Aluminum industry '12 outlook positive amid mixed signals

Feb 29, 2012 | 07:00 PM | AMM staff

Tags  aluminum outlook, Alcoa, The Aluminum Association, Heidi Brock, Klaus Kleinfeld, Kaiser Aluminum, Century Aluminum, China aluminum demand

Whether the climate for aluminum these days is seen as partly cloudy or partly sunny depends on who’s doing the forecasting and when they’re doing it.

In mid-January, it was announced that aluminum orders in North America rose 18.1 percent in December from the previous month on the back of some economic recovery in the United States, according to Davenport & Co. LLC data based on seasonally adjusted figures from the Aluminum Association. That led to some optimism.

But industry giant Alcoa Inc. forecast slower-paced growth in 2012 following its fourth-quarter 2011 earnings results, which included the aluminum producer’s first quarterly net loss since the beginning of 2010. That led to some pessimism.

On the other hand, the Aluminum Association said that although the construction sector had lagged for the light metal, the association was hoping “green” construction could provide some growth. “Those markets aren’t very strong right now, but we think it’s good timing to do marketing and analytical work to position ourselves in the future and lay down the groundwork for that,” Aluminum Association president Heidi Brock said.

And so uncertainty continues to dominate the aluminum market outlook, although an increasing number of producers, traders and analysts are predicting modest growth for the industry.

“After falling in four of the past five months, orders showed a strong increase in December, which keeps orders in a choppy, subpar uptrend in our view,” analysts at Richmond, Va.-based Davenport said in a research note. Davenport expects orders to continue moving higher this year as the economy continues to recover. “The economy appears to be building on the momentum that occurred in the fourth quarter. Additionally, the recent rise in aluminum prices, if it continues, may spur buying by customers in the first quarter,” Davenport said.....

Latest Pricing Trends


Are you stocking more inventory today than 18 months ago?


View previous results