ASIAN MORNING BRIEF 01/02: LME prices mostly higher; nickel could be star performer in 2018; German metals sector hit by strikes

The latest news and price moves to start the Asian day on Thursday February 1.

Base metals prices on the London Metal Exchange closed in positive territory almost across the board on Wednesday January 31, supported by weakness in the US dollar. Read more in our live futures report.

Here are how LME prices looked at Wednesday’s close:

There is good reason to be positive about base metals’ performance for 2018, Casper Burgering, ABN Amro’s senior sector economist of manufacturing and industrial metals, told Metal Bulletin in an interview. Nickel could be this year’s star metal, while zinc could struggle as the year progresses.

The German metals sector is being hit by a number of day-long strikes this week while negotiations over pay between employers and trade union IG Metall continue, Metal Bulletin has learned.

The Century zinc mine, the third largest in the world prior to its 2016 closure, is on track to restart production in late July and generate up to 264,000 tonnes per year of zinc.

GFG Alliance has been granted full planning permission for a new 400-worker alloy wheel factory next to the Liberty British Aluminium smelter at Fort William, Scotland, the company said. The new plant, part of a £120-million ($170-million) investment by GFG at Fort William, will utilize aluminium from the adjacent smelter.

Speculation as to what US President Donald Trump’s next move might be in the Section 232 investigation into aluminium imports appears to be pushing the US Midwest aluminium premium up despite a lack of actual spot demand.

Aluminium scrap markets in the US were slightly mixed over the past week, with some mill-grade prices inching higher following gains on the LME while smelter-grade prices maintained steady footing.

An 8% year-on-year drop in Norilsk Nickel’s 2017 full-year nickel output boosted the nickel full-plate premium cif China in the third quarter of 2017 and encouraged Norilsk to offer a historically high long-contract nickel premium of $300-320 per tonne to Chinese trading companies for 2018.

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