Aluminium and nickel climb on Russian supply angst

14th February 2022

By: Reuters


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LONDON - Aluminium and nickel prices headed towards multi-year highs on Monday due to escalating fears that reduced supplies from Russia would exacerbate existing shortages of both industrial metals.

A Russian invasion of Ukraine could mean sanctions against Russian firms which include Norilsk Nickel supplying about 10% of the world's nickel and Rusal accounting for around 5% of global aluminium supplies.

Russia has repeatedly denied it is preparing to invade Ukraine.

Benchmark aluminium on the London Metal Exchange was up 1% at $3 169 a tonne at 10:37 GMT.

Prices of the metal used widely in the power, construction and packaging industries hit $3 333 a tonne last week, close to the record high of $3 380.15 hit in July 2008.

"There's a risk of sanctions on Russia, people are trying to stock up on aluminium and nickel," a metals trader said.

Nickel was up 1.7% at $23 450 a tonne, not far from the 10-year high of $24 435 a tonne hit in January. Nickel is used to make stainless steel and electric vehicle batteries.

STOCKS: Shortages can be seen in dwindling inventories in LME registered warehouses.

Aluminium stocks at 868 950 tonnes have more than halved since March last year. Cancelled warrants -- metal earmarked for delivery -- at 30% suggests more aluminium will be delivered out over coming days and weeks.

Nickel inventories at 84 894 tonnes have dropped 67% since April last year, while cancelled warrants stand at 50%.

SPREADS: Worries about supplies on the LME market have seen cash aluminium and nickel trade at a premium over the three-month contracts for some time.

SHANGHAI: Norilsk Nickel's cathode is deliverable against the nickel contract traded on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE). The contract too has rallied in recent days.

DOLLAR: Prices of copper used by investors as a gauge of economic health were down 0.7% at $9 787 a tonne.

Worries about demand in top consumer China and a stronger US currency which when it rises makes dollar-priced metals more expensive are weighing on copper.

OTHER METALS: Zinc was down 0.5% at $3,607 a tonne, lead gained 0.3% to $2,285 and tin climbed 0.6% to $43,800. 

Edited by Reuters


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