Concern over global growth has depressed the prices of many metals in recent weeks. Nickel has been an exception, however, soaring by almost a quarter to a 13-month high in just a fortnight.
In mid-July Indonesia, the second-largest exporter of nickel ore after the Philippines and a major supplier to China’s steel industry, said it would stick to plans to stop exports of unprocessed ore in 2022 in order to encourage domestic stainless steel production.
The price jump also reflects robust steel production in China in the first half and dwindling stockpiles: demand has eclipsed supply for five years. Traders are also looking forward to higher long-term demand as nickel is a component in batteries for electric vehicles.
“Tech billionaires now regard [EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager] as one of their few true foes. It was she who forced Apple to pay €13bn in back taxes after ruling that its tax deal with the Irish government amounted to illegal state aid. Vestager has also taken on Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, and forced them to pay hefty fines or reparations… Now she has targeted Amazon’s treatment of third-party sellers, which generate around 58% of sales… Donald Trump says Vestager is motivated by a hatred of the US. And some in the UK believe this roll call of prosecutions is stifling the adoption of digital commerce. Evidence for either view is scant. Washington seems to have forgotten how to implement its own antitrust laws… That leaves the EU as the only body… prepared to examine the influence of an army of tech firms.”