Stockpiles Gone, Indonesia Nickel Export Ban Being Felt

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As a precautionary measure, Chinese nickel pig iron producers and traders stocked up on Indonesian ore and refined nickel towards the end of last year, accumulating enough material to last around nine months, according to the Financial Times. These inventories have allowed Chinese factories to keep operating this year when the Indonesian exports ceased after the domestic export ban went into effect in January. But the stocks of ore are falling and the price has doubled, with traders holding back material from the market. Some small Chinese NPI plants have already shut, the FT reported.

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Despite weakening prices Friday, nickel still remains one of the best-performing commodities metals today. The nickel 3-month price saw the biggest decline of the day, dropping 1 percent on the LME to close at $18,060 per metric ton on Friday, May 2. The Indian nickel cash price rose 0.7 percent to INR 1,111 ($18.42) per kilogram. The nickel spot price weakened by 0.6 percent on the LME, settling at $18,060 per metric ton.

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Chinese stainless steel prices were flat for the day. The price of Chinese ferro-chrome saw essentially no change for the fifth day in a row, remaining around CNY 8,300 ($1,326) per metric ton. The price of Chinese ferro-moly saw little movement at CNY 145,000 ($23,165) per metric ton.

The Allegheny Ludlum 316 stainless surcharge remained essentially flat at $1.16 per pound. The price of Chinese 316 stainless coil held steady at CNY 26,000 ($4,154) per metric ton. The price of Chinese 304 stainless coil was unchanged at CNY 16,400 ($2,620) per metric ton. The price of Chinese 316 stainless steel scrap held steady at CNY 16,100 ($2,572) per metric ton. The price of Chinese 304 stainless steel scrap saw essentially no change for the fifth day in a row, remaining around CNY 16,400 ($2,620) per metric ton.

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