Nickel prices had the biggest gain in almost six weeks as investor optimism on the European and U.S. economies bolstered prospects for industrial-metal demand.
The International Monetary Fund may play a larger role in solving Europe’s debt crisis, and the U.S. unemployment rate in November unexpectedly dropped to a 32-month low. A gauge of industrial metals climbed this week after a November slump.
“Nickel’s move today reflects general macroeconomic trends,” John Stephenson, who helps manage $2.6 billion at First Asset Management Inc. in Toronto, said in an e-mail. Purchases to close out bearish bets also boosted prices, he said.
Nickel for delivery in three months jumped 5.9 percent to close at $17,740 a metric ton at 6:56 p.m. on the London Metal Exchange, the biggest gain since Oct. 24. The price climbed 4.7 percent this week after tumbling 11 percent in November.
The metal has dropped 28 percent this year as global economic woes eroded demand, while supplies increased.
“The market for nickel is expected to move into surplus from deficit this quarter, so I am slightly bearish,” Stephenson said.
An LME index of nickel, copper, aluminum, lead, zinc and tin climbed 7.4 percent this week after slumping 11 percent in the previous four weeks.