Base Metals Price Outlook Economic Forecast

Base Metals Price Outlook

Trade disputes and slowing Chinese growth take their toll on base metal prices

Base metal prices declined for the second consecutive month in August mostly reflecting cooling growth in China, which consumes nearly half of all base metals. Prices for base metals declined 3.0% over the previous month in August. Nevertheless, this was well below July’s 9.2% month-on-month drop, which represented the sharpest decrease in over eight years.

Along with concerns about a sharp slowdown in China and escalating global trade disputes, broad risk-off investor sentiment and volatility in emerging market currencies led prices for most base metals to decline in August. The main bright spot was alumina, which saw prices rising strongly in August following mining strikes in Western Australia and the partial closure of Norsk Hydro’s Alunorte refinery in Brazil, the world's biggest alumina plant.

Weaker demand from China will prompt growth in base metal prices to decelerate markedly this year from last year’s double-digit increase. Our panel of analysts see base metal prices rising a modest 0.8% year-on-year in Q4 2018 (previous edition: +3.8% yoy) before accelerating to a 2.6% year-on-year gain in Q4 2019.

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Base Metals Historical Price Data

2012  2013  2014  2015  2016  
Aluminium2020.88  1845.86  1867.48  1663.69  1604.6  
Alumina433.69  426.39  421.3  387.42  320.71  
Copper7954.23  7330.44  6863.26  5508.57  4871.3  
Nickel17522.38  15022.53  16897.92  11835.3  9596.5  
Lead2062.45  
Zinc1948.16  1911.09  2162.01  1929.03  2092.83  
Tin21199.76  22272.66  21878.75  16053.44  17960.96  
Iron Ore131.83  136.58  97.34  55.82  58.61  
Steel (USA)656.57  630.49  657.79  462.25  522.94636015326  
Steel (Europe)659.47  614.28  568.37  420.18  455.2647684751  

Note:
Aluminium prices in USD per metric ton (mt).
Alumina prices in USD per metric ton (mt).
Copper prices in USD per metric ton (mt).
Nickel prices in USD per metric ton (mt).
Lead prices in USD per metric ton (mt).
Zinc prices in USD per metric ton (mt).
Tin prices in USD per metric ton (mt).
Iron ore prices in USD per metric ton (mt).
Steel (USA) prices in USD per metric ton (mt).
Steel (Europe) prices in USD per metric ton (mt).
All prices are average of period (aop).

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Price forecasts and historical data for Energy, Metals and Agricultural Commodities

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