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Aluminum Trading Season Begins, but No Takers Yet

At a major industry conference held this week, the annual start of the aluminum supply tightening season has been slow, signaling growing concerns among manufacturers about demand prospects.

The Fastmarkets Aluminum Industry Conference held this week in Barcelona traditionally kicks off the annual ritual of negotiating supply contracts for the next calendar year. It is still in its early stages, with most transactions typically being concluded later this year. However, buyers often aim to make some preliminary deals during the event or at least reach an agreement on quantities during price discussions.

This year, however, six different major aluminum producers, traders, and end buyers have indicated that they have few, if any, orders. These unnamed individuals, citing private information, say that pessimism about next year’s outlook has cast a shadow over the discussions.

Aluminum is a widely used and ubiquitous metal, found in everything from automobiles to buildings to beverage cans. Companies throughout the supply chain are hesitant to commit to new deals, indicating that manufacturers’ concerns about demand prospects and the business environment going into next year are escalating.

Uday Patel, Senior Research Manager for Aluminum at Wood Mackenzie, stated, “It’s not just consumer demand being hit by high-interest rates; we’re also talking about businesses in the aluminum space facing higher capital costs and finding it difficult to secure credit.”

As of Friday afternoon local time, aluminum prices on the London Metal Exchange (LME) were down 1.2% at $2,197 per metric ton, under pressure from official data showing record-high aluminum production in China in August. Soft production due to a shortage of hydropower in China partially offset the impact of weak demand in the aluminum market this year, but in recent months, supply has been surging after heavy rains hit the key production center of Yunnan Province.

The aluminum industry is also grappling with how to handle Russian metals following the invasion of Ukraine. Comprehensive sanctions affecting Russian aluminum trading have not been implemented yet, but some buyers and traders have been trying to avoid these supplies.

Please note that the translation provided is a summary of the original text.

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