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Dic 02

Low demand, inconsistent supply keep bauxite market weak

Prices for two grades of bauxite have ticked downward, as has the price for white fused alumina, but brown fused alumina remained stable, with the market said to be mostly flat on limited activity.

The markets for both bauxite and alumina continued to be weak in early March on slow demand flows in Europe and other consuming areas, while the evolution of the supply situation in China remained unclear.

Fastmarkets assessed the price of calcined bauxite, 85%, at $400-420 per tonne fob China on Thursday March 7, against $410-430 per tonne previously.

The corresponding price assessment for calcined bauxite, 86%, was $420-440 per tonne fob China on the same day, down from $430-450 per tonne earlier.

Fastmarkets’ price assessment for calcined bauxite, 87%, remained unchanged on Thursday at $450-470 per tonne fob China, while the price ofcalcined bauxite, 88%, remained at $470-490 per tonne fob China. The prices for 87% and 88% material dropped by $20-30 per tonne in the previous assessments on February 21.

Market participants spoke of widespread weakness across the market at the moment, especially on the demand side.

The majority of consumers had contracted their supplies in advance for the first part of the year, and many were covered for most of the first half. The slowdown in European industrial indicators, visible since the third and fourth quarters of 2018, also played a part in damping market activity.

As a result, the industry was not taken by surprise by the current weakness.

A number of sources noted, however, that the slowdown has gone further than expected.

“We all knew that this year was going to be slower than 2018, so it’s not necessarily a surprise,” one importer said.

What is notable, though, is that the drop in inquiries has been more significant than we forecast.”

A producer added: “There may have been some excess of optimism on the part of customers at the end of last year. Business has slowed more than expected.”

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