SHANGHAI, Jan. 8 -- Concerns about power cuts due to severe winter weather in China have helped push aluminum prices 4.3% higher in the first few days of 2010, but industry participants said production likely won't be affected as most smelters have their own power electricity generation facilities.
"Those that are really hit by the cold waves are all small-sized aluminum producers, and their combined output won't affect China's total output," said Chen Wei, a metals analyst with GF Futures.
An official at a medium-sized aluminum producer with an annual capacity of 420,000 tons in Henan, China's largest aluminum-producing province, said production stable-to-higher.
Electricity accounts for about 50% of aluminum's production cost.
If the unusually cold weather persists, transportation problems may affect the spot aluminum market as bad weather will delay deliveries of finished galvanized aluminum and other aluminum-related products, analysts said.
The benchmark aluminum contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange settled CNY5 higher at CNY18,040 a metric ton Thursday, after rising to a 16-month high of CNY18,685/ton.
Some industry participants said the recent price appreciation has been overdone given China's huge inventories of aluminum products since early 2009.
"We've got plenty of aluminum in spot markets, like Shanghai and the Guangdong area, so unless those stocks are consumed rapidly and the severe weather continues, the market impact will be limited," said Meng Jia, a metals analyst with Orient Securities Futures.
China imported 2.2 million tons of aluminum and aluminum products in the January-November period, more than double on year, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.
"Fundamentals will only be changed when this cold weather lasts for perhaps half a month or longer," said GF Futures' Chen.
The higher prices over the past few sessions reflect fund buying and speculative plays more than supply-and-demand fundamentals, analysts said.