METALS-Nickel storms to 10-year peak on worries about supplies

    (Adds analyst comments, updates prices, adds LONDON dateline)
    By Eric Onstad
    LONDON, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Nickel prices surged to their
highest in a decade on Wednesday as investors bet automakers
will have to scramble to secure supplies for their electric
vehicle batteries as inventories dwindle.
    Nickel was the top performer among industrial metals, which
also rallied as worries eased about economic growth in top
metals consumer China.
    Three-month nickel on the London Metal Exchange
jumped as much as 4.4% to $22,745 a tonne, the highest since
August 2011. It had pared gains to $22,610 by 1130 GMT, up 3.7%.
    "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.
    "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."
    In China, nickel prices leapt to a record high, with the
February contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange
ending daytime trading 3.8% higher at 162,340 yuan ($25,510) a
tonne.
    A Singapore-based trader said that inventories were running
low partly due to restocking by Chinese stainless steel mills.

    * Nickel stocks in LME warehouses have halved
 over the past five months to 99,462 tonnes, their lowest levels
since December 2019, while refined nickel inventories in ShFE
warehouses held close to a record low of 4,455
tonnes hit in August 2021.
    * LME cash nickel was at a premium of $192 a tonne over the
three-month contract , its highest since October 2019,
indicating tight nearby supplies.
    * Analysts at Goldman Sachs forecast the nickel market to be
in a 30,000 tonne deficit in 2022, up from their August forecast
of a 13,000 tonne deficit.
    * LME copper         gained 2.7% to $9,986 a tonne, the
highest since Oct. 21, aluminium         rose 1.8% to $3,023,
lead         climbed 1.6% to $2,337 and zinc         added 0.8%
to $3,583.
    Tin         touched a record high of $41,490 a tonne and was
last up 2% at $41,330.

    * For the top stories in metals and other news, click
          or

    ($1 = 6.3639 yuan)

 (Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru
Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Mark Potter)



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