NICKEL PRICES SOAR BECAUSE OF NEW CALEDONIA STRIKE

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LONDON, England (November 6, 1998 - AFP)---Nickel prices rose sharply on the London Metal Exchange Friday as speculators snapped up contracts because of on-going strike action at the Eramet mines in New Caledonia.

Three-month nickel prices rose by US$ 125 to US$ 4,297.50 a ton.

Dealers said that the strike had seriously disrupted production at important mines on the Pacific island of New Caledonia.

The strike attracted speculators to the market, which in turn unleashed technical trades, which took the metal higher.

One analyst said that prices also gained from reports that global demand for stainless steel, an important outlet for the metal, may be "greater than expected" in the future and from expected delays in opening new Australian mining projects.

Most other base metals followed nickel higher.

Michael J Field Agence France-Presse Auckland, New Zealand TEL: (64 21) 688-438 FAX: (64 21) 694-035 E-Mail: afp.nz@clear.net.nz WWW: http://www.afp.com/english/

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