This Morning in Metals: Aluminum prices boom to close first week of 2022

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This morning in metals news: aluminum prices have surged this week; U.S. nonfarm payroll employment rose by 199,000 in December; and, lastly, electricity prices surged throughout 2021, in large part on the back of rising natural gas prices.

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Aluminum prices surge

aluminum price

Grispb/Adobe Stock

Aluminum prices are on the ascent once again.

The LME three-month aluminum price peaked back in October, reaching as high as $3,200 per metric ton, according to MetalMiner Insights data.

After falling to just over $2,500 per metric ton in early November, aluminum prices traded largely sideways for the next month.

Since mid-December, however, aluminum prices have surged. LME three-month aluminum closed Wednesday at $2,923 per metric ton, its highest in over two months. The price is up 13.05% month over month.

US adds 199K jobs

U.S. nonfarm payroll employment rose by 199,000 in December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

The number follows an addition of 210,000 jobs in November.

Furthermore, the unemployment rate dipped to 3.9%.

Employment in manufacturing rose by 26,000 in December after gains averaged 38,000 per month the previous three months.

Mining employment rose by 7,000. However, employment in the sector is down by 81,000 from its January 2019 peak.

Electricity costs surge

Rising natural gas prices contributed to surging U.S. electricity costs in 2021, the Energy Information Administration noted.

“Average wholesale prices for electricity at major trading hubs in the United States were higher in 2021 than in 2020 as increasing costs for power generation fuels, especially natural gas, pushed electricity prices higher in the second half of 2021,” the EIA reported. “Constraints on electricity supply as a result of cold weather in the central United States also created price spikes in February 2021.”

Natural gas prices rose from $3.19 per million British thermal units to around $5.04 MMBtu in Q4 2021, the EIA reported.

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