Nickel prices have touched their lowest since October last year, pulled down by worries about a supply surplus in 2019 and weaker demand from China, the largest consumer of the metal.
Most other base metal prices also fell sharply on concerns that US-China trade talks next week could fail, leading to weaker economic growth.
Adding to the bearish mood for nickel was news that German chemicals giant BASF plans to use less of the metal in its electric car batteries. Electric vehicles have been touted as a major new source of demand.
Benchmark nickel on the London Metal Exchange closed down 0.5 per cent at $US10,915 a tonne after touching a 13-month low of $US10,735. It fell 3.9 per cent this week.
The most active nickel contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange settled 2.2 per cent lower on Friday and down 5.8 per cent this week.
‘I heard some Chinese investors are shooting (down) the nickel price. They think nickel production in Indonesia will bring the market into surplus next year, and demand for stainless will be bad,’ CRU analyst Peter Peng said, adding that they expected the nickel price to fall to about $US8,000.
Expectations of a supply avalanche hitting the nickel market next year due to new capacity in Indonesia have sent prices down more than 15 per cent since September.
US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are expected to hold talks during the G20 summit next week.
Shanghai equities fell by the most in five weeks on Friday and the yuan weakened, making dollar-priced metals more expensive for Chinese buyers.
Germany’s BASF has a new recipe for electric car batteries which cuts the nickel content by more than half and uses more manganese.
China’s October scrap metal imports fell to their lowest since at least 2014 amid tightening regulations on waste imports.
Arrivals of scrap copper last month fell to 170,000 tonnes from 200,000 tonnes in September and scrap aluminium imports fell to 90,000 tonnes from 100,000 tonnes.
China’s exports of aluminium raw ingredient alumina meanwhile soared in October to their highest since at least 2014 at 460,072 tonnes.
The global tin market is expected to move into a surplus of 500 tonnes next year from a 7,500-tonne deficit in 2018, the International Tin Association said on Friday.
LME copper ended down 0.8 per cent at $US6,207 a tonne, aluminium finished up 0.1 per cent at $US1,949, zinc fell 2.4 per cent to $US2,519, lead slipped 1.3 per cent to $US1,968 and tin closed 2.3 per cent lower at $US18,800.