TOKYO, March 15 (Reuters) - Term premiums for primary aluminium shipments to Japan for the April-June quarter were mostly set at $113 per tonne, flat from $112-113 for the current quarter, traders said on Tuesday, pausing for the first time after a fall of four consecutive quarters.
Some deals were done at $112 and $114, but the bulk was agreed to at $113, traders said. Traders said some negotiations were halted after Friday's devastating earthquake in northern Japan.
Traders and end-users had hoped for a further cut to premiums due to a sluggish outlook for domestic demand, but had said suppliers may resist as current demand had not been as weak as previously thought. Suppliers have kept their stance that global supply/demand balances remained tight.
Some traders said the earthquake would cool demand in the near-term, given that many Japanese factories were shut after the quake and automakers have stopped production for now.
"In the near term, it could dampen demand and prompt buyers to revise their purchase plans, affecting premiums," one buyer said.
But demand could pick up over the long term when the prospect for recovery becomes clear and aluminum stocks become tight, the buyer said.
Aluminium stocks held at three major Japanese ports at the end of February fell 5.7 percent from a month earlier to 208,100 tonnes, reflecting low import volumes, trading house Marubeni Corp said.
The premiums are over the London Metal Exchange cash price, and includes insurance and freight costs.
Negotiations for the talks began late last month between Japanese buyers such as trading houses and aluminium mills and suppliers, including mining giants such as BHP Billiton .