Nickel climbed for a second day to a 14-month high on concern that supplies from Russia may be disrupted amid mounting tensions over Ukraine.
The contract for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange added as much as 1.5 percent to $18,715 a metric ton, the highest level since February 2013, and was at $18,660 by 4:11 p.m. in Tokyo. The price advanced 18 percent this month, the most since March 2010.
The U.S. and European Union will impose new sanctions on Russia as soon as today as the crisis in Ukraine escalates amid the detention of international observers by pro-Russian separatists. Nickel has risen 34 percent this year, the most among the six main metals traded on the LME as Indonesia started an ore-export ban in January.
“It appears that the east of the Ukraine may go the same way as the Crimea,” said David Lennox, a resource analyst at Fat Prophets, an investment research firm in Sydney. “Likely only the expansion of sanctions by the west against Russia is what is holding that country back from moving already.”
Nickel is headed for a fifth straight monthly advance, the longest such rally since August 2009. China and Russia are the biggest producers of the refined metal.
Copper in London rose 0.2 percent to $6,780 a ton, extending last week’s 1.7 percent gain. The contract for delivery in July was little changed at $3.095 a pound in New York. In Shanghai, futures for delivery in July closed little changed at 47,970 yuan ($7,677) a ton.
On the LME, aluminum, tin and zinc also advanced, while lead declined.