aluminum price

Dressed in a slick, slim dark suit and a dark tie to match, the dynamic face and voice of Harbor Aluminum, Jorge Vazquez, dove into the day’s events by presenting an overview of how demographics and the economic cycle will affect aluminum markets — and aluminum prices.

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At last year’s Harbor Aluminum Outlook Conference, Jorge Vazquez and his team of highly qualified, hard-working data-and-trend-crunchers over at Harbor came together to offer a rather optimistic forecast for aluminum prices in 2012.

The conclusions they came to, based on “technical indicators, industry fundamentals, output economics and prime cycle analysis” put the price of aluminum in a range of $2,350 per ton to a whopping $3,200 per ton.

In the conference’s aftermath, after hearing Novelis’ Erwin Mayr speak, Lisa Reisman wrote here on the MetalMiner blog that “it becomes hard to come to any other conclusion than aluminum prices face far more upward price risk than downside price risk. Of course global economic meltdown, raw material supply constraints,warehousing games and hijinks played by the Big 3 triumvirate of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Glencore (The Wall Street Journal has an excellent primer on the subject right here) along with the dumping of 60m barrels of oil not withstanding, the picture painted by Novelis at the conference bodes well for aluminum consumption.”

Needless to say for many market watchers, aluminum producers and aluminum buyers, Lisa’s first sentence — not her last — is the one that has been truer for 2012 aluminum prices.

Source: MetalMiner IndX℠

LME prices have barely hit Harbor’s low-end of their aluminum price forecast, coming in March, but downward slides characterize most of 2012 so far: the year began sub-$2,000 per ton, rose then took a sharp drop at the end of January, then began a steady downward trend into the spring — flirting with the $2,300 per ton level before heading below $2,000 again the past several weeks.

Meanwhile, Chinese cash prices of aluminum have hardly broken outside the $2,500-$2,600 per ton range.

Global aluminum supply has not really seen the constraints necessary to rein in the price at all over the past quarter; in fact, aluminum LME inventory has jumped significantly in first few months of 2012. (For a more detailed rundown on why this is, check out MetalMiner’s analysis on the topic.)

Of course, global industrial demand has slowed to a nearly glacial pace, since China, India and the European Union have all had their separate and interrelated woes regarding growth slowdowns and debt concerns.

However, a pair of Goldman Sachs reports released yesterday pointed to better returns for investors. “Crude, gas, copper, aluminum and gold are the bank’s top picks,” according to Bloomberg. A separate report detailed a revised, lower forecast for aluminum — $2,200 a ton from $2,400 a ton — for the next three months.

Where to go from here? Will aluminum prices stay below the psychologically critical mark of $2,000 for much longer (as the LME price is this week so far?) Let’s see, as Harbor’s 2012 Outlook Conference begins its main day today.

Keep reading us here at all week, and follow us on Twitter — @metalminer — as we report and tweet from this year’s Harbor Aluminum Outlook Conference.



On June 8, 2012, the Indian aluminum cash price fell by 0.7 percent, making it the day’s biggest mover on global aluminum markets. The cash price of primary aluminum moved up 0.5 percent on the LME, landing at $1,946 per metric ton. The 3-month price of aluminum finished the day on the LME at $1,986 per metric ton following a 0.4 percent increase.

Chinese aluminum prices, meanwhile, were flat for the day.

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As we asked last week, will China be the driver of commodities demand it was in the last decade?

The process of urbanization, in which hundreds of millions have moved to cities from the countryside, has been a big driver of the commodities super-cycle in the past ten years, particularly for materials like iron ore, steel and cement, but also copper and aluminum.

The pace of migration, though, has begun to level off and the FT quotes Macquarie Bank, which forecast that China’s steel demand could peak between 2020 and 2025.

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The cash price of primary Chinese aluminum saw a 0.4 percent drop on June 6, 2012, making it the biggest mover of the day on global aluminum markets.

Chinese aluminum billet ended the day after a 0.2 percent drop yesterday. The price of Chinese aluminum bar held steady at above $2,200 per metric ton. Chinese aluminum scrap stayed flat at below $2,600 per metric ton.

Wednesday saw Indian aluminum cash price drift down 0.3 percent after a couple of stagnant days.

On the LME, the 3-month price of aluminum showed little movement yesterday, hovering around $1,979 per metric ton. The cash price of primary aluminum remained essentially flat on the LME at $1,936 per metric ton.

Check out this month’s Aluminum MMI® report.

Get complete global price points, history and alerts to do your own metal price forecasting by subscribing to the MetalMiner IndX℠.

The monthly Automotive MMI® registered a value of 98 in June, a decrease of 6.7 percent from 105 in May.

The Automotive MMI® has held up strongly through May 1, but fell 2 percent below the January baseline value during the past 30 days. The Automotive MMI® baseline began on Jan. 1, 2012, with a reading of 100. This report serves as the first public release of this data.

Source: MetalMiner IndX℠

For commentary and drivers of the index, click below.

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The monthly Construction MMI® registered a value of 93 in June, a decrease of seven percent from 100 in May.

The Construction MMI® had held steady since the beginning of this year, but fell this past month along with all of the other MMI® index values. The Construction MMI® baseline began on January 1, 2012, with a reading of 100. This report serves as the first public release of this data.

Source: MetalMiner IndX℠

For more commentary and the drivers of this month’s index decline, click below.

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The week’s biggest mover on this week’s Construction MMI® was the weekly US Gulf Coast bar fuel surcharge, which saw a 4.1 percent decline. The weekly US Midwest bar fuel surcharge fell 3.9 percent from the previous week as well. Also, the weekly US Rocky Mountain bar fuel surcharge declined 2.4 percent since last week.

Chinese steel and US scrap prices saw some movement, however.

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The biggest change on the global aluminum markets tracked by the MetalMiner IndX℠ came when the Chinese aluminum cash price came out of a two-day slump with a 0.4 percent improvement on June 5, 2012.

Chinese aluminum billet, meanwhile, saw an increase, while other price points kept their value.

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On June 4, 2012, the day’s biggest mover on global aluminum markets was the LME aluminum cash price, which saw a 1.9 percent decline to $1,936 per metric ton.

Also on the LME, the aluminum 3-month price declined 1.7 percent to $1,979 per metric ton.

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