The April Aluminum Monthly Metals Index (MMI) held steady this month, again coming in at a value of 88.
Within the MetalMiner IndX(™) aluminum price basket, Korean semi-finished aluminum prices weakened the index score again this month, while the LME price fell by 0.2%.
However, semi-finished products from other regions showed more pricing strength despite flat LME prices. European commercial 1050 sheet led the basket with a 1.5% increase. Chinese aluminum billet and bar prices both increased by around 1%.
After gaining some momentum early in the year, LME aluminum prices continued to move sideways this month, ending the month of March at $1,911 compared to $1,905 on the last day of February.
LME aluminum prices continue to move sideways below the long-term resistance point of $1,970 into early April. Over the course of the year, the price seemed set to rise, then intermittent short-term sideways pricing dominated the trendline, keeping prices more or less flat since February.
Still, the pricing lows rose, and the price hit a 2019 high later in March when the closing price peaked at $1,940/mt.
The monthly pricing peak coincided with a cyber attack on Norweigian aluminum maker Norsk Hydro, which took operations down for a brief time. Subsequently, operations decreased to 50% for a while, with continued constraints on production (which has returned to around 90% of pre-attack levels).
SHFE prices showed a little more momentum this month with shallower lows, rising back to values not reached since the end of December 2018.
Still, weakness pervaded overall upward momentum and prices stayed within the longer-term sideways trend.
Midwest Aluminum Premium
The U.S. Midwest Premium held at the historic high of $0.19/pound during March.
What This Means for Industrial Buyers
With some moderate fluctuations in price, on top of the overall sideways trend, now is the time to watch the market carefully for buying opportunities.
Once the market shows very clear directional momentum, buying strategies may need to undergo further strategic consideration (keeping in mind that the U.S. Midwest Premium remains high).
For more specific pricing guidance related to aluminum and aluminum products, buying organizations may want to request a free trial to our Monthly Metal Buying Outlook.
Actual Metal Prices and Trends
LME aluminum prices continued to trend sideways, while SHFE prices showed a little more momentum and Korean prices fell across the board.
Semi-finished products within the MetalMiner IndX(™) increased this month, suggesting tightness in the segment of product type (likely due to the high Midwest Premium).