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Question mark hangs over nickel quotation

Global – Stainless steel scrap prices have made significant gains since Recycling International’s previous market report in early June, with the 304 quality climbing from US$ 1030-1080 per tonne to US$ 1070-1120 and the 316 grade advancing from US$ 1330-1380 to US$ 1410-1460.

However, the sharp fall in steel scrap prices from their recent highs has prevented further increases for nickel-containing stainless steel qualities. Chrome scrap prices benefitted from a surge in the ferro-chrome benchmark price which largely compensated for steel scrap’s weakness. The 409 quality is currently valued at US$ 220-260 per tonne and the 430 grade at US$ 300-340.

In recent weeks, threats to nickel mining and ore exports from the Philippines through environmental concerns have served to drive nickel prices from US$ 9000 per tonne to a peak of US$ 10 700 per tonne, although market participants are unsure whether this level is sustainable. With the summer season ongoing, prospects for the stainless steel industry – the most important consumer of nickel – are unclear for the remainder of 2016.

Some market observers are advising investors and speculators to exhibit caution so long as the stainless steel industry remains weak. Furthermore, nickel stocks held in warehouses globally are still at a very high level and are sufficient to satisfy some 220 days of demand.  

The full version of Recycling International’s latest Nickel & Stainless report will appear in its August issue.

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