Our Stainless MMI inched up 2% in October. However, it was at the beginning of November when prices surged. Three-month London Metal Exchange nickel jumped above $11,000/mt, the highest level since August 2015. By the way, we predicted this move just a few weeks ago.
Robust Chinese demand for nickel and other metals has broadly supported a price rebound from multiyear lows that were hit earlier this year. Not only nickel, but the whole metal complex is hitting new highs. When investors turn bullish in the metal sector, any bullish news can make the individual metal increase in price and, nickel is particularly enjoying a bull narrative.
Bullish Industry Fundamentals
First, Indonesia recently announced that the country will “almost definitely” keep in place a ban on nickel ore and bauxite exports. Just a few days ago, nickel investors were concerned that Indonesia was considering lifting the ban. Now that those fears have waned, investors seem willing to chase prices higher.
Second, The Philippines announced that it will prolong the ban on new mines, reviewing all environmental permits previously granted to nickel producers. The announcement dashes industry hopes that some restrictions may be lifted following the audit that was finished in August.
The news come after a quarter of the country’s miners have been closed with another 20 of them under the risk of suspension.
Bullish Price Action
On top of the above, we are seeing a very constructive price action. After nickel jumped 25% from June to August prices rested in a narrow range for the next three months. Despite a strong dollar in October, investors were unwilling to sell nickel. Now that momentum for investing in the industrial metals complex is picking up again, we expect nickel prices to work higher into 2017.
Exact Stainless MMI and Nickel Prices, Trends
The Allegheny Ludlum 316 stainless surcharge rose 7% to $0.58 per pound. The 304 stainless surcharges increased 12% to $0.44 per pound. The price of Chinese primary nickel inched up 1% over the month to $12,210 per metric ton. The three-month nickel price on the LME remained flat in October before rising in November as we explained above. . Chinese 304 stainless coil fell 2% to $2,464 per metric ton.