Spot aluminum shipments from Japan were trading at between $109 and $111 a ton on the London metal exchange (LME) on Monday, an agency said, unchanged from last Wednesday, with spot trading light at the start of quarterly contract talks.
Rio told Japanese buyers to recommend a premium of $130 a tonne for the second quarter, up 18 per cent from $110 in the first quarter.
Other manufacturers have yet to offer.
Japanese buyers typically wait for quarterly pricing negotiations to be finalised before entering the spot market.
Uncertainty in the market has also delayed spot trading.
“If there is a need to buy, it is in small quantities,” said another dealer.
People in the market want to buy only as much as they need.”
Some market participants said they were waiting for data on Japan’s major ports to provide guidance.
However, they differ in their interpretation of the data.
Traders marubeni reported inventories at Japan’s main ports at the end of January were 368,100 tonnes, down from 393,600 tonnes in December and 449,800 tonnes in the same period last year.
Although inventory levels have fallen, they are still above normal levels of 250,000 tonnes.
“Aluminium stocks are not falling as fast as I thought,” said another trader.
I had expected inventories to hit 350,000 tonnes by the end of January.”
Market participants said, but not some of the port inventory can be sold.
These market participants expect the Japanese spot aluminum premium will be firm.