Japan Chemical Trading Blog

The latest chemical trading industry insights from Japan, Asia and the world, reported by the President of Daishin Corporation, Masa Oguchi.

Indium Prices Down

Nowadays, I report on more and more price-down news, whether it is organic chemical products or others.
Today, I am reporting about indium.

Indium is a soft, silver-white rare metal, produced as a by-product of zinc.
It is processed into indium tin oxide (standard configuration: 90% In2O3, 10% SnO2, commonly known as ITO), which is used as a target material in the production of LCDs, touch screens, solar cells, and organic ELs.
There are other metals that have better conductivity than indium; however, it also features transparency in the form of thin film. Recently, the demand for indium to be used in the above-mentioned final products which require these features has increased.
It also has excellent malleability and ductility and is not subject to RoHS, so it can be used as lead-free solder material as well.

Toyoha Mine (Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan), a subsidiary of Nippon Mining (currently JX Nippon Mining & Metals Corporation), used to produce the most indium in the world, but the mine closed in 2006 because of minable ore depletion (the immediate cause of closure was that the company couldn’t use any more dynamite for blasting purposes because of geothermal energy activities).
Indium is now produced by Dowa Metals & Mining, which has the largest zinc smelter in Japan, and other companies such as Sumitomo Metal Mining, Mitsui Mining & Smelting, JX Nippon Mining & Metals, Mitsubishi Materials, Shinko Chemical and Asahi Pretec.

Globally speaking, in recent years, China is the biggest metal producing country.
Approximately 700 tons a year of virgin base metal are produced in the world.
Demand from Japan used to be by far the biggest (80% of it was for ITO target material), but it has been dropping since around 2012 because of many reasons such as progress in recycling, the market share increase of other countries’ products (e.g., Samsung Corning, Korea) associated with the declining competitiveness of Japanese manufacturers, international relocation of the production bases of Japanese companies, diffusion of substitutes, etc.
As for the prices, Japan Metal Bulletin reported on January 27 that the market rates of low grade indium for solder and alloy are 76,000 Japanese yen to 81,000 Japanese yen.

Though indium prices continue to fall globally, the prices in Japan have been rather stable as a weak yen offsets dollar price falls.
Nevertheless, indium prices in Japan may drop in the future since the Chinese market has been soft and has dropped more than 25% since November, and the prices on the London Metal Bulletin continued to fall on January 28 from USD640 to USD550 per kilogram.
Since this anticipation of low prices may bring restrained buying, many people expect the indium market to continue to fall unless the sense of uncertainty in the world economy diminishes.

Indium Prices Down

Nowadays, I report on more and more price-down news, whether it is organic chemical products or others.
Today, I am reporting about indium.

Indium is a soft, silver-white rare metal, produced as a by-product of zinc.
It is processed into indium tin oxide (standard configuration: 90% In2O3, 10% SnO2, commonly known as ITO), which is used as a target material in the production of LCDs, touch screens, solar cells, and organic ELs.
There are other metals that have better conductivity than indium; however, it also features transparency in the form of thin film. Recently, the demand for indium to be used in the above-mentioned final products which require these features has increased.
It also has excellent malleability and ductility and is not subject to RoHS, so it can be used as lead-free solder material as well.

Toyoha Mine (Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan), a subsidiary of Nippon Mining (currently JX Nippon Mining & Metals Corporation), used to produce the most indium in the world, but the mine closed in 2006 because of minable ore depletion (the immediate cause of closure was that the company couldn’t use any more dynamite for blasting purposes because of geothermal energy activities).
Indium is now produced by Dowa Metals & Mining, which has the largest zinc smelter in Japan, and other companies such as Sumitomo Metal Mining, Mitsui Mining & Smelting, JX Nippon Mining & Metals, Mitsubishi Materials, Shinko Chemical and Asahi Pretec.

Globally speaking, in recent years, China is the biggest metal producing country.
Approximately 700 tons a year of virgin base metal are produced in the world.
Demand from Japan used to be by far the biggest (80% of it was for ITO target material), but it has been dropping since around 2012 because of many reasons such as progress in recycling, the market share increase of other countries’ products (e.g., Samsung Corning, Korea) associated with the declining competitiveness of Japanese manufacturers, international relocation of the production bases of Japanese companies, diffusion of substitutes, etc.
As for the prices, Japan Metal Bulletin reported on January 27 that the market rates of low grade indium for solder and alloy are 76,000 Japanese yen to 81,000 Japanese yen.

Though indium prices continue to fall globally, the prices in Japan have been rather stable as a weak yen offsets dollar price falls.
Nevertheless, indium prices in Japan may drop in the future since the Chinese market has been soft and has dropped more than 25% since November, and the prices on the London Metal Bulletin continued to fall on January 28 from USD640 to USD550 per kilogram.
Since this anticipation of low prices may bring restrained buying, many people expect the indium market to continue to fall unless the sense of uncertainty in the world economy diminishes.

Slight Increase in Exports of Semiconductor Materials from Japan

According to the announcement made by the Japan Society of Newer Metals on their website on December 10th, in the first half of fiscal 2014 (April to September 2014), the shipment value of compound semiconductor materials reached 15.7 billion Japanase yen(approx. USD157 million), 105% up from the previous fiscal year (15 billion yen in the same period in the previous year).

As the readers know very well, a semiconductor is a material that can be an insulator or conductor depending on conditions; therefore, semiconductors are used as materials for many electronic devices, being indispensable to modern technology.
The representative ones are Si, Ge, etc., as single materials, and GaAs, GaP, InP, GeN, CdTe, ZnSe, CdS, GaN, SiC, SiGe, CdZnTe, PbSnTe, HgCdTe, GaAlAs, InGaAs, etc., as compound materials.
GaAs, which counts for the largest market as a compound, is more expensive than Si, features high electron mobility, high-speed operation function, and reduced electric power consumption.
It is used for red LEDs, mobile phones, lasers, etc.

Recently, while exports have kept increasing, the Japanese market has been contracting, and the same tendency continued in the first half of fiscal 2014 (combining domestic sales and exports, the total amount is the same level as the previous year).
The market conditions for the raw material gallium are weak, and we have recently received fewer new inquiries.
Meanwhile, our domestic sales and exports of the other main compound semiconductor raw materials, GaP and InP, have increased.

Slight Increase in Exports of Semiconductor Materials from Japan

According to the announcement made by the Japan Society of Newer Metals on their website on December 10th, in the first half of fiscal 2014 (April to September 2014), the shipment value of compound semiconductor materials reached 15.7 billion Japanase yen(approx. USD157 million), 105% up from the previous fiscal year (15 billion yen in the same period in the previous year).

As the readers know very well, a semiconductor is a material that can be an insulator or conductor depending on conditions; therefore, semiconductors are used as materials for many electronic devices, being indispensable to modern technology.
The representative ones are Si, Ge, etc., as single materials, and GaAs, GaP, InP, GeN, CdTe, ZnSe, CdS, GaN, SiC, SiGe, CdZnTe, PbSnTe, HgCdTe, GaAlAs, InGaAs, etc., as compound materials.
GaAs, which counts for the largest market as a compound, is more expensive than Si, features high electron mobility, high-speed operation function, and reduced electric power consumption.
It is used for red LEDs, mobile phones, lasers, etc.

Recently, while exports have kept increasing, the Japanese market has been contracting, and the same tendency continued in the first half of fiscal 2014 (combining domestic sales and exports, the total amount is the same level as the previous year).
The market conditions for the raw material gallium are weak, and we have recently received fewer new inquiries.
Meanwhile, our domestic sales and exports of the other main compound semiconductor raw materials, GaP and InP, have increased.

The Benzene Price Continues its Substantial Fall

Benzene is a basic petrochemical used as a raw material for resins and adhesives, and JX Nippon Oil and Energy Corporation is the Asian price leader.

According to the company’s news release on January 5th, the price for Asia in January was USD 655 per ton, more than 25 percent lower than the previous month’s price of USD 885 per ton.
It’s a substantial fall, continuing from the previous month, and the lowest price since just after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in June 2009.

The background is considered to be the weak demand for resin raw materials, such as styrene monomer and phenol made from benzene; however, we can conclude that the fall follows the oil price, which is over 50 percent lower than the highest price recorded in July of the previous year (USD 1,430).

The Benzene Price Continues its Substantial Fall

Benzene is a basic petrochemical used as a raw material for resins and adhesives, and JX Nippon Oil and Energy Corporation is the Asian price leader.

According to the company’s news release on January 5th, the price for Asia in January was USD 655 per ton, more than 25 percent lower than the previous month’s price of USD 885 per ton.
It’s a substantial fall, continuing from the previous month, and the lowest price since just after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in June 2009.

The background is considered to be the weak demand for resin raw materials, such as styrene monomer and phenol made from benzene; however, we can conclude that the fall follows the oil price, which is over 50 percent lower than the highest price recorded in July of the previous year (USD 1,430).

Japan’s Housing Loan Interest Rates Hit a Record Low

Happy New Year!
I hope that 2015 will be a good year for the readers of this weblog.
While there is no Christmas holiday in Japan, there is some time off during the New Year’s season, and for this year the calendar was good: many companies had nine consecutive holidays (December 27th to January 4th). Yesterday was the first business day of the new year.

According to the Nikkei Newspaper on December 31st, the housing loan interest rates of three Japanese megabanks (ten-year fixed rate) hit a record low of 0.9 to 1.2 percent.
A friend who recently bought a house says the rate fell to about 0.5 to 0.6 percent at the Internet-based Sony Bank.
It reflects the Japanese trend of not taking risks to borrow money.
As of today, the interest rate of the 10-year government bonds hit a record low of 0.285 percent; however, with such low levels for this vital lending rate, the banks’ management, also, looks difficult.

Japan’s Housing Loan Interest Rates Hit a Record Low

Happy New Year!
I hope that 2015 will be a good year for the readers of this weblog.
While there is no Christmas holiday in Japan, there is some time off during the New Year’s season, and for this year the calendar was good: many companies had nine consecutive holidays (December 27th to January 4th). Yesterday was the first business day of the new year.

According to the Nikkei Newspaper on December 31st, the housing loan interest rates of three Japanese megabanks (ten-year fixed rate) hit a record low of 0.9 to 1.2 percent.
A friend who recently bought a house says the rate fell to about 0.5 to 0.6 percent at the Internet-based Sony Bank.
It reflects the Japanese trend of not taking risks to borrow money.
As of today, the interest rate of the 10-year government bonds hit a record low of 0.285 percent; however, with such low levels for this vital lending rate, the banks’ management, also, looks difficult.