WEEK IN BRIEF: Copper concentrate index rises; FeV price uncertainty; aluminium contango

After another busy week, Charlotte Radford takes a look at some of the key price moves and news stories from the past seven days.

After another busy week, Charlotte Radford takes a look at some of the key price moves and news stories from the past seven days.

Metal Bulletin’s copper concentrate index has risen for the first time in five weeks, moving up by 2.6% on looser supply from traders, while several low-level deals were heard in Asian countries outside China. Kiki Kang and Mark Burton looked at the situation in China and the rest of Asia, as well as the outlook for treatment and refining charges.

After a period of punishing losses for investors in the world’s largest mining companies, Glencore and rivals including BHP and Rio Tinto are identifying their leverage to the copper market as a wellspring of future profitability. Find the full story here.

Copper export volumes from Chile shrank by 34.3% year-on-year in March, falling to 402,700 tonnes. Meanwhile, China’s refined copper output dropped to a one-year low last month on weak demand from domestic consumers, falling spot treatment and refining charges, and a possible indication of smelters’ reluctance to reduce their inventories.

Following last week’s indication that nickel shorts in SHFE’s July contract could roll into September, Fleur Ritzema examined the possibility of adding foreign nickel – specifically from Norilsk Nickel – to the exchange.

In the ores and alloys market, Janie Davies and Claire Hack assessed prices changes since the beginning of the year in issue 1 of Metal Bulletin’s new blog, Tapped In. Issue 2 explored the recent disappointing performance of the noble alloys.

Spot ferroalloy activity in the USA remained subdued, with market participants remarking that no real improvement is expected until 2015’s fourth quarter.

In pricing news, uncertainty remains in Europe’s ferro-vanadium market as some market participants question the sustainability of recent price increases. Metal Bulletin’s quotation is available here.

Sentiment was mixed in the minor metals markets this week. There were some small spikes in demand but a number of prices had slipped down by the end of our pricing session. James Heywood had the full overview.

In company news, China’s Jinchuan has confirmed that annual maintenance is under way at its copper facility in Ginsu province with normal operations expected to resume in mid-June.

Metal Bulletin understands that Glencore and Africa’s Barrick Gold are planning to sell the Kabanga nickel joint venture. The Anglo-Swiss trader has previously stated that greenfield projects do not fit within its current strategy.

First-quarter financial results continued to arrive this week. Weak tin prices and “significant non-cash adjustments” meant Malaysia Smelting Corp posted a loss for the first quarter of the year. Claire Hack had a full summary of the results.

Song Anping has taken over from Maijun Yang as chairman of the SHFE, Metal Bulletin revealed on Thursday.

Two former colleagues from ENRC Africa’s operations were found dead at a US hotel while on holiday on May 9. Alex Harrison had the story.

In other people moves and news, Maarten de Leeuw has joined speciality metals firm 5N Plus as non-executive director; Aleris has undertaken a number of changes to its leadership team, and Heinz Schimmelbusch will remain as ceo and chairman of AMG until 2017.

On Wednesday, Metal Bulletin revealed that the Port of Zeebrugge in Belgium has applied to be approved as a location for LME warehouses. Get the full story here.

On the LME, the base metals made slow moves throughout much of the week, though increased inventories caused nickel prices to fall on Thursday.

Keep up to date with the day’s changes on the LME and SHFE with our rolling price reports.

LME Week Asia begins on Tuesday May 19. Our interactive map detailing key events taking place can be found here.

And finally, Metal Bulletin has been keeping a close watch on the LME’s aluminium contract and falling premiums over the past few months. A special series of in-depth articles has explored the contract’s early days, the rise of the contango and its first major squeeze in 1988:

LORD COPPER: Why Aluminium was top gun in the 1980s
Aluminium: The irresistible rise of the LME contango
Aluminium: June 1988 – the big squeeze

Charlotte Radford

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