Nickel Outlook 2019: No Boom, but Batteries Loom – by Scott Tibballs (Nickel Investor News – December 23, 2018)

Nickel Investor News

Nickel was as hard hit as other base metals in 2018 as investor sentiment bled the markets, leading to lower prices even as demand increased. Analysts predict that nickel prices will stay low through to 2019, barring any significant improvements in the seemingly deteriorating US-China trade rhetoric.

Additionally, the much-touted battery metal boom might well not happen in any meaningful way for nickel in the near term, as markets learn more about just how far the electric vehicle (EV) industry has to go, and how quickly consumers need to adopt new technology for the boom to materialize.

New developments throughout Australia and headaches for miners in the Philippines dominated supply-side news, while demand meant that over the year stockpiles were drawn down.

As seen on the chart below, nickel started the year pretty well, gaining 14 percent in value through the first half of the year, rising to a high of US$15,745 per tonne in early June. In June and July, the trade war got down to business though, triggering a sustained fall in the metal’s value through to the end of the year. Nickel was not alone.

But it wasn’t just a US and friends vs. China tango — nickel was also the subject of anxiety about US sanctions against Russia in April, which forced prices higher. While no sanctions were placed on major Russian nickel producer Nornickel (MCX:GMKN), the risk of America broadening its attack on Russian businesses made investors wary, accounting for the spike seen on the chart in April.

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