Nickel is on a downward slide that may be greased up by slick oil prices and scaled-back production that could halt growth in exchange traded funds (ETFs) for the time being.

This year, there has been a slump in nickel prices of around 30%, which are blamed on rising prices of oil and the sharp fall in metals prices. Rising costs have forced many plants to halt temporarily or shut down, but these actions do not seem to have any impact on flooring a drop in the price of the metal.

Elisabeth Behrmann for The Wall Street Journal reports that producers of nickel, as well as zinc, are most at risk for becoming uneconomical due to massive price cuts and higher costs. Giant BHP Billiton has shut down a plant in Kalgoorlie, Australia, because falling nickel prices made its operations unprofitable.

While probably most commonly thought of as a component in the coin, nickel has a wide range of uses in building and construction, engineering, electricity and transportation.

  • iPath Dow Jones AIG Nickel TR Sub-Index (JJN), down 22.2% year-to-date

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.