By Katherine Dunn

Copper and nickel prices edged higher on Monday, erasing some of Friday's losses as concerns over potential supply disruptions dogged both metals.

Copper for March delivery closed up 1.4% at $2.6515 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Nickel was up 2.2% at $10,450 a metric ton onthe London Metal Exchange.

On Friday, workers at the Escondida mine in Chile, the world's largest copper mine, moved to start mediated talks with the mine's management over pay, which are expected to continue this week. The mine is owned by BHP Billiton Ltd.

Copper traders have also been watching a dispute in Indonesia between mining giant Freeport-McMoRan Inc., which restated last week that it would need to make cuts to its operations at the Grasberg copper mine by midmonth if the company doesn't receive an export license from the government.

The metal was also getting a boost from speculative appetite, Commerzbank said in a note.

"First and foremost, however, it is speculative financial investors who have driven up the copper price," the bank said. In the week to Jan. 31, the net-long position on copper on the Comex in New York gained 11%, it noted.

On Monday, nickel rose after the Philippines government ordered the closure of23 mines and suspended operations at an additional five mines. The mining ban counts for about half of the country's nickel output.

A bullish picture of economic growth is also helping metals, Alastair Munro, an analyst at Marex Spectron, said in a note. That includes a strong set of earnings so far this season, Mr. Munro said, helping gains on equities and lending support to the complex.

"That's before we even mention potential supply disruptions in the likes of copper and nickel," Mr. Munro noted.

Shuli Ren and Ira Iosebashvili contributed to this article.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 06, 2017 17:12 ET (22:12 GMT)

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