(Bloomberg) -- The London Metal Exchange will reopen nickel trading during Asian trading hours from March 20, in what is likely to provide an important liquidity boost for the market that has struggled to recover after last year’s crisis.

The LME halted trading for a week and canceled billions of dollars of transactions in the nickel market in March 2022 in an effort to rein a runaway short squeeze centered on top producer Tsingshan Holding Group Co. Trading has remained suspended during Asian hours, which was when prices spiked most sharply during the squeeze, and currently opens at 8 a.m. London time. 

The nickel contract has been dogged by low levels of liquidity since the squeeze, contributing to erratic trading conditions that have cast doubts about its viability as the world’s benchmark pricing mechanism for the metal used in batteries and stainless steel. The crisis — which brought several members to the brink of default  — has also sparked regulatory investigations and lawsuits, with some major investors vowing never to trade on the bourse again.

The LME has been seeking to restart trading during Asian hours for several months, and it said on Thursday that it hopes the resumption will “further contribute to liquidity rebuilding in the nickel market.”

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