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Nickel prices to continue inching higher in 2019: report

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WASHINGTON (Scrap Register): Nickel prices gained 8.3 percent in the first quarter of 2019 after a sharp decline during the last quarter of 2018, the World Bank said in its latest report.

The price increase since early 2019 was in large part due to concerns about prospects and operations of the world’s largest nickel producer, Vale (13% of global nickel supply), following its tailings dam accident in Brazil. Rapidly growing demand for electric vehicles, despite subsidy cuts by the Chinese government, also supported prices, the bank noted.

Amid lower nickel inventories, prices are expected to continue inching higher during the remainder of 2019 but, on average, remain 1.8 percent lower than in 2018, the report said.

Over the medium to long term, demand for nickel is anticipated to be robust as electric vehicle production strengthens and battery composition changes to use more nickel, the bank said.

The World Bank’s Metals and Minerals Price Index increased 1.7 percent in the first quarter of 2019 (q/q). This was a rebound from a decline in the fourth quarter of 2018 that followed an even steeper decline in the preceding quarter.

The price increase reflected supply concerns, progress in trade negotiations between the United States and China, and fiscal stimulus in China. Metal prices are anticipated to continue rebounding from their 2018 troughs but average 1.9 percent lower in 2019, the bank said.

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