Nickel Rebounds on Supply Concerns as ‘Multiyear Deficit’ Looms

May 16, 2014 1:50 pm ET

May 16 (Bloomberg) -- Nickel rebounded amid lingering global supply concerns, halting a two-day tumble that sent prices down 11 percent, the most in 31 months.

China, the world’s largest consumer, may import more refined metal this quarter, Beijing Antaike Information Development Co. said. Before the price plunge in the previous two days, nickel surged 50 percent since the end of January after Indonesia, the top producer from mines, barred exports of unprocessed ore.

“I think it’s mostly Chinese buying” behind the rebound, Patricia Mohr, a commodity market specialist at Scotiabank Group in Toronto, said in a telephone interview. “Later in the year, the stocks that have been built up in China will be depleted, and there’s quite a rush to seek more supplies.”

Nickel for delivery in three months climbed 1.5 percent to settle at $19,025 a metric ton at 5:50 p.m. on the London Metal Exchange. This week, the price dropped 4.4 percent, the most since November.

Orders to remove nickel from warehouses monitored by the LME rose 2.7 percent to 119,454 tons, the biggest gain since March 17.

On May 13, the price reached $21,625, a 27-month high. The U.S. and European Union may toughen sanctions against Russia, the second-largest producer of refined metal, amid turmoil in Ukraine, potentially disrupting supply further.

Nickel is “on the verge of a multiyear deficit market,” Macquarie Group Ltd. said today in a report. The bank raised its fourth-quarter price forecast by 42 percent to $23,500.

Copper fell 0.4 percent to $6,860 a ton ($3.11 a pound) on the LME. Aluminum and tin dropped, while zinc and lead gained.

On the Comex in New York, copper futures for July delivery rose 0.1 percent to $3.147 a pound. This year, the price has dropped 7.3 percent.

--With assistance from Jae Hur in Tokyo.