Nickel prices at 3-1/2-week high on Russian supply angst, low stocks

18th February 2022 By: Reuters

Nickel prices rose on Friday to their highest levels in three-and-a-half weeks after the market was bolstered by lower inventories and as the prospect of sanctions on Russia, a major producer of the metal, exacerbated concerns of reduced supply.

Three-month nickel on the London Metal Exchange CMNI3 rose 0.9% to $24 095 a tonne, after hitting its highest level since January 24. The metal climbed 4.4% so far this week, set for its biggest weekly gain in four.

The most-traded March nickel contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange climbed 2.9% to 178 220 yuan ($28 140.15) a tonne.

Stocking supply concerns, the European Union is ready to present a tough package of sanctions as soon as needed, as Russian troops inch closer to Ukraine, the EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Thursday. 

Russia's Norilsk Nickel supplies about 10% of the world's nickel output.

Nickel stocks in LME-registered warehouses were at their lowest since December 2019 at 83 736 tonnes, while premium for cash nickel over the three-month contract rose to $368 a tonne. 

* LME copper rose 0.4% to $9 970.5 a tonne, aluminium fell 0.4% to $3 255.5 a tonne, lead inched up 0.1% to $2 348, zinc was flat at $3 608 and tin edged 0.3% higher to $43 990.

* ShFE copper rose 0.3% to 71 570 yuan a tonne, aluminium edged up 0.2% to 22 700 yuan, zinc gained 0.6% to 25 135 yuan, lead was up 0.5% to 15 515 yuan and tin was 1.7% higher at 339 430 yuan.

* Cleveland Federal Reserve President Loretta Mester said on Thursday the US central bank will need to move more aggressively to remove accommodation than it did following the Great Recession, while St. Louis Fed President Jim Bullard called for interest rate hike by a full percentage point by July. 

* The top finance minister in China, the world's biggest metals consumer, pledged to cut corporate tax rates more forcefully, strengthen targeted fiscal spending, and tighten fiscal discipline this year as part of efforts to stabilise the macro economy ahead of the Communist Party's 20th party congress. 

* China's refined tin production in January fell 3.4% from the previous month, data released by state-backed research house Antaike showed on Thursday. 

* US stock futures bounced and selling pressure eased in Asian share markets after the US Secretary of State agreed to a meeting with Russia's foreign minister, raising hopes for a diplomatic solution to the East-West standoff over Ukraine.

* The safe-haven yen gained more ground on the dollar as US President Joe Biden said Moscow is preparing a pretext to justify a possible attack on Ukraine, also supporting the Swiss franc and hurting bitcoin.