WEEK IN BRIEF: Copper concentrates index falls, copper premiums rise, Greek economy weighs on trading

Metal Bulletin’s Charlotte Radford reviews the key price moves and metal market news from the last seven days.

Metal Bulletin’s Charlotte Radford reviews the key price moves and metal market news from the last seven days. 

This week an anonymous broker spoke to Metal Bulletin about Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing’s decision to introduce a circuit-breaker in equity markets, while there is no comparable system in place at the LME.

Here, Lord Copper examined the increasing pressures on brokers to tailor their services to today’s electronic market.

The LME was quiet for much of the week as traders awaited the outcome of talks between Greece and its creditors, after discussions broke down on Sunday June 14. Base metal prices remained weak on poor investor sentiment, and three-month copper prices ended Friday’s official session below $5,700 per tonne.

Find our latest rolling price report for the LME and SHFE here

And for our readers in North America, catch up with the latest news at the start of each day with our new North American Morning Brief.

Deepali Sharma interviewed Stephen Kan, ceo of CMS (UK), about the company’s London business, and its plans for growth after securing category II membership on the LME.

The Metal Bulletin Copper Concentrates Index dropped to its lowest level since September 2013 at the beginning of the week as competition mounts for clean cargoes and smelters try to steer clear of the spot market.

Lower imports of the red metal in China over the last few weeks have pushed local premiums up, as lower financing costs reduce the amount of metal needed to raise cash.

Meanwhile, a New York-headquartered hedge fund has opened a position in put options that is structured to pay out handsomely if copper prices trade towards $4,000 per tonne by December, market sources told Hotline.

In company news, unionised workers at the Collahuasi copper mine in Chile staged a 24-hour strike on Monday, as labour unions prepared to press the government for changes to the country’s laws on working conditions.

Eramet Marietta is assessing whether fire damage to crushing equipment at its Ohio, USA, facility will affect shipments, although the manganese alloy plant’s furnace continues to operate.

Debate over the future of BHP’s demerged asset South 32 continued, as Citi analysts suggested the recently-formed company would be "more predator that prey”. Find a summary of their report here.

In pricing news, Metal Bulletin’s quotations for molybdic oxide and ferro-molybdenum in Europe slid after our Wednesday pricing session. Claire Hack had the commentary, here.

And in the latest post to Tapped In, our ores and alloys blog, we looked at the changing face of Europe’s ammonium paratungstate (APT) market, following slow price falls in recent months.

In the aluminium market, China’s market participants were mixed about the market’s future direction, and premiums continued to slide across Asia as participants awaited the settlement of the quarterly main Japanese port premiums.

Malaysia aluminium producer Press Metal Berhad expects to increase its smelting capacity, adding 320,000 tpy at its Samalaju site by the end of the year.

In the nickel market, Indonesia’s PT Central Omega Resources plans to build a 300,000-tonne-per-year nickel pig iron plant in Central Sulawesi’s North Morowali regency along with Chinese partner Macrolink Group.

Western Areas will acquire the Cosmos nickel complex in Western Australia from Glencore subsidiary Xstrata Nickel Australasia Operations for A$24.5 million ($19.1 million).

In the zinc market, data from the International Lead and Zinc Study Group showed a 181,000-tonne surplus in global refined zinc metal in the first four months of the year. A summary of the figures is here.

Meanwhile, RBC cut its zinc price forecasts for 2015 and 2016 on lower demand as a result of weak global demand and increasing refined zinc production in China.

The week also saw Noble Group’s ceo Yusuf Alireza defend its founder, its accounting methods and its valuation of an Australian coal asset in a four-page letter issued in response to statements by Michael Dee, former senior md at Temasek Holdings and ex-md at Morgan Stanley. Shivani Singh had the story.

In people moves, Amin Zahir has taken over as head of refined metals trading at Trafigura, and Alcoa has named Vitalijs Ruskulisas its new head of sales and procurement in Europe. 

We also reported the death of Alan Whiting, former director of regulation and compliance at the LME.

And finally, Charles Li is to remain chief executive of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing until 2018, following the board of directors’ approval of his contract.

Charlotte Radford
Charlotte.radford@metalbulletin.com  

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