LME to Reopen Nickel Trading With a Price Cap After Epic Short Squeeze

  • The London Metal Exchange will resume nickel trading Wednesday after halting it last week as prices soared in a huge short squeeze.
  • There are now caps on upper and lower prices for nickel and other base metals, the LME said Tuesday.
  • Banks came to a standstill deal on margin with Tsingshan, whose short covering helped drive nickel higher.

The London Metal Exchange has said it will resume nickel trading on Wednesday, having called a halt last week after the metal’s price surged to $100,000 a ton in a massive short squeeze.

It is also bringing in new rules setting daily upper and lower price limits for contracts for nickel and other base metals, it said in notice Tuesday.

The exchange was forced to suspend trading last Tuesday and cancel trades after Chinese tycoon Xiang Guangda’s company Tsingshan Holding Group bought significant amounts of nickel to cover short positions.

Tsingshan, the world’s largest nickel producer, kept buying even as the metal’s price rose to prevent further potential losses, driving the price even higher.

At one point last Tuesday, nickel touched double its Monday closing price of $48,078 — already lifted by worries about a supply shock from Russian sanctions.

The extreme


prompted the LME to suspend nickel trading for the first time since 1988, and it has stayed halted for six sessions in a row. Trading of nickel will resume at 8 am London time on Wednesday, and will adopt regular trading hours from Thursday, the exchange said.

The price caps on nickel will apply from March 16, based on the previous session’s closing price: plus 5% for the upper limit, and minus 5% for the lower. For other base metals, it will be plus or minus 15%, and the limits will be effective from March 16.

The moves come after Tsingshan reached a deal with its creditors to ease pressure to pay the billions of dollars of margin it owes for nickel trades.

“The LME notes in particular that a large client of the market has now published details relating to the support of a banking consortium, which could suggest that the potential for further disorderly conditions may be mitigated,” it said in its statement.

JPMorgan, the largest counterparty to Tsingshan’s trades, spearheaded talks between the major metals supplier and the banks that acted as intermediaries for its wager against rises in the price of nickel.

Late Monday, Tsingshan said creditors had agreed to hold off from making margin calls or closing the company’s LME short positions for now.

“Tsingshan Group has reached an agreement with a consortium of hedge bank creditors on a standstill arrangement<" it said in a statement.

“In the course of the standstill period, Tsingshan and the consortium banks will progress discussions in relation to a standby secured


facility intended primarily for Tsingshan’s nickel margin and settlement requirements,” it said.

Nickel, a metal used in stainless steel and electric-vehicle batteries, has been at the center of the fallout from the Ukraine war and the West’s sanctions on Russia.

Russia is the third-largest producer of nickel, and sources 17% of the world’s high-purity supply. Sanctions imposed on the country over its invasion of Ukraine have spooked an already tight market.


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