Nickel has, according to some, the strongest market fundamentals of all industrial metals, yet prices remain near multi year lows, despite the fact that a year ago, major producer Indonesia, which provided the world with a fifth of its nickel, imposed a ban on exports.
The argument for a rebound is that after many years of growing stocks, which kept a lid on prices, June saw a turning point . Nickel is already becoming scarce in China. The Shanghai futures market has had to accept Norilsks metal, for delivery against contracts. China’s imports of refined nickel surged by 67% in June over the May figure and by 250% year on year. Chinese nickel stocks have now slumped to a 4 year low and have reached critical levels. The growing shortages in the worlds largest user of nickel, it is argued, are bound to lead to price rises.
In the background however there is still Indonesia and some speculation that it may begin to ease export restrictions, as it has already done with copper.
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