Nickel Leads Metals Higher on Signs of Rising Use as Supply Ebbs

Feb 06, 2014 1:53 pm ET

Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Nickel prices in London rose the most in three weeks on signs that demand for the metal used to make stainless steel will accelerate as supplies shrink following on an ore-export ban Indonesia, the world’s top producer.

Crude stainless-steel output will rise to a record 39 million metric tons this year on Chinese production, MEPS (International) Ltd., a consulting company, said yesterday. The Indonesia government said today that it will be consistent in applying the export limits. U.S. jobless claims fell last week, bolstering prospects for the economy.

“The big story for nickel has been the changes that are going on in Indonesia, with the banning of raw-material exports,” Mike Dragosits, a commodity strategist at TD Securities in Toronto, said in a telephone interview. “Metals seem to be rallying on this as the initial jobless-claims number eases concerns about U.S. growth.”

Nickel for delivery in three months advanced 1.6 percent to $13,985 a ton at 5:50 p.m. on the London Metal Exchange, the biggest gain since Jan. 13.

Indonesia is the top producer of mined nickel, and China is its biggest buyer.

“The decreased amount of supply going to China is going to have to eventually be sourced in other areas,” Dragosits said.

Copper for delivery in three months gained 1.3 percent to $7,129.50 a ton ($3.23 a pound) in London. On the Comex in New York, futures for March delivery climbed 1.3 percent to $3.229 a pound.

Aluminum, zinc, lead and tin rose in London.

--With assistance from Agnieszka Troszkiewicz in London and Jae Hur in Tokyo. Editors: Patrick McKiernan, Joe Richter