Nickel Reaches Three-Week High on Bets China Will Add Stimulus

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Nickel rose to the highest in almost three weeks as weaker economic data boosted speculation that officials will add to stimulus in China, the world’s biggest metals consumer.

China’s exports fell for a third month in May, while imports slumped the most since February, customs data showed Monday. The trade slowdown coincides with a slump in investment growth that is putting Premier Li Keqiang’s 2015 growth target of about 7 percent at risk, increasing the pressure for further economic stimulus from the People’s Bank of China.

“Every down tick in Chinese data is matched by expectations of stimulus,” Michael Turek, the head of base metals at BGC Partners Inc. in New York, said by e-mail. “If there is stimulus, including infrastructure development, demand for base metals will increase.”

On the London Metal Exchange, nickel for delivery in three months climbed 2 percent to close at $13,440 a metric ton at 5:50 p.m. local time, the highest price since May 19.

Workers at Sherritt International Corp.’s Ambatovy nickel project in Madagascar may go on strike after job cuts at the mine, a labor-union official said Monday. The dollar fell against a basket of 10 trading partners, boosting the appeal of commodities as alternative investments.

“The weaker dollar today is supporting the metals,” David Meger, the director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures in Chicago, said in a telephone interview.

Also on the LME, copper, lead, tin and zinc rose, while aluminum was unchanged. On the Comex in New York, copper futures for July delivery climbed 0.1 percent to $2.6965 a pound.