Aluminum ingot demand cloudy

NEW YORK — Aluminum P1020 market players remain mixed over how the resolution of the fiscal cliff standoff will impact markets in 2013.

Although global markets reacted favorably to Congress avoiding falling off the cliff—the London Metal Exchange three-month aluminum price bumped up 3.6 percent to $2,145.50 per tonne Thursday from $2,071.50 on Dec. 31—sources are skeptical this trend will continue, maintaining that issues such as spending and the debt ceiling still need to be resolved.

"I don’t think the fiscal situation has been solved. They only covered taxes; they haven’t covered spending, and that has to be addressed," one trader told AMM.

While equity markets reacted favorably Wednesday, this does not mean U.S. markets are out of the woods yet, a second trader said.

"Once this excitement, if you can call it that, (cools down) we’ll probably see some drifting down of (aluminum) prices," a third trader said. "(Congress) didn’t solve the problem."

A producer source disagreed. "From an industrial point of view, it can only help demand. It brings more certainty," he said.

Although demand could benefit as a result of the deal, it has not inspired so much confidence that producers and extruders will rush to expand capacity, the second trader said. "No one is going to make any business decisions based on this fiscal cliff resolution. I don’t think there’s anyone out there saying, ‘We’ve resolved the fiscal cliff, so let’s crank up the presses and hire more people.’ Everyone in this industry is reactionary. They only add people when their customers order more. And when I say order more, I mean order more—not thinking about ordering more."

The third trader agreed. "Investors will grow weary about the uncertainty again, and this positive feeling will fade," he said, adding that most of his consumers remain cautious. "They all still have a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude."

Few spot deals were closed this week, keeping Midwest premiums at between 10.5 and 11.5 cents per pound.

"We did some business in the 11-cent range (this week)," the third trader said. "But most of our consumers are covered for January and a little hesitant to book additional business. They just don’t know how January will shape up yet."

"We haven’t done much, it’s still a ghost town," the producer source said.

"This week, people are just trying to sort themselves out, exchanging 'Happy New Years' and getting rid of the last effects of the hangovers," the second trader said.

Latest Pricing Trends Year Over Year


How will US hot-rolled coil prices fare over the summer?

Rise sharply
Rise modestly
Stay largely flat
Fall modestly
Fall sharply

View previous results