Nickel Touches a Two-Week High as Indonesia Bars Ore Exports

Jan 13, 2014 2:22 pm ET

Jan. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Nickel reached a two-week high in London after a ban on mineral-ore exports took effect in Indonesia, the world’s biggest producer of the metal from mines.

The rule became effective yesterday, according to Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik. Indonesia accounts for 18 percent to 20 percent of global nickel supply, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimates. The metal may reach $17,000 a metric ton this quarter, according to Citigroup Inc. That would mean a 20 percent gain from the current price.

“The price is more likely to go up than down, even after this rise that we’ve had,” Stephen Briggs, an analyst at BNP Paribas SA in London, said in a telephone interview today. “The metal that is going to be most affected by this is nickel.”

Nickel for delivery in three months advanced 2.5 percent to settle at $14,210 a ton at 5:50 p.m. on the London Metal Exchange after reaching $14,253, the highest since Dec. 30. Prices are up 2.2 percent this month, the best performance among the six main metals traded on the LME.

The metal is approaching its 200-day moving average near $14,323. A close above that price may signal an extended rally to some traders who study prices charts.

China’s output of nickel pig iron, a lower-grade alternative to refined metal, may expand at a slower rate this year because of the export limits, researcher Beijing Antaike Information Development Co. estimates. The ban may push the global refined-nickel market into deficit next year, according to Barclays Plc, which says output will exceed demand by 41,000 tons this year, narrowing from a 181,000-ton surplus in 2013.

Copper for delivery in three months gained 0.4 percent to $7,329 a ton ($3.32 a pound) on the LME. In New York, futures for delivery in March added 0.1 percent to $3.3465 a pound on the Comex.

Indonesia is allowing Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. to continue exporting copper concentrate, partly processed ore that’s shipped to smelters from mines. The nation accounts for 3 percent of world copper supply, according to Goldman Sachs.

Zinc, lead, tin and aluminum climbed in London.

--Editors: Joe Richter, Millie Munshi