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A combination of surging China imports, tighter supplies and fund interest are expected to sustain prices of stainless steel ingredient nickel, which have reached their highest level in more than two years.

Benchmark nickel on the London Metal Exchange hit $14,040 a tonne on Monday, the highest since May 2015 and a gain of more than 55 percent since June.

“The fundamental story for nickel has started off well and it is looking good for at least the next couple of years,” said Wood Mackenzie analyst Adrian Gardner.

Wood Mackenzie forecasts a deficit of between 80,000-90,000 tonnes this year following a deficit of similar levels in 2017.

The shortfall is likely to be particularly acute in China, which accounts for about half of global consumption estimated at around 2.1 million tonnes this year but where an environmental crackdown has shut capacity.

It is expected to ramp up imports. Latest data shows China’s nickel imports more than doubled in December from a year earlier to 41,315 tonnes.

“There is still a decent amount of upside for prices from here,” said ETF Securities commodities strategist Nitesh Shah, citing declining stocks and higher demand in China.

Fuelling the rally over the past couple of days was First Quantum Minerals, which said its nickel output dropped 24 percent last year to 17,837 tonnes due to its Ravensthorpe mine in Australia being shut since September.

Traders said the possibility of a force majeure at the Ambatovy nickel and cobalt mine in Madagascar, where operations were halted due to a cyclone on Jan. 4, was making the market jittery about supplies.

Also helping nickel is the U.S. currency’s slide to three-year lows, making dollar-denominated commodities cheaper for holders of other currencies; a relationship used by funds that trade using buy and sell signals from numerical models.

The rally accelerated after nickel prices broke through a key technical level around $13,000 last week and funds bought the LME contract.

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MARKET SUMMARY

INDICES

Name Last Change
DOW 25413.20 0.49%
S&P 500 2736.27 0.22%
NASDAQ 7247.87 0.15%
TSX 15155.50 0.07%
TSX-V 624.51 0.00%

Resource Commodities

Name Last Change
Gold 1221.51 0.67%
Silver 14.41 0.00
Copper 2.80 0.000
Platinum 846.50 0.000
Oil 56.46
Natural Gas 4.27 5.48%
Uranium 29.18 0.00%
Zinc 1.20 0.00%

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