Nickel, Up Again, Could be Ace up Putin’s Sleeve

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Two countries supply over 40% of the world’s nickel ore: Indonesia and Russia. Indonesia is the largest supplier of high-grade nickel ore and accounts for over 20% of the world’s nickel supply. Indonesia, in January, ordered a ban on all mineral ore exports. Nickel prices jumped over 3% and reversed a commodity market downward trend.

Next to Indonesia, Russia’s state-owned Norilsk Nickel produces about 19% of the world nickel supply. As the situation in Crimea continues to play out, nickel could be key to sustaining Russia through what could be a long period of sanctions and tariffs.

The cash price of primary Indian nickel saw a 1.0 percent increase on Tuesday, April 1, reaching INR 969.90 ($16.13) per kilogram and making it the biggest mover for the day. The 3-month price of nickel saw a 0.3 percent decline on the LME to $15,760 per metric ton. On the LME, the spot price of nickel fell 0.2 percent to $15,730 per metric ton.

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Chinese stainless steel prices were mixed for the day. The price of Chinese ferro-chrome remained essentially flat at CNY 8,300 ($1,335) per metric ton. The price of Chinese ferro-moly saw little movement at CNY 145,000 ($23,322) per metric ton.

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At CNY 103,400 ($16,631), the price of Chinese primary nickel finished the market day up 0.9 percent per metric ton. For the fifth day in a row, the price of Chinese 316 stainless coil remained essentially flat at CNY 26,000 ($4,182) per metric ton. The price of Chinese 304 stainless coil held steady at CNY 16,400 ($2,638) per metric ton. For the fifth consecutive day, the price of Chinese 316 stainless steel scrap held flat at CNY 16,100 ($2,590) per metric ton. The price of Chinese 304 stainless steel scrap was unchanged at CNY 16,400 ($2,638) per metric ton.

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