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Demand for EV-powering nickel is so high that one exchange had to halt trading

March 8, 2022, 10:39 PM UTC

The Russia-Ukraine conflict continued to cause havoc in markets on Tuesday, forcing the London Metal Exchange to halt trading in nickel after prices surged 110% to top $100,000 per tonne. 

The LME decided 110% was just too much.

“Following further unprecedented overnight increases in the 3-month nickel price, the LME has made the decision to suspend trading for, at minimum, the remainder of today (Tuesday 8 March 2022),” the exchange told members in a statement. “The current events are unprecedented. The suspension of the nickel market has created a number of issues for market participants which need to be addressed.”

The surge in nickel was due to short-covering by one of the world’s top producers, sources told Reuters. Buyers also rushed to secure the supplies on the day, which are crucial for electric-vehicle batteries and stainless steel.

Russia accounts for 11.3% of global nickel output, according to Rystad analysts Marina Bozkurt and Susan Zou, per Barron’s

Oil continues its march higher

With the war taking a huge international source of energy out of commission, oil prices continued to rise on Tuesday, with Brent crude oil prices topping $128 per barrel and WTI crude nearing $125. One-month gains in Brent crude, the international benchmark, are now over 40%.

Billionaire “bond king” Jeffrey Gundlach warned oil prices could move even higher to top $200 per barrel in an interview with Magnifi Media this week.

“I’m going to say $200 a barrel. I think oil is going to get there,” Gundlach said. “Historically, oil shocks have led to demand destruction that causes recessions. We’re going to start hearing the word stagflation a lot more.” 

Oil’s surge led regular unleaded gas prices to hit $4.17 on Tuesday, according to the American Automobile Association, a 10 cent jump over Monday’s pricing.

Volatility in stocks

The S&P 500 ended the day down 0.72% after having jumped as much as 2% on the day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq followed suit, giving back gains to end the day down 0.56% and 0.28%, respectively.

Caterpillar, up 6.7%, and Chevron, up 5.2%, led the day for the Dow Jones, while Coca-Cola and Procter and Gamble both fell nearly 4% on the day. The soft-drinks company was one of the relatively few that had continued to do business in Russia until Tuesday, but it followed McDonald’s suspension of Russian business in the morning by ceasing operations in the afternoon.

Airbnb led the Nasdaq on Tuesday, rising over 8%, and solar firms Enphase Energy and SolarEdge led the S&P, rising over 10% on the day.

Commodities and Crypto

Gold prices jumped 3% on Tuesday, continuing their move above $2000 per oz. amid Russia-Ukraine tensions, while Bitcoin passed $38,500 for the day.

Wheat futures earned a mild reprieve, falling roughly 1% after hitting a 14 year high on Monday. Soybean and Coffee futures jumped nearly 2% and 4%, respectively and lean hogs rose 2.64% on the day.

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