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London nickel trading suspended again after brief resumption

March 16, 2022 GMT
The office buildings for Tsingshan Holding Group is seen in Wenzhou, in east China's Zhejiang province, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. The London Metal Exchange plans to resume trading in nickel, a week after it was suspended when the price of the metal surged to over $100,000 a ton. That followed an announcement Monday by Tsingshan Holding Group, a Chinese metals giant, that it had struck a deal with a consortium of its creditors on a "standstill arrangement." (Chinatopix Via AP)
The office buildings for Tsingshan Holding Group is seen in Wenzhou, in east China's Zhejiang province, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. The London Metal Exchange plans to resume trading in nickel, a week after it was suspended when the price of the metal surged to over $100,000 a ton. That followed an announcement Monday by Tsingshan Holding Group, a Chinese metals giant, that it had struck a deal with a consortium of its creditors on a "standstill arrangement." (Chinatopix Via AP)
The office buildings for Tsingshan Holding Group is seen in Wenzhou, in east China's Zhejiang province, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. The London Metal Exchange plans to resume trading in nickel, a week after it was suspended when the price of the metal surged to over $100,000 a ton. That followed an announcement Monday by Tsingshan Holding Group, a Chinese metals giant, that it had struck a deal with a consortium of its creditors on a "standstill arrangement." (Chinatopix Via AP)
The office buildings for Tsingshan Holding Group is seen in Wenzhou, in east China's Zhejiang province, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. The London Metal Exchange plans to resume trading in nickel, a week after it was suspended when the price of the metal surged to over $100,000 a ton. That followed an announcement Monday by Tsingshan Holding Group, a Chinese metals giant, that it had struck a deal with a consortium of its creditors on a "standstill arrangement." (Chinatopix Via AP)
The office buildings for Tsingshan Holding Group is seen in Wenzhou, in east China's Zhejiang province, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. The London Metal Exchange plans to resume trading in nickel, a week after it was suspended when the price of the metal surged to over $100,000 a ton. That followed an announcement Monday by Tsingshan Holding Group, a Chinese metals giant, that it had struck a deal with a consortium of its creditors on a "standstill arrangement." (Chinatopix Via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Nickel trading in London was suspended Wednesday shortly after it resumed following a weeklong halt as the exchange investigated a glitch.

The London Metal Exchange said it had to pause trading to investigate a “system error” that let the price fall below a lower daily limit.

The exchange brought in daily price limits to reduce volatility as part of efforts to restart trading for the nickel contract, which was first suspended last week when the price skyrocketed to over $100,000 per ton.

The exchange said it “allowed a small number of trades” to be carried out below the lower price limit. It vowed to reopen trading “as soon as possible.”

Nickel is used mostly to produce stainless steel and some alloys, but increasingly it is used in batteries, particularly for electric vehicles. The going rate for the metal also often serves as a benchmark to price other materials used in creating industrial compounds such as nickel sulfate, which is used in coatings, textiles and other industries.

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The LME’s move to suspend trading in the metal on March 8 resulted in “the absence of price discovery of this crucial benchmark, which in return stagnated the trading activities for the entire battery materials supply chain,” analysts at Rystad Energy wrote in a research note this week.

The disruption in trading clouds how much the market is willing to pay for the metal. That’s prompted most nickel sulfate producers in China to stop offering their products, the analysts noted.

Nickel trading was plunged into turmoil last week when a big bet by Chinese metals giant Tsingshan Holding Group went bad. Tsingshan was betting that nickel prices would slump but instead they staged an unprecedented rally amid severe economic sanctions against Russia, a major global producer of the metal, over its invasion of Ukraine.

The big fear was that Tsingshan would struggle to make margin calls with its bankers, potentially facing billions of dollars in losses. In a margin call, a broker tells a client to put up cash after it borrowed money to make trades.

Tsingshan said this week that it struck a deal with creditors so they wouldn’t make margin calls or close out their positions against the company while it resolves the problem.