Nickel pig iron prices in China have held firm at levels seen before the Chinese New Year break and are poised to rise in the coming weeks amid solid offers from producers and traders, according to market participants.

The spot price of high grade NPI (Ni content 10-15%) held at 970-990 yuan ($159-162) per nickel unit on Tuesday February 11, unchanged from the level seen in January-end.

Prices are expected to move higher in the next few days after steel mills start purchases.

“Many people are feeling optimistic after steel mills raised prices pre-holiday and due to the firming spot nickel ore price,” a trader in Shanghai said.

Major steel mills had raised their price for February purchase by around 10 yuan to 980-1,010 yuan per nickel unit.

Offers for the spot nickel ore (Ni content 1.8-1.9%) are in the range of 400-450 yuan per tonne, with most traders standing firm on prices.

“Smelters are reluctant to do business on expectation of rising price,” a market participant said, adding some people are still on holiday and expected to return next week.

“The market is still quiet this week and most major steel mills haven’t started their March purchase,” a NPI smelter said.

Zhangjiagang Pohang Stainless Steel (ZPSS) has announced it will lift its weekly purchase price by 5 yuan from the pre-holiday level to 985 yuan per nickel unit, sources said.

“Steel mills may raise their price for March purchase, however, I still have concerns on Indonesia’s policy,” a Jiangsu trader said, adding, “Port inventory of ore is huge, which may put pressure on prices.”

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