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>. STORIES > Ukraine's Azovstal cut steel output in 2008 [ID:nLM339367] > China 2008 December minor metals trade [ID:nSHA4207] > London Metal Exchange volumes to slip in 2009 [ID:nLK464044] > Chinese investors eye shut Zambian copper mine [ID:nLJ161317] > KWG Resources in option agreement with Cliffs [ID:nWNAB1808] > Braemore says SAfrica smelter output on target[ID:nBNG309874] > Israel magnesium workers urge VW to pay debt [ID:nLL618825] > Chile job cuts target deferred projects -BHP [ID:nN21456663] > Adanac reduced employees by about 70 pct [ID:nWNAB1413] > Allegheny Tech profit falls 25 pct [ID:nN21432557] (Additional reporting by Michael taylor) (Reporting by Pratima Desai; editing by James Jukwey)