Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) shares tumbled 7.62% this morning after the mining giant went ex-dividend along with South32 (ASX:S32).

But iron ore prices also softened overnight, falling below US$160/t on reports of a year on year drop in Chinese steel production in February.

That’s not unexpected, most market watchers are looking for the end of the Winter Paralympics before seeing whether China keeps the shackles on its heavily polluting steel sector on “environmental” grounds.

Its economic outlook for 2022, released this week, is believed to be broadly positive for iron ore, with a low but higher than expected growth target, increased military budget and reduced focus on environmental targets.

Ukraine signalled it was open to more negotiations with Russia overnight, stalling a sharp climb in base metals prices.

“Tin dragged the sector, trading down 20% during the session before recovering some of those losses,” ANZ’s Daniel Been said.

“Nickel trading remained suspended on the LME, as the exchange sorts through the mess following the prices spike to USD100,000/t.

“Chinese nickel company, Tsingshan, is said it have received funding to make margin calls on its trading positions.

“Gold also suffered amid the better risk sentiment. The precious metal fell back below USD2,000/oz after it had reached a 19-month earlier this week.”

Nickel Mines (ASX:NIC) fell a precipitous 18.01% despite moving to assure shareholders yesterday it would see no impact from Tsingshan’s reported short covering issues during the nickel market madness this week.


Uranium majors charge

Spot uranium prices touched US$60/lb for the first time in around a decade.

It’s a psychologically important milestone for yellowcake hopefuls. That’s the price most new mines would need to secure contracts to justify starting their operations.

It comes less than a week after the sector tanked on news Russia had shelled Europe’s largest nuclear plant, Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine.

Paladin (ASX:PDN) rose 12.99%, while Boss Energy (ASX:BOE) climbed 10.48% to a new all time high of $2.74.

Materials fell 1.65% while energy stocks were down 2.18% as crude oil prices pulled back.



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