Nickel Trading Halted After Price Doubles

By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 8, 2022 3:47 PM CST
Markets Close Lower After US Bans Russian Oil
In this photo provided by the New York Stock Exchange, a trader works on the floor, Tuesday, March 8, 2022.   (Courtney Crow/New York Stock Exchange via AP)

Stocks ended lower after another day of yo-yoing between gains and losses after crude oil prices rose anew as the US banned imports from Russia. The price of nickel surged so much that trading for the metal was shut on Tuesday as the economic fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to rock markets, the AP reports. Wide swings have become common as investors struggle to guess how high oil prices will go, and how much they’ll weigh on the economy and further stoke inflation. The S&P 500 fell 30.39 points, or 0.7%, to 4,170.70. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 184.74 points, or 0.6%, to 32,632.64. The Nasdaq fell 35.41 points, or 0.3%, to 12,795.55.

Trading in nickel was suspended Tuesday on the London Metal Exchange after prices doubled to an unprecedented $100,000 per metric ton. Nickel is used mostly to produce stainless steel and some alloys, but increasingly it is used in batteries, particularly electric vehicle batteries. Russia is the world’s third-biggest nickel producer, and the Russian mining company Nornickel is a major supplier of the high-grade nickel that is used in electric vehicles. Oil has surged on worries global supplies will be disrupted because Russia is one of the world’s largest energy producers. After President Biden’s announcement of the Russian oil ban, the price of a barrel of US crude rose 3.6% to settle at $123.70. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 3.9% to $127.98.

But oil prices did not climb as high as they did a day earlier, when worries flared about a possible ban and US oil's price touched $130.50. As oil pared its gains following Biden's announcement, stocks also trimmed their losses. The surprising reactions may have been a result of the big moves that markets already made a day earlier, in anticipation of the announcement, says Nate Thooft, chief investment officer of multi-asset solutions at Manulife Investment Management. "You've seen the sanctions ramp up, but in the eyes of the market, that’s old news," says Thooft, who expects the market swings to continue. "Now that it's happened, and a lot of selling has already occurred, the market asks, ‘Who else is going to sell?’ and you have people buy into the market," he says. (More stock market stories.)

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