Metal Price News - October 2023
As a continuation of the past few months, the markets are quiet and fairly stable. Both the Chinese and Western economies have hit a plateau and are neither good nor bad.
The situation in Israel and Palestine has not yet affected commodity prices. However, if the situation escalates further, or if more parties become involved in the conflict, it could have a spillover effect on the commodity markets.
A meeting in Jordan between several Arab countries and U.S. President Biden has just been cancelled by Jordan, citing ongoing attacks in the Gaza Strip.
The U.S. economy is performing better than expected with record-low unemployment and significant job growth.
However, inflation and interest rates remain high, and consumer confidence is declining.
China is still teetering on the edge of deflation, and its economy has lost momentum at the moment. However, brand-new figures from Wednesday, October 18, show a GDP growth of 5.2% in the first nine months of the year, which is higher than expected and has caused commodity prices to rise again.
Since our last update on September 14, the price of copper has dropped from USD 8,380 / EUR 7,860 to USD 7,920 / EUR 7,520. At the same time, the London Metal Exchange's (LME) stock is 25% higher than at the same time last year, indicating a weak European market at the moment.
For aluminium, we have seen very stable prices since our last update. On September 14, the price was USD 2,200 / EUR 2,055, and today it is USD 2,190 / EUR 2,070.
The trend suggests a slight decrease in demand for aluminium in Europe, and this seems to continue in the coming months.
Currently, China is closing several plants that produce raw materials for aluminium. This implies declining demand, but at the same time, the closures could lead to a slight increase in prices and lead times. However, we have not seen this effect yet.
There are rumours that China may close aluminium plants in November, but this has not been confirmed.
At this point, we do not expect to see meaningful energy surcharges this year. Temperatures have been high far into October, and the European gas reserves are 95% full.
On the other hand, the latest sanctions package against Russia has just come into effect and may affect prices. It is now illegal to import steel of Russian or partially Russian origin into the EU in any way.
We might see falling alloy surcharges, because nickel appears to be slowly declining. In September, the nickel price hit the lowest level since October 2021. However, the price is still significantly higher than before 2020. This seems to be an unsustainable overvaluation that is starting to correct itself.
The low nickel price is reflected in the prices, and we see significant declines in alloy surcharges. For 4301, we expect a decrease of 5-6%, and for 4404, about 6%.
On the other hand, the mills have gradually begun to rebuild the base price system after it collapsed several months ago. This means we will see rising base prices in the coming months.
Overall, there is a good balance between supply and demand, leading to good lead times and reasonable prices.
The major uncertainty right now is the investigation initiated by the EU Commission into imported goods from Taiwan, Turkey, and Vietnam. There are suspicions that anti-dumping measures on cold-rolled plates and coils from Indonesia are being circumvented through these countries.
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On bars, we are also seeing quite good prices and lead times. Some products are priced in an unusual way at the moment, but that is likely to be adjusted in a few months.