LME nickel

First Nickel wouldn’t be planning to invest as much as $900,000 in exploration drilling in 2015 if it didn’t believe its Lockerby, Ont., mine had a future longer than a year or two.

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The company made tough decisions in December, bringing in a new vice-president of Sudbury operations, developing a plan to cut expenses and employees, and resuming mining its ramp development between the 6,800-foot level, said FNI Chief Executive Thomas Boehlert.

 

Steelmaker ThyssenKrupp AG profits were up in the first quarter of 2015, in the latest sign that the heavy restructuring undertaken by Chief Executive Heinrich Hiesinger is starting to pay off.

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The German industrial conglomerate said net profit for the period ended Dec. 31 was €50 million ($57.18 million), compared with a loss of €65 million a year earlier, boosted by a weaker euro.

 

Monthly alloy surcharges on austenitic grades of stainless steel flat-rolled products for March in Europe are set to rise modestly, reversing the previous month’s decline, Platts reported according first mill announcements indicated Monday.

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Outokumpu, the continent’s largest producer, set its alloy adjustment factor for type 304 (4301) flat products at Eur1,324/million tons ($1,499/mmt) for March, up Eur32 from February.

 

Nickel, among other key base metals, fell on the LME this week as many reached key levels.

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India renewed its push for import duties on imports of Russian and Chinese stainless steel.

 

Base metals moved to lower prices in Thursday’s LME morning session in thin and volatile conditions in the absence of Asian market participants over Chinese New Year – nickel hit a one-year low and zinc its softest for three weeks.

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“For now, we would expect the metals to take their lead from the dollar/euro and from developments over Greece. Should a loan extension be agreed, there may be room for a relief rally,” FastMarkets analyst William Adams said.

 

The nickel market went on a super-charged rally over the first half of last year, the benchmark London Metal Exchange (LME) three-month price racing up from below $15,000 per metric ton to a May high of $21,625.

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The trigger was the well-flagged but widely unexpected decision by the Indonesian government to ban the export of unprocessed minerals in January. At the stroke of a presidential pen, China’s massive nickel pig iron (NPI) sector lost its main source of feed. Great expectations, however, were dashed by reality, specifically a compensatory surge in nickel ore supply from the Philippines.

The subsequent price collapse was as spectacular as the original rally. And here we are again, the London nickel market kicking its heels around the $15,000 level.

Reuters’ Andy Home writes that the bull story hasn’t gone away. It has merely been postponed. Nickel is still metal analysts’ favored upside pick over a two-year time horizon. So, will this be nickel’s year (again)?

 

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.