Nickel trading in London has been halted again, due to a technical issue.
The London Metal Exchange said it halted nickel trading to investigate a potential technical issue with its limit down band and will provide an update as soon as possible.
The LME’s three-month nickel contract hit its lower trading limit of 5% when it reopened today, after wild swings in prices forced a rare market shutdown last week.
European shares rise, rouble edges higher ahead of bond payment
European stock markets have got off to a good start. The FTSE 100 index in London is 90 points ahead at 7,264, a 1.2% gain. The French and Italian markets rose more than 2%, while Spain’s Ibex opened 1.7% higher.
While fighting in Ukraine continues, the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said peace talks between Ukrainian and Russian negotiators looked more realistic, but more time was needed.
The meetings continue, and I am informed, the positions during the negotiations already sound more realist. But time is still needed for the decisions to be in the interests of Ukraine.
The Russian rouble, which has tanked since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, edged up 1.6% to 108.31 per dollar.
Russia needs to make $117m in bond interest payments today, on two dollar-denominated Eurobonds. Its finance ministry has said it will make the payments in roubles if sanctions prevent it from paying in dollars – a move that markets would regard as a debt default.
The Moscow stock markets remains largely closed by order of the central bank, for the rest of the week. Stocks last traded in Moscow on 25 February. Last week, Russia’s central bank banned selling of dollars and euros in banking branches, in another step to protect foreign currency liquidity held by local banks, as western sanctions have largely cut the country off from the global financial system.
Nickel trading in London has resumed after it was suspended a week ago, with limits on price moves introduced after wild swings triggered a rate market shutdown.
The London Metal Exchange has introduced a 5% limit on nickel price moves. Some traders said they remained cautious and would wait to see how things worked out, according to Reuters.
The LME suspended nickel trading only for the second time in its 145-year history on 8 March, and extended deadlines for those with obligations to deliver physical metal against its contracts.
The price of nickel, which is used to make stainless steel and is a key component of electric vehicle batteries, had already been rising before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent prices soaring. Russia accounts for 10% of global nickel production and traders have been worried that western sanctions on Moscow could disrupt supplies.
The trading band today will be $45,674 to $50,482, based on the closing price on 7 March. The LME has said that it will move to a 15% limit similar to the one imposed on other base metals this week for the first time, once the nickel market gets back to normal.
Introduction: Fed to hike rates for first time since 2018
Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.
European stock markets managed to claw back some losses yesterday, helped by a decline in oil prices below $100 a barrel at one stage, which eased fears that an energy price spiral will damage the global economic recovery from Covid-19, while US markets finished strong higher. Ongoing peace talks between Ukrainian and Russian negotiators also helped calm markets.
Today is a big day for the US economy, with the latest retail sales figures for February to be released ahead of the latest interest rate decision for the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee, America’s central bank.
With US inflation running at 7.9% and likely to head higher, it is all but certain that we will see an interest rate hike of 0.25%, which will push the Fed funds rate range off zero and up to a range of 0.25% to 0.50%. It would be the first rate rise since 2018.
Meanwhile, Russia is due to make two interest payments on bonds today, and there is talk that it could default – however it will have a 30-day grace period to make the coupon payments.
Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK said:
European markets look set to open higher this morning, however any rally is likely to find itself pushing against the headwinds of headlines out of Ukraine, as well as the prospect that Russia might default on a bond payment later today. A $117m interest payment is due today on a US dollar bond. Russia has said it will pay in roubles which would start the clock ticking on a potential default.
Asian stock markets ralliedwith Japan’s Nikkei closing 1.6% higher and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng surging 8.8%, while the Shanghai Composite Index added 3.5% on hopes of more economic stimulus in China.
Markets bounced back from the previous day’s heavy losses, sparked by rising Covid-19 infections in China and fading expectations for an interest rate cut by the People’s Bank of China. Shanghai issued a working from home directive on Wednesday, while Chinese health authorities reported a slight drop in new Covid cases compared to the previous day.
- 9am GMT: International Energy Agency oil market report
- 12.30pm GMT: US Retail sales for February (forecast: 0.4% monthly rise)
- 6pm GMT: US Federal Reserve interest rate decision and economic projections
- 6.30pm GMT: US Fed press conference