Nickel Leads Gains in Base Metals as Indonesia Bans Ore Exports

Jan 13, 2014 2:46 am ET

Jan. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Nickel climbed to the highest level in two weeks, leading gains in industrial metals, after Indonesia started a ban on mineral ore exports.

The contract for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange advanced as much as 2.4 percent to $14,190 a metric ton, the highest since Dec. 30, and traded at $14,014 at 3:21 p.m. in Shanghai. The metal jumped as much as 3.3 percent on Jan. 10, the most since Oct. 22, and is up 0.8 percent this year after slumping 19 percent in 2013.

Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a regulation for the ban that will cut global nickel supplies from the largest mined producer while allowing Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. to keep exporting copper concentrates. The country accounts for 3 percent of global copper supply, 18 percent to 20 percent of nickel and 9 percent to 10 percent of aluminum from bauxite, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimates.

“The Indonesian restriction is having a positive impact on base-metal prices as it came at a time when the global macro- economic picture is improving overall,” said Chae Un Soo, a metals trader at Korea Exchange Bank Futures Co. in Seoul.

China’s output of nickel pig iron, an alternative to refined metal, may expand at a slower rate this year because of the ban, Beijing Antaike Information Development Co. estimates.

The country’s total imports rose the most in five months in December, indicating that domestic demand will support economic growth in the world’s biggest metals user.

Copper for delivery in three months on the LME was little changed at $7,308 a ton. The contract for delivery in March was little changed at $3.341 a pound in New York. Metal for delivery in March rose 0.6 percent to close at 51,690 yuan ($8,551) a ton in Shanghai.

On the LME, aluminum, lead, zinc and tin also climbed.

--Alfred Cang. Editors: Sungwoo Park, Brett Miller