Nickel Declines Amid Closing Out of Wagers on Price Gains

Nickel fell in London to the lowest level in almost four weeks amid closing out of some bets on rising prices.

A speculative long position contracted for a second week to 58 percent of nickel futures outstanding on the London Metal Exchange, according to Marex Spectron Group. Prices are still up 33 percent this year after surging as much as 56 percent following January’s ban on raw-ore exports by Indonesia, the world’s biggest nickel-mining nation.

“Fundamentals for nickel haven’t changed substantially,” Steve Hardcastle, the head of client services for industrial commodities at Sucden Financial Ltd. in London, said by phone today. “The focus has been on other metals, on aluminum, on zinc, and on nickel there has been no fresh news.”

Nickel for delivery in three months slid 1.9 percent to $18,425 a metric ton by 1:16 p.m. on the LME after touching $18,250, the lowest since May 15. Stockpiles monitored by the exchange climbed to a record today and nickel free for removal from warehouses rose 3 percent so far this week, data showed.

“The general feeling is that three-month nickel moved too much, too soon,” Vicky Sanders, head of analytics sales at Marex in London, said by e-mail.

A stronger dollar also weighed on prices, according to Sucden. The greenback gained yesterday for a third day against a 10-currency basket, making dollar-priced raw materials more expensive in terms of other monies.

Copper for delivery in three months on the LME dropped 0.2 percent to $6,665 a ton after yesterday touching the lowest level since May 7 amid an investigation of metals warehousing at the port of Qingdao in China. The metal for delivery in July fell 0.5 percent to $3.039 a pound on the Comex in New York.

The investigation is focusing on Decheng Mining, said two bankers aiding the probe. Concerns may ease as no further issues have been reported, according to asset manager Red Kite Group.

“The market feels a bit more secure,” Sucden’s Hardcastle said. “No fresh disasters, basically, around Qingdao.”

LME copper inventories, at the lowest since August 2008, were little changed at 166,750 tons. Tin, lead, zinc and aluminum fell in London.

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