SHANGHAI, Apr 8 (SMM) – Trading in the spot cobalt and lithium market was thin during the first week of April, SMM learned.
Cobalt downstream customers were not keen to follow the rise of cobalt prices as cathode material producers failed to see an expected recovery of their sales orders.
Lithium salt, on the other hand, saw inventories grow as demand was lacklustre. While small and medium-sized suppliers were actively looking to sell at lower prices, cathode material producers held back from buying as they anticipate lithium prices to weaken further. This aggravated the oversupply of lithium salt in the market.
SMM assessed refined cobalt at 655,000-675,000 yuan/mt as of Thursday April 5, up 5,000 yuan/mt from a week ago. Producers offered high given the high costs for imported raw materials, while downstream consumers took a watch-and-wait approach.
The overall shipments at the cobalt salt spot market over the week was inactive. SMM assessed cobalt sulphate at 140,000-144,000 yuan/mt as of Thursday April 5, up 4,000 yuan/mt from a week ago. Despite offers being made at over 150,000 yuan/mt, transaction prices saw limited upward momentum except for in small orders. Bulk orders at major producers were still below the 144,000 yuan/mt level.
SMM assessed cobalt chloride at 162,000-166,000 yuan/mt as of Thursday April 5, up 2,000 yuan/mt from a week ago. Prices of cobalt chloride rose under pressure as the high prices were beyond the capacity of downstream lithium cobalt oxide (LCO) battery plants. Some suppliers for high-end digital products accepted the high prices of cobalt chloride on necessary demand.
SMM assessed nickel sulphate at 275,000-295,000 yuan/mt as of Thursday April 5, down 500 yuan/mt from a week ago. This dip was due to the decline in refined nickel prices.
SMM assessed cobalt (II, III) oxide at 495,000-505,000 yuan/mt as of Thursday April 5, up 5,000 yuan/mt from a week ago. The rise was because a few LCO battery plants bought at higher levels. Most buyers refused the high offers of around 520,000 yuan/mt from major suppliers.
SMM assessed cobalt (II) oxide at 470,000-480,000 yuan/mt as of Thursday April 5, up 10,000 yuan/mt from a week ago. The trading activity further shrank as it was hard for downstream customers to accept the rise in cobalt (II) oxide prices.
SMM assessed cobalt powder at 745,000-755,000 yuan/mt as of Thursday April 5, up 35,000 yuan/mt from a week ago. The rise was due to increasing cobalt raw material prices but this led to a further sag in trading.
SMM assessed ternary precursor 523 at 144,000-148,000 yuan/mt as of Thursday April 5, up 4,000 yuan/mt from a week ago. The increase in prices faced pressure as buyers were reluctant to take sellers’ offers at over 150,000 yuan/mt.
SMM assessed lithium carbonate at 148,000-152,000 yuan/mt as of Thursday April 5, down 3,500 yuan/mt from a week ago with lacklustre trading. Top suppliers offered high at 150,000 yuan/mt, while smaller one traded below 150,000 yuan/mt.
SMM assessed lithium cobalt oxide 4.35V at 480,000-490,000 yuan/mt as of Thursday April 5, unchanged from a week ago in average. Most battery plants cut their procurement at the current high prices to control the costs, except for a few that produce top digital products. The industry saw shrinkage in orders.
SMM assessed ternary material 523 at 232,000-234,000 yuan/mt as of Thursday April 5, flat with a week ago in average, as downstream demand failed to meet expectations.
SMM assessed lithium iron phosphate (LFP) at 80,000-90,000 yuan/mt as of Thursday April 5, unchanged from a week ago in average. The trading was thin as the industry took time to consume the inventories. Operating rates at suppliers had yet to return to normal given the scant downstream demand.
We see further downward room in lithium carbonate if the inventories remain high. Besides, the demand for ternary materials in the second quarter remains unclear as battery plants may slow down their stocking pace on cash flow woes.
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