Metal prices: record levels in 2006—outlook for 2007

Nickel and lead prices reached record levels at the end of 2006 and tin hit the $10,000 mark for the first time since 1989, as a result of strong demand, falling stocks and limited supplies.

Nickel even reached $35,000 a tonne on the London Metal Exchange (LME), the leading metal market in the world, its highest level since being listed in 1979.

Zinc has also been selling at peak prices since May 2006 but copper and aluminium, despite seeing the greatest volume of sales, have not kept up.
This new growth coincides with LME Week in London. Investors will be watching closely because the event traditionally turns up forecasts of base metal prices.

Most analysts are predicting that the high prices for these metals will continue into the second half of 2007 with limited supply and high demand from China.
Nickel is benefiting from the demand for rust resistance, its primary use, and the falling stocks on the LME, down by about 90% since the start of 2006.

Supply has barely improved and the low LME stocks have pushed prices towards new records, say analysts who also believe that stainless steel production is not likely to fall in the near future.
This graph shows the price of Nickel in dollars and euros per tonne.

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