NEW YORK Nickel
market participants said that spot trading activity has picked
up in recent weeks, but not enough to move premiums up from
melting-grade nickel premium is steady in a range of 15 to 25
cents per pound, while plating-grade premiums remain at 50 to
60 cents per pound.
The London Metal
Exchanges three-month nickel price closed the official
session Aug. 29 at $14,135 per tonne ($6.41 per pound), down 4
percent from $14,730 per tonne ($6.68 per pound) two weeks
"The last three weeks
picked up a little. Maybe the nickel price got so low that
people were forced to buy. How long it will last I dont
know; stainless still seems pretty lousy," one producer source
"The fluctuation in
the nickel price has helped, but theres still a lot of
hand-to-mouth buying," a trader said.
A second trader
cautioned that market fundamentals were unlikely to support an
increase in premiums "for some time."
"Nobody has taken out
any capacity substantial enough to make a difference," he said.
"Theres over 210,000 tonnes on the LME, and every day it
reaches a new record level. The fundamentals havent
changed; there has to be less nickel and more demand."
One consumer source
said that his business had not picked up sufficiently for his
company to seek spot nickel on a regular basis, despite low
"There are not a lot
of spot needs; were covered by contracts and our order
book is not strong. I guess anything under $15,000 per tonne is
a good deal, but if you look at the order book, no one is ready
to buy five loads to put into their inventory. I would have
trouble selling the idea that we have to buy extra inventory
right now. Most of the steel companies are conservative; they
dont speculate," he said. "Its a Catch-22: If they
needed it, the price wouldnt be so low. Im not
going to build inventory when the prices could be higher in a
month. People dont have any insight into the next 30
days, let alone the next four to five months."