Metals: The Big Nickel Shortage

Nickel, the lowly metal commonly associated with the U.S. 50 piece, has become a philosopher's stone for speculators. On the London Metal Exchange, the main international market, a pound of nickel last week brought $7.70 —about five times more than a year ago. The price was bid to incredible levels by the worst global shortage since World War II.

The immediate cause of the scarcity was a four-month strike at International Nickel Co., which mines well over half of the West's nickel, mostly from the ore fields at Sudbury, Ont. Last week union negotiators and Inco reached a tentative but...

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