Chinese Nickel Imports Jump to 6-Year High as Shortage Looms (Bloomberg News – July 21, 2015)

China imported the most refined nickel in six years in a further sign that the world’s biggest consumer is drawing on global supply. Futures rose 2.4 percent in London.

Inbound shipments of the metal used to produce stainless steel surged 67 percent to 38,545 tons in June from the previous month, the highest since July 2009, and were more than three times the level a year earlier, Chinese customs data show.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. are bullish on prices amid prospects for rising Chinese demand. Macquarie Group Ltd. sees a global shortage which may cut inventories further from a record. Stockpiles in London Metal Exchange sheds have already fallen to the lowest in almost two months. Some imports may have been for delivery against the first nickel contract to expire on the Shanghai bourse, said Celia Wang from Tianjin Zhongwei Group’s investment department.

“Huge imports arrived in China from LME warehouses as traders seek profits by delivering against the first settlement of a Shanghai nickel futures contract,” said Wang, the general manager. “Refined nickel imports are expected to remain at a high level into July.”

The Shanghai Futures Exchange started nickel trading in March and the July contract was the first expiry. The bourse is accepting metal from Moscow-based OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, the top supplier, for settlement to ease concern about shortages.

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