METALS-Nickel begins March lower; eyes weekly gain on supply woes, better demand view

Credit: REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

Recasts, adds comment, updates prices as of 0445 GMT

BEIJING, March 1 (Reuters) - Nickel prices in London started March lower on Friday as gloomy manufacturing data from China weighed on sentiment, although the market was set for a weekly gain amid supply concerns and better demand hopes.

Three-month nickel on the London Metal Exchange CMNI3 slid 0.5% to $17,785 per metric ton by 0445 GMT. The contract has gained 1.7% so far this week.

The most-traded May nickel contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange SNIcv1 added 0.8% to 138,010 yuan ($19,177.11) per ton.

Manufacturing activity in the world's top metal consumer contracted for a fifth straight month in February, an official factory survey showed.

Regardless, March will see demand picking up from stainless steel and battery, the two main consumers of nickel, said analysts at Yinhe Futures, adding that supply disruption amid the delayed mining work approval in Indonesia also fuelled optimism.

Lowered ore supply in the Southeast Asian nation prompted higher ore prices and production cuts recently.

Indonesian miners and smelters are still making good margins despite the price drop linked to higher nickel processing, and will benefit further from the shift as lower prices support the country's battery industry, a senior official said on Thursday.

Nickel prices lost over 40% last year with rising output from Indonesia and China, where producers were seen applying to become listed brand on the exchanges.

LME copper CMCU3 dipped 0.1% to $8,487 a ton, aluminium CMAL3 shed 0.4% to $2,219, zinc CMZN3 edged lower 0.1% at $2,424.50, tin CMSN3 dipped 0.1% to $26,530 while lead CMPB3 gained 0.4% to $2,066.50.

SHFE copper SCFcv1 edged 0.3% higher at 68,970 yuan a ton, zinc SZNcv1 increased 0.4% to 20,630 yuan, aluminium SAFcv1 rose 0.8% to 18,985 yuan, lead SPBcv1 was 0.2% higher at 15,980 yuan and tin SSNcv1 little moved at 218,270 yuan.

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($1 = 7.1966 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Siyi Liu and Andrew Hayley; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

((Siyi.Liu@thomsonreuters.com;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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