Aluminum stands out

BASE metals are having a mixed ride on the bourse, with the only exception being aluminium.

According to stockbroker Bell Securities Limited analyst Keith Goode, base metal share prices have drifted lower since the start of 2000.

In a Base Metals Review, he said that aluminium continues to have the strongest outlook of the metals, driven by a shortage of alumina that has resulted in current spot alumina prices of US$415 per tonne. This is an almost three-fold increase in the price of the metal since March 1999.

Mr Goode said the steady release of statistics seemed to point to an increased likelihood of the aluminium market being in deficit in 2000.

The US and industry shipments of aluminium mill products were up 8 per cent to November 1999, with Japan’s shipments up a similar 8.2 per cent. China is expected to import 10 per cent more aluminium in 2000.

Alcan expects western world demand for aluminium to rise by 3.3 per cent this year after a 3.9 per cent growth in 1999, with a resulting 100 million tonne deficit.

Amongst other base metals, there has been mixed reporting of the direction of copper – particularly after the 17,350 tonne jump in London Metal Exchange copper stocks due, apparently, to a Chilean delivery (that is supposedly part of a larger delivery) into Hamburg raising stocks to record highs.

Nickel stocks are at their lowest since November 1996, WA nickel laterites appear likely to be well below their 2000 estimates and INCO’s Voisey Bay has been deferred – all pointing to the likelihood of higher nickel prices.

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