22.05.2019 kl 07:48 3164

Aluminium, other metals muted as US loosens Huawei restrictions
Aluminium ended barely changed on Tuesday after a day of choppy trade, as a boost from a temporary easing of US trade restrictions on China's Huawei was offset by expected higher output from Norsk Hydro's Alunorte refinery. Washington had previously added Huawei Technologies to an export blacklist that makes it nearly impossible for the Chinese company to purchase goods made in the United States, escalating Sino-US trade tensions, weighing on metal prices.

Trade friction generally weighs on industrial metals and any sign that it is dying down will get some investors interested again, said BMO Capital Markets analyst Colin Hamilton. Meanwhile, Norsk Hydro's Alunorte alumina plant could reach 75-85% utilisation within two months, up from about 50% at present, the Norwegian company said.

3333The plant has been operating at half capacity since a spill in February 2018 prompted regulators and courts to curb output. UBS analysts said the Alunorte restart was largely priced in to the alumina market but aluminium would remain under pressure from soft demand and less stringent supply reform in top producer China.

Benchmark aluminium on the London Metal Exchange (LME) ended barely changed at $1,796 a tonne after falling as low $1,784.50, the lowest since May 9. "There is not going to be an immediate restart to the facility ... we are quite a while away from it coming back fully," said BMO analyst Kash Kamal.

Global primary aluminium output fell to 5.203 million tonnes in April from revised 5.379 million tonnes in March, data from the International Aluminium Institute showed. Wood Mackenzie raised its global market balance for alumina by 100,000 tonnes to 1.2 million tonnes as the increase in Alunorte's production was offset by curtailments in China, analyst Ami Shivkar said.

Stocks of aluminium in warehouses certified by the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) fell to their lowest since Oct. 2017 at 569,131 tonnes, data showed on Friday. In LME warehouses, on-warrant inventories available to the market fell 700 tonnes to 752,100.

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