Base metal prices under pressure

July 9, 2013

Base metal prices including copper, nickel and molybdenum, key elements in Powder Metallurgy materials, have come under downward pressure following the recent rise in the value of the US dollar, the deeper-than-expected recession in Europe, and slowdown in first half (2013) growth in China and India. This combination of economic uncertainty for the remainder of 2013 has additionally led the World Bank to downgrade its global growth forecast for 2013 to 2.2% from 2.4% predicted in January.

Copper reached a low of $6,800/tonne towards the end of June 2013 from its $8000/tonne starting point at the beginning of the year. Nickel has fallen to $13,530/tonne – down from $19,700/tonne, and molybdenum is down to $21,000/tonne – down from $25,100 in January.

However, cobalt and tungsten have bucked the downward price trend with cobalt climbing sharply in the first half of 2013 to reach $30,000/tonne after falling to $22,000/tonne in November 2012. Tungsten APT prices are up from $345/mtu (FOB – China) in February 2013 to $405 at the beginning of July with the increase attributed to rising production costs, and reports that China is producing a tungsten supply deficit leading to serious tightening of global supplies. The rise in tungsten APT prices has also fed through to tungsten carbide powder prices which have risen from $45/kg in February 2013 to $53/kg at the beginning of July.

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