Before MetalMiner begins our short holiday hiatus, we would like to introduce contributing writer and associate editor Amy Edwards, who plans to write the occasional blurb and even in-depth features articles for MetalMiner. A graduate student at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., Amy looks forward to learning more about the metals industry and sharing that knowledge with MetalMiner readers. Feel free to contact Amy at aedwards (@) aptiumglobal (dot) com to suggest a future article topic.

Gold continues to make the news, as Lisa Reisman discussed this week in her post on selling gold jewelry to play the “price arbitrage” game. But many investors, as well as members of UK-registered JPMorgan Global Natural Resources Fund, are looking outside of the jewelry box and recommending that financiers pursue more minor metals, those lesser-known metals that still find their profits soaring. According to a recent Reuters article, Investors would do well to bet on firms with exposure to minor metals such as chrome and molybdenum as they are relatively cheap and demand is robust, a senior fund manager said on Wednesday. The article touts ferromanganese as one of the most potentially profitable metals, which is worthy of note after the recent announcement that ArcelorMittal plans to purchase OFZ, one of the leading ferro-alloys manufacturers in Central Europe. In addition to ferromanganese, chrome and molybdenum are also considered interesting in the Reuters article, according to Ian Henderson, manager of JPMorgan Global Natural Resources Fund. Many such commodities have not witnessed such a large run-up in prices, he adds, mentioning cobalt, tantalum and vanadium as other commodities that should develop a larger following.

These thoughts aren’t completely new, as Jack Lifton wrote last month in Resource Investor that minor metals are constantly developing as investment opportunities. His article offers a broad look at minor metals, and we would suggest a glance at the article for anyone hoping to study the opportunities some more. Minor metals, we’re beginning to see, may not belong in the minor league.”

–Amy Edwards

A recent tongue-in-cheek article on Spend Matters about the U.S. becoming the low-cost country source for Europe due to a falling dollar looks like it may have substance as well as humor on its side. Rolls Royce has announced that they are establishing a manufacturing and assembly facility in Virginia to service the growing corporate jet engine market and the sophisticated manufacture of Blisk components for the U.S. Joint Strike Fighter F136 engine. These components are bladed discs machined from large solid titanium forgings, and Rolls Royce gained acceptance for their use on the F136 project two years ago in collaboration with DutchAero. Could the strength of the Euro against the dollar be the prime motivation behind this move to Virginia? Rolls Royce certainly states the exchange rate as one of three principal reasons for the move.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg has reported that U.S. exports are surging on the back of the weak dollar and cited aero engines as a specific example. With the credit crunch, volatile equities, and a slumping housing market, it would appear technology exports are the one bright spot on the horizon for the U.S. economy.

–Stuart Burns

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