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Nickel premiums flat on slack demand

Keywords: Tags  nickel premiums, nickel demand, nickel supply, melting-grade nickel, plating-garde nickle, Daniel Fitzgerald

NEW YORK — Nickel premiums continue to be flat, with few consumers said to be participating in the spot market, although one trader said that his company is pushing for higher premiums as its stocks dwindle.

AMM’s melting-grade nickel premiums remain in a range of 18 to 25 cents per pound, while plating-grade premiums also are unchanged at 50 to 60 cents per pound.

Traders told AMM that orders for smaller quantities and expedited deliveries were attracting higher premiums, but the overall spot demand picture continued to be bleak.

"I think a lot of the buying has been done for the long term," one trader said. "I don’t think business is all that bad. I just don’t think many customers are in the spot market for any large quantities."

"I think it will be a while before things pick up," a second trader said. "It’s a lackluster economic picture and there’s a ton of nickel out there. That puts a lot of pressure on premiums, but our numbers will stay the same because they’re at a point where they can’t go any lower."

He added that the 4 x 4 cut cathode market was yielding the most activity, "but even that is only OK at best."

The trend mirrors that seen in the Chinese market, with Shanghai-based traders telling AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin that trading activity is "weak" and "so-so."

However, a third U.S.-based trader said that his company has "actually been having a good month, having run out of material after a customer brought forward a high-volume order of special-grade melting material. We’ve been trying to raise (premiums) slightly because we don’t have an infinite amount of material on the ground."

Three-month nickel ended the London Metal Exchange’s official session March 14 at $17,140 per tonne ($7.77 per pound), up 2.5 percent from $16,720 per tonne ($7.58 per pound) at the end of February.

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