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Asia alumina prices rangebound; sentiment stays bearish
DateTime: 2015-8-12 13:54:34    

The Platts Australian alumina daily assessment was steady Tuesday at $297/mt, unchanged from last Thursday, but down $3.50 on the week and down $18.50 from a month earlier.

Platts did not publish alumina assessments on Friday and Monday due to a four-day weekend in Singapore for extended National Day celebrations.

Market sentiment remained bearish on Tuesday as aluminum prices stayed soft and demand for spot alumina lackluster, with buyers expecting prices to continue testing lower in the near term.

A Chinese consumer/reseller quoted $315/mt CIF China basis for a 30,000 mt Western Australia cargo, first half September loading, but said Chinese buy ideas were mostly below $310/mt.

"Buyers are eying $293-295/mt FOB Australia now, but sellers are not willing to come down," he said.

An Asian consumer/reseller said he was "trying to sell a September-October 30,000 mt Australian cargo at index price now, but everyone is talking prices down."

A refiner source and two Chinese smelters all pegged sellers' ideas around $310-$315/mt CIF China currently.

"I can probably accept $310/mt CIF now, but nothing higher," a Henan smelter said.

A South China smelter source said Chinese buyers would likely pay $298-$300/mt FOB Australia for August-September cargoes, but were not interested in deliveries from October onwards as domestic smelter cuts loomed.

The outlook for Chinese domestic alumina also remained bearish Tuesday as market participants returned from an industry event in Beijing last week.

Talks of smelter cuts continued at the meeting, but no definite plans or deadlines resulted, sources said.

"It's still just a lot of talk...but as metal prices stay low, many still expect the cuts will happen sooner or later, now likely in the fourth quarter of the year," the South China smelter source said.

The Platts ex-works Henan alumina assessment was stable Tuesday at Yuan 2,350/mt ($377/mt) for 70:30 cash and credit payment terms, unchanged from last week, but down Yuan 30 on the month.

There was a lack of bids and offers as market participants continued to await clearer direction, sources said.

The front month August aluminum contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed at Yuan 11,955/mt, down from Yuan 12,045/mt last week, and from Yuan 12,305/mt a month earlier.

The domestic price of Yuan 12,000/mt is viewed by most market participants as the support level for aluminum, and smelter cuts are expected to become more evident if prices continue below that level in the near term, Chinese sources said.

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