Seems that somebody forgot to tell the automotive metals that the bear market was still going on this month. Strong aluminum and high-strength steel demand, and end-user purchases, have again made auto the standout in a field of mostly down markets.
After flattening in April, the monthly automotive MMI® registered a value of 87 in May, an increase of 2.4% from 85 in April. A big factor was the performance of aluminum coil on the index, as its index broke resistance and soared as well.
China removed export taxes on aluminum, opening more markets up to the automotive-grade sheet and coil prices that automakers in the West have been experimenting with for a decade now. Prices of palladium, lead and even copper also notched strong LME growth filling strong demand from domestic and foreign automakers.
Consumer Sales Rising
In the US market, April new car sales rose by 5% from a year ago, to more than 1.463 million units as predicted in a J.D. Power and LMC Automotive‘s mid-month auto sales forecast update. April’s totals are anticipated to be the highest since April 2005.
SUVs and smaller “crossover utility vehicles” were the main leaders in the sales surge. While not all US automakers posted strong Q1 results, profits were generally up even if they were up lower than some analysts expected. General Motors‘ results were better than in the same period a year ago, when costs associated with safety recalls limited quarterly profit to $125 million.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reported a profit of $101.2 million (€92 million) during the first quarter compared with a loss of $173 million (€190 million) during the same period last year.
What This Means for Automotive Buyers
Consumer demand for automobiles traditionally picks up in the summer months, so this could be the beginning of a big turnaround for our Automotive MMI®. Fundamentals continue to look strong as the index had better supply and demand numbers than other metals even when it was losing price ground. Stay tuned.
Actual Automotive Metal Prices
The price of Chinese lead reached $2,241 per metric ton after a 11.2% increase. US palladium bar reached $776.00 per ounce after a 5.9% increase for the month. On the LME, the 3-month price of copper climbed 3.3%, settling at $6,218 per metric ton. After rising 3.2%, the cash price of primary copper finished the month at $6,245 per metric ton on the LME.
Last month, Korean 5052 coil premium over 1050 sheet prices dropped by 2.0% to $3.65 per kilogram. The price of US HDG drifted 0.6% lower to $625.00 per short ton.
US platinum bar traded sideways last month, staying around $1,142 per ounce.
The Automotive MMI® collects and weights 7 metal price points used in automotive production to provide a unique view into automotive metal trends over a 30-day period. For more information on the Automotive MMI®, how it’s calculated or how your company can use the index, please drop us a note at: info (at) agmetalminer (dot) com.