All the metals news from the Mena crisis in one place

The political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region is causing volatility in a number of metal markets. To help you keep on top of it, we've created a page to track the main events and effects for the metal industry, all in one place.

Whether it's aluminium supply and demand, oil prices, the effect on market sentiment, shipping delays or the effects on the domestic market in the Mena regions, we'll cover all you need to know right on this page, as soon as the news breaks.

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(AMM) Rising oil could burn recovery: analysts- 28 March 2011

The healthiest economies should be able to cope with the effects of soaring crude oil prices, but civil uprisings plaguing the Middle East and North Africa may dent economic recovery in some parts of the world, according to analysts with an international consulting firm.

"The major unknowns are the response by OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) and whether the political upheavals in Bahrain and Yemen could spread," Nariman Behravesh, chief economist for IHS Global Insight, said during a Webcast.

***MEIR ON METALS: Metals mixed, as all eyes on the Middle East and Japan-21 March 2011

Copper and General Commentary: Copper is now at $9,442, down $67, and at a low for the day. The rest of the metals have also turned slightly lower, except for tin, which is holding on to a decent gain.

The dollar is weaker right now, currently trading at just under $1.42 against the euro, while energy prices are holding on to good gains, with crude oil up by about $1.50 a barrel.

Markets remain focused primarily on the situations in both the Middle East and Japan, and that will likely remain the case for the balance of the week. Out of Libya, an allied coalition pounded Col. Gaddafi's forces with air strikes and cruise missiles over the weekend, as they seek to enforce the UN Security Council resolution passed on Friday.

LME base metals fall as world considers earthquake impact - 14th March
Lead and zinc were the only base metals not to show a significant fall in pre-market trading on the London Metal Exchange on Monday, as sentiment regarding global economic health took a beating from continued fighting in Libya and the massive earthquake in Japan.

“Libya is still there, and from what we see in the papers the fighting is becoming fiercer, and that’s not good for oil,” a category I trader said. 

 Alcoa suit part of Bahrain political battle: WikiLeaks - 13th March
The 2008 lawsuit filed by Aluminium Bahrain BSC (Alba) against U.S. aluminum producer Alcoa Inc. that sparked a criminal investigation may have been motivated by Bahraini political backstabbing, according to a secret diplomatic cable made public by whistle-blowing Web site WikiLeaks.

LME copper crashes through $9,000 as funds liquidate positions - 11th March
...Tensions were also mounting in the Middle East ahead of the “day of rage” protests due to take place in Saudi Arabia after evening prayers on Friday.

“Tensions in the Middle East and North Africa have obviously been very bearish for commodities because of the impact on oil prices, but if instability spreads to Saudi Arabia it will get much worse..."

Singapore traders brand copper 'too volatile to trade' - 11th March
 Shanghai copper futures fell 7.4% this week on the back of the Libyan crisis, and market sentiment is not expected to lift with the latest Chinese official data reflecting still-high inflation.

***LME ASIAN WRAP: Copper below $9,200 as Libya crisis grows - 10th March
Copper futures plunged across London and Shanghai in early Asian trade on Thursday as violence in Libya escalated and demand from China plunged in preliminary February data.

LME three-month copper traded as low as $9,236.25 per tonne, down 0.5% from opening and 4.1% from officials.

Shanghai copper falls to 10-week low - 10th March
Shanghai copper plunged by 3.3% to a 10-week low on Thursday, following a tumble in overseas markets.

The benchmark May copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange lost 2,370 yuan ($361) to close at 69,230 yuan per tonne. It was as low as 69,070 yuan in the session, the lowest since December 27, when it touched 68,760 yuan.

Copper futures plunged on the London Metal Exchange on Thursday as violence in Libya escalated and preliminary China import figures showed a steep drop.
LME three-month copper traded as low as $9,135 per tonne, the lowest since December 20.

***MEIR ON METALS:Metals retreat once again as energy prices start to perk up - 9th March
 Copper is now at $9,425, down $105, and has pretty much given up most of Tuesday’s gains, as another upside move in energy is starting to weigh on the complex.

On Tuesday, we saw the reverse set in, namely, a retreat in energy setting off a modest rally in base metals, some of the agriculturals, as well as US equities.

However, the turmoil in the Middle East shows no sign of waning, and as long as this is the case, we should expect to see continued volatility in the energy markets and a likely ensuing drag on metals. 

***LME ASIAN WRAP: Copper climbs on talk of oil output hike - 9th March
LME copper climbed above $9,500 per tonne in early Asian trading on Wednesday after oil prices eased on reports that OPEC was considering emergency talks to increase output.

Three-month copper opened $99 above officials and traded as high as $9,538 per tonne, up $8 from opening and 1.1% from officials.

"Market worries eased slightly after the price of oil dropped for a second day, as members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries considered talks about adding production," said an analyst in Beijing

LME copper extends losses in pre-market trade - 8th March
Base metals extended losses during pre-market trading on the London Metal Exchange on Tuesday, under pressure from weak macro sentiment and technical selling.

Three-month copper was trading at $9,370 at 10:26 GMT, down from an opening price of $9,560, and extending losses seen during a sharp sell-off at the close on Monday.

Copper lost more than $300 in kerb trading on Monday, while nickel lost more than $1,200, in a sell-off sparked by escalating violence in Libya and technical cues.

*** LME ASIAN WRAP: Copper down 1.5% as global worries worsen - 8th March
London Metal Exchange copper dropped 1.5% in Asian morning trading on Tuesday as concerns about Libya picked up overnight and Greece's debt rating slid further.

Three-month copper traded as low as $9,418.5 per tonne, down 1.5% from opening and 4.4% below officials, after Moody's downgraded Greece's debt rating from Ba1 to B1, or "highly speculative".

***MEIR ON METALS: Metals trapped in tight ranges, as group keeps wary eye on energy prices - 7th March
Copper and General Commentary: Copper is now at $9,840, down $54, with prices on the defensive for a second day in a row. Trading ranges remain very tight, with a $130/MT band evident so far in Monday’s session.

Once again, the surge we are seeing in energy is weighing on metals, and we saw this best illustrated again on Friday when early gains in both LME metals and US stocks gave way late in the day. In fact, in the US equity markets, Thursday's entire 168-point gain in the US Dow Jones Industrial Average was erased at one point before the market pared its losses by the close, ending down 88.

***LME ASIAN WRAP: Cu falls as Libya conflict pushes up oil prices - 7th March
Copper on London Metals exchange retreated to below $9,900 per tonne in early Asian trading on Monday after conflict in Libya escalated and oil prices surged.

Three-month copper traded as low as $9,831.75 per tonne, down 0.4% from a low opening, and 1.5% below officials.

"US crude oil hiked to as high as $105 after a conflict near a Libyan oil facility and this hit metals prices again," said an analyst in Shanghai.

***MEIR ON METALS: Metals maintain modest gains, as the weaker dollar supports the group - 4th March
...We suspect that we will get an even firmer tone in energy prices over the course of Friday’s trading, as there always is the possibility of renewed protests heading into the weekend. This suggests that we could see rather limited upside in metals, and a possible modest retreat set in by Monday if more violence is reported from the region. In this regard, protests are scheduled in Bahrain for this weekend and rumblings out of Saudi Arabia are also making us somewhat nervous...

Cu premiums fall in EU on weak demand, high scrap availability - 3rd March
...The geopolitical uncertainty caused by the uprisings in the Middle East and north Africa (Mena) region has led prices on the LME to stay range-bound since the start of the week. The impact of the troubles in Mena upon oil prices will remain significant for the copper market.

“A high oil price has a negative effect on economic development, and that in turn has a negative effect on industrial metals such as copper,” the consumer said.

Prudent Mena Al buyers consider worst-case scenario - 3rd March

Aluminium consumers in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) are looking at alternative sources of supply as they prepare for the possibility of disruptions among producers should the political unrest continue.

“I’ve had billet consumers in Morocco enquiring after large tonnages because they’re worried about their usual supply chain,” a European producer said. “There is a lot of nervousness around.”

Geo-political woes weigh on Shanghai copper - 3rd March
Copper on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE) retreated by 0.7% on Thursday as geo-political worries from Africa to Iran continued to dominate the market.

May copper on the SHFE closed at 74,140 yuan ($11,263) per tonne, down 560 yuan from Wednesday.

N.Y. copper off on oil, inventory worries - 3rd March
Copper slid slightly in New York on Wednesday against a backdrop of rising energy costs and increasing warehouse inventory stocks.

Comex contracts for May delivery, the most actively traded, dropped to $4.498 per pound, down 0.3 percent from $4.5095 per pound Tuesday.

***COMMENT: Waiting for the outcome in Mena - 1st March
Metals market participants will be watching events in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region closely after prices tumbled on the London Metal Exchange last week.

Initial effects, such as disruptions in aluminium supply and a drop in demand for rebar, will be just the tip of the iceberg should the unrest continue or spread to other countries, according to market sources. 

The risk aversion shown by investors since the popular uprisings across MENA have led oil prices to exceed $100 per barrel and demonstrates the lingering fragility of the investment community’s confidence in the wake of the global economic crisis

MENA strife hits Al deliveries, fear of contagion worsens- 25 February 2011

The political turmoil afflicting parts of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has resulted in delays on aluminium shipments, and market participants warned that further troubles could threaten global economic health.

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Iron and Steel

Poor Mena demand forces Turkish mills to cut rebar prices by $15- 31 March 2011 

A slump in sales volumes to the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region has forced Turkish rebar mills to cut prices by as much as $15 per tonne, according to Turkish mill and trader sources.

Conflict in a number of Mena states has severely disrupted sales to the region.

Weak demand in Mena region slows down Turkish rebar export sales- 25 March 2011

Rebar has been sold at $670-680 per tonne fob main Turkish port for April production and shipment, the same level now for six consecutive weeks, according to Turkish mill and trader sources.

The situation in Libya has slowed down sales,” a trader in Istanbul confirmed. “There is not much buying activity. Rebar is being sold at $670 fob but bookings are scarce.”

Lisco remains shut as seige of Misurata rages on- 25 March 2011

The Libyan Iron & Steel Co (Lisco) remains shut as anti-government forces in control of the beseiged city of Misurata, come under continued attack from troops loyal to the Gadaffi government.

(AMM) Supplier sentiment fell before Japan quake- 25 March 2011

Rising fuel prices and political instability in the Middle East and North Africa darkened the market outlook of North American Tier I and II automotive parts and components manufacturers this month compared with January—and that was before the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan.

The Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA) supplier sentiment index fell to 66 in March from 71 two months earlier.

***SPOTLIGHT: Political and social unrest slows sales to troubled Mena region- 23 March 2011

Sales of Turkey- and CIS-origin billet and rebar into the Persian Gulf have slowed political instability in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.

The wave of protests that started in Tunisia and then in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Libya has caused major buyers to retreat from the market until stability returns.

Rebar consumers in the countries affected are only purchasing enough material to serve their immediate needs.

Saudi government hands out two month salary bonuses to Sabic workers- 22 March 2011

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has granted employees at state owned Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) a two-month salary bonus as the country tries to prevent social and political unrest that has afflicted other countries in the region.

Turkish merchant bar exporters hold prices stable to Mena region-18 March 2011

Turkish merchant bar producers have held export prices due to weak demand in the Middle East and North African (Mena) region.

Merchant bar has been sold at $715-720 per tonne fob main Turkish port for April production, unchanged for three weeks, Turkish market participants told MB.

CIS wire rod exporters leave prices unchanged to attract nervous Mena buyers- 15 March 2011

CIS wire rod mills have left export prices unchanged for April production for five weeks, hoping to attract cautious buyers in the Middle East and north African (Mena) region, according to market participants.

LKAB cancels iron ore pellet shipment to Libya- 15 March 2011

Swedish iron ore miner LKAB has been forced to cancel a shipment of iron ore pellet to Libya because of the continuing instability in the North African state.

“We don’t know when it will be possible to ship,” LKAB spokesman Markus Petäjäniemi told MB.

Vale resumes commissioning work at Oman pellet plant-11 March 2011

Vale has resumed the commissioning work for the first of its two 4.5 million tpy pelletizing plants in Oman following a suspension caused by social unrest in the Gulf state.

***CHINA STEEL WRAP: Rebar falls to near 4-month low - 10th March
Shanghai Futures Exchange rebar fell to its lowest since November 17, tracking the slide in metal commodities led by the worsening crisis in Libya and a stronger dollar.

October rebar closed at 4,679 yuan ($712) per tonne on the Shanghai Futures Exchange, down 92 yuan from Wednesday. May hot rolled coil also fell over 1% or 48 yuan to end at 4,580 yuan per tonne on the Shanghai Steel Exchange Center.

Egyptian mills hold rebar offers despite collapse in demand - 8th March
Egypt-based rebar consumers have withdrawn from the domestic market on weak demand from the construction sector, traders told MB.

“Egyptian mills are operating at full capacity, with no cuts in production. [But] demand is weak and sales have been low,” a Cairo-based trader said.

“Large construction projects have been put on hold and there have been no announcements of new projects,” he said. 

Mena region turmoil keeps CIS rebar buyers out of market - 7th March
Middle East and North Africa (Mena) CIS rebar consumers remain out of the market on political unrest, weak demand and uncertainty about price direction, participants told MB.

CIS rebar export prices have been unchanged for four consecutive weeks, standing at $660-670 per tonne fob Black Sea, MB was told

Cheap imports push Singapore rebar prices down - 7th March
Domestic prices of rebar in Singapore have fallen by as much as S$50 ($40) on cheaper imports from the Middle East.

Rebar is being offered and traded at $930-940 per tonne in the domestic market this week, down from $980-990 per tonne two weeks ago, said mill and trading sources.

"We have been facing downward pressure on prices because of imports from the Middle East. Turkish traders are offering at about $700 per tonne cfr into the region now," said an official at Natsteel Holdings, Singapore's only mill.

"Perhaps the Middle Eastern traders cannot find buyers at home because of the political chaos there, so they are trying to export as much as possible [including] into the region," he said.

Vale suspends commissioning work at Oman pellet plant - 3rd March
Vale has temporarily suspended the commissioning work for the first of its two 4.5 million tpy pelletizing plants in Oman because of social unrest in the Gulf state.

The stoppage, a “preventive measure”, will be lifted once the situation is normalised, the company said. All the workers who had been on site, most of them Omani, have been “instructed to remain at home”.

Political unrest in Libya slows down Turkish rebar export sales - 3rd March
The political turmoil in Libya is likely to keep buyers of Turkish rebar out of the market until the market shows clear signs of stability, Turkish market participants told MB.

Major consumers in the Middle East and North African (Mena) region have been nervous about purchasing rebar due to uncertainty over the direction of prices and demand.

Lisco production halted as protesters take over Misurata - 25th Feb
Government owned Libyan Iron and Steel Company (Lisco) has stopped production at its facility in Misurata, 210 km east of Tripoli after the area came under the control of protestors, according to local sources.

“The Gaddafi militia have been doing ‘hit and runs’ on protestors in Misurata,” said a source with knowledge of the situation.

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