Nickel Rises Most in Two Weeks as Global Supply Concerns Mount

May 06, 2014 6:49 pm ET

May 6 (Bloomberg) -- Nickel prices rose the most in two weeks as tensions escalated between Russia and Ukraine, while a ban on ore exports by Indonesia entered the fifth month.

Russia, the second-biggest producer of refined nickel, faces more sanctions from the U.S. and Europe. French President Francois Hollande said that Russian attempts to postpone a Ukrainian presidential election would lead to “chaos and a risk of war.” Indonesia, the top source of unprocessed ore, halted shipments to boost domestic refining. Prices in London have jumped 33 percent this year.

“For nickel, it’s the supply-side story that has helped it outperform” other industrial metals, Mike Dragosits, a senior commodity strategist at TD Securities in Toronto, said in a telephone interview. “There’s been increasing rhetoric out of Russia and really no particular charges out of Indonesia.”

Nickel for delivery in three months climbed 1.5 percent to settle at $18,550 a metric ton at 5:57 p.m. on the London Metal Exchange, the biggest gain since April 22. The price is poised to extend a rally to $22,000 this year, a Bloomberg survey of analysts and traders showed.

The second quarter is traditionally the strongest period for nickel demand with stainless-steel producers boosting inventory, David Wilson, an analyst at Citigroup in London, said in a telephone interview.

Stainless-steel output accounts for 65 percent of usage, the Nickel Institute says. China is the top producer of the refined metal.

Copper rose less than 0.1 percent to $6,720 a ton ($3.05 a pound) in London. Lead, zinc, aluminum and tin gained. The LME was closed yesterday for a holiday.

On the Comex in New York, copper futures for July delivery advanced 0.1 percent to $3.057 a pound.

--With assistance from Agnieszka Troszkiewicz in London.