Nickel gains 5% as supplies tighten

Nickel gains 5% as supplies tighten

Nickel prices rose more than 5 per cent on Thursday on low inventories and tight supplies on a day when copper prices also rose in spite of an expected settlement of the near month-long strike at the world’s largest copper mine in Chile.

The three-month nickel price rose to $28,750 a tonne on the London Metal Exchange, within sight of the record high of $29,950 struck last week. The price has been driven largely by a plunge in nickel inventories on the LME to critically low levels. Inventories yesterday dropped by 720 tonnes to 5,172, the lowest since July 1991.

Strong demand from the stainless steel industry and a strike at Inco’s Voisey’s Bay mine has also underpinned prices.

Copper prices rose more than 3 per cent to $7,710 a tonne on the LME. Workers at the Escondida copper mine in Chile were expected to vote on a new proposal from management of the BHP Billiton controlled mine. Union leaders at the mine told Reuters that they expected more than 2,000 workers to approve a new contract deal.

Precious metals prices were also higher. Gold gained $4.70 to $623.70/$624.40 a troy ounce as the gold mining sector faced more consolidation with the proposed merger of Goldcorp and Glamis Gold.

Silver prices touched a three-month high of $12.79 a troy ounce, up more than 4 per cent.

Crude oil prices failed to hold on to early gains above $70 a barrel, as initial concerns about Iran defying a

United Nations deadline for ending uranium enrichment faded as traders decided that oil was unlikely to be used as a weapon in any outcome over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

ICE Brent for October delivery slipped 33 cents to $69.85 a barrel in late afternoon London trade, retreating from early gains when the price popped over $71 a barrel.

October West Texas Intermediate slipped 18 cents to $69.85 a barrel in early afternoon trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Wheat futures on the Chicago Board of Trade climbed to four-week highs on concerns about the current US wheat crop, and tightening global supplies. CBOT wheat for October delivery peaked at $4.035 per bushel. The rise in the wheat price in the world’s most traded wheat futures market also lifted prices of the grain in the UK and Europe.

French wheat prices hit fresh two-year highs yesterday. Prices have rallied since July after hot weather dented yields and then the recent rains in August hit crop quality in the latter stages of the harvest in northern Europe.

Euronext milling wheat futures for November delivery hit a two-year high of EU144 a tonne in Paris, before ending the session at EU143, up EU3 on the day.

Copyright © 2006 The Financial Times Limited.

Share this post