LME nickel hits fresh high, copper ends down

LME nickel hits fresh high, copper ends down

Nickel hit a new high on fresh threats to supply and tin regained $10,000, but copper was pushed to the sideline in London trading on Friday. “Copper has been sidelined and the focus has shifted elsewhere. Aluminium, zinc, lead and nickel are where the interest lies,” a London Metal Exchange (LME) trader said.

Nickel hit a new high of $32,625 per tonne, before falling back to $32,050/32,100, untraded in the last open outcry session, versus $31,750 on Thursday.

Tin , which surged 12 percent on Monday to a contract high of $11,000 and then fell below $10,000, closed at $10,150 against $9,900/9,950 on Thursday.

“We suspect that copper needs to rally as well to see more interest returning to the sector,” analyst Robin Bhar at UBS said in a note.

Nickel was supported by dwindling stocks and supply threats.

“The main factor at the moment is the New Caledonia general strike which has been going on for a month,” Bhar said.

“There may also be some buying to help bolster end-week chart positions,” he said.

France’s Eramet said on Friday a general strike on the Pacific island of New Caledonia was costing it around $1 million a day and had left its Doniambo nickel smelter with some 10 days of feedstock.

Eramet is 60 percent owner of Societe Le Nickel (SLN), which produces around 70,000 tonnes of nickel concentrate a year, some 5 percent of world production. [ID:nL20660136]

Nickel stocks in LME warehouse fell again to 4,836 tonnes, down by 96. Only 3,294 tonnes were available to the market, less than one day of global consumption.

Copper futures closed $130 lower at $7,530, while aluminium fell $23 to end at $2,718.

Sentiment in copper was dampened as workers at Chile’s Codelco Norte, the biggest division of state copper mining giant Codelco, considered a company proposal to start early contract talks. [ID:nN20311571]

Copper stocks in LME-registered warehouses jumped by 2,550 tonnes to 112,275, but still amount to less than three days of global consumption.

Copper touched a low of $7,560 earlier, but was supported by Chinese buying around that level, traders said.

Concerns about the rate of demand growth in major commodities consumer China and economic growth in the United States have calmed bulls recently.

“Fund money seems to be holding back from piling back into copper, as the funds instead are keeping a wary eye on the largely neutral to negative economic statistics coming out of the U.S.,” analyst Edward Meir at Man Financial said in a note.

But with most metals still showing acute stock shortages and little in the way of immediate new supply flowing through to ease the situation, traders did not expect sharp falls from current high levels.

“As we have said before, we still believe the U.S. economy will have a soft landing, and the emerging economies such as China and India will continue to outperform,” Standard Bank said in a research note.

Daily average primary aluminium output in September, excluding China, rose to 65,300 tonnes compared with 65,000 in August and 64,900 in September 2005, the International Aluminium Institute (IAI) said in a report. [ID:nL20551848]

Lead fell to $1,500 against $1,505 on Thursday.

Zinc was higher at $3,970 versus $3,950

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