Nickel Market Update (February 7, 2013)

Nickel prices have risen in the past month: according to data from Metal-Pages, nickel for three-month delivery is now trading around $18,650 on the London Metal Exchange (LME). That’s up sharply from $17,290 on February 7 and is the highest level since October.

The gains are mainly the result of restocking by makers of stainless steel, who account for 66 percent of global nickel consumption, as the global economy continues to show signs of a recovery. Metal-Pages also reported that canceled warrants, or orders to remove or ship nickel from LME warehouses, nearly doubled this month. That’s a sign that LME inventories, which are currently at 150,384 metric tons (MT), should soon start falling.

Even so, Australian investment bank Macquarie remains cautious about nickel’s longer-term prospects due to ongoing concerns about oversupply. Last month, the bank lowered its 2013 price forecast to $17,000 per MT, according to Platts. That’s down 6.8 percent from its previous estimate.