Nickel surplus likely to jump, says top Japanese producer

Japan's top nickel producer, Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. (TYO:5713),  is predicting a glut in the supply of the metal.

Bloomberg reports a global nickel surplus may soar in 2012 to the highest in four years as Europe’s debt crisis and a sluggish U.S. economy cuts demand:

Supply will likely exceed demand by 54,000 metric tons in 2012, the biggest surplus since 2008, said Toru Higo, Sumitomo Metal Mining Co.’s general manager of nickel sales and raw materials. Demand outstripped supply by 63,000 tons last year, the first deficit since 2006, before moving to a surplus of 11,000 tons this year, Higo said.

Nickel, used for corrosion resistance in stainless steel, is the worst performing metal on the London Metals Exchange, with prices falling 25% this year.