SHANGHAI, Mar. 30 (SMM) --
According to data from China Customs, China's imports of nickel ore in February were 0.95 million mt, up 55.33% YoY, but down 17.7% MoM. YTD imports were 2.1 million mt, up 88.1% YoY.
The MoM decline in imports was due mainly to the rainy season in Southeast Asia, as well from fluctuating trends in nickel prices. In addition, most shipping companies were closed for holidays, leaving fewer ships and import cargos available.
According to data from China Customs, China's imports of refined nickel during February were 12.24 kt, down 24.5% MoM and down 3.52% YoY. YTD imports were 28.46 kt, up 40.13% YoY.
The sharp decline in imports of refined nickel was due mainly to the Chinese New Year holiday in February, when most downstream manufacturers were closed. In addition, the low domestic/LME nickel price ratio also served to dampen imports. According to an SMM investigation, average monthly domestic nickel prices were RMB 7,817/mt lower than LME nickel prices in January, while domestic nickel prices were gradually higher than LME nickel prices from February 5th to February 12th, resulting in relatively strong import sentiment.
However, as LME nickel prices surged after February 22nd, large amounts of nickel stockpiled before the Chinese New Year holiday entered the market since high profits were available. The domestic/LME nickel price ratio then slumped, and losses of imported nickel began exceeding RMB 10,000/mt, growing to as high as RMB 20,000/mt. SMM expects imports of refined nickel will be down in March.
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