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Nickel and copper march to fresh peaks on supply concerns

Kitco News

By Eric Onstad

LONDON, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Nickel prices surged to their highest in a decade on Wednesday and copper broke back through $10,000 a tonne on renewed supply fears as inventories dwindle.

Industrial metals were also buoyed by easing concerns over economic growth in top metals consumer China.

Three-month nickel on the London Metal Exchange (LME) jumped as much as 4.4% to $22,745 a tonne, its highest since August 2011. It pared gains to stand at $22,085 by 1700 GMT, up 1.3%.

"The battery king, nickel, has been the initial driver, breaking above that $21,000 level, gapping higher, and now the rally is filtering through to copper and the others," said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank in Copenhagen.

Nickel's sharp gains were partly fuelled by speculators buying back bearish positions, broker Marex said in a note.

"The focus in China is moving away from worries about the property sector slowdown to increased signs that they are going to provide stimulus and support to the economy, some of which will benefit industrial metals," Hansen added.

In China, nickel prices leapt to a record high, with the February contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange ending daytime trading 3.8% up at 162,340 yuan ($25,510) a tonne.

LME copper gained 3.5% to $10,059 a tonne, trading above the key psychological level for the first time since Oct. 21.

Nickel stocks in LME warehouses have halved over the past five months to 99,462 tonnes, their lowest since December 2019, while refined nickel inventories in ShFE warehouses held close to a record low of 4,455 tonnes hit in August 2021.

(Reporting by Eric Onstad Additional reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru Editing by Mark Potter and David Goodman)

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