The Platts Australian alumina daily assessment has increased by $3/mt Friday from a day ago to $249/mt FOB, also gaining $2.50/mt in the past week, from a drawdown in supply in activity in Canada, India, Malaysia and Russia.
A 30,000 mt parcel traded Thursday at $249/mt FOB Western Australia, for shipment in the second half of April, between a trader and producer.A producer reported the purchase Thursday of a Jamaican shipment at $250/mt FOB, loading between late March and early April.
A trader reported the sale mid-week of a first-half April clip at $257/mt CIF Lianyungang LC at sight. On Friday, two Chinese consumers commentedthat they would regard $257/mt CIF China a fair valuation of the market. One said his bid at $255/mt was not high enough to attract a seller.
Nalco’s latest alumina sell tender at $242/mt FOB Visakhapatnam, India appears to have been steeply discounted, possibly due to the extremely prompt laycan, a number of trader and producer sources said Friday.
“There would have been a limited number of people interested,” as “nine days is really, really short”, said trader.
This view was echoed by a number of other market participants. However, one trader said the Nalco tender result may be a signal that there may not be many short positions. “It shows a little of a crack in the market,” he said.
The tender closed March 16, and was awarded on March 17. It called for a 30,000 mt cargo to be shipped between March 26 and 30.
The Platts ex-works Shanxi alumina spot assessment closed the week Friday at Yuan 1,930/mt ($299/mt) cash payment terms, unchanged from Thursday and a week ago, but up Yuan 235/mt on the month.
Ex-works Henan prices also stood steady at Yuan 1,950/mt cash, with Guangxi spot alumina rangebound at around Yuan 1,800/mt cash, sources said. Spot activity was slow moving ahead of April spot talks due to start next week, and as participants also continued to eye clearer direction from a domestic industry event that took place this week.
Henan refiner said:
“We are not offering spot yet, waiting for April talks to start. We also want to wait for people to return from the industry event first and see if there’s any news from there that will impact the market … so far we’ve heard nothing yet.”
A Shanxi refiner agreed, adding that
“it also depends on who starts offering first … if the majors like Xinfa and Jinjiang start offering, then the rest of us will have to follow their prices. But if they continue to hold back offers, like what they’ve done recently, then we can quote higher.”
Smelters and traders were also in no rush to buy, as they expected the alumina uptrend to be short term.
“Refinery restarts are unlikely unless prices reach at least Yuan 2,000-2,100/mt, and smelter restarts are even less likely … though ingot prices have improved in recent months, costs have also risen with the higher alumina prices, so the alumina uptrend will be limited,”
South China smelter said.
Several smelters have said they will consider restarting idled capacities should domestic metal prices reach and stabilize around Yuan 12,000-12,500/mt in the near term.
The front-month aluminum contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed at Yuan 11,425/mt on Friday, up from Yuan 11,250/mt last week.Moreover, from Yuan 10,925/mt a month ago.