Here is an analysis from historical data showing the correlation of steel and steel casting production when DOC Census tracked the steel casting numbers.
23 April 2014
So far in 2014, nickel prices have risen sharply despite other industrial metals, like copper and iron ore, struggling in the market.
One of the main reasons for this improvement in nickel prices is Indonesia’s ban on nickel ore exports. These prices could even grow even stronger later in the year, which is good news for companies like Vale (a nickel producer) and BHP Billiton (which is looking to offload its nickel resources).
As recent as last year, nickel was the worst performing industrial metal. Before the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, nickel prices were approximately $50,000/ton. As a result, mining companies ramped up their production levels, but soon afterwards the global economy lost steam after the financial crisis, damaging the demand for base metals. Unfortunately, miners had already committed to their capacity expansion so they could just continue to produce nickel instead of being able to just lower production. In 2013, the International Nickel Study Group recorded the refined nickel supply climbed about 11 percent resulting in an estimated surplus of 173,000 tons.
But nickel prices have bounced back sharply entering into a bull market after gaining 20 percent by March. Last week, the nickel prices for a three-month delivery climbed to a 14-month high of $17, 917 per ton at the London Metal Exchange.
AAR Reports Increased Weekly Rail Traffic
WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 17, 2014 – The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 12, 2014 with 295,294 total U.S. carloads, up 7.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 264,382 units, up 9.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 559,676 carloads and intermodal units, up 8.2 percent compared with the same week last year.
Production is up from a fall the last two weeks but still lower than the flat range for the last 6 months.
09 April 2014
Late last year, MEPS predicted that there would be an upturn in demand for stainless steel, however this has not yet materialized during the first quarter of 2014. However, recent increases in nickel costs have lifted stainless transaction values and helped boost stainless purchases.
The mineral ore export ban imposed by Indonesia has had a small effect since the beginning of 2014, but other conventional nickel producers have stepped up their outputs in an effort to help reduce the shortfall. Nickel continues to be in surplus relative to current demand. The LME Nickel Cash price rose by US$2000 per ton between Feb. 25 and Mar. 26, which was an increase of over 14 percent. As a result, austenitic stainless steel transaction values have advanced and likely to continue doing so. Market insiders are reporting positive signs saying that consumption is sure to increase (either because of seasonal trends or because of genuine economic recovery).
Steel production still weak in mid April.
….the only explanation still standing is the shift in the composition of activity away from capital-intensive forms of production, like manufacturing, to less capital-intensive activities, like services.
If the disorder has multiple causes, then there should be multiple treatments. There should be tax incentives for firms to hire the long-term unemployed; more public spending on infrastructure, education, and research to compensate for the shortfall in private capital spending; and still higher capital requirements for banks and strengthened regulation of nonbank financial institutions to prevent them from excessive risk-taking.
Friday, April 11, 2014
For the week ending April 5, U.S. railroads registered 296,039 carloads, up 5.4 percent, and 261,084 intermodal loads, up 12.6 percent compared with volumes from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads.
Total combined traffic climbed 8.7 percent to 557,123 units and nine of 10 carload commodity groups posted gains, led by grain at 16.8 percent and petroleum/petroleum products at 11 percent. Only forest products traffic registered a decline, and a small one at that: 0.7 percent.