COBALT HYDROXIDE SNAPSHOT: Payables show modest increase while metal price plummets

Key data from the Thursday February 28 pricing session in Europe.

Key drivers 

  • Cobalt hydroxide payables rose steadily over January and February while metal prices plummeted; lower metal prices are understood to have pushed some artisanal supply out of the market, generating greater interest in traceable units.
  • In real terms, paid prices for cobalt hydroxide continued to slide in February due to enduring concerns over inventory levels and some reluctance to stock up in a falling market.
  • Payables with a February quotation period (QP) consolidated at around 65% in the second half of the month, compared with 62-64% in the earlier part of February, though sellers held out for higher numbers for deals with QPs further ahead on the expectation that benchmark standard-grade cobalt prices still have some room to fall.

Key quotes

“It has been very rare to hear any offers for payables just slightly higher than 60% since the Chinese New Year holiday (February 4-10), because the benchmark [metal] price is falling too quickly” – first consumer
“We’re getting bids at 65% for April but that’s not appealing when you consider metal possibly has another $1-2 per lb to fall” – a trader
“Chinese buyers are in favor of fixed-price quotation for cobalt hydroxide due to unclear picture of benchmark cobalt [metal] price” – second consumer
“The spot volumes have been small. You’re taking a bet on a payable when you look at the falling [metal price]” – a producer

Fastmarkets launched two reference prices for the cobalt hydroxide market on Thursday February 28. Click here for the details.