January 22, 2009 / 10:47 AM / 12 years ago

EUROPE MINOR METALS-Ferro tungsten prices creep higher

 LONDON, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Prices of ferro tungsten in
Europe crept up for the second week running as lack of new
supplies from China reinforced a dearth of material in
Rotterdam, traders said.
 Ferro Tungsten TUN-FERRO-LON was quoted higher at around
$30 a kg from $29 a kg last week and $25 a kg the week before as
consumer enquiries for the metal used to make steel for
industrial drills were met with empty hands.
 "Chinese producers are closed and they will stay closed
until after the holiday next week," a London-based trader said.
 "Most of the material in Rotterdam has been soaked up,
consumers are tentatively asking for prices."
 Chinese cutbacks and plant closures, expected to continue
until after the Lunar New Year holiday next week also helped
support prices of magnesium in Europe.
 Magnesium MGN-CHINA used to help harden aluminium for car
parts such as brakes and steering wheels was quoted at around
$3,000 a tonne from $2,900 a tonne, but traders said prospects
were poor given the dire state of the auto industry.
 "This level of activity hasn't hit government figures by a
long chalk," one said. "There are new cars piling up everywhere,
nobody knows what to do with them."
 Overall, traders said there was very little business being
done, that they did not expect to see a real recovery until the
second half of the year and that the global economic downturn
would dampen activity for some months yet.
 "People are living hand to mouth, they are only buying when
they have to," a UK-based trader said. But he added that he
thought China's steel industry was already starting to ramp up
production in anticipation of infrastructure spending.
 "It's easier to get things moving in China, they have a
holiday so things are slow, but their inventory has disappeared
and they are worried about all the cutbacks around the world ...
They need more than they've got."
 Steel ingredients also include ferro molybdenum
MLY-FERRO-LON, ferro manganese MNG-FERRO-LON, ferro vanadium
VAN-FERRO-LON and ferro chrome FECRO-HC-LON.
 Ferro chrome though was struggling, slipping five U.S. cents
to 70 cents a pound as producers and consumers negotiated
benchmark contract settlement prices.
 "The thing is people don't want to settle at these lower
prices because they are sitting on stock used as collateral with
banks," a Europe-based trader said.
 "If the benchmark falls, banks will be knocking at doors
asking for more collateral ... That's why the process could take
longer this year."
 Early indications for charge chrome were for a number
between 85 and 95 U.S. cents a pound.
 High grade cobalt COB-CATH-LON used to make aerospace
engines was bumping along the bottom at around $17 a pound.
 Traders said news that London-listed miner BHP Billiton
BLT.L was currently not offering any cobalt would make the
market more difficult to gauge.
 "BHP Billiton is currently not posting prices and
quantities," the company said on its website.
cobalt.bhpbilliton.com/
 For latest minor metals prices click on <STRATEGIC/EU>.
 
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 (Additional reporting by Michael taylor)
 (Reporting by Pratima Desai; editing by James Jukwey)
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