EU nickel briquette premium hits almost two-year low on weak stainless steel demand

The premium paid for European nickel briquettes fell to its lowest level since July 11, 2017 on April 30, amid extremely weakened demand from the stainless steel sector for the material, while European off-warrant supply remains healthy and facilitates the decline.

End-user stainless steel demand, which uses nickel and has a direct impact on its consumption, is not perceived as weak by the market, however. Indeed, demand for 300-series stainless steel, the highest nickel-containing stainless steel grade, increased by 28.6% year on year in March 2019, according to Sucden research.
Rather, weakened stainless steel demand for nickel briquettes has been attributed to stainless steel mills’ prioritized consumption of uncut cathode, which can be used interchangeably with briquette when producing stainless steel products, which consumers have hitherto been able to buy at a lower premium, market participants said.

“Briquette demand is very weak at the moment. Customers are covered by long-term contracts and they don’t need any extra material so spot demand is very weak as...


Amy Hinton

April 30, 2019

16:30 GMT