Nickel Falls Again, Chinese Trade Surplus Stunts Growth

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A record trade surplus for China, the largest metals consumer highlighted weak domestic demand for nickel this week.

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Imports and exports came in worse than anticipated in China and the monthly trade surplus bulged to a record $60 billion as a survey published last week revealed that manufacturing, a key sector to the Chinese economy, contracted in January for the first time in more than two years.

China’s exports fell 3.3% in January from a year earlier, while imports slumped by 19.9%, according to data released on Sunday by the Customs Administration.

The spot price of nickel traded sideways, keeping at $14,735 per metric ton on the LME on Monday, February 16. Following two days of downward movement, the nickel 3-month price held steady at $14,750 per metric ton on the LME. The Indian nickel cash price saw little price change last Friday at INR 924.00 ($14.89) per kilogram.

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Chinese stainless steel prices closed flat for the day. The price of Chinese ferro-chrome saw essentially no change for the fifth day in a row, remaining around CNY 10,950 ($1,756) per metric ton. For the fifth consecutive day, the price of Chinese ferro-moly held flat at CNY 82,000 ($13,148) per metric ton.

The Allegheny Ludlum 316 stainless surcharge held steady at $0.94 per pound. The price of Chinese 316 stainless coil was unchanged at CNY 23,700 ($3,800) per metric ton. The price of Chinese 304 stainless coil continues hovering around CNY 16,700 ($2,678) per metric ton for the fifth day in a row. The price of Chinese 316 stainless steel scrap held steady at CNY 13,050 ($2,093) per metric ton. For the fifth consecutive day, the price of Chinese 304 stainless steel scrap held flat at CNY 9,450 ($1,515) per metric ton.

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