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 CR Sheet, and 1008 CR Coil

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 2B 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

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This morning in metals news, mills in the Chinese city of Tangshan have increased steel production despite the official start of winter cuts, LME copper prices fell and U.S. imports of aluminum from Australia have been on the rise.

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Tangshan Boosts Steel Production

The Chinese city of Tangshan, a steelmaking hub in the country, has seen its steel mills boost production despite the start of winter cuts, Reuters reported.

According to the report, local officials did not give precise instructions on the targeted emissions curbs. Recently, Beijing delegated the imposition of its annual winter caps — part of the government’s effort to tackle pollution in the country — to local governments.

LME Copper Price Falls 1%

Also according to Reuters, the price of LME copper fell 1% Thursday as a result of a stronger U.S. dollar — the two are inversely correlated — and pressure on the Chinese economy.

MetalMiner’s Take: LME copper fell slightly this month. However, LME copper prices have shown a recovered momentum since September, when prices breached the psychological level of $6,000/mt.

Copper prices tend to react to Fed index rate increases — or, at least, the expectation of Fed rises. When that happens, the U.S. dollar tends to have a short-term trend reaction and prices move higher for a week. However, the long- and mid-term trend does not change for that reason.

Therefore, copper prices may continue their uptrend. Buying organizations can expect LME copper prices to trade higher.

Imports of Aluminum From Australia Rising

Imports of aluminum from Australia into the U.S. have been increasing of late, according to an S&P Global Platts report.

Benchmark your current cold rolled coil sheet prices and see how it compares to the market

Per the report, imports of aluminum from Australia have jumped 23% from July to August.

MetalMiner’s Take: It should come as no surprise to anyone that Australian P1020 aluminum ingots have started to arrive on U.S. shores at a discount.

Interestingly, the discount represents two driving factors: the fact that Australia is exempt from Section 232 aluminum tariffs and that U.S. buyers prefer T-bar or sows and not ingot (which is the form coming from Australia).

The U.S. does not produce enough primary material domestically and the tariffs have driven the trade shift from Canada (the previous dominant supplier) to Australia. What will become more interesting to OEMs and other large buying organizations, however, involves the semi-finished material market, in which the U.S. currently operates with a significant deficit.

MetalMiner expects large volumes of semi-imports from Europe to help mitigate domestic supply shortages.

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Another month has come and gone, and MetalMiner’s October Monthly Metals Index (MMI) report is out.

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This month’s report featured four subindexes posting declines, four standing put and just two posting increases (Copper and Global Precious).

A few highlights from this month’s report:

  • Aluminum prices surged then drifted back down early this month following news surrounding Norsk Hydro and its Alunorte alumina refinery.
  • The Copper MMI, one of two MMIs to increase this month, reflected a recovering copper price. After a sluggish summer, the metal has recovered of late, recently breaching the $6,000/mt benchmark.
  • It was a down month for several big automakers in terms of U.S. sales.
  • U.S. construction spending in August was up 6.5% from August 2017 spending.

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

Read about all of the above and much more by downloading the October 2018 MMI Report below:

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Before we head into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the week that was and some of the metals storylines here on MetalMiner:

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  • Many are hoping for a return to a heavy mining presence in the Indian state of Goa.
  • Could we be 0n the brink of a new Cold War?
  • Norsk Hydro announced plans to restart its Alunorte alumina refinery, capping a topsy-turvy week for the aluminum price.
  • Razor blade maker Gillette received a positive response to its tariff exclusion request and Century Aluminum signed a new power contract that will see to its Charleston plant remaining open through at least 2020.
  • The Chinese city of Tangshan ordered steel mills to curb production over the next week, Novelis broke ground on an automotive aluminum plant in China and AK Steel won a $1.2 million award from the Department of Energy to help conduct research on lightweight steel for automotive use.
  • In case you missed it, we concluded this month’s round of Monthly Metals Index (MMI) reports this week, with coverage on:
  • The London Metal Exchange is introducing new contracts amid competition from the CME and SHFE.

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

The October Aluminum Monthly Metals Index (MMI) fell two points for an October MMI subindex value of 91 (its lowest since August 2017).

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

 

LME aluminum prices fell slightly in September. However, the mid-term trend has moved mostly sideways, trading between the $1,970-$2,170/mt level. Movements outside this band could  indicate bullish or bearish signals for aluminum.

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. Aluminum prices fell toward that support level two times during 2017 and 2018, but then rebounded from it.

Aluminum prices decreased in December and April. Therefore, buying organizations may want to closely follow how aluminum prices react to that level.

Alumina Supply Concerns

LME aluminum prices showed an anomaly with the sideways trend driven by supply concerns.

Last Wednesday, Oct. 3, LME aluminum prices rose sharply to over $2,222/mt, on the back of Norsk Hydro’s announcement saying it would cease alumina production at its Alunorte alumina refinery in Brazil due to an environmental dispute.

Aluminum availability remains particularly tight in North America. Therefore, LME aluminum prices responded swiftly to supply concerns and tight supply.

Source: MetalMiner analysis of FastMarkets

However, LME aluminum prices retraced as Brazil granted Hydro the permits it had wanted for new investments at the Alunorte plant in Brazil. Hydro will use new technology to extend the disposal area necessary to continue and expand alumina operations. The refinery will operate at 50% of capacity to start. The decision came late on Friday following difficult negotiations and after the company said it would halt production. The Alunorte alumina refinery has operated at half capacity since March.

The mere news of the alumina shutdown signifies how tight the aluminum market remains. Any indication of a production slowdown, even for raw materials, could send aluminum prices higher.

SHFE Aluminum

Chinese SHFE aluminum prices fell slightly in September and then increased in October.

SHFE aluminum prices followed a similar trend to LME prices; both have moved in a sideways trend.

Source: MetalMiner analysis of FastMarkets

U.S. Domestic Aluminum

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

However, the current premium has traded sideways for the third consecutive month. The current premium stands at $0.19/lb.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

What This Means for Industrial Buyers

Despite the recent change to a sideways trend, the LME aluminum price trend suggests a continuation of the bull market that started last year. Tariffs, sanctions and supply concerns will act as a support to aluminum prices, both for LME aluminum and the U.S. Midwest Premium.

Adapting the right buying strategy is 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.

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

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

Actual Aluminum Prices and Trends

LME aluminum prices fell this month, with a closing price in September of $2,054/mt.

Meanwhile, Korean commercial grade 1050 sheet fell by 0.3%, following last month’s downtrend. Chinese aluminum primary cash prices decreased by 1.41%, while China aluminum bar fell sharply by 6.19%. Chinese aluminum billet prices also decreased 6.68% this month, to $2,158/mt. The Indian primary cash price fell by 2.42% to $2.01/kilogram.

The Stainless Steel Monthly Metals Index (MMI) traded sideways in October. The current index stands at 72 points, back at January 2018 levels.

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The sideways trend was created by a less volatile nickel price and lower domestic stainless steel surcharges, while stainless steel prices overseas inched higher.

As MetalMiner highlighted last month, the drop in the index comes as 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 September, but then switched to a sideways trend in October.

Nickel prices were more volatile in September, showing two sharp movements (down and up) at the beginning and the end of the month. 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

Global Nickel Tightness

The Philippines, the world’s top supplier of nickel ore, will start limiting the land mines can develop following new environmental rules.

Under these new rules, mines will have a 20-meter “buffer zone” or ban on metal extraction. Nickel miners will see production limits ranging from 50-100 hectares (123-400 acres).

President Rodrigo Duterte has advised miners to reforest areas where they operate to reduce environmental concerns. In addition, all small-scale activities in mountainous regions stopped after the Mangkhut typhoon.

According to government data, nickel ore output decreased by 10% in the first half of 2018 when compared to last year’s 9.43 million tons during the same time frame. The output drop came as a result of the suspension of 11 mines this year, which had zero output during this period.

Domestic Stainless Steel Market

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

The 316/316L-coil NAS surcharge fell to $0.94/pound, while the 304/304L decreased to $0.65/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 still remain well above 2015-2017 lows.

What This Means for Industrial Buyers

Stainless steel price momentum slowed down slightly this month. Stainless steel’s slower momentum seems to go together with slower domestic steel price momentum. However, nickel prices still remain strong.

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 to 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 increased by 0.85%, while the Chinese 316 stainless steel coil price increased this month by 0.88%.

Chinese Ferrochrome prices decreased this month by 0.35%, down to $1,841/mt.

Nickel prices also increased slightly this month, rising 0.23% to $12,600/mt.

GOES Monthly Metals Index (MMI) spot prices took a big drop while large power equipment manufacturers went head to head with the sole U.S. producer of grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES), AK Steel.

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GOES appears more challenging under Section 232 because both producers and manufacturers make the same national security argument. The sole producer of GOES wants tariff protections pitting supplier against customer, yet the power equipment manufacturers make an equally compelling case.

At issue is that the power equipment manufacturers want an exclusion for GOES not currently produced in the U.S. and the sole domestic producer has argued its products provide an “equal” substitute.

Last month, MetalMiner covered the specific Section 232 exemption requests and responses from ABB and Cooper Power. Posco has also made a notable exclusion request, and more recently SPX Transformer Solutions.

In its surrebuttal (a rebuttal to a rebuttal), ABB argued that AK Steel does not produce a substitute for Nippon Steel’s product. Specifically, ABB used the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) standard for exclusion requests regarding product substitution, which notes “a substitute product” must meet “quality (e.g., … internal company quality controls or standards) … or testing standards, in order for the U.S. produced steel to be used in that business activity in the United States by that end user” (83 Fed. Reg.46026, 46058).

Whereas AK Steel focused its argument against ABB on the issue of core loss data — suggesting its products meet the equivalent performance standards of Nippon Steel’s product — ABB argued that the actual data from 2016-2018 certified test reports using ASTM A804 test standards did not meet iron loss and core loss requirements. ABB also submitted confidential data not available for public review.

ABB also claims AK Steel does not meet internal quality controls and standards. This point appears significant, as ABB states,“ABB’s transformers are based on proprietary designs that incorporate quality requirements, including burr height, ‘white edge’ and holes, which have significant impacts on the performance of the transformers.” The company goes on to claim that AK’s manufacturing process is “more prone to creating holes than the process employed by Nippon,” and “white edge is an ABB internal measurement of coating adhesions to GOES products,” of which the coatings are important to prevent transformer failures.

More important, ABB claims that 11 of 12 suppliers, with AK as the lone exception, agree to ABB’s quality requirements on these specific parameters.

The argument is analogous to stating that a steak is a steak, whether you are at Peter Luger or Ponderosa. Sorry, folks, but I’m pretty sure that a Peter Luger filet mignon is going to be tastier than Ponderosa’s version of the same cut (with all due respect to Ponderosa).

Meanwhile, Eaton Corp (Cooper Power), although notably with much less detail, made a similar argument: “The AK Laser scribed material if post annealed, loses ALL of the benefits of the laser scribing process, which is to further align the grain structure to a more efficient configuration. The Japanese product that is Chemically or Mechanically etched retains these important properties even after post annealing. The Japanese material is designated as Permanent Domain Refined Electrical Steel.”

SPX and Posco

Meanwhile, SPX imports the following from Posco: “0.23mm thick DR-GOES of Grade 23PHD080 with guaranteed maximum losses of 0.96 W/Kg @ 1.7 kilogauss and 60HZ.” SPX has requested the exclusion for lack of availability of a similar substitute product.

Posco, meanwhile, like ABB, has outlined a series of arguments supporting its exclusion request.

Import Data Supports OEM Claims

MetalMiner has long reported that the lion’s share of GOES imports come from Japan (versus China, the primary target of the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs), suggesting that AK’s material may indeed not be a like-for-like substitute product.

A similar pricing-per-ton analysis would also show that Japanese imports are not “dumped” into the U.S:

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

Exact GOES Coil Price This Month

The U.S. grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES) coil price fell for the third month in a row, down from $2,763/mt to $2,446/mt. The MMI fell 18 points to 182.

The GOES MMI® collects and weights 1 global grain-oriented electrical steel price point to provide a unique view into price trends over a 30-day period. For more information on the GOES MMI®, how it’s calculated or how your company can use the index, please drop us a note at: info (at) agmetalminer (dot) com.

MetalMiner’s precious metals index, tracking a basket of platinum, palladium, gold and silver prices in several geographies across the globe, bounced back in October after several months of declines.

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The Global Precious Monthly Metals Index (MMI) registered a value of 83 for its October 2018 reading, up 2.5% from 81 last month, stanching the bleeding — last month’s level had not been seen since January 2017.

The U.S. platinum bar price had its own bounceback after having dropped last month. Platinum rose to $814 per ounce, up from $777 per ounce in September. However, U.S. palladium bar built up a two-month upward price trend by breaking the $1,000 per ounce level for the first time in eight months, rising to $1,070 per ounce.

This extends palladium’s historic premium to platinum for yet another month.

Palladium Bubble?

John Dizard, writing in the Financial Times, contends that platinum’s once-cheaper cousin is ripe for the bubble it seems to be creating.

“The best investment bubble propositions incorporate the familiar and the incomprehensible,” he writes.

The largest single application for palladium, as MetalMiner readers well know by now, is to help convert toxic gases within catalytic converters. “Therefore, we have something familiar to investors (cars) and something incomprehensible (the physical chemistry of catalytic converters) — perfect conditions for a bubble,” Dizard concludes.

Much of the bubble conditions can be explained by “Dieselgate” — read about it in the full article (paywall) — but speaking of palladium bar prices, as we were just a bit ago, those aren’t what auto buyers should really be tracking: sponge is where it’s at.

“Could it be that the automakers will run into a supply squeeze and be forced to buy palladium bars of the sort represented by Nymex futures? Not exactly,” Dizard writes. “The automakers actually buy a semi-manufactured product called ‘sponge’, which is palladium (or platinum) particles used to coat a ceramic matrix inside the emissions system. There is a separate, over-the-counter market for palladium sponge.”

Ultimately, “if you follow the quotes for palladium sponge, you can see whether the ‘sponge premium’ over the price of bar metal indicates a real shortage of the industrial product,” according to Dizard.

Gold Supply Chain in South America: Treacherous

We recently came across a recent white paper entitled Illegal mining in South America and financial risk – Taking the shine off gold, co-authored by Jesse Spiro and Brian Huerbsch.

Evidently, the promise of huge profits based on higher gold prices – and fueled by rampant corruption — have created a continentwide supply chain problem. According to the authors, the issue plagues Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela.

The core of the problem is a major risk for gold-buying organizations — the ongoing threat of murky supply chain traceability.

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

You’ll be able to read more about it, including our breakdown of what gold-buying companies should do to mitigate risk, later this week on our sister site, Spend Matters.

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This morning in metals news, the LME aluminum price has tracked back down after spiking last Wednesday, U.S. steel import permit applications fell in September and a Chilean state-owned miner is in talks to sell copper to China’s Minmetals.

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LME Aluminum Hits One-Week Low

The London aluminum price has come back down after surging last week, when news of Norsk Hydro’s decision to shut down its Alunorte alumina refinery sent prices rising.

However, after being granted a permit to use new technology related to waste disposal at the refinery, Alunorte is set to resume operation, Reuters reported, and the aluminum price has retraced to a one-week low.

MetalMiner’s Take: LME aluminum prices decreased, falling again to their previous levels.

Alumina supply concerns moved the LME aluminum price out of its price range. Despite the sharp downtrend, LME aluminum prices do not seem to be in a bear trend. Selling trading volume does not support the downtrend in prices, meaning that prices are just retracing.

LME aluminum prices seem less volatile than other base metals, but they react sharply to news of supply concerns.

Steel Imports Down 10.6% in YTD

U.S. steel imports have dropped 10.6% in the year to date, the Times of Northwest Indiana reported (citing American Iron and Steel Institute data).

According to the report, September steel import market share hit 21%.

Codelco in Talks for Copper Supply Deal with Minmetals

Chilean state-owned miner Codelco is in talks to enter into a copper supply deal with China’s Minmetals, Reuters reported.

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

According to the report, the miner is in talks to enter a three-year supply deal with the Chinese firm, providing 60,000 tons of copper per year.

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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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