Nickel premiums ‘surprisingly firm’ despite sales slump

Nov 26, 2008 | 01:15 PM | Mick Bowen

Nickel premiums in the United States are holding "surprisingly firm" despite an ongoing slump in sales, according to traders.

"At the end of the day, costs are costs," a Pennsylvania trader told AMM. "Premiums are steady, but business is very slow. Everyone is taking a wait-and-see attitude and buying on the spot market, which helps support premiums. I think this just-in-time attitude will continue through all of next year, which will also support premiums."

The trader said volumes were down around 50 percent, but November and December are typically slow months for sales. "In January, we'll see what's really happening," he said.

The trader's company shipped "a couple of hundred tonnes" of melting-grade nickel in the past month at premiums between 32 and 42 cents a pound, and recently decided to stop selling plating-grade nickel next year. "Plating business has been dramatically impacted by the auto industry, and prices have dropped like a rock," he said.....

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