Aluminium Sheet prices in the US market showed downward sentiment in the final quarter of 2022 due to lower end-user inventory levels amid bearish sentiment. According to manufacturers, transportation bottlenecks occurred in October caused by a lack of containers, shippers, and truck drivers, and long lead times at ports and other transportation hubs were the primary causes of this tightness. In mid-Q4, headwinds such as the US and LME's ban on Russian aluminium increased the price of an Aluminium sheet. However, during the Thanksgiving holiday, the price of aluminium ingots fell. According to some market participants, the benchmark aluminium premium for Russian and non-Russian aluminium continued to diverge, particularly in light of renewed market speculation that the US may ban Russian aluminium. Alcoa, the largest aluminium producer in the United States, had warned investors that rising energy and raw material costs, as well as a drop in aluminium prices, were putting pressure on margins. Many end users began their new year's vacation earlier than usual this year, despite a slowdown in demand for aluminium sheets.
In the German market, Aluminium Sheet prices showcased a mixed outlook in the fourth quarter of 2022 amid falling premium costs. Aluminium Wire Prices were intact, as the LME had decided not to ban trading in the metal produced in Russia or store it in its warehouses, as substantial players in the market planned to buy Russian aluminium in 2023. Market participants were concerned about further production cuts in European alumina refineries and aluminium smelters due to rising energy costs. Europe's refinery and smelter maintenance plans had not returned to normal since the pandemic began. Aluminum manufacturers claimed that the situation was dire; production had been cut by nearly 50%. Due to weak spot demand and falling underlying premiums, market participants noted that a low-carbon upcharge for upstream aluminium billet required significant effort. However, the outlook for downstream demand was bleak; suppliers of aluminium ingots were hesitant to sell inventories at lower prices. The end-of-year restocking drive was unlikely to happen this year. As demand for aluminium ingots fell, many end users started their new year's vacation earlier than usual.
Aluminium sheet prices in China rose in the fourth quarter of 2022 as domestic pandemic prevention and control measures eased. Downstream operating rates fell in China, partly due to the week-long National Day holiday at the start of the quarter. Furthermore, the resurgence of the pandemic following the holiday disrupted downstream enterprise production in Henan and Shandong, causing industry demand to fall. Furthermore, downstream demand was low during the traditional off-season. Some aluminium processing plants planned to close early to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Aluminum billet conversion margins plummeted to discounts, while aluminium sheet spot premiums plunged and diverged across regions. Premiums in Gongyi fall down due to a drop in terminal demand and orders. Domestic operating capacity increased further in December due to the approaching winter and New Year's Day, with restarts in Sichuan and Guangxi and new capacity released in Inner Mongolia and Gansu.
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