The nickel market went on a super-charged rally over the first half of last year, the benchmark London Metal Exchange (LME) three-month price racing up from below $15,000 per metric ton to a May high of $21,625.
The trigger was the well-flagged but widely unexpected decision by the Indonesian government to ban the export of unprocessed minerals in January. At the stroke of a presidential pen, China’s massive nickel pig iron (NPI) sector lost its main source of feed. Great expectations, however, were dashed by reality, specifically a compensatory surge in nickel ore supply from the Philippines.
The subsequent price collapse was as spectacular as the original rally. And here we are again, the London nickel market kicking its heels around the $15,000 level.
Reuters’ Andy Home writes that the bull story hasn’t gone away. It has merely been postponed. Nickel is still metal analysts’ favored upside pick over a two-year time horizon. So, will this be nickel’s year (again)?
The cash price of primary Indian nickel experienced the biggest price decline of the day, dropping 1.8% to close at INR 900.00 ($14.49) per kilogram on Wednesday, February 18. The 3-month price of nickel saw a 1.8% decline on the LME to $14,250 per metric ton. The nickel spot price weakened by 1.5% on the LME, settling at $14,210 per metric ton.
Chinese stainless steel prices were flat for the day. The price of Chinese ferro-chrome held steady at CNY 10,950 ($1,750) per metric ton. The price of Chinese ferro-moly continues hovering around CNY 82,000 ($13,107) per metric ton for the fifth day in a row.
The Allegheny Ludlum 316 stainless surcharge was unchanged at $0.94 per pound. The price of Chinese 316 stainless coil saw little movement at CNY 23,700 ($3,788) per metric ton. For the fifth day in a row, the price of Chinese 304 stainless coil remained essentially flat at CNY 16,700 ($2,669) per metric ton. The price of Chinese 316 stainless steel scrap remained essentially flat at CNY 13,050 ($2,086) per metric ton. The price of Chinese 304 stainless steel scrap was unchanged at CNY 9,450 ($1,510) per metric ton.