Metal markets recorded a surplus for primary aluminium, zinc and nickel, while lead market balance was in deficit in the Jan-Feb period, according to the World Bureau of Metal Statistics (WBMS). The global agency cautioned that supply and demand of metals have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many shipments are in transits and stock levels are under-reported which may lead to an overstatement of demand over the next few months.  

 

Primary Aluminium

In Jan-Feb, Global primary aluminium output rose by 8.3pc from the prior year. China accounts for 55pc of the total output with 6.06mn mt on higher availability of imported bauxite and alumina. China’s demand increased by 6.2pc. 

China became the net importer of unwrought aluminium in the first two months of 2020, while exports of aluminium semis fell to 595,000mt from 761,000mt a year ago.

Production in Europe and North America rose by 0.9pc and 3.5pc, respectively. Demand in Europe, however, fell in the period to 178,000mt. WMBS reported a 4.1pc increase in the global demand in the Jan-Feb from the prior year period. In February, primary aluminium production was 5.53mn mt and demand was 5.14mn mt.

 

Copper

The global copper market balance recorded a surplus of 98,000mt in Jan-Feb with stocks increasing close to 263,000mt higher than that in December 2019. Global mine output in Jan-Feb rose by 10pc to 3.48mn mt from a year ago period. Refined production increased by 6.5pc to 3.85mn mt. Global demand was 3.75mn mt, up from 3.61mn mt in a year ago. Chinese demand grew by 8.5pc to 1.8mn mt. Production and demand in Europe fell by 4.3pc and 9pc, respectively. 

In February, refined copper production was 1.86mn mt and demand was 1.85mn mt.

 

Lead

In Jan-Feb, global lead market recorded a deficit of 25000mt, in line with a deficit of 278,000mt in full year 2019. Lead stocks at the end of February were around 6,000mt lower than at the end of 2019. World refined lead production in the Jan-Feb period from both primary and secondary sources was 1.87mn mt, down by 6pc from the prior year period. 

Chinese apparent demand in Jan-Feb was at 726,200mt, down by 197,000mt from a year ago. Chinese demand accounted for 38pc of the global consumption. In the US, demand jumped by 16,000mt. 

In February, global refined lead production stood at 936,300mt while demand was 937,000mt.

 

Zinc

Zinc market witnessed a surplus of 123,100mt in Jan-Feb while there was a deficit of 72,000mt in full year 2019. Zinc stocks increases by 163,500mt, including a net increase of 132,000mt in Shanghai. 

LME stocks fell in January but rose in February to close at 24,000mt higher than December levels. LME stock accounts for a total of 12pc of the global stock with a bunch of warehouses in Taiwan and Dutch.

In Jan-Feb, Global refined zinc production was up 8.4pc, while demand was 1.4pc higher than the levels recorded in the previous year. Global demand was 30,000mt higher than demand. Chinese apparent demand was 994,000mt, constituting 46pc of total global demand. Demand in Japan stood at 81,700mt, down by 3.9pc from the same period last year. Zinc slab production in February was 1.15mn mt and demand was 1.06mn mt.

 

Nickel 

The nickel market balance hit a surplus in Jan-Feb period. Production exceeded demand by 20,100mt. For the full year 2019, nickel was in deficit with 17,900mt. Refined production was 366,200mt and demand 346,100mt. Mine production was 409,000mt, up 51,000mt from a year ago. Chinese refinery output and demand rose by 8,000mt from a year ago. China’s apparent demand was 162,200mt. Global demand was 6,000mt higher than the prior year. In February, nickel refinery production was 183,100mt and demand was 172,100mt.

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