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LCD screens continue to drive demand
31 Jan 2011 16:21 | by Matthew Finnegan in London | posted in Business
Indium market will see demand rise 16 percent until 2013 -
The market for indium is expected to see an annual average increase of 16 percent up until 2013, following a good 2010.
The growth will be supported by the continued demand for LCD screens, while applications for Photovoltaic solar cells are expected to contribute on a smaller scale.
Indium, a key raw material in indium tin oxide (ITO), is widely used in liquid crystal displays and touchscreen technologies.
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With the increasing proliferation of devices using the material it is expected that growth will continue, with demand particularly strong in the television and computer monitor markets.
Like many markets the indium industry is seeing demand recover from a downturn in 2009, and is now seeing focus switch to the supply side, according to Roskill Information Services. Production capacity is currently significantly above current output, so it will be possible to increase production at existing facilities.
China, where roughly half the global output is centered, may have more capacity than previously thought – with scope to increase production.
It is not thought that the use of ITO in the production of PV panels is expected to contribute hugely to the expected indium demand growth, due to supposed doubts over growth rates for the solar panels.
Of course it is noted that the PV market is a newer and faster growing market, with solar applications for indium increasing by 40 percent per year, though from a smaller base rate.
Following many fluctuations in the past years, indium prices surged upward in early 2010, buoyed by purchases from Japanese producers of LCDs who appeared to have completed a long period of de-stocking and were beginning to rebuild inventories.
With indium demand expected to increase strongly over the next two years it is thought that the main problem will be for production capacity to continue to keep up with demand.
If this is the case it is expected that indium prices could reach around $850/kg by 2013, though it is thought that in the longer term, as supply begins to meet demand, prices are likely to stabilise.
There is some controversy over the amount of indium availability in the world. According to Indium Corporation the figure stands at 26,000 megatonnes in the “western world”, while China and Russia account for 23,000 megatonnes of the world’s reserves.
To illustrate how widespread it claims indium is, Indium Corporation reckons the raw material is more prevalent in the earth than silver.
As Egypt Worries Spark Safe-Haven Bids
NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–The euro weakened broadly and sharply Friday as concerns about political unrest in Egypt sparked demand for safe-haven currencies such as the dollar, Swiss franc and euro.
After having spent most of the week ignoring the crisis in Egypt, traders became transfixed by images of pro-democracy demonstrators embroiled in street protests with government forces. This led investors to abandon risk-related investments in favor of safe-harbor assets amid worries about the potential for spillover effects worldwide.
With the euro already under pressure from constructive U.S. economic data, the figures coalesced with the market’s jitters about Egypt. Despite concerns about the U.S.’s fiscal imbalance, both Treasurys and the dollar rallied as they momentarily reverted to their traditional role as safe harbors during times of global instability.
“We’re going to watch over the weekend to see how aflame [Egypt] becomes,” said Andrew B. Busch, global currency strategist at BMO Capital Markets in Chicago, who said markets were modestly heartened by the data. However: “risk-off is happening because once you destabilize Egypt, you destabilize the Israel peace process and embolden Iran,” he added.
“Risk off” trades typically bolster the dollar, U.S. Treasurys, the Swiss franc and other assets perceived as safe havens.
The euro fell to session lows around $1.3594, more than a full cent below an earlier session high. The euro fell by more than 2% against the yen to trade at 111.63. Against the yen, the dollar was also sharply weaker on the day, trading near 82. Against the Swiss franc, the euro traded near 1.2820.
Speaking from Davos, German Chancellor Angela Merkel launched a strong defense of the euro, saying it was “more than a currency” and its failure would doom Europe. However, jittery markets largely ignored her remarks. Dealers said the market was becoming increasingly impatient with the lack of progress in Europe’s debt crisis.
“There has been very little resolution on the debt front, and in fact there has been more tension,” said John McCarthy, manager of currency trading at ING Capital Markets in New York.
“We’re getting to a level in euro/dollar where, based on concerns about European peripheral debt issue that have not gone away,” traders are becoming increasingly reluctant to take the single currency much higher, he added.
Dealers say the yen has been buoyed by both exporter demand for the currency and modest safe-haven flows. At least for the moment, analysts say concerns about Thursday’s Japanese sovereign debt downgrade by Standard & Poor’s have abated.
“Japan and their huge exporting companies have clearly become accustomed to the strong yen and are clearly taking every chance they get to buy in when there is a selloff,” said Western Union Business Solutions in a research note. “Even with the credit downgrade, investors don’t seem too worried about piling their cash into the Land of the Rising Sun and still see it as a bastion of safety.”
-By Javier E. David, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-4564; firstname.lastname@example.org
Australia’s GAM resumes Wodgina tantalum mine
Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:39pm EST
By Michael Taylor
(Reuters) – Global Advanced Metals (GAM), formerly Talison Tantalum, has reopened its Wodgina mine in Western
Australia, the company said on Monday.
The Wodgina mine was formerly the world’s top tantalum producer, before production was suspended in late 2008 during the global financial crisis.
Prices for tantalite TANT-LON, used to make tantalum metal for iPods and BlackBerry smart phones, traded at about $105 a lb on the European spot market, well above $36 a lb hit in January 2010.
Market conditions and the supply chain had altered significantly during 2010 and GAM has secured contracts that enable it to restart mining and processing, Chief Executive Officer, Bryan Ellis, said in a statement.
“There has been strong growth in all sectors of tantalum demand and stockpiles are rapidly diminishing, with Global Advanced Metals the only producer able to fill the supply chain quickly,” said Ellis.
The un-listed miner, which emerged from the collapse of miner Sons of Gwalia, said in June that it was looking to restart Wodgina in mid-2011.
“We have also been working very closely with the major electronics companies and supporting international government efforts, particularly the United States, to remove conflict mined material from the supply chain,” he added.
Industrial consumers are scrambling for ethically mined material outside of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the top global producer.
Eastern Congo is in the grip of conflict years after the formal end of a 1998-2003 war, which sucked in six neighbouring armies and led to an estimated 5 million deaths.
International pressure on DRC is growing to stop armed groups profiting from mining. This pressure comes in part from a U.S. “conflict minerals” bill, due to come into force later this year. The new law will require companies to prove that materials extracted from the DRC and its nine neighbours are not linked to conflict.
Global tantalum production is seen at around 2 million lbs per year, although the data is complicated by a considerable black market.
“We are seeing a marked increase in the demand for responsible supplies of tantalum,” Ellis added.
At full strength, the Wodgina operation is capable of producing 1.4 million lbs of tantalum pentoxide each year, although the initial restart will mine 700,000 lbs per annum at Wodgina and processed at Greenbushes.
Crushing and milling infrastructure at Wodgina is currently being used by Atlas Iron for its neighbouring iron ore operations.
GAM’s agreement with Atlas however, enables it to recommence using and sharing this infrastructure with sufficient capacity to meet the company’s needs.
(Reporting by Michael Taylor; Graphic by Nicholas Trevethan; Editing by Ramthan Hussain)
January 13, 2011
By Martin Hutchinson, Contributing Editor, Money Morning
While prices for food and energy have been rising, inflation in the United States has remained relatively subdued.
One common explanation for that phenomenon is that U.S. inflation has been “exported” to China and elsewhere through the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary policy. And given the perennial U.S. balance of payments deficit, it’s good to know the country has found something it can successfully export!
However, the bad news here is that inflation does not stay exported – and in 2011 it may boomerang back to make life on Main Street miserable.
Thankfully, there are precautions we can take to combat higher prices and preserve our wealth.
U.S. monetary policy has involved excessive money creation since 1995, fueling asset bubble after asset bubble. However, it has not produced inflation in the United States because the dollar is a reserve currency, so excess dollars flow to countries whose economies are more vulnerable to inflationary pressures.
In the 1990s, the excess dollars flowed to Argentina, whose currency was pegged to the dollar. The imported inflation wrecked Argentina’s sound policies of that decade and contributed to a debt-fueled collapse in 2001. Since 2008, the excess money has gone to China, India, Brazil and other fast-growing emerging markets. It also has fueled a massive growth in foreign exchange reserves among the world’s central banks. Central bank holdings of forex reserve have grown more than 16% per annum since 1998.
China, India, and Brazil all currently have massive inflation problems. China, which has increased its inflation by holding down its currency against the dollar, has been very proactive in tackling inflation as of late. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) surprised the markets on Christmas Day by raising its one-year refinancing rate by 52 basis points to 3.85% and increasing the benchmark deposit rate by 25 basis points to 2.75%.
The PBOC has increased bank reserve requirements five times in the past year and raised interest rates twice – albeit by a scant 0.25% each time.
China’s official inflation rate currently is 5.1%, up from 1.5% at the beginning of 2010, but its figures are suspect. The PBOC probably will have to raise its benchmark rate several more times from its current level of 5.81% before it’s able to bring inflation under control.
India’s inflation is about 7.5%, but is expected to rise further since food prices are surging at double-digit rates. Prices for onions, for instance, are up 33% from last year. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is again raising interest rates, now at 6.25%. But, as in China, sloppiness in official inflation statistics means Indian interest rates are negative in real terms and the RBI will have to continue raising rates if it wants to control inflation.
Brazilian inflation was 5.91% in December and is rising fast. Newly elected President Dilma Rousseff fired the central bank chief and is trying to bring interest rates down from their current level of 10.75%. Again, inflation seems likely to surge in the near term.
To complete the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) picture, Russian inflation is currently running at 8.8%. That’s down from a year ago, but still much higher than the Russian government would like it to be.
With inflation rising in all four BRIC countries and many other emerging markets, the U.S. holiday from inflation cannot last much longer. The Fed’s second round of quantitative easing (QE2), which included purchases of $600 billion in Treasury bonds before July, and the December package of tax cuts are also fueling inflationary forces.
Money growth, which had been low in 2009 after the burst in late 2008, has once again risen to worrying levels. Over the last four months, the average growth rates of broad money on the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ Money of Zero Maturity and M2 Money Stock measures were up 10% and 7%, respectively. That’s comparable to their growth in the 1970s.
Furthermore, oil prices are approaching $100 per barrel, and other commodity prices are strong, as well. So however successful the Fed has been in exporting inflation since 2008, its success won’t last for much longer. At some point in 2011, inflation will be re-imported – and probably with a roar rather than a whisper.
When that happens, the Fed will have to raise interest rates to fight rising prices. Of course, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will almost certainly resist this inevitability, fudging figures and producing spurious arguments to avoid making the right decision. When the Fed does eventually raise rates, it will do so grudgingly – as it did during the period from 2004 to 2007.
That means higher short-term interest rates probably won’t arrive until 2012, and higher long-term rates could potentially be delayed by more quantitative easing. The result will be an unholy mess that takes the form of surging inflation in 2011 and a second recessionary “dip” in 2012.
Gold and other commodities will continue to offer protection against the surge in inflation in 2011, as they have in the last few years. At some point, though, the market will start to anticipate tighter Fed policy and gold and other commodities prices will collapse.
Still, in 1979-80, gold and commodities prices went on rising for more than three months following then-Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker’s famous 1979 “October surprise,” in which he pushed up the Federal Funds rate by two full percentage points over a weekend.
If the gold and commodities markets didn’t believe the obviously serious Volcker would stop inflation until several months after he took decisive action, they certainly won’t have confidence in the actions taken by a reticent Ben Bernanke. So your gold and commodities investments will probably be pretty safe even if the Fed does eventually start raising rates. Certainly they are a good bet for now. More importantly, they will protect you against the pending surge in inflation.
By Jason Webb and Saeromi Shin – Jan 6, 2011 9:52 AM PT
Emerging market stocks fell for a second day on concern that China and India may raise interest rates and Brazil’s real weakened as the central bank set reserve requirements for short positions in U.S. dollars.
The MSCI Emerging Markets Index traded 0.2 percent lower at 1,158.94 as of 8:57 a.m. in New York. Benchmark stock indexes in China and India fell at least 0.5 percent. Brazil’s Bovespa stock index fell 0.3 percent, and the real weakened 0.5 percent. Turkey’s ISE 100 National Index rose 0.5 percent after the government sold $1 billion of 30 year bonds at what the Ankara- based Treasury said was the lowest ever interest rate for that maturity.
Escalating inflation in China and India may prompt officials to curb expansion by lifting interest rates, slowing growth in emerging-market assets. China’s central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said yesterday that inflation pressures in China were rising, in part due to monetary easing in the U.S. and other major economies. India may need to continue raising interest rates to combat price increases, the International Monetary Fund’s mission chief to the country said yesterday.
It’s inevitable that we’ll see interest rates rise, Hugh Young, Singapore-based managing director of Aberdeen Asset Management Asia Ltd., said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. If currencies and interest rates remain where they are today inflation could easily turn into a nightmare.
The Federal Reserve announced plans on Nov. 3 to buy $600 billion of bonds, leading to concern that U.S. liquidity was pushing up inflation in countries such as China. The policy known as âquantitative easing is designed to stimulate the world’s biggest economy.
U.S. initial jobless claims rose to 409,000 in the week ended Jan. 1 from 388,000 the previous week, according to Labor Department figures. That was in line with the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
The real weakened for a third day. The new reserve requirement has a potential to reduce short positions in the dollar to $10 billion from $16.8 billion in December as banks seek to avoid paying reserve requirements on currency operations, Aldo Mendes, the central bank’s director of monetary policy told reporters in Brasilia.
The Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.5 percent.
Ping An fell more than 4 percent in Shanghai after Citic Securities Co. said China’s second-biggest insurer may need to raise as much as 40 billion yuan ($6 billion). Citic, the largest brokerage, said the fundraising may cut earnings per- share by up to 15 percent.
Ping An spokesman Sheng Ruisheng said the insurer won’t comment on âmarket speculation and that it has ânothing to disclose. The company in October reported third-quarter profit dropped 26 percent due to greater reserves, missing analyst estimates.
India’s Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index fell 0.6 percent after the IMF comments. State Bank of India, the nation’s largest lender, declined 2.7 percent.
Indonesia’s Jakarta Composite index lost 1.3 percent, the most in Asia, after the central bank kept borrowing costs unchanged yesterday for a 17th meeting.
Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS, Turkey’s biggest bank by market capitalization, rose 0.5 percent in Istanbul. Akbank TAS, the second-largest bank, advanced 0.5 percent.
The Turkish government sold $1 billion in debt maturing Jan. 14, 2041 at a yield to investors of 6.25 percent, the Ankara-based Treasury said in a statement on its website today.
The issue is reported to have been five times oversubscribed, a reflection of generally constructive investor perceptions of Turkey’s fundamentals and also prospects for ratings upgrades, Timothy Ash, head of emerging-market research at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, said in a report.
South Africa’s rand weakened 0.9 percent against the dollar. The price of gold, which with platinum accounts for about a fifth of the country’s exports, fell for a fourth day in London.
The South Korean won rose 0.5 percent against the dollar.
The difference between the yields investors demand to hold emerging-market debt over U.S. Treasuries widened 1 basis point to 2.23 percentage points, according to the JPMorgan Chase & Co. EMBI+ index.
To contact the reporters on this story: Saeromi Shin in Seoul at email@example.com. Ian C. Sayson in Manila at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reinie Booysen at email@example.com
By James Cartledge
Thin film solar technology developer W Solar Group is set to relocate its headquarters to the state of Wisconsin, where it will build a $300 million factory.
The California-based company is set to receive $28 million in state incentives to make the move, which should ultimately see the creation of 620 jobs as production gets up to full capacity by 2015.
W Solar has developed a copper-indium-gallium-sellenium (CIGS) solar panel technology, which it says it can produce in a low-cost production system to offer lower cost per watt solar panels.
Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle awarded Enterprise Zone tax credits from the state’s Department of Commerce for the company to establish its manufacturing facility, along with its corporate headquarters and research and development facilities in Dane County.
Governor Doyle said: “W Solar choosing to locate its manufacturing facility in Wisconsin is a testament to the hard work we’ve done over the past eight years to build a strong sector of our economy around clean energy and high end manufacturing. This investment will create new business opportunities and jobs at suppliers throughout the region.”
Wisconsin’s Department of Commerce has previously helped solar companies including Cardinal Glass, 5NPlus, PDM Solar, ZBB Technologies, and Helios. Officials believe the solar industry is on track for a tenfold growth in the next decade, while around half of the new factory’s output could be destined for overseas markets.
W Solar Group, which will move from its current HQ in Chatsworth, outside Los Angeles, is now considering locations in Wisconsin for its new site.
It plans to open the new facilities in the first half of 2011, beginning production in 2012.
Conditions for the state incentives include targets for creating jobs in 2013 and 2014 prior to full production a year later. The company has also made a commitment to purchase materials and services from Wisconsin suppliers in an effort to create or retain additional jobs in the state.
Chris Hamrin, President and Chief Executive Officer W Solar Group, Inc. said of its new home: “We are impressed with the high quality workforce, extensive supply chain, and the commitment to producing world-class products. Making Wisconsin our home is the right decision, and W Solar’s goal is to be a great addition to the Wisconsin economy”.
Wisconsin’s role as a leading manufacturing state with hard-working people also contributed to our decision to make the Badger State the place to grow our company.