Aluminum price near 10-year high on China’s export momentum

Aluminum ingots. (Image courtesy of Rio Tinto).

Aluminum price surged on Wednesday as Chinese trade data buoyed the outlook for demand.

The most-traded May aluminum contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose as much as 2.7% to 18,045 yuan ($2,760.53) a tonne, its highest since August 2011, before retreating to close up 1.8% at 17,895 yuan a tonne.

Aluminum for delivery in June was up 1% on Wednesday after futures touched $2.339 a tonne on the Comex market in New York.

[Click here for interactive aluminum price chart]

China’s export momentum remained strong in March after record gains in February.

“Data do indicate that China still has a considerable appetite for commodities,” Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann said in a note.

Aluminum demand is rising just as China’s push to cut carbon emissions spurs expectations that aluminum-supply expansions will be curbed.

Speculation that aluminum output in the Xinjiang region in China is to be restricted also saw open interest in aluminum contracts on the Shanghai Futures Exchange “expanding,” Marex’s Alastair Munro told Bloomberg.

However, a Xinjiang metals association official told Reuters it was not true that the region was implementing the same curbs as Inner Mongolia.

“Aluminum was supported by fears of further supply constraints in China. Recent curbs on energy-intensive industry has seen the expansion of aluminum capacity in China curbed,” said ANZ in a note.

China’s research house Antaike expected the Chinese aluminum market to be in a 100,000-tonne deficit this year.

Combined aluminum inventories in LME and ShFE warehouses have fallen in recent sessions but the current stockpiles of 2.23 million tonnes were still 43% higher than at the beginning of the year.

(With files from Bloomberg and Reuters)