NEW YORK With nickel
premiums continuing to sit at record lows, market participants
say that business activity is unlikely to pick up until the end
Melting-grade nickel premiums
are unchanged in a range of 15 to 25 cents per pound, while
plating-grade nickel premiums also are steady at between 50 and
60 cents per pound.
The London Metal Exchanges
three-month nickel contract closed the May 23 official session
at $14,855 per tonne ($6.74 per pound), down 3.7 percent from
$15,420 per tonne ($6.99 per pound) two weeks earlier.
One producer source said that
low nickel prices had encouraged "some forward buying" over the
past few weeks but spot business had slowed down and premiums
were unchanged as a result.
"Business is slow all the way
around," he said. "The high-temps are slow, plating is slow,
the stainless mills are very slow. Frankly, there really
havent been a lot of inquiries."
A trader said that his company
had been unsuccessful in attaining higher premiums during a
recent brief flurry of sales. "Weve been trying to get
some of the premiums up, but not many people are wanting to go
with them," he said. "People are just going with the status
quo." The trader added that the market is entering "the
infamous summer slowdown period," a sentiment echoed by other
"I dont see things picking
up until the third quarter or maybe even the fourth quarter. We
may see a little pickup in September," a second trader
"Its been a pretty
mediocre year all around," the producer source said. "These
things happenyou cant be high all the timebut
I dont see any indicators down the road that things will
turn around anytime soon."