Sunday 9 February 2020 3:58 pm

London Metal Exchange under pressure to investigate nickel market

The centre of metal trading in the City is under pressure to investigate the nickel market after it was hit by a supply shock late last year. 

Stockpiles of the commodity plunged late last year while prices hit a four-year high after Indonesia, the world’s largest nickel producer, brought forward a ban on exports. 

Organisations including the European steel association Eurofer are urging the London Metal Exchange and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to investigate the nickel market, the Sunday Telegraph reported. 

The LME — which houses the last open outcry trading pit in Europe, where traders shout their bids and offers — has asked members for details of nickel trades but declined to comment on the findings or whether it would launch an inquiry. 

A spokesperson for the LME said: “We actively monitor our market in respect of member and client activity and have robust procedures in place to ensure that any evidence of misconduct will result in appropriate action.”

“The LME cannot comment on any current or potential future investigations,” they added. 

Nickel is a key ingredient for stainless steel, and is increasingly used in the production of batteries for electric cars. 

One industry executive quoted by the Telegraph said steel producers felt they were subject to artificially high prices for the commodity, and were now losing patience with LME’s “silence” on the matter. 

The FCA declined to comment on the reports. Eurofer could not be reached for comment.