November 17, 2017 / 11:58 AM / a year ago

METALS-Nickel gains capped by caution over high inventories

* LME/SHFe arb:

* Copper and nickel both up but register weekly decline (Adds closing prices, adds VW spending plan)

By Zandi Shabalala

LONDON, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Nickel and copper led the base metals complex higher on Friday, supported by a softer dollar, though both metals ended the week lower.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange closed 0.6 percent up at $6,777 a tonne but was off by half a percent on the week. Nickel added 1.8 percent to $11,5720, but ended the week with a 4.4 percent decline.

Nickel, mainly used in stainless steel, rallied to a two-year high this month on its expected use in electric vehicles, but prices have since pulled back because of high inventories.

ING commodities strategist Warren Patterson said the base metals complex was undergoing a price correction, with help from Friday’s weaker dollar.

“The nickel market got a bit ahead of itself, rallying as much as it did, given that we still have a lot of inventory to draw down before it becomes an overly bullish story,” he added.

INVENTORIES: On-warrant inventories of copper MCUSTX-TOTAL — those not earmarked for delivery — fell by 6,925 tonnes to 148,250 after fresh cancellations.

On-warrant nickel stocks fell by 7,302 tonnes to 246,504 tonnes. That helped prices on the day, but they are still flat on the year.

EV DEMAND: Wood Mackenzie analysts estimate nickel demand in electric vehicle (EV) batteries will rise to about 220,000 tonnes in 2025 from about 40,000 tonnes last year.

DEMAND: Volkswagen will spend 34 billion euros ($40 billion) on electric cars, autonomous driving and new mobility services by the end of 2022, it said on Friday.

DOLLAR: The dollar index slipped to a four-week low after the Wall Street Journal reported that investigators looking at possible Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election had subpoenaed President Donald Trump’s election campaign for documents.

COPPER TECHNICALS: The next major support for copper is $6,675 a tonne with resistance into $6,850, Marex Spectron said in a note.

COPPER: A fire broke out at the main port used by copper miner Freeport-McMoRan Inc in Papua, Indonesia, on Thursday night, the company said, adding that the incident would not affect shipments.

Villagers near the Freeport mine were evacuated after a string of shootings.

BHP BILLITON: The world’s biggest mining company BHP Billiton is seeking a buyer for its nickel business in Australia, it said on Thursday.

ALUMINIUM: Aluminium ended the session and the week barely changed at $2,103 a tonne, having shed almost 4 percent last week.

Expected capacity cuts in China and falling inventories in LME-approved warehouses have helped to push up aluminium prices by 24 percent this year.

PRICES: Lead closed 1.2 percent up at $2,432 a tonne, tin rose 0.6 percent to $19,475 and zinc finished with a 1.1 percent gain at $3,179.

Additional reporting by James Regan IN SYDNEY; Editing by David Goodman

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