, a record-high quantity of aluminum is likely to be produced on a whole year basis,” states a Commerzbank report, according to the WSJ.

Chinese Aluminum Producer Moves Its Supply

Our own Raul de Frutos recently reported on a significant stockpile of 500,000 metric tons of aluminum that’s been shipped from Mexico to Vietnam. What will its impact on price be?

“Although the volume is pretty big, it’s immediate impact on global aluminum prices will likely be none. This is because the metal has already been produced and it’s just moving from one place to another before its final use. The metal is already there and it’s going to be consumed whether it is in the U.S. or in another country. Therefore, it’s all already factored into the price,” de Frutos wrote.

How will aluminum and base metals fare for the remainder of 2016 and into 2017? You can find a more in-depth copper price forecast and outlook in our brand new Monthly Metal Buying Outlook report. For a short- and long-term buying strategy with specific price thresholds:

 

 

The Census Bureau reported late last week that U.S. construction spending was up during October by 0.5% compared with the September total. Year-over-year, construction spending in October was up by 3.45. During the first 10 months of the year, construction spending amounted to $972.2 billion, 4.5% above the same period in 2015.

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

Our Construction MMI was up 8.7% as domestic demand for construction metals shot up just as prices increased nearly across the board for the entire industrial metals complex.

Construction_Chart_December_2016_FNL

Construction demand in the world’s largest metals consumer, China, continues to grow even as the central government there tries to restrict home buying, the engine for that demand.

“It’s likely that the government will expand infrastructure investment to make up for the gap left by property-related investment falling,” Julia Wang, China economist at HSBC told the Financial Times.

What is buoying construction the most is an investor class now excited about all industrial and construction metals. The election of President-elect Donald Trump promises $1 trillion in U.S. infrastructure investment and stronger protections against dumping of foreign imports.

Trump’s policies, while still in their formative stages, are seen as bullish for public construction, particularly infrastructure such as roads, bridges and airports. Stocks of construction companies and materials providers also jumped after Trump’s election.

Public construction spending actually accounted for most of the increase in U.S. construction spending in October — unusually, since that sector has been contracting in recent years — gaining 2.8% compared to September. Spending on educational facilities was especially brisk, up 4.1% for the month, while highway construction gained 1.9%. Compared with last year, however, public construction spending as a whole was off 0.6%.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

While Chinese demand remains a concern, it’s a very good time to be a construction metals investor with positive sentiment nearly across the board when it comes to both construction and metals.

For full access to this MetalMiner membership content:
Log In |

Renewed economic confidence followed the election of republican nominee Donald Trump and Americans snapped up new vehicles at a rapid pace in November, giving the U.S. auto industry a chance of breaking its all-time record for full-year sales.

Two-Month Trial: Metal Buying Outlook

The Automotive MMI was up, too, jumping 8%.

In November, U.S. auto sales rose 3.7% compared with a year ago, according to Autodata Corp. On an annualized basis, that equaled a rate of 17.87 million units. November sales growth projections had ranged from 2.7% at Edmunds.com to 4.2% at Kelley Blue Book. Total sales for November were 1.38 million, that shattered a record for the month that was set in November 2001.

Automotive_Chart_December-2016_FNL

The month’s annual sales rate, adjusted for two extra selling days this November, was 17.9 million vehicles, more than the 17.7 million average estimate.

A contributing factor to the solid month was the Thanksgiving weekend and Black Friday sales, which are having an increasing effect on the month’s output. With one month to go, the auto industry has a decent chance to match or exceed its 2015 full-year record of 17.47 million vehicles sold.

Automotive sales and metals prices are both benefiting from bullish sentiment among buyers and investors. Steel companies stock prices have increased after Trump’s election just as aluminum and copper prices in the bullish metals markets.

Another factor in new car sales is the enduring low prices for both oil and gasoline, which might change soon now that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers such as Russia have finally agreed to a production freeze.

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

Rising oil prices, however, might not be the detriment to auto sales that they have in the past. Hybrid vehicles and simply more efficient fuel consumption have blunted the impact of gasoline prices on new car sales. One of the reasons that the gas tax has become such a poor funding mechanism for the federal Highway Trust Fund is that motorists simply have to buy less gas for today’s efficient, newer vehicles.

For full access to this MetalMiner membership content:
Log In |

A massive stockpile of 500,000 metric tons of aluminum has been trucked out of the Mexican city of San José Iturbide and shipped to a remote port in Vietnam.

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

The Wall Street Journal reports that the stockpile is believed to be related to the product of Chinese aluminum producer China Zhongwang.

Zhongwang is a state-supported enterprise that has received large benefits and financing from the government of China. The company also has a long history of circumventing and evading duties in trade cases. Read more