LONDON: Aluminium and zinc prices rose on Tuesday as worries about supply disruptions due to prolonged high power prices spurred buying, but gains were capped by a higher dollar and the fast spreading Omicron coronavirus variant.
Benchmark aluminium on the London Metal Exchange was up 1.1% at $2,839 a tonne at 1034 GMT having gained more than 40% last year, while zinc gained 0.5% to $3,553 after a rise of 28% in 2021.
"The power story and shortages (of aluminium and zinc) are going to be with us for a while," a metal industry source said. "Inventories are already low and more metal is due to leave (LME-registered) warehouses."
Power: Milder than usual wind speeds in Europe and less electricity generated by wind turbines worsened a crunch last year that sent power prices to record highs as utilities had to buy more coal and scarce, costly, natural gas.
"There is still plenty of uncertainty for the European gas and power market, an implication of this is that it will be very difficult for energy-intensive users to secure a competitive power deal going forward," ING analyst Wenyu Yao said. "The impact may last long beyond the 2021/2022 winter season."
Asia: High power prices and disruptions were already a problem in China, before Indonesia, the top exporter of the coal used in power plants and China's largest overseas supplier, banned exports for January.
Dollar: A higher US currency makes metals priced in dollars more expensive for holders of other currencies, which could subdue demand.
Inventories: Aluminium stocks at 934,375 tonnes in LME warehouses are down more than 60% since the middle of March and zinc stocks at 199,325 tonnes have fallen more than 30% since April.
Nickel: Stocks of nickel at 101,256 tonnes have also fallen more than 60% since April. Cancelled warrants -- metal earmarked for delivery -- at 47% suggest another 47,000 tonnes will soon leave LME warehouses.
Three-month nickel climbed 0.6% at $20,880 tonnes.
Other Metals: Copper slipped 0.9% to $9,635 a tonne, lead was down 0.4% to $2,295 and tin fell 0.2% to $38,795.