Reduced supply of nickel pig iron could mean China, the world’s top consumer of nickel would increase its use of higher-grade and possibly imported refined metal, underpinning global prices that have already risen about 16 percent this year. Chinese producers announced last week that they would cut production of nickel pig iron as nickel prices continue to rise in the wake of Indonesia’s January export ban.
Demand for nickel looks strong for the foreseeable future as China’s consumption of the metal has not waned and higher-quality product standards could lead to a gradual phase-out of pig iron nickel in that part of world as well.
The week’s biggest mover on the weekly Stainless MMI® was the price of Chinese primary nickel, which saw a 11.5 percent increase to CNY 118,000 ($18,993) per metric ton. Prices for Chinese 304 stainless steel scrap remained constant, closing the week at CNY 16,400 ($2,640) per metric ton. Closing at CNY 16,100 ($2,591) per metric ton, Chinese 316 stainless steel scrap remained unchanged for the week. At CNY 16,400 ($2,640) per metric ton, the price of Chinese 304 stainless coil did not change since the previous week. At CNY 26,000 ($4,185) per metric ton, the week finished with no movement for Chinese 316 stainless coil.
Chinese ferro-chrome remained essentially flat from the previous week at CNY 8,300 ($1,336) per metric ton. Following a steady week, prices for Chinese ferro-moly closed flat at CNY 145,000 ($23,339) per metric ton.
Korean 304 stainless coil traded sideways last week, hovering around KRW 4.2 million ($3,881) per metric ton. At KRW 2.6 million ($2,376) per metric ton, the price of Korean 430 stainless steel coil did not change since the previous week. Following a steady week, prices for the Allegheny Ludlum 304 stainless surcharge closed flat at $0.72 per pound. This past week, the Allegheny Ludlum 316 stainless surcharge kept quiet, holding at at $0.98 per pound.
The 3-month price of nickel rose 5.7 percent on the LME over the past week to $17,120 per metric ton. This was the third week in a row of increasing prices. Closing out the third week of rising prices, the spot price of nickel increased by 5.5 percent on the LME, landing at $17,025 per metric ton. The cash price of primary Indian nickel saw a 4.6 percent increase in its price, hitting INR 1,046 ($17.32) per kilogram.
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