Nickel Reaches Nine-Month High on Russia, Indonesia Supply Risks

Nickel reached a nine-month high amid concern that the U.S. will impose trade sanctions on Russia, exacerbating supply constraints amid an ore-export ban in Indonesia, the top producer of the metal from mines.

President Barack Obama said the U.S. will keep raising pressure on Russia, the second-biggest nickel producer, to back down after its incursion into Ukraine. In Indonesia, Aburizal Bakrie, who rates himself the favorite to win a presidential election in July, said the nation should keep more natural resources at home to bolster domestic industries. Prices jumped 11 percent this year, heading for the biggest quarterly gain since 2010.

“Since Russia is a big source of nickel, there are supply concerns here that are helping to lift prices,” Mike Dragosits, a senior commodity strategist at TD Securities in Toronto, wrote in an e-mail. Bakrie’s statements “just solidifies the view that China’s needs will have to be satisfied from other more costly sources.”

Nickel for delivery in three months rose 1.3 percent to settle at $15,470 a metric ton at 5:50 p.m. on the London Metal Exchange, after reaching $15,562, the highest since June 3.

In January, factory orders rebounded in Germany, the third-largest copper user, data from the Economy Ministry showed today. Fewer Americans than projected filed applications for unemployment benefits in the week ended March 1 in the U.S., the biggest consumer after China.

Stockpiles of copper tracked by the LME declined 0.5 percent to 272,175 tons, the lowest since December 2012.

Copper for delivery in three months rose 0.3 percent to $7,050 a metric ton ($3.20 a pound) on the LME. On the Comex in New York, copper futures for delivery in May gained 0.5 percent to $3.218 a pound.

Aluminum, lead and tin climbed in London, while zinc fell.

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