SHANGHAI, Feb 27 (SMM) - SMM expects nickel prices to remain firm in March and stainless steel prices to be rangebound as consumption recovers with low output.
We also spoke to a range of market participants in the nickel industry as they weighed in on the market post-Chinese New Year.
Nickel ore: Despite a small, expected short-term rise from post-holiday stocking, nickel ore prices is expected to weaken in the second quarter due to faster shipments of Indonesian exports, better weather in February and the recovery of Philippine exports, SMM learned from a procurement manager at a major nickel pig iron (NPI) plant. A major nickel ore trader and many small and medium-sized NPI plants also shared this view.
NPI: On the one hand, a sales lead at a major NPI plant expected NPI prices to remain rangebound, and that upward momentum would be limited without the support of a rise in nickel prices. On the other hand, an NPI trader at a medium-sized firm expected NPI prices to stay firm as the stainless steel market rallied. Prices are also expected to remain firm as maintenance at some smelters limit output.
Nickel: A major nickel marketing company saw prices rising, as tariff adjustments limit supply and as global destocking takes place. A recent fire at a large-scale producer also provided little support to the recovery of nickel output.
Stainless steel: A major stainless steel plant was bullish on nickel prices in March but not on stainless steel prices, given pressure from stainless steel imports from PT Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park (IMIP). A medium-sized stainless steel plant also expected lower stainless steel prices than before the holiday, as post-holiday social inventories may accumulate.
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