Column: Metals melt down as recession fears overwhelm supply woes – by Andy Home (Reuters – July 4, 2022)

LONDON, July 4 (Reuters) – Industrial metals have gone from boom to bust in the space of only three months. In March the London Metal Exchange (LME) suspended its nickel contract after the price spiked to more than $100,000 per tonne. Three-month nickel is now trading around $22,500, pretty much back where it was before the descent into chaos.

Copper, aluminium, zinc and tin all hit record price highs in March. Lead was the only LME base metal to miss out on the super-bull party. After the March melt-up, however, industrial metals are now in meltdown. The LME Index has just experienced its sharpest quarterly fall since the global financial crisis.

The pivot in sentiment from super-bullish to super-bearish has been the Feb. 24 launch of what Russia calls its “special operation” in Ukraine. Fears of sanctions against Russian metal helped drive prices to those record highs in March.

But flows of Russian aluminium, copper and nickel have so far been largely unaffected. Rather, traders are now focused on the recessionary impact of high energy prices as the Russian invasion grinds on.

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