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Nickel, Aluminum, Copper Rise on Equity Rally, U.S. Economy Gain

March 14 (Bloomberg) -- Nickel jumped to a three-week high in London, while aluminum and copper gained, as strengthening European equities and an unexpected drop in U.S. jobless claims fueled bets that demand will improve.

The Stoxx 600 Europe Index of shares reached a 4 1/2-year high, while a government report today showed the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level in almost two months. Europe makes up 14 percent of aluminum demand and 18 percent of copper demand, according to Barclays Plc. The U.S. is the second-biggest metals consumer.

“Better-than-expected economic data once again is supporting prices,” David Meger, the director of metal trading at Vision Financial Markets in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “The performance of equity markets and signs of more stability in general in Europe are adding support to metals.”

Nickel advanced 1.7 percent to $17,225 a ton at 5:50 p.m. local time on the London Metal Exchange, the biggest gain since Feb. 22. Aluminum for delivery in three months gained 0.7 percent to $1,979 a metric ton.

On the LME, copper for delivery in three months increased 0.2 percent to $7,800 a ton ($3.54 a pound). In New York, copper futures for delivery in May rose 0.3 percent to $3.5365 a pound on the Comex.

A report tomorrow will show industrial production in the U.S. rose for a third month in four in February, economists surveyed by Bloomberg said.

Demand for trucks in Brazil is set to climb as much as 10 percent this year, Daimler AG, the biggest maker of commercial vehicles, said yesterday. An average Class 8 truck, the category including the heaviest models, contains more than 1,000 pounds of aluminum, according to an Aluminum Association website. Vehicles use alloys, powders and plating containing nickel on parts including spark plugs and pistons, the Nickel Institute says. A typical U.S.-built automobile contains more than 50 pounds of copper, according to the Copper Development Association.

Zinc, tin and lead fell in London.

To contact the reporters on this story: Agnieszka Troszkiewicz in London at atroszkiewic@bloomberg.net; Joe Richter in New York at jrichter1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net

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