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SMM nickel market morning comment (Feb 26)

iconFeb 26, 2024 09:52
Nickel prices surged significantly, reaching 135,620 yuan/mt by last Friday's closing, marking a three-day consecutive increase.

Nickel prices surged significantly, reaching 135,620 yuan/mt by last Friday's closing, marking a three-day consecutive increase. The notable increase was driven by slow progress in approving Indonesia's RKAB nickel mining quotas and geopolitical factors. The slow approval process raised concerns about future nickel supply, causing a significant uptick in prices and influencing market sentiment. Meanwhile, both the United States and the European Union, the world's two largest economic entities, announced a new round of sanctions against Russia last week. The Biden administration stated that it would impose more "significant" sanctions on Russia starting February 23, targeting defense, industry, and sources of economic income. On the other hand, the European Union plans to blacklist over 200 companies or individuals, accusing them of aiding Russia in acquiring weapons. Sanctions will involve freezing the financial accounts of entities or individuals on the blacklist. Therefore, the market is starting to predict that this round of sanctions may involve Russian metals. From a fundamental perspective, pure nickel inventories are consistently increasing. For pure nickel, although there is a slight decrease in actual production due to the impact of the Chinese New Year holiday and a lower number of working days in February compared to usual, some nickel enterprises still maintain a high production rate. Furthermore, with the prospect of new nickel projects, both domestically and internationally, gradually starting operations in the second quarter, the anticipated growth in pure nickel supply remains unchanged. From the demand perspective, pure nickel still predominantly finds its major downstream application in alloy electroplating. Although the overall situation in the alloy industry is better than expected earlier, the impact of the Chinese New Year has led to some temporary shutdowns and production reductions. Consequently, the demand for nickel plates from downstream has experienced a decrease. In the electroplating sector, SMM research indicates a slight drop in orders in the first week after the Chinese New Year holiday. This is mainly because some electroplating factories pre-stocked inventory before the holiday, and downstream industries are inclined to use existing raw materials amid the rise in nickel prices.

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