Nickel advances as China kicks up stainless steel production

Nickel gained for the first time in four days on speculation that demand for the metal used in corrosion resistance in stainless steel will increase.

The contract for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange rose as much as 0.8 percent to $13,866 a metric ton and was at $13,855 at 11:45 a.m. in Tokyo. Copper rose 0.2 percent to $7,052.50 a ton.

Crude stainless steel production will increase 4.6 percent to a record 39 million tons in 2014, MEPS (International) Ltd., an industry consultant in Sheffield, U.K., said in a report yesterday. Output in China, the world’s top user, will climb by 6.8 percent to 19.3 million tons in 2014, representing almost 50 percent of global production, MEPS said.

“China is driving global production expansion for stainless steel,” said Chae Un Soo, a metals trader at Korea Exchange Bank Futures Co. in Seoul. Investors also are looking to U.S. job data tomorrow and China resuming trading after Lunar New Year holidays, he said.

Companies in the U.S. boosted payrolls by 175,000 in January, according to ADP Research Institute before the government’s monthly jobs data on Feb. 7. Payrolls rose 74,000 in December, missing the median analyst projection for an increase of 197,000.

China is the biggest importer of nickel ore from Indonesia. The Southeast Asian nation, which imposed a ban on exports of unprocessed ore on Jan. 12, is the world’s biggest nickel ore producer.

Copper for March delivery rose 0.4 percent to $3.2005 a pound on the Comex in New York.

On the LME, aluminum and zinc climbed and lead was little changed. Tin hadn’t traded.