China's spot alumina prices fell Thursday on the back of news this week that Xinjiang smelters in northwest China will be cutting around two million mt/year of new aluminum capacity which have yet to receive required government approvals.
The ex-works Shanxi daily spot alumina assessment by S&P Global Platts stood at Yuan 2,350/mt ($342/mt) full cash terms, down Yuan 50/mt day on day, Yuan 60/mt lower week on week and a fall of Yuan 350/mt from a month ago.
A spot trade was heard done at Yuan 2,350/mt cash to full credit terms, ex-works Henan basis for 20,000 mt of refiner East Hope's alumina sold to a trader, market participants said.
Refiners, traders and smelters said Yuan 2,350/mt cash was the current market clearing rate for both Henan and Shanxi spot alumina.
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A source from East Hope denied having done the trade but did not rule out that the company's alumina may have been traded via other channels at Yuan 2,350/mt.
Another Henan refiner who also heard of the trade said it was "very possible due to East Hope's anticipated Xinjiang smelter cuts...even though it has not started, they will have extra supply so that is definitely a pressuring factor now."
A third Chinese refiner/trader agreed, adding he expected this trade to further dampen alumina and push prices down even lower near term.
A Shanxi refiner, however, continued to put spot prices closer to Yuan 2,400/mt cash "as East Hope is not a pure refiner, they have a smelter and anticipated cuts, so their price may not be repeatable for others. But prices will reach the Yuan 2,300/mt levels soon, just maybe not now, not yet."
The front-month aluminum
contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed at Yuan 14,250/mt, up from Yuan 13,935/mt last week and from Yuan 13,680/mt a month ago.
--Yuencheng Mok, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Dan Lalor, email@example.com