SHANGHAI, Apr. 1 (SMM) –
According to China Customs, China’s alumina imports hit 351,600 mt during February. YTD imports through February were 839,700 mt, up 16.21% YoY. The FOB price for Australian alumina fell back during January and February, with the highest and lowest prices USD 352/mt and USD 333/mt, respectively. Australian alumina prices during January averaged USD 336/mt on an FOB basis, and USD 349/mt in February, up 8.2% YoY and 9.7% YoY, respectively. At the end of February, the RMB had risen 1.4% YoY against the US dollar, so SMM also believes the RMB appreciation over the past year is also a factor behind China’s growing alumina imports.
According to China Customs, China imported 8,800 mt of primary aluminum during February, down 88.3% YoY and 49.4% MoM. The decline in China’s aluminum imports was due mainly to lower SHFE/LME aluminum price ratio, which remained between 7.2-7.4 during January, and due to high premiums attached to international aluminum prices, generally above USD 250/mt. In addition, Chinese aluminum processors cut or suspended production during the Chinese New Year holiday period, eroding demand for primary aluminum and causing China’s aluminum imports to drop during February.
According to China Customs, China exported 180,000 mt of aluminum semis during February, down 6.8% YoY and 21.7% MoM. The SHE/LME aluminum price ratio was between 7.2-7.4 in January, favorable for aluminum semis exports, but most Chinese producers suspended production for the Chinese New Year in February and shipped goods in advance, causing China’s aluminum semis exports to drop. Aluminum extrusion exports were 48,000 mt, down 33.3% YoY, while aluminum plate, sheet and strip exports hit 79,000 mt, an increase of 4.4% YoY, and aluminum foil exports also grew 15.4% YoY to 47,000 mt. This is mainly because January-May period is a seasonally high-demand period for air-conditioner foil.