Nickel headed for a third weekly advance on speculation that a global surplus will shrink amid a ban on exports of unprocessed ore in Indonesia and as U.S. manufacturing beat estimates.
The contract for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange added as much as 0.5 percent to $14,440 a metric ton and was at $14,435 by 4:35 p.m. in Tokyo. The metal has risen 1.3 percent this week. The price touched $14,652 on Feb. 19, the highest since Jan. 24.
Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of the ore from mines. Chinese government agencies and domestic producers met last week to consider ways to counter the impact of the Jan. 12 ban, which is choking off supply to its nickel pig iron producers. The Markit Economics preliminary index of U.S. manufacturing increased to 56.7 in February, surpassing economists’ estimates.
“Nickel supplies will definitely be cut as Indonesia restricts shipments,” said Chae Un Soo, a metals trader at Korea Exchange Bank Futures Co. in Seoul. U.S. factory output also gave metals a boost, he said.
Copper in London was little changed at $7,145.25 a ton. The contract for May delivery on the Comex in New York was little changed at $3.2565 a pound. The metal for delivery in May on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose 0.2 percent to close at 50,510 yuan ($8,293) a ton.
Refined copper imports by China rose to 397,459 tons in January from 243,174 tons a year ago, the General Administration of Customs said in an e-mailed statement today. Arrivals were 312,371 tons in December.
On the LME, zinc and lead also climbed, while tin declined. Aluminum was little changed.