Metal Pipes & Fittings Traders Affected by Volatility
Nickel on the LME hit a low of USD 15,176/mt April 19, down 19.14% from the USD 18,770/mt recorded in February. The prices have since recovered slightly as a result now trading at USD 15, 350/MT on 25th April 2013. Demand has always been stable to lower, but the volatility in nickel has increased significantly in the past 5 years, making that it is hard for the real buyers to make informed choices.
On the demand side, nickel demand recently is on the downward trend, owing to weak economic growth in major world economies including Europe along with the United States. Another major buyer of Nickel, China, also recorded gross domestic product growth of a number of.7% during the first quater of 2013 on a year on year basis, missing economists' expectations of an 8% growth. Growth was also down compared to you receive . quarter of 2012, whether or not this stood at 7.9%, raising concerns of a slowdown in the Chinese economic conditions.
Chinese industrial production also came in weaker than expected in March. Industrial growth slowed to 8.9% on a year and year basis as compared to 10.9% gain reported in the previous four week period.
Stainless steel dealers had anticipated China to record higher growth, as recent economic activity showed that Chinese consumer spending had increased and liquidity has also been infused by the Chinese government.
Global financial markets, especially commodities remained most affected today, as China is probably the of the biggest consumers of base metals and any other commodities. Nickel prices slumped, raising concerns for various stainless steel buyers.
Stainless steel traders had avoided making big ticket purchases since mid march, in anticipation that prices would come down in April. However, the prices have remained stable and markets are moving sideways. As prices, declined over 15% since February, traders believed that the nickel prices are near a trough, creating good purchases last week. If nickel prices and demand continues stay sluggish, both stainless steel users and stockholders could see erosion of margins, due to falling prices and lack of informed decision making.
The unpredictability in raw material prices has resulted in significant uncertainty among end users and traders of steel products. Scrap prices have also been in a downward trend, with stainless steel 304 scrap prices currently trading at US$1550/MT CIF Asia and stainless steel 316 scrap prices currently trading at US$2550/MT CIF Nhava Sheva.