Pursuit of 2023 Peak: Aluminum Prices

Azeez Mustapha


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Aluminum prices continued their upward trajectory during the first weeks of April, repeatedly surpassing previous highs. This included breaching the $2,400/mt mark in the first week of Q2, edging closer to their peak in 2023.

Currently at $2,454/mt, if aluminum prices exceed their January 18, 2023 peak of $2,662/mt, it could signal the end of a prolonged sideways trend.

Alongside copper and tin, other base metals also experienced upward trends, sparking optimism within the market. This rally has prompted discussions of an uptrend, particularly for copper, as bullish sentiment grows.

Yunnan’s Aluminum Output Suffers Due to Drought Conditions
The aluminum market doesn’t share the same fundamentals as copper and tin, both of which experienced supply concerns leading to a more bullish sentiment among market participants.

However, drought conditions in China’s Yunnan Province significantly hampered China’s overall primary aluminum output in February. Data from the International Aluminum Institute reveals that production levels dropped to their lowest point in a year.With China’s dry season ending by the end of April, output is expected to rebound in the coming months.
Pursuit of 2023 Peak: Aluminum PricesThe resurgence of Chinese supply, constrained by power-related capacity limits, may be sufficient to moderate bullish expectations before prices surpass their peak in 2023.

Temporary Rise in Aluminum Premiums
The surge in prices was accompanied by increasing global aluminum premiums. Specifically, the Midwest Premium, reflecting U.S. demand, surged at the end of Q1. Although it then began to decline slightly, it rose by nearly 17% in March. This increase aligns with observations from brokers, who observed steady demand levels.

However, these brokers also indicated that the market seemed somewhat oversupplied, which could moderate the upward momentum for both the premium and aluminum prices. This scenario is particularly probable as inflation remains high, potentially leading the Federal Reserve to postpone its rate cuts.

The supply-demand balance looks tighter overseas. Comparably, the month-over-month increase in Europe’s Duty Unpaid premium was 14%, continuing an upward trend that started in December 2023. The Main Japanese Port premium (MJP), however, had an astounding 61% quarterly increase.

Demand from China and South Korea seemed to be the main cause of this increase. It did, however, come with a warning that if Chinese output levels decline in Q2, demand levels might not be sufficient to maintain the surge.

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Azeez Mustapha

Azeez Mustapha is a trading professional, currency analyst, signals strategist, and funds manager with over ten years of experience within the financial field. As a blogger and finance author, he helps investors understand complex financial concepts, improve their investing skills, and learn how to manage their money.

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