Column: Nickel and copper are bull stand-outs in base metals poll – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – January 30, 2020)

LONDON (Reuters) – Nickel and copper are the bull stand-outs in the latest Reuters poll of base metals analysts, with both set to rise in price over the next two years thanks to supply constraints and expected market deficits.

All the other base metals are expected to fall in price this year at least, with zinc and lead set to underperform over the next two years as those markets transition from supply shortfall to surplus.

Supply is the clear differentiator in the poll findings. Demand is widely expected to recover from the synchronised weakness of 2019. Or at least it was.

The poll was conducted between Jan. 8 and Jan. 20 before the outbreak of the coronavirus in China’s Wuhan started hitting the headlines. It’s still too early for analysts to change their forecasts but quite evidently the hit to Chinese economic activity now looms ever larger.

Nickel was the best-performing base metal last year and analysts are looking for more of the same over the next two years. The median forecast for cash nickel is $15,325 per tonne this year and $16,500 in 2021, up 10% and 19% respectively on last year’s average price of $13,903.

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