WEEK IN BRIEF: The new Alcoa; hard times in ferro-chrome; bad news for brokers; after the TC/RC settlement

Metal Bulletin editor Alex Harrison reviews the news and price moves of the past week, when Metal Bulletin journalists started to look back on 2014 and forward to next year.

Metal Bulletin editor Alex Harrison reviews the news and price moves of the past week, when Metal Bulletin journalists started to look back on 2014 and forward to next year.

Another tough year for ferro-chrome producers
It looks as though low prices for the ferro-chrome market will be the story of 2015 as well as this year, particularly after the first quarter benchmark settled down 7 cents per lb on Friday December 19.

But big, low-cost producers have no inclination to slow down, some sources told Metal Bulletin senior correspondent Janie Davies. Read her outlook piece here.

Still waiting to settle
The ferro-chrome benchmark for contract business for European stainless steel mills between January and March has settled, but as of Friday the first-quarter settlement for aluminium ingot sold into Japan had not been settled.

Why is the process being dragged out? Deepali Sharma investigates from our Singapore office.

Billet premiums for the first quarter in Japan have already settled, after all. Read more here.

As well as premiums in Europe, North America and Asia, Metal Bulletin also assesses the market in Brazil, where domestic production looks set to fall further next year (read our report here).

If you want to know how Metal Bulletin assesses aluminium premiums in the Brazilian market or elsewhere, you can sign up to a web seminar here where Metal Bulletin editor Alex Harrison, Brazil correspondent Danielle Assalve and pricing compliance manager Paolo Sorze will talk you through the assessment process and take questions.

The new Alcoa
It used to be an aluminium company (read a piece here on how the company is transforming itself), but the latest stage in its move into high-tech parts and materials came with Alcoa’s acquisition last week of a castings supplier to the aerospace industry.

After the benchmark
Metal Bulletin sister publication Copper Price Briefing’s most recent index of spot treatment and refining charges for copper concentrates was published on December 15, moving on slowing sales to traders and tighter credit in China. Find out what happened here.

From the new year the index will be available in Copper Price Briefing only. Sign up here to take a look at the new product, which contains exclusive, proprietary information and intelligence for the copper market in a regular, digestible, digital format.

Rising royalties in Zambia have brought about a shutdown. Click here to find out more.

Copper shorts ended the year on top, as a result of two big days of trading: read our review of the copper market in 2014 here.

New dimension to cobalt trade flows?
You can’t talk about the global movement of cobalt units without mentioning China or the DRC. But what about Cuba, with which US president Barack Obama plans to normalise ties?

Read Metal Bulletin’s preview of what material will go where in the future, which is available to subscribers here.

Bad news for brokers
US bank Jefferies is pursuing “strategic alternatives” for the commodities and derivatives unit it took over from Bache in 2011. It hopes it can arrange a tie-up with a similar business, it said. Read the news here.

Andrea Hotter examined the pressure that LME brokers face in the current market.

…and for Russia
It was a tough week for Russia on a plunging rouble and a huge increase in interest rates. There is a benefit in a weaker rouble for companies that sell dollar-denominated commodities, of course. Andrea Hotter looked at this and other ramifications for the wounded Russian bear.

When is Metal Bulletin assessing and indexing prices over the New Year break? Check out our calendar here.

Alex Harrison
Twitter: @alexharrison_mb

What to read next
Fastmarkets proposes to extend the shipment window of its alumina index inferred, fob Brazil, to allow for greater inclusion of reported liquidity, and to increase the frequency of publication to weekly.
Following a month-long consultation period, Fastmarkets has amended the methodology for the bi-weekly assessment of the aluminium P1020A main Japanese ports (MJP) spot premium, to include domestic tenders and deals from the Japanese market.
Fastmarkets proposes to discontinue its ferrous scrap consumer buying price for cast iron borings in Pittsburgh due to a lack of liquidity.
Fastmarkets is proposing a realignment of its consumer buying price for ferrous scrap No1 busheling in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, effective from the May 2023 monthly settlement.
A drive by electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers to improve the affordability of their cars may upend an expectation by some market observers that future EV dominance of automotive production will sharply reduce demand for special bar quality (SBQ) steel
The publication of Fastmarkets’ US rebar prices took place earlier than scheduled on Wednesday March 22 due to a reviewer error.
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