Nickel Rises to Seven-Week High on Philippine Ore-Export Concern

Sep 04, 2014 1:26 pm ET

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Nickel rose to a seven-week high on concern that the Philippines will bar ore exports, heightening Asian supply woes.

The government should move toward a ban on mineral-ore exports, said Ramon Paje, the environment secretary, backing a proposed bill in the Philippines calling for curbs aimed at boosting domestic processing. Nickel prices in London have surged 40 percent this year following shipment restrictions by Indonesia, the world’s top producer of mined metal.

“Even if the timing is still unclear, the announcement of the initiative has given rise to nervousness on the market,” Daniel Briesemann, an analyst at Commerzbank AG, said in a note. “If there were to be simultaneous export bans, the nickel price would doubtless rise significantly.”

Nickel for delivery in three months advanced 1.7 percent to settle at $19,395 a metric ton at 5:50 p.m. on the London Metal Exchange. Earlier, the price reached $19,498, the highest since July 14.

The price dropped by a combined 44 percent in the three years ended 2013, the longest slump since 1998.

The Philippines replaced Indonesia as the largest supplier of nickel ore to China, the top consumer of the metal used to make stainless steel.

“That reversal in nickel is one of the biggest changes of sentiment I’ve seen in my 30 years of covering the market,” Nick Moore, a managing director and commodities strategist at BlackRock Inc. in London, said in a telephone interview. If Philippine supplies are disrupted, China has “no viable feedstock,” he said.

Zinc, aluminum, tin, copper and lead rose today in London.

On the Comex in New York, copper futures for December delivery advanced 0.8 percent to $3.151 a pound.