ROUND-UP – FastMarkets most read stories for the week ending May 6

A round-up of FastMarkets’ top stories published during the week ending May 6: 

FRIDAY, MAY 6 

Base metals apart from aluminium ended the week in positive territory on the LME, recovering from earlier losses.

Comex copper erased earlier losses on Friday thanks to some pre-weekend short-covering and a bounce in oil.

Premiums for gold kilobars held at low levels or moved deeper into discounts amid soaring prices – spot gold hit 15-month highs on Monday.

Refined tin exports from Indonesia soared in April, according to official government data published by industry body ITRI.

Japan’s Itochu Corp expects its metals and minerals business to return to profit in the current fiscal year ending March 2017 after posting a net loss of 16.7 billion yen ($156 million) in fiscal 2016.

Deliverable copper stocks at Shanghai Futures Exchange warehouses rose 1,274 tonnes or 0.4 percent week-on-week to 313,168 tonnes as of May 6, according to data from the exchange. This the first increase since late-March after six consecutive weeks of decline.

Rio Tinto and its partners, the Mongolian government and Turquoise Hill Resources, have approved the next stage of development of the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia, Rio Tinto said on Friday.

Copper demand growth is expected to slow in the near and medium-term, which will result in prices holding around $2.20 per pound ($4,800 per tonne) through this year before hitting $2.50 per pound ($5,500 per tonne) in 2017, according to Wood Mackenzie.

THURSDAY, MAY 5 

Nickel premiums in Shanghai dropped this week due to negative LME-SHFE arbitrage, the time needed for delivery against the popular SHFE May contract and the fact that newly expanded warehouses in China are already nearing capacity.

The US economy will continue its historic recovery from the depths of the 2008/2009 Great Recession, albeit at an unspectacular pace, according to George Hammond, director at Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona.

Base metals continued their retreat on Thursday as China’s subpar recovery and fresh United States labour market concerns dampened the mood.

The spring season has been a real dud across all regions and for most metals. Premiums are depressed and spot demand is nearly non-existent. Hopes for one last demand surge before the summer starts fades with each passing sunset, with no evidence that things could turn around any time soon.

Aleris’ first-quarter profit dropped 18 percent from the same period of last year, which it attributed to unfavourable spreads that spoiled consistently higher sales volumes.

Teck Resources has concluded initial annual deals with some Chinese smelters for the supply of low-silver lead concentrates from its Red Dog mine in Alaska with treatment charges (TCs) of around $130-140 per tonne.

Volumes in the Shanghai Futures Exchange nickel contracts surged and open interest hit a record high this week when funds switched to the metal after the exchange introduced measures to cool trading on its steel contracts.

Jiang Xinfang, formerly president director of Shanghai Tsingshan Mineral Co and managing director at Guangdong Century Tsingshan Nickel Industry Co, has recently left Tsingshan Group.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 4 

Copper mine disruptions increased in April due to heavy rains in northern Chile and a failing SAG mill at the Grasberg mine in Indonesia, Barclays Capital said.

Copper slid lower on Wednesday as the metal’s dour fundamentals finally overshadowed recent momentum and fund buying.

Mexico’s copper demand growth is outpacing regional economies like Brazil and is up 25 percent between 2010 and 2015, which should justify an increase in mining and smelting capacities by 2020.

Chinese imported copper premiums are unlikely to rebound in the near term after hitting multi-year lows this week while copper stocks in Shanghai continue to rise and arb trading possibilities wane.

Shanghai bonded stocks of copper and zinc continued to climb in April due to unfavourable arbitrage between the London Metal Exchange (LME) and the Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE).

Orders for tractor-trailer Class 8 trucks in the US continued to fall April, dropping 16 percent from March and 39 percent year-on-year, according to ACT Research.

Availability of aluminium in the LME system jumped on Wednesday, with the move reflecting incentives offered by warehouses to keep hold of material.

Nickel output at Jinchuan Group could fall 1,500-2,000 tonnes in May from April due to a shortage of nickel ore.

Canada-listed specialty metals firm 5N Plus posted a net loss of $1.9 million in the quarter ending March 31, 2016, compared with a loss of $1.95 million in the comparative 2015 period.

Ferronickel sales volume at PT Aneka Tambang (Antam) fell 38.2 percent year-on-year to 2,625 tonnes (contained nickel) in January-March.

TUESDAY, MAY 3 

The physical base metal markets were quiet over the past week while most buyers have been content to sit on the sidelines until exchange prices correct lower.

Base metals – apart from nickel and tin - ended lower on the LME on Tuesday, with copper failing to hold above $5,000.

The LME has amended its accountability requirements to keep the onus of accountability reporting on the exchange and not its members.

Nat le Roux has resigned as an independent director on the London Metal Exchange (LME) and the LMEClear board.

Japan’s Toyota Tsusho expects to return to profit in the current fiscal year ending March 2017 after posting a 43.7-billion-yen ($413-million) loss for the last fiscal year.

Peru’s copper production climbed 46 percent in March to 188,052 tonnes from 129,076 tonnes a year earlier, the country’s Energy and Mines Ministry (MEM) said.

Indonesia’s PT Aneka Tambang (Antam) and Germany’s Cronimet Holding and Ferrostaal Industrial Projects have signed an agreement to jointly develop a ferronickel plant in Pomalaa, Southeast Sulawesi in Indonesia.

China’s refined copper production rose 8.5 percent year-on-year to 1.99 million tonnes in January-March, according to data published by China’s National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC).

Copper on the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell during Asian trading hours on Monday after the release of weaker-than-expected Chinese manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI).

Will Adams

About Will Adams

William Adams has been involved in the metals markets since 1982 – he has experience in many areas of the market from researching to trading and has worked in London, New York and Tokyo.