It was a big day for the uranium market on Friday, with the governor of Japan's Kagoshima prefecture granting approval for the restart of two reactors at the Sendai nuclear power plant. While that doesn't necessarily account for the overnight spike in the price of uranium, the governor's approval is a major political milestone in the restart of the first reactors in Japan. With all local approvals now passed, all that is left is for operational checks to be passed by Japan's Nuclear Regulatory Authority. Once that has been accomplished, Kyushu Electric Power Company (TSE: 9508), which owns the plant, can flip the switches and restart the units. As mentioned, the uranium price has been riding shotgun to the news from Japan. Overnight the spot price jumped the most since the intense volatility following Fukushima. Climbing to its highest in 16 months, it jumped US$1.44 to land at $39.25 per pound of U3O8. Since June, the spot price is up an impressive 39 percent. As Raymond James analyst David Sadowski highlights in a research note to clients, "[t]his move is likely a result not of the restart approvals, but rather a resurgence in nuclear utility buying interest - we are hearing that several utilities are in the market looking for supply." More contracts in the new year Given utilities' need for supply, the market should prepare itself for a new wave of contracts in 2015. That's important because a large factor in depressing uranium prices has been the absenteeism of utility companies since late 2012. As Sadowski notes in his report, "more buying with Japan less of a dumping threat, combined with reduced spot supplies should squeeze the market and continue to put upward pressure on prices."
Sadowski also states that recent reductions in spot supply have contributed to a need for utilities to get back into the game.What about companies? As with all good news, it should be spread around. Not only have reactors gotten the go ahead and prices picked up, but equities were also in the green on Friday. Companies made gains across the board that day, with major player Cameco (TSX:CCO) raking in an 11-percent increase, while Uranium Participation (TSX:U) was boosted 6 percent. Uranium developer Denison Mines (TSX:DML) traded 20 percent higher at $1.25. New producers Uranerz (TSX:URZ) and Ur-Energy (TSX:URE) were up 17 and 16 percent, respectively. On the junior front, Friday's biggest gainers included Azincourt Uranium (TSXV:AAZ), which saw its share price increase 66 percent; the company ended the day up 2 cents at $0.05. NexGen Energy (TSXV:NXE) and Kivalliq (TSXV:KIV) also saw share price increases, trading 15 percent and 8 percent higher, respectively. If Sadowski is correct, it's possible that the market will see higher prices — and further company success — into 2015. Securities Disclosure: I, Vivien Diniz, hold no investment interest in any of the companies mentioned. Uranium Price Jumps Most in 16 Months; Japan Approves Reactors from Uranium Investing News