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Non-ferrous metals - 21 September

The technical markets were cheered by news that the US Federal Bank was set to engage in another round of quantitative easing.

The promise of fiscal stimulus lifted some of the primary base metals up to four-month highs. But merchants warned that the markets are overbought at present and expected prices to pare back after the furore dies down.

Back in the real world, scrap prices followed the primary markets’ movements. Scrap copper edged up by an average of £50 per tonne this week and aluminium prices remained relatively unchanged.

White metals

A recovery for tin may prove to be short-lived as the primary price had already started to ease back from the four-month high seen this week.

The price spike triggered Indonesian tin smelters to resume production, albeit at a reduced capacity. Smelters in the region are seeking $23,000 per tonne for primary material, before restoring full capacity. But mid-week LME prices were under this target by 7%, at $21,400 per tonne.

Even so the spike in prices for tin has bolstered the scrap price, with 99% tin up £1,347 per tonne to £11,575 per tonne.

Scrap lead is down this week as primary lead price also started to ease. But wet lead batteries enjoyed a boost of around £30 per tonne, to bring the price to just under £500 per tonne.

Aluminium ingots

There was no change for UK ingot prices this week.

Nickels and alloys

By mid-week, primary nickel price had started to drop to $18,000 per tonne. Scrap nickel solids still managed to gain some momentum, up £70 per tonne to £7,220 per tonne. 18/8 stainless steel solids and turnings dropped £20 per tonne, while 18/10/3 stainless steel solids fell a bit harder by £40 per tonne.

Although the price of nickel has risen lately, demand for stainless steel is reportedly very weak. Sentiment among a few traders is that this is likely to push the prices down further, even though the nickel increase should have caused some upward movement.

High-value metals

For most of the precious metals, apart from fine gold, prices had already started to come down off last week’s rallies.

Fine gold was boosted by the continuing devaluation of the dollar and reported rising production costs for gold. The precious metal was up to £35.26 per ounce and is expected to climb further as investors seek familiar safe haven territory. Silver prices are unchanged, while palladium was down 23p per ounce to £13.67.

News that strikes at the Lonmin platinum mine in South Africa had been averted took prices down. Both primary and scrap prices were down 10p per ounce to £33.55 per ounce and £24.67 per ounce, respectively.

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