CHICAGO Aluminum billet
premiums remained unchanged this week amid steady demand.
The "billet market is definitely
getting on more solid ground as spring and summer approach,"
one producer said, although he added that he hadnt seen
"much change in the spot premium."
As a result, AMM has
left its aluminum billet premium at 12 to 13 cents per
The producer said his company
has transacted three to four spot deals for January and
February at between 11 and 13 cents per pound, while a second
producer said his company transacted "a few million pounds" of
business in January and February at 12.5 to 13 cents per
"Its funny. Its a
good start to the year. Exactly like last year, right down to
the day when it started picking up," the second producer said,
noting that business in the first half of 2012 was brisk before
trailing off in the second half of the year.
Several producers also said
their business activity increased noticeably in recent weeks,
with some booked through March and filling up into April.
However, a third producer
contended that the trend is somewhat deceiving because there is
one fewer business day in February 2013 than in the same month
last year, which was a leap year, and because there are fewer
business days in March 2013 due to Easter, which last year
occurred in April.
Still, he said his company had
no spot availability at present. "Ive got customers
calling and wanting more, and Im telling them
no. ... I dont want to waste their time or
mine," he said.
Despite the generally positive
mood, producers said they remain worried about potential market
disruptions, such as a production stoppage at Alcoa Inc.s
Aluminerie de Becancour Inc. (ABI) smelter in Quebec or imports
being curtailed by labor issues at U.S. ports.
Talks between the International
Longshoremens Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance
continue in an effort to reach a new labor agreement for 15,000
container workers before the current master contract expires
Feb. 6 (
amm.com, Jan. 17).
Pittsburgh-based Alcoa and the United Steelworkers union
have been trying to renew a labor contract covering some 900
workers at the 400,000-tonne-per-year ABI smelter since
amm.com, Jan. 4). Representatives of both the
aluminum producer and the USW told AMM earlier this
week that there have been no new developments and talks are