NEW YORK Spot
nickel trading remains light despite an ongoing lull in nickel
prices and premiums, with an abundance of nickel and stainless
scrap keeping significant consumer interest at bay.
premiums are steady in a range of 15 to 25 cents per pound,
while plating-grade premiums remain at 50 to 60 cents per
The London Metal
Exchange three-month nickel contract closed the official
session July 17 at $13,950 per tonne ($6.33 per pound), up 2.5
percent from $13,605 per tonne ($6.17 per pound) July 5. The
contract recently dipped toward the $6-per-pound mark, closing
the July 9 official session at $13,245 per tonne ($6.01 per
pound), although traders said it had failed to spur a boost in
"The spot market is
nonexistent. Even with the low numbers, consumers are still
sitting on the sidelines. They have enough units covered under
long-term contracts, so theres no need to go into the
spot market," one trader said. "Weve seen the market
bounce up today, so maybe that initiates some consumer interest
where people think Id better jump in before I miss
the boat (on low prices)."
"At the end of the
day, they just dont need it at any price," a producer
source said. "There are a lot of individuals talking about
buying a truckload and putting it in a warehouse, but not
everybody has the cash."
Some 1,410 tonnes of
nickel were stored in LME-registered warehouses in Chicago and
Detroit as of July 15.
business, and you have a lot of stocks on the LME. People have
to keep making production cuts because theres still too
much nickel out there," the producer source said. "We still
havent heard of any single-digit premiums yet, but a lot
of companies are probably losing money on the nickel that
A second trader said
that nickel purchases by the stainless steel industry also are
being stymied by the availability of "cheap and abundant"
stainless scrap. Consumer buying prices for Type 304 solids
recently fell to their lowest levels since June 2009 (
amm.com, July 11).
"If the scrap was hard
to find, Im sure spot nickel would be more in demand," he
said. "If youre a stainless producer looking to make
money off the nickel price drop, youre having a hard time
because your customers are waiting to buy off the lower
surcharge. Four days from now youll know you can buy
stainless steel with nickel price down 5 percent from last