Smith Barney Citigroup’s commodity specialists pointed out in December the price performance of nickel had simply stunned the market with the spot price reaching 20 year highs and global demand for the metal proving surprisingly resilient.
In line with views held by the majority of market experts, Citigroup flagged in December the year 2007 was likely to bring some relief to steel manufacturers and other end users of the metal. However, thus far, and the January carnage included, nickel has remained on top of the metals class.
It would seem the metal has now created a great divide within the investment community, placing commodity experts at JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank opposite each other.
To JP Morgan all this is simply the prelude to a gigantic correction in a not too distant future. UK based Jon Bergtheil predicted this week: “Nickel’s fall will be worse than the pace copper has seen”. Bergtheil talks about an “over-inflated” market and investors should better prepare for a price fall in the order of 25% this year (“at least” according to the JPM specialist).
Others are not necessarily on par with the JP Morgan view. At Deutsche Bank, analyst Michael Lewis, has thus far kept the metal as his favourite pick among industrial metals. Lewis maintained in early January producers simply cannot keep up with global demand for the metal.
Interestingly, GSJB Were commodity analyst Malcolm Southwood and his two UK colleagues Paul Gray and Marc Bonter refrained from any comment on the nickel market in their update on metals markets this week. The team took the effort to reiterate its positive view on copper, despite that metal continuing to feel the pain of hedge fund selling.
Meanwhile, last week’s main victim of unexpected market selling pressure, zinc, has started to recover from what has already been dubbed “the largest weekly drop in at least 17 years”.
Investors can maybe draw solace from a Macquarie update informing the bank’s clientele “the zinc market will remain relatively tight in the first half and we expect a bounce in pricing, although not to levels we saw last year”.
Again, GSJBW preferred not to comment.