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The latest annual accounts bulletin released by stainless steel producer Outokumpu indicates that the global stainless demand has shown signs of improvement this year. However, the outlook for Q1 2015 may vary by regions, it notes.

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According to Outokumpu, the order intake in the Europe, Middle East and African (EMEA) region has seen improvements on the back of strong underlying demand.

 

A record trade surplus for China, the largest metals consumer highlighted weak domestic demand for nickel this week.

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Imports and exports came in worse than anticipated in China and the monthly trade surplus bulged to a record $60 billion as a survey published last week revealed that manufacturing, a key sector to the Chinese economy, contracted in January for the first time in more than two years.

 

The World Trade Organization declared that the antidumping duties on stainless steel tubes imposed by China on EU and Japanese imports are illegal in light of WTO rules.

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The 3-month price of nickel fell 1.0% on the LME to $14,750 per metric ton after rising 1.0% the week before.

 

Teck Resources Ltd. — the Canada-based diversified miner of copper, zinc, gold, coal and iron ore — said on Thursday it might have to reduce its dividend in July if industry-wide cuts in the production of steelmaking coal fail to lift prices from current historically low levels.

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To bring the market back into balance, an additional 12 million metric ton reduction in supply is needed above the 30 million mt announced since January 2014, Vancouver-based Teck said.

 

Canadian miner Sherritt International reported a much wider-than-expected quarterly loss as nickel prices fell due to a supply glut and weak demand from China.

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Nickel prices fell 15% in the fourth quarter, from the third, and are down nearly 30% since May. The company said a strong dollar also contributed to the fall in nickel prices. On an adjusted basis, Sherritt posted a net loss from continuing operations of 27 Canadian cents per share. Analysts had expected a loss of 19 Canadian cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

 

European stainless steel distributors have held back from placing large orders this year as they fear a further decline in surcharges in the months ahead, Germany-based service center Damstahl told Platts Tuesday.

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Distributors will likely continue to purchase material on a hand-to-mouth basis until they think raw material prices have bottomed out, which might happen in February, Damstahl said in the Platts interview.

 

The monthly Stainless MMI® registered a value of 81 in February, a decrease of 3.6% from 84 in January.

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It’s been a rather quiet month for US stainless buyers, without much happening of real importance. There has been more movement for Indian stainless companies than other producers as excess steel capacity in China and other countries is leading to dumping there and the industry has lobbied India’s government to increase import duties on TMT/rebar, hot rolled coils as well as stainless steel to 10% from 7.5%.

 

The nickel surplus narrowed to 3,000 metric tons in November from 13,000 tons the previous month, the International Nickel Study Group said in an e-mailed report Monday. HSBC Holdings Plc cut its price forecast for the metal by 11%, citing increasing ore supplies from the Philippines.

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Global output beat demand for a fifth straight month. Japan’s Sumimoto Metal Mining and several analysts have predicted the metal will go into deficit this year.

 

Nickel slipped today on the London Metal Exchange after record inventories showed that expected shortages had failed to appear.

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A plunge in China’s imports demonstrated that Asia’s largest economy is losing momentum despite stimulus measures.

 

Worried over large-scale imports amid a sharp fall in international steel prices, Indian manufacturers have sought government intervention to restrict large-scale imports by imposing stiff trade barriers, Livemint reported. The industry has lobbied India’s government to increase import duty on TMT/rebar, stainless steel, hot and cold rolled coils to 10% from 7.5%.

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Excess steel capacity in China and other countries is leading to dumping in India. Furthermore, currency depreciation of Russia’s ruble has caused dumping in India. Steel products can also be imported from Japan and South Korea free under a free trade agreement.