Global nickel output is likely to fall as some producers hit a “pain threshold” on lower prices, Dan Lougher, chief executive officer of Western Areas Ltd., said in an interview on Tuesday. Standard Chartered Plc estimates as much as 65 percent of nickel production is unprofitable at current prices. Metals also rallied as China planned a bond program for construction stimulus, which may improve prospects for raw-material demand.
“I still expect a lift in nickel prices from this level going forward,” Casper Burgering, an analyst at ABN Amro Bank NV in Amsterdam, said by phone. “The second half should be better.”
Nickel for delivery in three months advanced 1.3 percent to $10,885 a metric ton by 12:31 p.m. on the London Metal Exchange after rising as much as 1.9 percent, the most since July 28. It’s down 28 percent in 2015 and is this year’s worst performer among the main industrial metals on the LME.
Copper rose for the first day in four after sliding to a six-year low on Monday. The metal is close to a bear market after falling 19 percent from a peak on May 5. Zinc climbed as much as 1.6 percent after orders to remove the metal from warehouses tracked by the LME surged 54 percent.
China is planning at least 1 trillion yuan ($161 billion) in bonds, and potentially a multiple of that, to fund construction projects to address the struggling economy, according to people familiar with the matter. The bond program is taking shape amid fresh signs that growth is running at less than an official target of about 7 percent for this year.
“Prices have lifted for all base metals this morning quite steeply,” Burgering said. “It could be that the market is hoping for some economic stimulus.”
Metals have declined to the lowest since 2009 amid the commodity rout. Oil is in a bear market, while platinum sank 1.7 percent on Tuesday to a six-year low and palladium dropped to an October 2012 low. On the LME, tin and lead increased Tuesday, while aluminum was little changed.