This Morning in Metals: U.S. housing starts jump in December

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This morning in metals news: privately owned housing starts in the U.S. ticked up by 5.8%, according to the Census Bureau; new COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are impacting China’s major steel-producing region; and the primary aluminum market posted a surplus through the first 11 months of 2020.

Housing starts jump in December

Privately owned housing starts in the U.S. reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.67 million December, the Census Bureau reported today.

The figure marked a 5.8% increase from November.

Furthermore, the Census Bureau estimated a total of 1.38 million housing starts in 2020, a 7.0% year-over-year increase.

Meanwhile, single-family housing starts in December rose 12.0% to a rate of 1.34 million. In addition, the December rate for units in buildings with five units or more reached 312,000.

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Lockdowns impact Hebei province

Hebei province is home to the heart of China’s massive steel-producing sector.

According to CNBC, a new surge of COVID-19 cases in the province have produced transport restrictions.

Aluminum surplus

The global aluminum market posted a surplus during the first 11 months of 2020, the World Bureau of Metal Statistics (WBMS) reported.

The surplus reached 2,081 kt during the period, up from 448 kt in 2019.

Meanwhile, aluminum demand reached 59.11 million tonnes, down 583 kt year over year.

In addition, global aluminum production during the aforementioned period rose 2% year over year, according to the WBMS.

After rising throughout much of 2020, the aluminum price has retreated over the past couple of weeks.

The LME three-month aluminum price reached $2,068 per metric ton Jan. 6. Since then, the price has declined, falling to $1,977 per metric ton Wednesday.

The LME three-month aluminum price is down 2.3% over the last month.

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