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Nickel weakness not going away: BMO

BMO analyst Colin Hamilton has said China’s steel industry will not support an improvement to the nickel price, with its malaise set to continue despite the "unsustainable" current level
Nickel weakness not going away: BMO Nickel weakness not going away: BMO Nickel weakness not going away: BMO Nickel weakness not going away: BMO Nickel weakness not going away: BMO

BMO says there's good ore supply right now, so what comes out here is not getting good prices

Staff reporter

The nickel price is at a 12-month low of $10,965 per tonne, after cracking $15,000/t in the northern summer. 

Hamilton said there was not much hope for an uptick from China over the winter.

"In our view, a weak stainless steel market is the main challenge, with Chinese 304-grade cold rolled material prices falling RMB200 (US$28.80) per tonne in the past week," he said.

"[We] would expect to see up to 10% sequential declines in crude stainless output in December, which in turn is dissuading mills from purchasing nickel.

"We see nickel now trading at around the 80th percentile of the global cost curve, and while this is likely to be unsustainable, until the stainless cycle turns it will remain under pressure."

This short-term forecast contrasts with predicted deficits in 2019, although Norilsk Nickel has forecast a smaller gap next year (60,000 tonnes) compared to this year (134,000t).

Indonesian nickel pig iron supply will contribute to that cut, growing next year to 320,000-330,000t from 250,000-260,000t, according to Glencore.