SHANGHAI, Mar. 4 (SMM) -- The US Labor Department announced on March 3rd that the initial jobless claims fell to 368,000 in the week ending February 26th, setting a new low since May 31st, 2008. Meanwhile, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) announced that the non-manufacturing index in February was 59.7, slightly higher than market forecast. The US economic data was positive, but the president of the European Central Bank indicates after the interest rate meeting that the inflationary pressure in Europe is growing, and market expectations of interest rate hike in euro-zone were strong. As a result, the euro strengthened against the US dollar. The US dollar index opened at 76.68 and closed at 76.49, down 0.24%. The weaker US dollar and positive economic data helped push up LME aluminum prices. LME aluminum prices climbed steadily after opening at USD 2,593/mt, and later hit a record high of USD 2,625/mt. Later, as long investors exited the market after profit-taking, LME aluminum prices lost some gains, with prices finally closing at USD 2,609/mt, up USD 6/mt compared with the previous trading day. Today, SHFE aluminum prices kept moving higher after opening, with SHFE 1105 aluminum contract prices returning to the RMB 17,000/mt mark. SMM predicts SHFE 1105 aluminum contract prices will move between RMB 16,960-17,150/mt today.
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