Nickel Falls Most in Three Weeks as Philippine Supply Woes Ease

  • Bullish nickel bets under pressure, BMO’s Tai Wong says
  • Copper, aluminum, zinc, tin and lead also decline in London

Nickel posted the biggest loss in three weeks as supply concerns eased amid speculation that Philippine mines could avoid shutdowns after a government audit of producers.

Nickel Asia Corp. said Tuesday it’s confident that the Hinatuan Mining Corp. unit, among those slated for closure unless it fixes shortcomings, will not be suspended. The country’s top miners’ group said Tuesday that while there remains a real threat to many companies’ existence, the one-page letters from the environment department to members detailing grounds for suspension often listed administrative matters.

Prices rallied 20 percent this year through the first three quarters on concern that mine disruptions in the Philippines will curb supply, just as inventories tracked by the London Metal Exchange fell to the lowest in almost two years. In the week ended Sept. 30, money managers boosted their net-long positions in nickel by 3.2 percent to 65,317 contracts, the highest in data going back to mid-2014.

“A very long market is under pressure as the Philippine audit may not close as many mines as feared,” Tai Wong, the director of commodity products trading at BMO Capital Markets in New York, said in an e-mail. “While the medium outlook is positive with stocks at two-year lows, prices may correct further.”

Nickel for delivery in three months slipped 2.6 percent to settle at $10,080 a metric ton at 5:50 p.m. on the LME, the most since Sept. 12.

In other metals news:

  • Copper, aluminum, zinc, tin and lead also declined on the LME.
  • On the Comex in New York, copper futures slid.

— With assistance by David Stringer, Jasmine Ng, Kevin Crowley, and Cecilia Yap

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