LONDON, Nov. 6 -- Cobalt prices moved up again on Wednesday as availability of low-grade metal below around $19 per lb appeared to diminish.
Low-grade climbed by around 50 cents, to $19-20 per lb from $18.50-19.70 per lb, with high-grade up by $1 to $21-22 per lb.
"I've been quite surprised," one trader said. "A lot of consumers are now interested. They waited to buy through the summer, and through September and October and now they have to buy," he said, having sold 5 mt of Falconbridge at $21.50 per lb.
Producers reported selling low-grade between $19 and $19.50 per lb, while a second trader said they sold K1aY for as much as $20.50 per lb.
"Metal availability is not great, so it's not hard to move the market up," one consumer said.
"This is one of those typical cobalt moves: the last dollar on the downside was too much, prices went too low and people bought. Now it will go a dollar too high and people will sell."
The volatility of the market, in which low-grade sold for as little as $9.90 per lb in February and March, was creating concern for a large consumer in Asia.
He bought 10 mt of low-grade at around $19.90.
"There is very strong demand in China and Japan but we also have some customers worrying about the bullishness of metal prices increasing too fast," he said.
There was some contention among traders in Europe about the interest that buyers in China have at these numbers.
One buyer, who trades and refines cobalt, said he was considering an offer for low-grade between $19 and $19.50 per lb.
However, a trader in the UK was skeptical. "There is general consternation in China and we do not see them as buyers at these numbers. If anything they are looking to sell a bit," he said.
(Source: Metal Bulletin)