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Silver hits 4-month low amid unexpectedly strong US jobs data for November

London Metal Exchange silver hit its lowest point since Aug. 5 during the week ended Dec. 6 amid better-than-expected U.S. jobs data for November, while tin and copper defied all other base metals, which were broadly down on trade war skepticism.

The U.S. job market added 266,000 in November, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, while average hourly earnings rose 3.1% on a yearly basis, above market expectation of 3%, and unemployment held steady at 3.5%, despite Econoday's consensus forecast of 3.6%.

Meanwhile, LME tin reached its highest point since Oct. 17 amid reports that China is struggling to source the metal, unlike most other base metals, which sank in a week that had a rough start when U.S. President Donald Trump said he would restore tariffs on all steel and aluminum shipped from Brazil and Argentina.

Price ring

By Dec. 6 close, silver had sunk to US$16.58 per ounce from US$16.98/oz at the end of the previous week, while gold had fallen to US$1,461.10/oz from US$1,463.80/oz.

Tin surged to US$16,895 per tonne Dec. 5, its highest point since Oct. 17, before ending the week at US$16,850/t as the International Tin Association said the latest official customs statistics showed China's refined tin imports in October fell 46% month over month to 170 tonnes but were still up 25% year over year.

China's refined tin imports were 314 tonnes in September, exceeding exports for the first time this year.

While China's concentrate market remains constrained overall due to mine closures and lower imports, the International Tin Association said the decline in refined tin exports and falling Shanghai Futures Exchange tin stocks are "more noticeable."

Copper dropped to US$5,811/t on Dec. 3 from US$5,854.50/t at the end of the previous week, and also its lowest point since Nov. 1 — before recovering to end the week at US$5,867/t.

Zinc hit about US$2,221/t on Dec 3, its lowest ebb since Sept. 4, before ending the week at US$2,245/t, from US$2,312/t a week prior. Zinc demand has been hit by continuing U.S.-China trade tensions as China is the world's largest zinc producer.

Other metals ending the week lower included aluminum, falling from US$1,785/t to US$1,750/t, nickel falling from US$13,805/t to US$13,415/t, and lead falling from US$1,947/t to US$1,880/t.

The S&P Global Platts IODEX iron ore fines 62% CFR North China price rose to US$89.40/t on Dec. 6 from US$87.25/t a week ago.

Talking points

S&P Global Market Intelligence said in a Dec. 7 report that it reduced its 2019 LME copper cash price forecast to US$5,991/t from US$5,996/t, but maintained its global refined copper deficit of 7,000 tonnes in 2020 with prices to rise to an average US$6,033/t. In 2021, a 73,000-tonne deficit is expected to lift copper prices to US$6,225/t.

More broadly, the widespread revisions seen to consensus prices in November were not repeated, with moves to the overall averages remaining relatively more muted between October and November-end, Market Intelligence said Dec. 6.


Steel Dynamics Inc. entered into a US$1.2 billion senior unsecured revolving credit facility with a Dec. 3, 2024, maturity date.

Shenzhen Zhongjin Lingnan Nonfemet Co. Ltd. will issue up to 3.8 billion Chinese yuan in convertible bonds, with about 1.73 billion yuan to fund the construction of a 2 million-tonne-per-annum zinc-copper project in the Dominican Republic.

China Hongqiao Group Ltd.'s 61%-owned Indonesian unit, Well Harvest Winning, secured a working capital facility of up to US$595 million for up to 10 years to finance the expedited construction and operation of the phase two alumina refinery expansion project.

China Molybdenum Co. Ltd. raised 1 billion Chinese yuan from a bond issuance.

Sandstorm Gold Ltd. amended its revolving credit agreement so it can borrow up to US$225 million with an additional uncommitted accordion of up to US$75 million for total availability of up to US$300 million.

Russian iron ore producer OAO Metalloinvest secured a €200 million pre-export financing from a syndicate of seven international banks.

SilverCrest Metals Inc. launched a bought-deal offering of 11 million shares at C$7.28 apiece for about C$80.1 million in gross proceeds, with closing expected Dec. 18.

Resource Generation Ltd. unit Ledjadja Coal (Pty.) Ltd. entered into nonbinding term sheets with the three potential funding partners offering a package of 4.2 billion South African rand for the company's Boikarabelo coal project in South Africa.

Russia's second-largest bank, state-owned VTB Bank PJSC, loaned up to €470 million to a group of Kazakh gold mining companies, with Joint-Stock Co. AK Altynalmas to use the loan to buy a controlling interest in JSC Kazakhaltyn MMC, finance the Aksu gold project in Kazakhstan and optimize its debt portfolio.

Alita Resources Ltd. secured a new A$70 million loan facility from China Hydrogen Energy Ltd., which was used to repay debt.