China Dec copper imports fall as demand edges down at year-end

Date Jan 12 2018 14:55:57 Source:Reuters

    BEIJING, Jan 12 (Reuters) - China's unwrought copper imports fell 4.3 percent in December from a month earlier, but still recorded their second-highest level in 2017 as winter restrictions on domestic production kept demand for metal from overseas buoyant.

    Last month's arrivals of unwrought copper, which includes anode, refined, and semi-finished copper products stood at 450,000 tonnes, according to Chinese customs data released on Friday.

    The figure was down from a bumper 470,000 tonnes in November and 8.2 percent lower than in December 2016. 

    Imports for the whole of 2017 were 4.69 million tonnes, down 5.1 percent on the year and the lowest annual number since 2013, customs said.

    Restrictions on industrial output this winter have affected some of China's biggest copper smelters. 

     "Tongling and Jiangxi Copper announced they would cut back their smelting production in December," said Helen Lau, an analyst with Argonaut Securities in Hong Kong. 

     "Production came down but imports didn't pick up, so I think that reflects that the year-end demand is not really that strong, especially in the power sector, and a lot of construction activity has stopped during the winter season."    

    Last month's copper concentrate imports came in at 1.65 million tonnes, customs said. That was down 7.3 percent from the all-time high of 1.78 million tonnes in November, but flat year-on-year, and also the second-highest level seen in 2017.

    Full-year concentrate imports stood at 17.35 million tonnes, up 2.3 percent year on year to a new record.

    Meanwhile, China's exports of unwrought aluminium and aluminium products rose for a second straight month in December, by 15.8 percent from November to 440,000 tonnes. That is also up 12.8 percent from the same month a year earlier.  ACNEXPALUM 

    Exports are now back to July levels after plummetting for four straight months before November's rebound.

    Jackie Wang, an aluminium analyst at CRU in Beijing, said a U.S. decision to investigate imports of Chinese common alloy aluminium sheet could have prompted a short-term rush from U.S. buyers to stock up before the possible imposition of antidumping duties in February. 

    However, this will not become clear until final trade data is released later in the month, she added.

    "A similar situation happened when the United States investigated Chinese  aluminium  foil," Wang said, also noting a favorable arbitrage for Chinese producers last month as Shanghai aluminium prices  SAFcv1  fell.    

    Full-year aluminium exports were 4.79 million tonnes, customs said, up 4.4 percent from 2016 and beating the previous record of 4.76 million tonnes exported in 2015.  



Edited by SHMET

Chinese steel futures fall, weigh on iron ore as demand falters

Date Jan 12 2018 14:55:13 Source:Reuters

    SHANGHAI, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Chinese steel futures fell on Friday after gaining for three straight days and were on track for their biggest daily loss in one month as cooling winter demand weighed on iron ore, the key steelmaking raw material.

    Steel traders and end users are reluctant to restock on expectations that faltering demand in winter months would continue to dent prices. 

    "Steel traders are cautious at the moment and reluctant to start buying. They would consider restocking if physical prices fall further," said Zhao Chaoyue, an analyst with Merchant Futures in Shenzhen.

    "The government-imposed production curbs at steel mills seem less stricter than the beginning of the smog campaign in mid-November. Weak steel prices will continue pressuring iron ore," Zhao added.

    The most active rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange SRBcv1 dropped 1.5 percent to 3,794 yuan ($585.40) a tonne by midday.

    Iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange DCIOcv1 fell 1.9 percent to 545 yuan a tonne.

    Chinese iron ore imports fell 11 percent in December at 84.3 million tonnes from the previous month, but full-year shipments rose 5 percent to a record high of 1.075 billion tonnes from 2016, exceeding 1 billion tonnes for a second year, customs data showed on Friday. 

    Coke DCJcv1 slipped 0.7 percent to 2,010.5 yuan a tonne and coking coal DJMcv1  fell 1.3 percent to 1,346.5 yuan a tonne, respectively.    

    Iron ore for delivery to China's Qingdao port .IO62-CNO=MB rose $0.77 to 79.08 a tonne on Thursday, according to Metal Bulletin. 

($1 = 6.4810 Chinese yuan renminbi)



Edited by SHMET

Copper dips as equities catch investors' fancy

Date Jan 12 2018 14:41:25 Source:Reuters

    SYDNEY, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Copper prices eased in early Asian trading on Friday, hurt by a shift to stocks due to U.S. earnings optimism and a rise in oil prices.

    Nickel was also weaker, with the active China futures contract following London metal lower.  


    * COPPER: Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange

 CMCU3 dropped 0.1 percent to $7,135.50 a tonne by 0100 GMT, extending losses from the previous session. Capital Economics said it expects copper to continue its retreat, averaging just $6,800 a tonne in the first quarter and $6,250 in the second quarter.

    * SHFE: The most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange SCFcv1 retreated 0.9 percent to 54,610 yuan  ($8,407) a tonne.

    * CHINA: Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group 000630.SZ , one of China's top copper smelters, will suspend production at its Jinguan Copper unit for three days from Friday for repairs, a source familiar with the matter said.

    * NEW GRASBERG PLAN: Indonesia hopes to finalise contract mine by June, although divestment issues are still unresolved, a mining ministry official said on Thursday. 

    *NICKEL: ShFE Nickel SNIcv1 dropped more than 2 percent to a 3-day low, while LME nickel CMNI3 recovered from an overnight selloff to trade 0.3 percent firmer at $12,660 a tonne.

    * LME DEPARTURE: Paul MacGregor, head of sales at the London Metal Exchange, left his position earlier this month and has not yet been replaced, an LME spokesperson said, declining to give any further detail.

    * OTHER METALS: The rest of the ShFE base metals complex was weaker, with the exception of zinc  SZNcv1 , which was showing modest gains in step with overnight gains that saw three-month metal trade near decade highs. LME zinc  CMZN3  was flat at

$3,386 a tonne.   


    * Asian stocks resumed their ascent on Friday, supported by U.S. earnings optimism and a rise in oil prices while the euro edged higher as the European Central Bank signalled an end to its massive stimulus. MKTS/GLOB    


Edited by SHMET

U.S. Commerce Dept sends Trump steel probe findings, keeps details under wraps

Date Jan 12 2018 14:40:28 Source:Reuters

     WASHINGTON, Jan 11 (Reuters) - The U.S. Commerce Department on Thursday said it sent President Donald Trump the results of its probe into whether steel imports threaten U.S. national security, but declined to reveal any details of its recommendations.

    In a statement that offered no insight into the investigation's conclusions, the Commerce Department said Trump now has 90 days to decide "on any potential action".

    The probe could lead to broad tariffs or import quotas.

    White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement that Trump would announce his decision "at the appropriate time."

    Trump opened the "Section 232" investigation in April. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross set an internal deadline of end-June for announcing his recommendations, but an announcement was delayed for a G20 summit and bilateral talks with China in July.

    Trump said later in July that a final decision could wait until other top priority issues on his agenda were addressed, including healthcare and taxes.

    The investigation was kept under wraps at the Commerce Department, but the agency faced a Monday statutory deadline to present its report to the White House. A similar national security probe into aluminum imports invoking the same Cold War-era trade law is due on Jan. 22.

    "Although the report is not yet public, we believe that the investigation findings will confirm what domestic steelmakers already know. Imports of certain steel products to the United States should be restricted on national security grounds," said Philip Bell, president of the Steel Manufacturers Association.

    In a statement, Bell called for "broad, meaningful and impactful" remedies that reduce the volumes of subsidized and dumped foreign steel products. 

    Trump has promised he would take action to protect steelworkers from imports. But potential broad tariffs or quotas on steel and aluminum have been the subject of intense debate in the White House, among officials who favor more aggressive restrictions and pro-business factions that favor a more cautious approach to avoid a run-up in steel prices or disruptions to U.S. allies.

    While forcing a reduction of excess production in China, which now supplies half the world's steel, is a key goal of any potential restrictions, broad tariffs would have a bigger impact on steelmakers in Europe, Japan, South Korea and Turkey.

    Most direct steel imports from China are already blocked by previous product- and country-specific anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties.

    But anticipation of restrictions after the steel probe was launched triggered a surge in steel imports in 2017, causing them to rise by about 18 percent through November compared with 2016, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

    Imports held about a 27 percent market share last year, helping to keep several U.S. steel mills idled and thousands of workers laid off. 

    In August, senior executives from 25 U.S. steel and steel-related companies sent a letter to Trump asking for immediate import restrictions. 

    The executives from companies including Nucor Corp  NUE.N , U.S. Steel  X.N , ArcelorMittal  MT.AS  and Commercial Metals Co  CMC.N  said the sustained surge of steel imports into the United States had "hollowed out" much of the domestic steel industry and was threatening its ability to meet national security needs.

    Critics charge that using national security to erect steel tariffs could trigger a trade war with China, undermine the global rules-based trading system and hurt U.S. allies more than China and damage global growth prospects.


Edited by SHMET

PRECIOUS-Gold set to rise for fifth week as slumping dollar draws investors

Date Jan 12 2018 14:37:11 Source:Reuters

    Jan 12 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose for a third straight session on Friday to their highest since September as the slumping dollar drew investors to buy the yellow metal. Bullion is on track for its fifth weekly gain. 

    Spot gold = edged up 0.3 percent to $1,326.68 an ounce by 0318 GMT. Prices rose their highest since Sept. 15, 2017, at $1,327. Gold is up 0.5 percent for the week so far and the streak of weekly gains is the most since the week ending April 14. 

    U.S. gold futures GCcv1 were up 0.3 percent at $1,326.90 an ounce.

    The dollar index. DXY , which measures the greenback against six rival currencies, fell to its lowest since Sept. 20, 2017, at 91.689. 

    The euro jumped against the dollar as the European Central Bank signalled it could begin to wind down its 2.5 trillion-euro ($3.01 trillion) stimulus program this year. 

    A stronger euro potentially boosts demand for gold by making dollar-priced bullion cheaper for European investors.

    "There is a lot of doubt on how long prices have run from here ... Prices have only risen despite the Fed raising interest rates and main driver has been the U.S. dollar, which we continue to see help gold run higher in the first quarter," said Brian Lan, managing director at dealer GoldSilver Central in Singapore.

    "Gold has to breach the recent high of $1,327, above which prices can touch $1,360."

    Spot gold is expected to test a resistance at $1,329 per ounce, with a good chance of breaking above this level and rising more to the next resistance at $1,341, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao. 

    The greenback was also under pressure after data showed producer prices in the United States fell for the first time in nearly 1-1/2 years in December amid declining costs for services. 

    Weak inflation at the producer level could add to concerns that the factors restraining inflation could become more persistent and result in the U.S. Federal Reserve being more cautious about raising interest rates this year.

    Higher rates could dent demand for non-interest-paying gold.

    Investors will be watching the U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) data due later on Friday, which is expected to show inflation likely increased 0.2 percent in December after rising 0.4 percent in November. 

    Among other precious metals, spot silver  XAG=  rose 0.7 percent to $17.06 an ounce. Silver is on track for its first weekly loss in five weeks. It was down about 1 percent so far this week.

    Platinum XPT= rose 0.5 percent to touch its highest since Sept. 12 at $990.20 an ounce. Platinum was on track for its fifth straight weekly gain. It has risen 1.7 percent so far this week.

    Palladium XPD= was up 0.4 percent at $1,087.95 an ounce, after dropping to a more than one-week low at $1,075.50 on Thursday. 


Edited by SHMET