The global aluminum market will swing into a deficit this year for the first time since 2006 as cuts in output deepen and demand from automakers grows, according to trading house Sumitomo Corp.
Global consumption will outpace supply by 61,000 metric tons in 2014, flipping from a surplus of 580,000 tons last year, said Shingi Yamagiwa, Sumitomo’s manager of light metals trading. The deficit will widen to 493,000 tons in 2015, he said.
Sumitomo, which owns stakes in smelters from Malaysia and Australia to Brazil, joins Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in predicting demand will overtake supply this year.
The world will face a 579,000 ton shortfall after seven years of oversupply and low prices resulted in the closing or curtailment of 50 smelters, Goldman Sachs said in a July 23 report.
Citigroup Inc. forecasts surpluses until 2016 while and Morgan Stanley says 2017.
“We’ve brought forward our deficit forecast to this year following more cutbacks amid strong demand, especially from North America,” Yamagiwa said in an interview Tuesday.
Sumitomo reversed its January projection, when it saw a surplus of 312,000 tons this year.
Prices collapsed 36 percent from a peak in 2011 until the end of 2013, forcing producers to shut smelters to trim supplies. That process accelerated in January after Indonesia banned the export of unprocessed ores including bauxite, a raw material used to make aluminum.
The metal entered a bull market last month and prices are up 14 percent this year, the second most among the six main industrial metals traded on the London Metal Exchange.
Alcoa Inc., the largest U.S. aluminum producer, last month shut its facility in Point Henry, Australia, and said it will curb capacity at two smelters in Brazil, where producers are reducing output to the lowest in 12 years. Oslo-based Norsk Hydro ASA said in May it would permanently close its Kurri Kurri plant in Australia.
The decision to shut the Port Henry smelter was “a bit of a surprise” as Sumitomo expected it to shut in 2016, Yamagiwa said. Aluminum will average $2,000 a ton in the third quarter and $2,050 in the fourth quarter. The metal will average as much as $2,150 in the first half of 2015 and $2,250 in the second half, according to the company.
“Accelerating demand in China and supply tightening on the back of the Indonesian export ban are supporting price,” Jens Pedersen, a senior analyst at Danske Bank, said in a report Aug. 7. The bank raised its 2015 aluminum forecast by $200 to $2,175 a ton.
Supply outside of China may lag demand by 1.5 million tons this year and even more in 2015, Vladislav Soloviev, first deputy chief executive officer United Co. Rusal, the world’s biggest aluminum producer, said in an interview July 24.
The premium above the LME prices that suppliers charge customers may climb to $600 a ton this year, Soloviev said. Sumitomo sees the extra charge for Japanese buyers in three-month term contracts rising to a record $415 a ton in the fourth quarter from about $405 now. The fee will stay at around $400 next year before declining to $370 in early 2016, Yamagiwa said.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.