Market demand for alumina has increased with the recent resumption of aluminium production. Last week, alumina prices rose slightly. Imported alumina prices were up US$5-10/tonne to US$250-265/tonne. The domestic non-Chalco alumina price rose RMB20-50/tonne to RMB2350-2370/tonne. The Chalco price remained unchanged at RMB2300/tonne.
The situation on the Chinese aluminium market changed last week following the completion of the government reserves purchases program. Production capacity coming back on line has pushed up market supply, while demand remained weak -and this resulted in a drop in Chalco`s aluminium price, RMB 900-1100/tonne to RMB13800/tonne. Meanwhile, Guangdong province saw the lowest domestic non-Chalco price at RMB13420/tonne, and we even saw some low-end aluminium priced at RMB13300/tonne.
Green Petroleum Coke
Last week saw fluctuations within the coke market. However, more refineries lowered their prices than raised their prices, and the market remains set on a downturn trend.
On the supply side, both Sinopec and Petrochina have been gradually increasing the volume of crude oil being processed since March. As a result, coke production has seen significant growth in Eastern and Southern China. Going forward, crude oil processing volumes will likely continue to grow given the upward trend in the refined oil products market lately, and coke output should increase further as cokers in local refineries with output capacity of around 5 million tonnes fully resumed production last week. Although domestic supply of coke may begin to decline after May, with the Changling, Zhenhai and Liaoyang petrochemical plants shut down for overhauling and maintenance, significant quantities of imported coke are expected to come in between the end of April and May. This supply, combined with coke imported earlier and still in inventory, is expected to result in significant supply of petroleum coke in China over coming months.
On the demand side, the market for coke remains soft. First, the Chinese government’s primary aluminum reserves purchase program has come to an end, and with this the domestic aluminium market has begun to weaken again, leading to weaker downstream demand for coke. Second, customs data show a 50% drop in anode and electrode exports over the first two months of 2009 compared with the same period last year, and the slump in export markets is expected to extend into May 2009. Third, over 50% of China’s steel sector’s output has been suspended, causing a sharp decrease in demand for coke from the electrode industry. Finally, the demand for coke from industrial silicon producers and other sectors is expected to remain subdued. Overall, the outlook for coke downstream demand is therefore relatively negative, and it is not anticipated the situation will improve anytime soon.
To sum things up, the recent price rebound at some refineries lacks support, and the current situation will make it difficult to curb the downward pricing trend for petroleum coke. The coke market is expected to stay weak while it consolidates.
Quoted prices for low sulphur and high sulphur calcined coke remained unchanged last week. Low sulphur CPC saw a slight decrease in deal prices, but was mostly these trades were for export. Jinxi low sulphur CPC was selling for as low as RMB2000/tonne, while their GPC sold for RMB1500/tonne. In some cases, high sulphur CPC prices rose last week, driven up by rising high sulphur GPC prices (from Gaoqiao Petro-chemical, Shanghai Petro-chemical, and Qingdao Petro-chemical).
On the other hand, moderate sulphur calcined coke prices dropped RMB100/tonne to RMB1400-1500/tonne as a result of the soft aluminium market.
Nothing to report
Coal tar prices continued to rise last week. The price in Shanxi province increased RMB200-300/tonne to RMB2500/tonne, and rose to RMB2200/tonne, while in Hunan province, while Hebei, Shandong, and Zhejiang provinces prices edged up RMB400/tonne to RMB2600-2800/tonne.
Market supply remains very tight.
Coal Tar Pitch
Domestic coal tar pitch prices continued to rise last week along with coal tar prices. In Shanxi province, modified pitch prices rose RMB300/tonne to RMB2700-2800/tonne, and moderate temperature pitch prices rose RMB150-300/tonne to RMB2500/tonne. In Hebei province, modified pitch prices rose RMB300-400/tonne to RMB2800/tonne, while the price for moderate temperature pitch remained unchanged at RMB2400/tonne. In Shandong province, modified pitch prices rose RMB100-150/tonne to RMB2700/tonne.
Coal tar pitch prices are expected to rise further going forward.
Most producers have kept their prices stable, with the exception of a supplier from Shanxi province who has cut its 30% graphite block price by RMB200/tonne, to RMB 7600/tonne.
The market for aluminium fluoride has been relatively stable lately. Listed prices for aluminium fluoride were RMB4800-5500/tonne, and the gap between listed and traded prices has further narrowed since the beginning of April. Quoted prices for aluminium fluoride (dry method) were RMB5000/tonne in Henan province (except for Do Fu Do), RMB4900/tonne in Shandong province, and RMB4800/tonne in Zhejiang province. In Fujian province, the production of aluminium fluoride was stable, and quoted prices stood at RMB5200/tonne for the domestic market, and at USD1120/tonne FOB for the export market. The list price for wet method fluoride stayed unchanged at RMB4500/tonne.
The purchasing price for the raw material that is aluminum hydroxide has slightly increased -it currently stands at RMB1300-1550/tonne. This rise in raw materials may push aluminium fluoride prices up. The latest quotation for cryolite was RMB5000-5800/tonne.