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METALS-Nickel prices rise on New Caledonian, Philippine supply worries

(Updates prices)

HANOI, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Nickel prices gained on Wednesday, with Shanghai nickel climbing more than 3%, on worries about supply disruptions in top ore producers New Caledonia and the Philippines.

The most-traded March nickel contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange ended up 3.2% to 131,180 yuan ($20,324.12) a tonne, while three-month nickel on the London Metal Exchange advanced 0.9% to $17,820 a tonne at 0726 GMT.

French mining group Eramet warned that its nickel subsidiary, SLN, in the world’s fourth-largest nickel producer New Caledonia risked going into liquidation within weeks if protests continued to disrupt its operations.

A Philippine mining ban in Tumbagan Island in Languyan, in Tawi-Tawi province, home to some nickel projects, raised supply worries in the world’s second-biggest producer and top exporter of nickel ore.

The order, however, does not cover Philippines’s nickel hub in Caraga region.

A nickel trader said the blockades at Eramet’s mines are more likely to have a material impact on nickel supply than the Philippine mining ban.

Separately, Citi analysts said in a note that LME nickel speculative positioning reached a fresh record long through December and became the second-longest metal after copper at end-2020.

“This length could prove vulnerable in the next one to two months as we expect a decline in the Chinese credit impulse could trigger a broader pullback,” the analysts said.

FUNDAMENTALS

* New bank lending in China fell in December from the previous month, but lending for all of 2020 hit a record, as the central bank kept its policy stance accommodative.

* The U.S. economy could see a strong rebound in the second half of this year as vaccinations become widely available, while monetary policy will remain accommodative, Boston Federal Reserve Bank President Eric Rosengren said.

* LME copper rose 0.4% to $8,006.50 a tonne, lead advanced 0.7% to $2,035 a tonne, while ShFE copper increased 0.7% to 58,780 yuan a tonne and lead was up 2.1% at 14,795 yuan a tonne.

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$1 = 6.4544 yuan Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Ramakrishnan M and Uttaresh.V

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