The extended shutdown of China following the spring festival and the outbreak of the Coronavirus / COVID-19 affected both nickel sulphate prices assessed by the Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Nickel Sulphate Price Assessment.
Benchmark’s Nickel Sulphate, >22% Ni, EXW China, RMB/t price, recorded stable pricing across February as a result of the extended shutdown, with prices up 1% on the previous month.
Restrictions implemented on logistics, as a measure to contain the Coronavirus, saw diminished market activity across the month; evidenced through the narrow range in which material traded.
Prices receded towards the lower end of the recorded range during the final week of the month as restrictions started to lift.
Nickel sulphate premiums recovered in February, owing primarily to falling nickel metal prices globally. The premium over the SHFE nickel metal price averaged RMB7,700/tonne ($1,100) of nickel, while the comparative premium to the LME nickel metal price stood at $3,200/tonne of nickel.
The Benchmark Nickel Sulphate, >22% Ni, CIF Asia, USD/t price saw a 6.1% decrease in February, driven primarily by falling LME nickel metal prices and a decrease in premiums over the metal price.
The declining premium was a product of weak market fundamentals, with soft demand from the battery industry and high stock inventories forcing downward pressure on the market.
Market participants noted that premiums were edging towards the cost of production for some producers.
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