Gold Above $2,000 on Safe-Haven Appeal; Nickel up Over 20 Percent

Gold Above $2,000 on Safe-Haven Appeal; Nickel up Over 20 Percent
Granules of 99.99 percent pure gold and silver are seen in glass jars at the Krastsvetmet non-ferrous metals plant, one of the world's largest producers in the precious metals industry, in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia, on Nov. 22, 2018. (Ilya Naymushin/Reuters)

Gold climbed to its highest in one-and-half years on Monday and palladium hit an all-time high on safe-haven asset appeal, while nickel soared over 20 percent on fears of supply disruptions tied to sanctions on Russia and continued fighting in Ukraine.

Gold prices rose above $2,000 per ounce, palladium hit a record, LME 3-month nickel posted its largest ever one-day gain, and oil and wheat jumped to 14-year highs as Russia's escalating invasion of Ukraine continued to roil global commodities.

The searing rally in raw material prices has sparked concerns over economic growth in countries still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The saying goes that the best cure for high prices is high prices," said OANDA senior analyst Jeffrey Halley in a report.

"Unfortunately, in a stagflationary environment, that doesn't hold true. I suspect growth projections for 2022 around the world will need to be sharply revised lower, and it will be interesting to see what the central banks of the world will do."

Stagflation refers to countries that are experiencing a simultaneous increase in inflation and stalled economic output.

Spot gold was up 1 percent at $1,986.29 per ounce, as of 0520 GMT, after scaling to its highest since Aug. 19, 2020 at $2,000.69 earlier in the session.

Fighting stopped about 200,000 people from evacuating the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol for a second day in a row on Sunday, as Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to press ahead with his invasion unless Kyiv surrendered.

Holdings of the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust, rose 0.4 percent to 1,054.3 tonnes on Friday—their highest since mid-March 2021.

Palladium was up 5.6 percent at $3,170.49 per ounce, after hitting an all-time high of $3,172.22 earlier in the session.

Russia accounts for 40 percent of global production of the metal, used by automakers in catalytic converters to curb emissions.

Industrial metals also rose, led by strong gains in nickel which surged more than 20 percent as global supply chains tried to price in the possible absence of supplies from Russia, the third largest nickel producer.

Chinese ferrous futures also gained ground, with iron ore hitting a six-month high after a downbeat economic forecast over the weekend lifted expectations for more infrastructure spending in the world's second largest economy.

Oil prices soared more than 6 percent, touching their highest since 2008 as the United States and European allies mull a Russian oil import ban, and delays in the potential return of Iranian crude to global markets fuelled supply fears.

Brent crude rose $8.46, or 7.2 percent, to $126.57 a barrel by 0128 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose $7.65, or 6.6 percent, to $123.33.

Chicago wheat futures rose more than 5 percent, hitting a 14-year top as traders continued to assess the impact of potential off-limits supplies from Russia, the world's biggest wheat exporter, and curtailed output and shipments from Ukraine.

With Ukrainian ports closed and operators reluctant to trade Russian wheat in the face of Western financial sanctions, buyers are trying to find alternative suppliers.

By Naveen Thukral
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