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Since pulling back from a mid-February high of $14,420 per tonne, LME 3-month nickel prices have been consolidating in an orderly manner within their established up-channel. This has been supported by the steady drawdown of exchange stocks and rising premiums, which indicate a tight fundamental backdrop. It is a more positive picture than for most other base metals, which have suffered deeper price corrections.

Nickel appears well-placed to extend its gains when broader risk appetite rebounds. As we wait for the next direction-setting developments in the key areas of the nickel market that tend to have the most dramatic effect on sentiment – electric vehicles and Southeast Asian ore supply – the stainless steel market is likely to set the tone. At the moment it is setting a strong tone – international prices are on the rise and demand is robust as the Q2 peak season begins. That means high capacity utilization at stainless steel mills and solid further demand for nickel units.

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