Author Archives: Irene Martinez Canorea

Charles/Adobe Stock

In October, the Copper Monthly Metals Index (MMI) increased four points, recovering to August 2018 levels.

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The latest Copper MMI latest increase came from stronger LME copper prices in September. The current Copper MMI stands at 77 points.

LME copper prices recovered momentum in September and increased sharply. The LME copper price breached the $6,000/mt level.

Source: MetalMiner analysis of Fastmarkets

Readers may want to remember that the $6,000/mt level served as a price ceiling in 2017. Prices climbed toward that ceiling several times during 2017, but failed to breach it. However, prices skyrocketed in August 2017 when copper prices breached the ceiling. Copper has remained in a long-term uptrend since then.

In June 2018, copper prices started to fall. LME copper prices entered a short-term downtrend, which appears to have switched. LME copper prices increased sharply in September, and have continued to increase in October.

Despite concerns about a Chinese economic slowdown and Chinese manufacturing (with a falling Chinese Caixin Manufacturing PMI), copper looks stronger.

Despite an easing of supply in Chilean mines, copper remains in a 45,000-ton deficit. In fact, miner BHP forecasts an increase in copper demand.

The miner analyzed Chinese overseas construction projects, noting copper demand could grow by 1.6 million tons, or 7% of annual demand. If Chinese demand starts increasing again, the copper supply-and-demand balance may fall into a wider deficit and prices may find some additional support.

Chinese Copper Scrap

LME copper prices and Chinese copper scrap prices tend to follow the same trend. However, prices traded differently this month.

LME copper prices increased sharply, while copper scrap prices fell slightly. However, copper scrap price momentum appears to have recovered. Scrap prices could increase in the short term.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

The spread has widened again. The wider the spread, the higher the copper scrap consumption and, therefore, the price.

What This Means for Industrial Buyers

LME copper prices showed strength this month.

Buying organizations will  want to understand how to react to the latest copper price movements. Adapting the right buying strategy is crucial for reducing risks. Only the MetalMiner monthly outlooks provide a continually updated snapshot of the market from which buying organizations can determine when and how much to buy of the underlying metal.

For more information on how to mitigate price risk year-round, request a free trial to our Monthly Metal Buying Outlook.

MetalMiner’s Annual Outlook provides 2018 buying strategies for carbon steel

Actual Copper Prices and Trends

In September, most of the prices comprising the Copper MMI basket increased.

LME copper rose by 5.30% this month. Indian copper prices increased by 4.99%, while Chinese primary copper prices increased 5.18%.

Prices of U.S. copper producer grades 110 and 122 increased by 5.58%. Meanwhile, the price of U.S. copper producer grade 102 increased by 5.30%, up to $3.74/pound.

The Raw Steels Monthly Metals Index MMI again traded sideways this month.

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This marks the third consecutive month the index has held at 89 points. The current Raw Steels MMI is at May 2018 levels.

Domestic steel prices have decreased sharply and steel price momentum seems to have slowed. Prices traded lower in September and continued the downtrend in October. Buying organizations may want to remember that domestic steel prices have remained at more than seven-year highs this year.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

All forms of steel fell in September. HRC, CRC and HDG showed weaker momentum. Meanwhile, plate prices held stronger in September. Plate prices had the support of low metal availability.

However, plate prices started to lose momentum and decrease at the end of the month.

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The Stainless Steel Monthly Metals Index (MMI) fell again this month. The slide of six points moved the index to 72 from the previous 78 reading. Lower nickel prices led the fall, while domestic stainless steel surcharges also fell.

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The drop in the index comes a result of a MetalMiner adjustment to a couple of metals that make up the Stainless MMI. The adjustment is not due to a dramatic fall in nickel or stainless prices.

LME Nickel

LME nickel prices traded lower in August and have continued to drop so far in September.

Nickel prices seemed more volatile in August than for the whole of 2018. Current prices have returned to January 2018 levels. Despite the recent downtrend, nickel prices have remained in an uptrend since last summer (June-July), when prices started to increase sharply.

Source: MetalMiner analysis of FastMarkets

A fundamental tightness in the nickel market could also add more support to nickel prices. Combined nickel stocks have fallen by 45% since the beginning of 2016. LME nickel stocks have fallen for 11 consecutive months, and currently stand at 248,328 tons (back to 2013 levels).

SHFE stocks have fallen by 82% since 2016, when SHFE stocks reached 110,000 tons. Current SHFE stock levels stand at 18,844 tons.

Domestic Stainless Steel Market

Domestic stainless steel surcharges fell for the second time since the beginning of the year. The 316/316L-coil NAS surcharge fell to $0.99/pound, while the 304/304L decreased to $0.70/pound.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

The pace of stainless steel surcharge increases seems to have slowed this month, along with steel (and stainless steel) price increases. However, stainless steel surcharges remain in a clear uptrend and appear well above 2015-2017 lows.

What This Means for Industrial Buyers

Stainless steel price momentum slowed down slightly this past month. However, both steel and nickel remain in a bull market.

Therefore, buying organizations may want to follow the market closely for opportunities to buy on the dips. To understand how to adapt buying strategies to your specific needs on a monthly basis, request a free trial of our Monthly Outlook now.

Actual Stainless Steel Prices and Trends

Both Chinese 304 stainless steel coil fell by 1%, while Chinese 316 stainless steel coil prices increased this month by 3.02%.

MetalMiner’s Annual Outlook provides 2018 buying strategies for carbon steel

Chinese Ferrochrome prices decreased this month by 4.25%, falling to $1,848/mt. Nickel prices also fell 9.56% to $12,570/mt.

The Raw Steels Monthly Metals Index (MMI) traded sideways this month, driven by slower domestic steel price momentum. The current Raw Steels MMI fell to May 2018 levels.

Need buying strategies for steel? Request your two-month free trial of MetalMiner’s Outlook

Domestic steel prices have started to fall slightly. Prices traded lower in August, showing some downward momentum. Buying organizations may want to remember that this year domestic steel prices have remained at more than seven-year highs.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

All forms of steel decreased in August. HRC, CRC and HDG showed weaker momentum. Meanwhile, plate prices held stronger in August. Plate prices had the support of low metal availability. However, plate prices lost momentum at the end of August and prices decreased. So far in September, prices for all steel forms declined.

The recent slowdown in steel prices may comes down to historical steel price cyclicality. Domestic steel prices have remained in a sharp uptrend since January 2018. Prices have started to come off slightly but remain higher than last year’s average.

Chinese Steel Prices

So far in September, Chinese steel prices have increased. Chinese steel prices increased in August, recovering price momentum. Chinese steel prices appear to be in a recovery and have started an uptrend, after a slight downtrend since the beginning of the year. Higher Chinese domestic demand has supported prices.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

Chinese steel prices tend to drive U.S. domestic steel prices. Therefore, buying organizations may want to keep a close eye on pricing.

The Spread

The hot-rolled coil and cold-rolled coil spread seems to be weaker than historical pricing.

The spread has been historically around the +/- $100/st level. However, the spread started a divergence back in November 2015, reaching around $200/st. 

The current spread now stands at $79/st. This means that CRC and HRC prices have become closer than anticipated. Market anomalies sometimes create divergences in prices. However, this may correct soon.

What This Means for Industrial Buyers

Since steel prices remain high, buying organizations may want to follow price movements closely to decide when to commit to mid- and long-term purchases. Adapting the right buying strategy becomes crucial to reducing risks.

Only the MetalMiner monthly outlooks provide a continually updated snapshot of the market from which buying organizations can determine when and how much to buy of the underlying metal. Click here for more information on how to mitigate price risk year-round and request your two-month free trial.

MetalMiner’s Annual Outlook provides 2018 buying strategies for carbon steel

Actual Raw Steel Prices and Trends

The U.S. Midwest HRC 3-month futures price fell this month by 3.68%, falling to $785/st.

Chinese steel billet prices increased sharply this month by 11.56%, while Chinese slab prices increased just by 1.17%, moving to $634/mt.

The U.S. shredded scrap price closed the month at $354/st, decreasing from last month.

In September, the Copper Monthly Metals Index (MMI) fell again by four points. The Copper MMI has continued to slide, mainly driven by weaker LME copper prices in August. The current Copper MMI stands at 73 points.

Buying Aluminum in 2018? Download MetalMiner’s free annual price outlook

The recent Copper MMI hit July 2017 levels, when prices breached the $5,980/mt then-resistance level and started to skyrocket.

Source: MetalMiner analysis of Fastmarkets

Copper pricing has been sliding, driven by concerns about a Chinese economic slowdown. However, fundamentals indicate the metal will remain in a deficit. Stock levels have decreased on the major exchanges.

Supply issues have eased in most Chilean mines. Workers at the Chilean Escondida mine signed a new labor agreement after the government mediated  the conflict. However, workers at the Caserones mine remains on strike.

Meanwhile, copper production at Codelco, Chile’s state-owned mine, increased 2% in the first six months of 2018 to 813,000 tons.

Russia seems to have moved toward developing the base metal, too. Construction has just started at the biggest undeveloped copper deposit in Russia. Udokan serves as the largest undeveloped copper deposit in Russia, with 26.7 million tons of copper (it is also one of the biggest in the world).

However, copper faces one large problem. Smelting capacity continues to grow, but the base metal availability has moved moved toward a larger deficit. Therefore, buying organizations may see decreasing treatment and refining charges next year.

Chinese Scrap Copper

LME copper prices and Chinese copper scrap prices tend to follow the same trend. Both appear to be in a long-term uptrend.

However, both LME copper and scrap copper prices fell again this month. So far in September, copper scrap prices have fallen less than LME copper prices. The spread has tightened again (the wider the spread, the higher the copper scrap consumption and, therefore, the price).

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

Copper scrap has come into the line of fire of the new 25% tariff imposed by China. The tariff went into effect Aug. 23. The new levies imposed by China on $16 billion of U.S. goods include U.S. scrap metals, waste paper and plastic cargoes.

In Q1 of this year, China imported 132,000 metric tons of copper scrap. The U.S. serves as the second-largest supplier of copper scrap to China, just behind Hong Kong.

What This Means for Industrial Buyers

Despite the recent dip, LME copper prices still remain strong. Buying organizations will want to understand how to react to the latest copper price movements. Adapting the right buying strategy becomes crucial to reduce risks. Only the MetalMiner monthly outlooks provide a continually updated snapshot of the market from which buying organizations can determine when and how much to buy of the underlying metal.

Click here for more info on how to mitigate price risk year-round and request your free trial to our Monthly Metal Buying Outlook.

Actual Copper Prices and Trends

In August, most of the prices comprising the Copper MMI basket decreased.

LME copper fell again, dropping 6.21% month over month as of Sept. 1. Indian copper prices decreased by 5.9%, while Chinese primary copper prices fell by 4.8%.

MetalMiner’s Annual Outlook provides 2018 buying strategies for carbon steel

Prices of U.S. copper producer grades 110 and 122 fell by 6.42%. Meanwhile, the price of U.S. copper producer grade 102 fell by 6.10%, down to $3.54/pound.

The September Aluminum Monthly Metals Index (MMI) traded sideways this month. The Aluminum MMI index stands at 95 points.

Buying Aluminum in 2018? Download MetalMiner’s free annual price outlook

LME aluminum prices increased in August. However, so far in September, prices have fallen. Aluminum prices are in a sideways trend within the $1970-$2170/mt band.

Source: MetalMiner analysis of FastMarkets

Buying organizations may want to remember that the $1,970/mt level has served as a strong support level (or floor) since August 2017.

During 2017 and 2018, aluminum prices fell two times  toward that support level and rebounded from it. Aluminum prices decreased in December and April.

Therefore, buying organizations may want to follow closely how aluminum prices react to that level.

Global Aluminum

Mexico launched an anti-dumping probe against Chinese aluminum foil makers after reaching a new NAFTA deal with the U.S.  Mexico and the U.S. reached a new NAFTA agreement on Aug. 27. The U.S. and Mexico agreed to increase regional automotive content to 75% from the current 62.5% in NAFTA. The deal will be reviewed after six years. As stated by the USTR, duty-free access for agricultural products remains in place.

Meanwhile, Japanese aluminum premium offers have fallen by around 13-15% from last quarter. Current pricing indicates Japanese aluminum premiums of between $112-$115/mt. Premiums represent the regional logistical costs of moving metal from the producer to the regional exchange. (it is a cost borne by the consumer). Japan is Asia’s biggest aluminum importer.

SHFE Aluminum

Chinese SHFE aluminum prices increased in August, following the LME aluminum trend.

So far in September, prices have retraced slightly. As with LME prices, the SHFE long-term trend has become a mostly sideways trend.

Source: MetalMiner analysis of FastMarkets

U.S. Domestic Aluminum

As a result of the ongoing uncertainty in the aluminum market, U.S. Midwest aluminum premiums have skyrocketed this year.

However, the U.S. Midwest premium has fallen for the second consecutive month. The premium currently stands at $0.19/pound.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

What This Means for Industrial Buyers

Despite the recent downtrend, the LME aluminum price trend suggests a continuation of the bull market that started last year.

Tariffs, sanctions and supply concerns will act as supports to aluminum prices, both for LME aluminum and the U.S. Midwest premium. Adapting the right buying strategy becomes crucial to reducing risks. Only the MetalMiner monthly outlooks provide a continually updated snapshot of the market from which buying organizations can determine when and how much to buy of the underlying metal.

Click here for more information from our Monthly Metal Buying Outlook on how to mitigate price risk year-round.

Want to see an Aluminum Price forecast? Take a free trial!

Actual Aluminum Prices and Trends

LME aluminum prices increased this past month, with a closing price in August of $2,118/mt.

Meanwhile, Korean Commercial 1050 sheet fell by 3.6%, following last month’s downtrend.

Chinese aluminum primary cash prices increased by 1.12%, while Chinese aluminum bar increased by 5.03%. Chinese aluminum billet prices also decreased 5.26% this month, falling to $2,313/mt.

The Indian primary cash price fell by 0.48% to $2.06/kilogram.

The August Aluminum Monthly Metals Index (MMI) fell two points last month. The current Aluminum MMI index now stands at 93 points.

Buying Aluminum in 2018? Download MetalMiner’s free annual price outlook

LME aluminum prices fell in July. However, the rate of the declines has slowed. Price changes do not appear to be sharp and selling trading volume remains weak. The price decrease looks like a retracement after the peak in April due to Russian sanctions.

Source: MetalMiner analysis of FastMarkets

LME aluminum prices have fallen again toward the stiff support level that aluminum prices had during 2017 and 2018. LME aluminum prices fell towards that support level in December 2017, in April 2018 and back again in July 2018. However, aluminum prices rebounded each time (and again in July) from that level.

How aluminum prices react to this stiff support level will give some insight on upcoming aluminum price movements. Buying organizations will want to follow aluminum price movements closely to identify the perfect moment to buy forward and lock prices.

Chinese Aluminum

Chinese aluminum output increased by 1.6% in June, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The gradual ramp-up of new smelting capacity has increased production. The daily output figure increased to 94,000 tons in June versus the previous 90,000 in May, signaling an increase of 0.8% year on year.

Chinese increased exports received a boost from a favorable price arbitrage, with a weaker yuan. Exports reached 510,000 tons in June, the second-highest figure on record.

U.S. Domestic Aluminum

As a result of the ongoing uncertainty in the aluminum market, U.S. aluminum Midwest premiums have skyrocketed this year.

August’s premiums, however, have started to decrease, sitting at $0.19/pound. The current premium has slid to April 2018 levels, but still appear close to its four-year high at $0.20/pound.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

What This Means for Industrial Buyers

Despite the recent downtrend, the LME aluminum price trend suggests a continuation of the bull market that started last year.

Adapting the right buying strategy is crucial to reduce risks. Buying organizations that want to start doing so now may want to take a free trial now to our Monthly Metal Buying Outlook.

Want to see an Aluminum Price forecast? Take a free trial!

Actual Aluminum Prices and Trends

The metals in the Aluminum MMI basket generally fell this month.

LME aluminum prices decreased this month by 3.88%, with a closing price in July of $2,076/mt. Meanwhile, Korean Commercial 1050 sheet traded flat in August, with a reading of $3.57/kilogram.

Chinese aluminum primary cash prices increased by 0.361%, while China aluminum bar fell 5.33%. Chinese aluminum billet prices also decreased 5.33% this month, to $2,197/mt.

The Indian primary cash price fell by 3.27% to $2.07/kilogram.

The Stainless Steel Monthly Metals Index (MMI) fell again this month. The slide of four points moved the index to 78 from the previous 82 reading. The index fell back to May 2018 levels.

Need buying strategies for steel? Try two free months of MetalMiner’s Outlook

The index dropped due to a slight fall in LME nickel prices in July. However, LME nickel prices seem to have recovered again. Stainless steel surcharges also fell this month.

However, stainless steel surcharges remain in a strong uptrend.

LME Nickel

In July, nickel price momentum slowed slightly.

However, LME nickel prices — and the base metals complex, in general — are showing strength so far again this month.

Despite the two-month downtrend, nickel prices have remained in an uptrend since last summer (June-July), when prices started to increase sharply.

Source: MetalMiner analysis of FastMarkets

Prices fell starting in June 2018 from the $15,895/mt level toward the current $13,825/mt level. Buying volume appears stronger than selling volume and, therefore, supports the uptrend.

A fundamental tightness in the nickel market could also add more support to nickel prices.

The Philippines government confirmed that just 23 out of the 27 mines that operate in the world’s second-largest nickel-producing country will continue to operate. The remaining four will likely close. The decision comes from a previous report (released in July).

Domestic Stainless Steel Market

Domestic stainless steel surcharges fell for the first time since the beginning of the year.

The 316/316L-coil NAS surcharge fell to $1/pound, while the 304/304L decreased to 0.73/pound.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

The pace of stainless steel surcharge increases seems to have slowed this month, along with steel (and stainless steel) price increases. However, stainless steel surcharges remain in a clear uptrend and are well above 2015-2017 lows.

What This Means for Industrial Buyers

Stainless steel price momentum slowed down slightly this month. However, both steel and nickel remain in a bull market.

Therefore, buying organizations may want to follow the market closely for opportunities to buy on the dips.

To understand how to adapt buying strategies to your specific needs on a monthly basis, take a free trial of our Monthly Outlook now.

MetalMiner’s Annual Outlook provides 2018 buying strategies for carbon steel

Actual Stainless Steel Prices and Trends

Both Chinese 304 stainless steel coil and Chinese 316 stainless steel coil prices fell this month by 2.78%.

Chinese Ferrochrome prices decreased this month by 2.04%, to $1,930/mt.

Nickel prices fell 7.33% to $13,900/mt.

Charles/Adobe Stock

In August, the Copper Monthly Metals Index (MMI) fell by four points. The Copper MMI has continued to slide, mainly driven by weaker LME copper prices in July. The current Copper MMI stands at 77 points.

Need buying strategies for steel? Try two free months of MetalMiner’s Outlook

The recent slide in copper prices has been driven by concerns over Chinese growth. Analysts commonly call the base metal “Dr. Copper” because of its strong correlation with the Chinese stock markets. Therefore, Dr. Copper serves as a reflection of the Chinese economy.

However, copper prices appear to have begun to stabilize and are currently trading more sideways. Prices appear to be in a buying dip.

Source: MetalMiner analysis of Fastmarkets

However, fundamental supply issues may add support to copper prices.

The world’s largest copper mine, the Chilean Escondida mine, may get shut down due to a strike. The strike comes as a result of failed negotiations between BHP Billiton and the labor union representing the workers at the mine. The labor union gave the company an ultimatum with a deadline to go on strike. The company could improve the contract offer before Aug. 6.

According to a Reuters report, BHP requested government mediation in the talks with the union, temporarily delaying a potential strike.

Last year, the Escondida mine workers went on a 44-day strike that reduced copper output by 200,000 tons.

Supply disruptions remain a concern elsewhere, as well.

Other mines, such as the Chilean Caserones mine, failed to conclude contract negotiations. Codelco’s Chuquicamata copper mine, the state-owned miner’s second-largest in the country, blocked access to the mine in early August.

Chinese Scrap Copper

LME copper prices and Chinese copper scrap prices tend to follow the same trend. Both appear in a long-term uptrend. However, both LME copper and scrap copper prices fell again this month. In July,copper scrap prices fell  less than LME copper prices.

Despite both following the same short-term downtrend, the spread has widened. The wider the spread, the higher the copper scrap consumption — and, therefore, the price.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

The spread seems to have tightened again.

What This Means for Industrial Buyers

Despite the recent dip, LME copper prices remain in a long-term uptrend.

Buying organizations will want to be prepared to understand how to react to the latest copper price movements. For those who want to understand how to reduce risks, take a free trial now to the MetalMiner Monthly Outlook.

Actual Copper Prices and Trends

In August, most of the prices comprising the Copper MMI basket decreased.

LME copper fell by 6% this month. Indian copper prices decreased by 5%, while Chinese primary copper prices also fell by 5%.

MetalMiner’s Annual Outlook provides 2018 buying strategies for carbon steel

Prices of U.S. copper producer grades 110 and 122 decreased by 3.76%. Meanwhile, the price of U.S. copper producer grade 102 fell by 3.58%, down to $3.77/pound.

The Raw Steels Monthly Metals Index (MMI) fell one point further this month, dropping to 89 from the previous 90 reading.

Need buying strategies for steel? Try two free months of MetalMiner’s Outlook

The Raw Steel MMI has returned to May 2018 levels. The slight drop came as a result of slower domestic steel price momentum.

Domestic steel prices still remain at a more than seven-year high. However, the pace of the increases seems to have slowed recently. Domestic steel prices — with some exceptions — are mostly trading sideways, and some steel forms have started to drop slightly.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

Plate and HRC ended higher last month, while CRC and HDG prices dropped. Long lead times in Q2 and Q3 combined with supply shortages have supported domestic steel prices. However, lead times seem to be shortening now, which may causes prices to drift lower.

Historical steel price cyclicality could cause prices to move lower at some point. Domestic steel prices have stayed in a sharp uptrend since January 2018. Prices may begin to come off slightly at some point this year.

Chinese Steel Prices

So far in August, Chinese steel prices have increased. Chinese steel prices appear to be in recovery and have started an uptrend, after a slight downtrend, since the beginning of the year.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

Chinese steel prices tend to drive U.S. domestic steel prices. Therefore, buying organizations may want to keep a close eye on pricing.

Domestic Shredded Scrap

Shredded scrap prices traded sideways this month. Scrap prices commonly follow the same trend of domestic steel prices.

Scrap prices have been in an uptrend since the beginning of the year (along with steel prices). The pace of the increases appears to be less sharp, but scrap price movements this year appear to be less volatile than steel prices.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

What This Means for Industrial Buyers

Since steel prices remain high, buying organizations may want to closely follow price movements to decide when to commit mid- and long-term purchases.

Buying organizations looking for more clarity on when to buy and how much to buy may want to take a free trial now to our Monthly Metal Buying Outlook.

Actual Raw Steel Prices and Trends

The U.S. Midwest HRC 3-month futures price fell this month by 4.34%, falling to $815/st.

Chinese steel billet prices decreased again this month by 4.05%, while Chinese slab prices fell 2.1% moving to $626/mt.

MetalMiner’s Annual Outlook provides 2018 buying strategies for carbon steel

The U.S. shredded scrap price closed the month at $371/st, trading flat from last month.