News

METALS-Copper prices pick up from 1-mth low as weaker dollar lifts metals

Date Nov 10 2017 15:34:23 Source:Reuters
    MELBOURNE, Nov 10 (Reuters) - London Metal Exchange copper held above one-month lows on Friday as a weaker dollar broadly lifted base metals, although it remained on track for a weekly loss.

    "Copper prices will continue to trade sideways over the coming weeks as a stronger U.S. dollar outlook and weakening Chinese imports of refined copper weigh on prices," said BMI Research in a report.

    "High-frequency indicators such as stable stock levels, a persistently negative cash to 3-month spread and a global monthly surplus registered in August imply the copper price rally is overdone compared to near-term fundamentals." 

    BMI expects prices to average $6,100 a tonne in 2018.

        

    FUNDAMENTALS

    * COPPER: LME copper  CMCU3  had risen 0.1 percent to $6,813.50 a tonne by 0402 GMT, following small losses in the previous session when it sank to its weakest since Oct. 11 at $6,761.50. Shanghai Futures Exchange copper  SCFcv1  was flat at 53,490 yuan ($8,058) a tonne.

    * OPEN INTEREST: Open interest in the LME copper contract has fallen below 320,000 lots to the lowest since May and close to the lowest in a year.  MCU-OI-TOT 

    * U.S. DOLLAR: The U.S. dollar slipped to a six-day low against a basket of currencies on Thursday as investors fretted over a Republican tax plan that would delay corporate tax cuts.  USD/ 

    * JAPAN MANUFACTURERS: Confidence among Japanese manufacturers slipped in November from a decade-high seen the previous month, a Reuters poll showed, but it remained strong - underscoring the economy's continuing expansion.      * NOBLE: Commodities trader Noble Group  NOBG.SI  reported a third-quarter loss of $1.17 billion, hit by charges from disposals of some of its businesses, and warned that the operating environment remains challenging.          * FREEPORT: Armed separatists have occupied five villages in Indonesia's Papua province, threatening to disrupt Freeport-McMoRan Inc's  FCX.N  giant Grasberg copper mine, which has already been hit this year by labour unrest and a dispute over operating rights. 

    * LEAD: LME lead  CMPB3  was the only metal on track for a weekly gain, of near 3 percent, as prices hit the highest since Oct. 17 at $2,542 a tonne. LME stocks have fallen to the lowest in almost two years below 150,000 tonnes.  MPBSTX-TOTAL 

    * LEAD FUNDAMENTALS: Global demand for refined lead metal will exceed supply by 125,000 tonnes this year, while a deficit of 45,000 tonnes is expected in 2018, according to the International Lead and Zinc Study Group (ILZSG).

Edited by SHMET

Protesters disrupt Lonmin's South Africa platinum mines

Date Nov 10 2017 15:32:43 Source:Reuters

    LONDON, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Workers employed by Lonmin's  LMI.L  community shareholder Bapo Ba Mogale are protesting that they have not been fully paid, causing minor disruption at two of the platinum miner's shafts, the South African-focused firm

said on Thursday. 

    Lonmin, grappling with soaring costs and low platinum prices, briefly shut the two shafts earlier this year when community members held protests to demand jobs. 

    "We are experiencing minimal challenges as some buses to our E2 and E3 shafts are running later than usual," said Lonmin spokeswoman Wendy Tlou.

    "We are monitoring the situation and have added security to assist with the safe transportation of our workers."

    Bapo spokesman Vladimir Mogale said the protesting workers had not been fully paid because their traditional council had not receive its five million rand ($353,566) annual economic development funds from Lonmin.

    Lonmin's Tlou said only three million rand would be paid to the community in November due to financial constraints and the rest paid in 2018 as the contract requires.

    A police spokeswoman said protesters blocked roads and burned tyres on Wednesday night, but the situation was "under control at the moment".

    Lonmin struck a deal with the Bapo ba Mogale community  which saw it get equity in the miner through an investment company set up by its traditional council and which has been given opportunities to supply services to the mines.

    But the Bapo has called for Lonmin's mines to be shut by the mines ministry because it believes the firm has failed to build enough houses or employ and train enough community members.

    Lonmin shares were up 3.4 percent to 68 pence at 1209 GMT, having slumped about 30 percent on Friday when the company delayed annual results.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N1N94P9

    ($1 = 14.1416 rand)

 

 

 

Edited by SHMET

Kobe Steel to report on causes of data cheating, CEO to speak

Date Nov 10 2017 15:30:31 Source:Reuters
    TOKYO, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Kobe Steel Ltd  5406.T  said it would announce on Friday the results of an internal investigation into the causes of a data-cheating scandal that has rocked the Japanese steelmaker and affected hundreds of its customers globally. 

    Japan's third-biggest steelmaker said it would release the internal report, which includes countermeasures to prevent a recurrence, at 4:30 p.m. (0730 GMT). 

    The 112-year-old company admitted last month that workers had tampered with product specifications for at least a decade, causing global automakers, aircraft manufacturers and other companies to check whether the safety or performance of their products had been compromised. 

    No safety issues have so far been identified from the data cheating, which mainly involves falsely certifying the strength and durability of products. 

    Kobe Steel was ordered by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) last month to provide by around Nov. 12 a detailed explanation of the data cheating and say what steps it would take to prevent future abuses.

    But the explanations may not be conclusive as the company has since appointed a trio of outside investigators who are due to report back by the end of the year. 

     Kobe Steel's internal probe also may not address questions of responsibility, as sources have told Reuters that Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Hiroya Kawasaki and other executives will decide whether to resign for the scandal happening on their watch only after the external report. 

     Kawasaki will hold a news conference at 5:00 p.m. (0800 GMT), after reporting to METI.     

    Kobe Steel, now the subject of a U.S. Justice Department inquiry as well, has had a Japanese government-sanctioned seal of quality revoked on some of its products and lost customers.

    As of Tuesday, the company said 470 out of 525 affected customers found no safety issues or their products were deemed safe by Kobe Steel, up from 443 on Oct. 31.

    The company has said it cannot yet fully state what impact the tampering will have on its finances. Last week, it pulled its forecast for its first annual profit in three years for the 12 months through next March. 

    Kobe Steel's shares have fallen by nearly a fifth since it revealed the data fabrication a month ago. 

    The company's shares  5406.T   were up 2 percent by 0558 GMT on Friday, while the Nikkei 225  .N225  was down 0.8 percent.  

Edited by SHMET

PRECIOUS-Gold steady near three-week high amid U.S. tax reform concerns

Date Nov 10 2017 15:28:33 Source:Reuters
    Nov 9 (Reuters) - Gold prices on Friday held near a three-week high touched in the previous session, underpinned by uncertainty over U.S. tax reforms and on track for the first weekly rise in four weeks.

    Spot gold  XAU=  was nearly unchanged at $1,285.28 per ounce as of 0435 GMT, and was headed for a gain of more than 1 percent for the week. On Thursday, it touched its highest since Oct. 20 at $1,288.34 an ounce.

    U.S. gold futures  GCcv1  for December delivery were down 0.1 percent at $1,285.80.

    "Further political uncertainty in the U.S. saw gold prices well supported. News that the Republican tax plan involved cuts being delayed until 2019 raised the ire of investors," ANZ said in a note. 

    U.S. Senate Republicans unveiled a tax plan on Thursday that differed from the House of Representatives' version on several key fronts, including how they treat the corporate tax rate, the tax deduction for state and local taxes, and the estate tax.

    Gold is often used as an alternative investment during times of political and financial uncertainty.

    The slower than expected pacing of interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve is supporting gold, said Mark To, head of research at Hong Kong's Wing Fung Financial Group.

    The appointment of Jerome Powell as the new Fed chair has watered down expectations of a more hawkish stance from the central bank, he added.

    "Overall though, the picture (for gold) is range-bound trading without much changes." 

     Higher interest rates tend to boost the dollar, putting pressure on gold prices by increasing the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

     The dollar was on track for weekly losses after dropping on disappointment with the tax bill put forth by U.S. Senate Republicans that would delay expected corporate tax cuts.  USD/ 

     Spot gold may edge up to a resistance at $1,292 per ounce, a break above which could lead to a gain to $1,299, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao. 

     In other precious metals, palladium  XPD=  slipped 0.4 percent at $1,006.50 an ounce after touching its highest since 2001 at $1,026.10 on Thursday. It was up about 1.1 percent for the week. 

    Silver  XAG=  rose 0.1 percent to $17.016 per ounce. It has gained 1.1 percent for the week and is on track for its first weekly rise in four weeks. 

    Platinum was down 0.2 percent at $935.40 an ounce and was up 1.8 percent for the week.

 

 

Edited by SHMET

Armed separatists occupy villages near Freeport's Indonesia mine

Date Nov 10 2017 15:27:01 Source:Reuters

    JAKARTA/TIMIKA, Indonesia, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Armed separatists have occupied five villages in Indonesia's Papua province, threatening to disrupt Freeport-McMoRan Inc's  FCX.N giant Grasberg copper mine, which has already been hit this year

by labour unrest and a dispute over operating rights.

    A state of emergency has been declared and around 300 additional security forces have been deployed to the mining area of the eastern province after a string of shootings since Aug. 17 that killed one police officer and wounded six.

    "They want to disrupt Freeport's operations," said Suryadi Diaz, a spokesman for the Papua police.

    "(Freeport) is rich but they are poor, so they just want justice," Diaz said, adding that the militants were a splinter group of the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM).

    Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama said the company was "deeply concerned" about security and was using armoured cars and helicopters to ferry workers to and from the Grasberg mine in the province's Mimika regency.

    He said attacks had been launched along the road near the town of Tembagapura, about 10 km (6 miles) from the mine, where families of employees - including expatriates - live.

    He added that so far there had been no impact on production and shipments from Grasberg, the world's second-biggest copper mine.

    Last year Freeport Indonesia contributed about a quarter of the parent company's global sales of 4.23 billion pounds (1.92 million tonnes) of copper.

    Arizona-based Freeport, the world's largest publicly listed copper producer, has been grappling with labour problems at Grasberg and a lengthy dispute with the Indonesian government over rights to the mine. 

    SHOTS FIRED

    The mine has also be dogged by major concerns over security due to a low-level conflict waged by pro-independence rebels in Papua for decades. Between 2009 and 2015, shootings within the mine project area killed 20 people and wounded 59. 

    Papua and neighbouring West Papua provinces make up the western half of an island north of Australia, with independent Papua New Guinea to the east. The provinces have been plagued by separatist violence since they were incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticised U.N.-backed referendum in 1969.

    President Joko Widodo has sought to ease tension in the two provinces by stepping up investment, freeing political prisoners and addressing human rights concerns.

    Police spokesman Diaz said around 1,000 local residents and migrant workers who pan for gold in Mimika were being prevented by the separatists from leaving the five villages.

    Security forces had entered the occupied area on Thursday, police and military sources told Reuters, but it was not clear if they had been able to evacuate any of the residents.

    "We are trying to maximise protection for the community ... because people have been raped and some have had goods stolen," Papua Police chief Boy Rafli Amar told Reuters.

    The water supply of Tembagapura town had also been contaminated with kerosene, Boy said, but police had not been able to ascertain if it was an act of sabotage by the same group.

  Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch said police statements on the matter "should not be taken for granted, due to decades of independent journalists' restrictions in Papua."

    

    "JUST WILD THIEVES"

    In a video purported to come from the National Liberation Army (TPN-OPM), part of the OPM group, dated Sept. 29, a guerrilla action coordinator named as Joni Beanal reads out an open letter warning of attacks on Freeport in order "to destroy it".

    "The main reason for the integration of Papua into Indonesia was a conspiracy by America and Indonesia in the interests of mining exploitation by Freeport MacMoran in Papuan soil," the coordinator said in the video seen by Reuters.

    Reuters was not able to verify the authenticity of the video. Papua police spokesman Diaz dismissed the recording as "old". Freeport spokesman Pratama declined to comment on the matter.

    Papua Military Commander Major General George Elnadus Supit said the TPN-OPM posed no significant threat and were "just wild thieves who are perhaps being used by a separatist group".

    Concord Consulting group warned that a harsh crackdown on the militant group could backfire.

    "Militants in Mimika will be able to hide among the local population - many of whom share their rejection of Indonesian rule," the security consultancy said in a note on Wednesday.

    Freeport contributed $20 million towards Indonesian government-provided security protecting workers and infrastructure in 2016, about one-third of its local security budget.

    The company paid $668 million to the Indonesian government last year in income taxes, royalties and export duties, making it one of the country's single largest taxpayers.

    The Panguna copper and gold mine in neighbouring Papua New Guinea was abandoned in 1989 after a campaign of sabotage by the rebel Bougainville Revolutionary Army.

    Echoing the situation in Papua, there was deep resentment among the indigenous Bougainville people about the wealth going to the Papua New Guinea central government and the mine's then operator, Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Ltd, a forerunner of Rio Tinto  RIO.L   RIO.AX .

Edited by SHMET