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Industry Info

Aluminum Declines to Four-Year Low as Global Stockpiles Climb

Aluminum fell to the lowest since 2009 in London as stockpiles expanded to the highest in almost four months, underscoring concern that demand will trail output of the metal used in everything from beverage cans to airplanes.

Inventories tracked by the London Metal Exchange rose to 5.47 million metric tons today, a third straight gain and the highest since Aug. 7. Prices slumped 16 percent in 2013, heading for the second annual drop in three years.

Global output of aluminum will rise 6.2 percent this year, exceeding demand by about 500,000 tons, according to Societe Generale SA. The outlook for surpluses in materials ranging from aluminum to zinc helped drive the LME index of six main metals down 13 percent this year.

The metals “complex will likely push lower over the first half of 2014,” Edward Meir, an analyst at INTL FCStone in New York, said in a report. Prices may fall to levels “that will finally force a more convincing production-side response, especially in sectors such as aluminum, nickel and steel, all of which are being produced in excess.”

Aluminum for delivery in three months on the LME fell 0.7 percent to settle at $1,742.50 a ton at 5:50 p.m. local time, after touching $1,736.25, the lowest since July 2009. The metal declined 5.6 percent last month.

United Co. Rusal’s quarterly loss narrowed from the previous three months after the largest aluminum producer shut unprofitable plants and cut costs, a company statement showed on Nov. 12.

Also in London, copper for delivery in three months dropped 1.1 percent to $6,975 a ton ($3.17 a pound).

Stockpiles monitored by bourses in London, Shanghai and New York rose 15 percent in the past year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

In New York, copper futures for delivery in March fell 0.7 percent to $3.1825 a pound. The metal lost 2.9 percent in November, the biggest monthly decline since June.

Lead, tin and zinc also dropped in London. Nickel was unchanged.

Source: Bloomberg