Nickel hit its weakest since January, leading London metals lower as concerns over rising trade tensions between China and the United States benefited the dollar.
Benchmark nickel ended down 2.5 per cent at $US12,470 per tonne on Tuesday, having touched its lowest since January 19 at $US12,375.
The metal logged its fifth straight session of declines.
US President Donald Trump said he was prepared to ramp up the trade war by imposing tariffs on $200 billion more of Chinese imports as soon as a public comment period on the plan ends this week.
‘Market participants are waiting on the sideline for more comments from Trump probably announcing new tariffs on Chinese imports,’ said Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann.
Meanwhile, emerging market currencies have been hit as investors feared these export-oriented economies would be caught in the middle of any escalating trade conflict.
Prices are ‘weighed down by an increase in nickel ore inventory at China and rising stainless steel inventory,’ Argonaut Securities wrote in a note.
There are market expectations that the city of Tangshan, China’s leading steelmaking hub, could introduce new output cuts in September to curb harmful emissions, which have buoyed priced for Shanghai rebar steel.
Meanwhile, the city of Binzhou in eastern China’s Shandong province, home to top aluminium producer China Hongqiao Group, is planning five new projects to support development of a high-end aluminium industry, according to a local government document.
Elsewhere, a vote by striking workers at Alcoa’s giant west Australian operations will close on Thursday, with the union anticipating a strong ‘no’ vote that could prolong the four-week old strike.
Copper eased 2.5 per cent to $US5,815 per tonne on Tuesday, while aluminium fell 1.7 per cent to $US2,062, zinc slipped 1.9 per cent to $US2,416, lead fell 2.1 per cent to $US2,076.50, while tin inched 0.1 per cent lower to $US18,825.