Cobalt Up, Moly Steady, How's the LME Doing so far?


". . .cobalt is finding more favor with the market."

The LME's minor metals contract has been up and running for two months now and though both are at a nascent stage they have already begun to exhibit diverging patterns of behavior. Molybdenum prices have stagnated whereas cobalt prices have picked up markedly. Although it is premature to be drawing any conclusions at this stage we thought it would be interesting to look into the more active to see if it is the contract or the background market that is driving the different behavior.

From a practical standpoint the cobalt contract trades 99.3% minimum purity, which is a highly tradable form of cobalt. The molybdenum contract is bagged or drummed roasted concentrate and thus a little less flexible, as a shape and storage would be more complicated. Cobalt metal is eminently usable in the metal form as it can be melted to produce alloys and granules/powder, dissolved in acid to provide a precursor to a whole range of chemical products and many grades of fine powder or just kept in a drum as an investment. Cobalt also has a broad range of end uses and is not necessarily reliant on one main industry sector, though combined rechargeable batteries and super-alloys/hard metal/high-speed steels take up over half of cobalt consumption. So from a contract point of view it could be that cobalt is finding more favor with the market because it is more flexible and hence finds more takers.

The first prompt date isn't until May 21st and trading from this point should give a better guide as to the level of trade interest, but the initial stages of the contract must be encouraging for the LME.

So cobalt at least is off to a reasonable early start. Molybdenum for the time being does not appear to be going anywhere but as we implied at the outset, a lot of water needs to pass under the bridge before a valid judgment can be made.

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