A new report indicates that the Chinese State Reserves Bureau has bought about 30,000 tonnes of nickel and may be considering adding to the country's copper stockpiles as well.
The nickel bought by the government's powerful stockpiling agency represents more than 15% of the inventories held in London Metal Exchange warehouses worldwide and is likely to move markets.
The last time the SRB intervened in base metals markets was during the 2008 financial crisis when it made the most of lower prices picking up vast stocks of import commodities and effectively setting a floor for metal prices.
FT.com reports (sub required) the SRB’s purchases "may be interpreted as a bullish sign that China has confidence in its future consumption":
“China has destocked to quite a large degree and prices are at a level where the SRB is buying commodities,” said one senior metals trader. “If you had bought copper every time the SRB bought copper you would have made a fortune”.
China dominates the global trade in just about every commodity including iron ore (representing 60% of world trade), copper (42%), coal (47%), nickel (36%), lead (44%) and zinc (41%).