Antimony prices fell as much as 4.3% on Wednesday January 9, after a large consumer took advantage of the aggressive pricing on shipment and in-warehouse material seen in recent days.
Metal Bulletin Rotterdam standard grade II antimony prices stood at $11,000-11,500 per tonne, down from $11,500-800 on January 4, as a large buyer entered a spot market that has struggled during an absence of bids.
"In a slow market, you\'ll always be able to find someone who can make you an interesting price," the buyer told Metal Bulletin.
But although the sale and other aggressive offers seen on in-warehouse material have reset Rotterdam prices at lower levels, sources said the mood in China is starting to turn around, and such aggressive pricing does not correlate with the cost of replacement material.
"Almost overnight, the mood seems to have changed in China. Our suppliers are saying there are a lot more enquiries from domestic traders and overseas consumers today," a European trader told Metal Bulletin.
This apparent shift in sentiment has come as antimony miners raise ore prices and smelters in Lengshujiang, Hunan, face logistical issues during China\'s coldest winter in nearly 30 years, a trader in Hong Kong told Metal Bulletin.
"At the moment, producers say there is no room to reduce their price any more, but final buyers are not willing to accept any higher offers," the trader said.
Although producers may have firmer expectations for antimony prices, business may be difficult to conclude while traders in Asia still have large volumes of material to offer, a second trader in Europe said.
"When I\'ve knocked on a few doors in Asia, they\'ve all been very keen for me to give them a bid, and they\'ve got plenty of material to offer. The reality is that I could buy a few hundred tonnes quite easily in today\'s market, and if I can get it, big consumers certainly won\'t have a problem," he said.
"There will always be that difference between producers who want higher prices and traders who need to take cash," he added.
"But then, maybe the fact that we\'ve bought will be enough to give some support to the market."