By Chris Berry (@cberry1)
As contrarian opportunities go, nickel offers an interesting case study. Throughout much of 2014, nickel market participants were almost universally bullish based on the Indonesian government’s plan to ban exports of nickel-bearing laterite ore. Nickel ore exports from Indonesia account for approximately 15% of global supply, so any curtailment in exports would have a material effect on pricing. It was also believed that other metals including tin would follow suit.
As China, the main destination for global nickel supply, had no real options to satisfy its insatiable demand (the Philippines is an exporter but on a smaller scale), the belief was that upward price pressure on nickel would ensue. While there was a rally after the ban went into effect, it was not sustained.