SHANGHAI, Jan 28 (SMM) - According to customs data, China imported 619,000 mt of ferronickel and NPI in December 2022, up 3.8% MoM and 84.5% YoY. Calculated in nickel content, the imports in December rose 6.5% on the month to 94,000 mt. Specifically, the import volume of FeNi in December was 72,000 mt, an increase of 28.7% month-on-month. The increase mainly resulted from the surging nickel prices under the impact of positive macro news in December, which prompted the stainless steel plants to have higher demand for FeNi as substitute for pure nickel. On the other hand, as the stainless steel plants were busy stocking in December for the upcoming CNY holiday, the supply of ferronickel became tight and the prices stayed firm. At the same time, the tight supply of high-grade nickel ore resulted in a slight decline in the grade of domestic NPI. In this context, the stainless steel plants preferred to use high-grade FeNi. The import volume of NPI in December was 546,000 mt, or 73,000 mt in nickel content, up 0.74%. In December, with the ramp-up of the capacity of Indonesia's new NPI production lines, the output increased significantly. However, the losses of the Indonesian stainless steel plants caused them to cut the stainless steel output. The contradictory increase in import volume was due to delayed customs clearance.
In early January, the NPI prices rose slightly amid optimistic outlook for the post-holiday market. According to SMM research, the stainless steel traders have received modest orders for February. This, coupled with the favourable policies to boost domestic real estate industry, will significantly elevate the output of 300-series stainless steel in February. Hence, the demand for NPI will also thrive. The import volume of ferronickel and NPI in January is expected to rise further.
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