Aluminum price surges to 9-year high on Chinese supply concerns

(Image by Rio Tinto)

Aluminum prices rose to a near 9-1/2-year high on Wednesday, buoyed by concerns of supply cuts in China, the world’s biggest user and producer of the metal.

Aluminum for delivery in May was up 1% on Wednesday, with futures touching $2.237 a tonne on the Comex market in New York.

The most-traded April aluminum contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange climbed as much as 4.2% to 17,640 yuan ($2,728.62) a tonne, hovering near its highest level since August 2011 of 17,695 yuan a tonne it last hit on Feb. 26.

[Click here for interactive aluminum price chart]

Investors were jittery ahead of China’s annual meeting of parliament, known as the “two sessions,” which kicks off in Beijing this week, where China will announce goals for 2021 as well as its next five-year plan for economic development.

“Decarbonisation and moving to the carbon neutral target will be a key focus at the two sessions in Beijing this week so that’s why aluminum and steel would be in the spotlight because they are energy intensive industries,” Xiao Fu, head of commodity market strategy at Bank of China International told Reuters.

China’s Inner Mongolia, a major aluminum producing region, will stop reviewing new projects in industries that consume large amounts of energy, including aluminum, as it attempts to meet energy efficiency targets.

“But we need to see the broader trend in China’s policies. Inner Mongolia is only one province so we also need to see whether other key aluminum producing regions such as Shandong or Xinjiang are doing something similar,” Fu added.

“Aluminum supplies are already tight … every physical customer is asking around for aluminum warrants at the moment,” a Singapore-based trader told Reuters.

Anti-dumping

The US Commerce Department on Tuesday issued final anti-dumping duties on common alloy aluminum sheet from 18 countries investigated, including up to 242.8% on imports from Germany.

The anti-dumping case and a companion anti-subsidy countervailing duty case were initiated under the Trump administration in March 2020. Common alloy aluminum sheet is a flat-rolled product used in building facades and truck trailer bodies to street signs.

Germany had the highest anti-dumping rate, ranging from 49.4% to 242.8%, and the largest exports of aluminum sheet to the United States, with $286.6 million worth in 2019.

Bahrain, second with $241.2 million worth of aluminum sheet exported to the United States, received a 4.83% anti-dumping duty rate and an anti-subsidy rate of up to 6.44%.

“There has been a revival in investment in US domestic production of common alloy sheet. The key question…is whether the domestic increase in common alloy production is sufficient to offset potentially lower imports,” Wood Mackenzie’s principal analyst Uday Patel told Reuters.

“Aluminum demand is expanding rapidly in the United States at the moment and we expect the stimulus to further push demand growth for common alloy sheet over the next two years,” Patel said, adding that imports will likely continue despite the duties.

(With files from Reuters)

More News