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Non-ferrous outlook: all quiet as markets pause

Trading is described as generally listless with little movement. Meanwhile Aurubis comes to terms with the cost of the huge fraud it suffered in the summer.

The metal markets have remained listless in recent weeks with prices on the London Metal Exchange staying within a very clear range for months, and  hardly any notable price fluctuations.

Prices on the metal scrap markets mostly moved little with very few long-term deals reported. European industry only orders very cautiously for immediate needs. Since important sectors of industry have also reduced production, factories are producing less new scrap overall.

Given the current economic situation in Europe, it is not surprising that the latest VDM business climate index, which is collected once a quarter, offers little hope for improvement.

At the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2023, the index had fallen further, down 2.9 points compared to the third quarter. In addition to this rather negative assessment of the business situation, the continuing pessimistic outlook for the metal scrap industry is responsible for a noticeable deterioration.

Metal traders’ expectations regarding growth in the next three months remain pessimistic: at the beginning of the fourth quarter, 49% of the those surveyed had a negative outlook. Only 3% expected their business situation to improve. Nearly half (48%) assumed stagnation in the next three months.

According to the companies, metal prices will continue to fall in the next three months: only 24% of market participants predict a rise, 35% expected prices to fall and 41% anticipated stability.

Copper surplus

The International Copper Study Group (ICSG) now expects a deficit in the red metal of about 27 000 tonnes for 2023, significantly different from its April forecast of a 114 000 tonne deficit.

ICSG says this is mainly due to a higher anticipated growth rate in Chinese apparent usage. Looking ahead, a surplus of about 467 000 tonnes is expected in 2024 because of additional supply, again compared to a surplus of 298 000 tonnes previously predicted in April.

ICSG now expects world copper mine production to increase by 1.9% in 2023 with growth of about 3.7% forecast in 2024.

Read the full non-ferrous report in our upcoming issue >>

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