Weak sentiment continued to drag minor metal prices down on Wednesday January 21, as many in the market fear further falls.

Bismuth, indium, antimony and manganese flake prices all dropped, as traders lowered offers to secure business while demand remained weak.

“There is a whole wave of pessimism that is shrouding everything. Everyone just wants to get the order and to sell. And when people miss business if someone else undercuts them, they get more nervous. We are going to see a huge shake-out,” a trader told Metal Bulletin.

The decline in sentiment has particularly hit the antimony market, where traders have been selling at prices under replacement costs from China, opting to take the loss to minimise their positions, sources said.

This pushed antimony prices to drop as much as $200 to hit $7,500-8,000 per tonne for standard grade II, and $7,600-8,100 for trioxide-grade.

The push to secure business also drove manganese flake prices lower, with some offers also reported under replacement costs, driving prices to fall to $2,040-140 per tonne.
“I think there is a bit of a panic, partly because the market is very slow,” a third trader said.

The low level of demand in Europe has in part been caused by the cancellation of the South Stream project, which would have used manganese metal for the steel needed to build the pipeline, sources said.

"We have one customer who normally buys around 1,000 tonnes, who is now buying just 300-400 tonnes. It is putting a real pressure on the market," a fourth trader said.

Continued uncertainty on the Fanya exchange also pushed offers lower on bismuth and indium, with indium prices dropping to $570-680 per kg, and bismuth to $9.60-10.30 per lb.

“Sentiment is just still very poor,” a minor metals processor said.

The economic outlook, particularly in Europe, combined with heavy drops in other commodities such as oil and copper has also added to the negative feeling in the market, sources said.

Chloe Smith
Twitter: ChloeSmith_MB