Nickel rose to an intraday record in Shanghai after another spike in London put imports out of reach for many Chinese buyers.
The metal jumped as much as 14.5% to a record of 281,250 yuan ($44,206) a ton, the maximum allowed, on the Shanghai Futures Exchange before easing to 265,230 yuan as of the midday break. Nickel climbed by its trading limit of 15% on Thursday to $37,325 on the London Metal Exchange after Chinese tycoon Xiang Guangda covered some of his short positions.
The surge in prices on the LME is shutting the window for Chinese buyers to import the metal, with stainless steel mills minimizing purchases, researcher Mysteel said in a note on Thursday.
The nickel market has been extremely volatile since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with moves exacerbated by a massive short squeeze on positions held by Xiang’s Tsingshan Holding Group Co. While Western traders have been shunning Russian metals, nickel flows to China are continuing.
Some Chinese traders are maintaining purchases and switching to pay in yuan rather than dollars when the import window opens, although there are shipping delays, Mysteel said. In the longer term, more Russian nickel could be diverted from Western countries to China, it said.
In other base metals, Copper rose for an eighth day in Shanghai as liquidity problems at a major Chinese smelter worsened supply concerns. In London, copper added 0.2% to $10,371.50 a ton as of 12:08 p.m. in Shanghai, while aluminum fell 0.8% to $3,593. Nickel will start trading at 4 p.m. in London.