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Australia cuts 2019 aluminum price forecast by 5% on US-China trade tensions

Sydney — Australia's Department of Industry said Monday it has revised down its aluminum price forecast for 2019 by 5% from its previous forecast in June to $1,793/mt due to escalating trade tensions between the US and China.

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The department in its latest Resources and Energy Quarterly report also revised down its aluminum price forecast for 2020 by 14% from its June forecast to $1,662/mt and for 2021 by 20% to $1,545/mt.

"Escalating trade tensions between the US and China continue to damper aluminum demand from China, the world's largest aluminum consumer," the department said in the quarterly report, noting that fiscal stimulus measures that Beijing has implemented since October 2018 to offset the impact of the dispute have not provided a boost to demand and prices.

The department's forecast for alumina spot prices for 2019 was cut by 5% from its June report to $356/mt, for 2020 cut by 6% to $334/mt and for 2021 cut by 9% to $316/mt.

Its forecast for global primary aluminum consumption in 2019 was cut by 3% from June to 64.48 million mt, for 2020 cut by 8% to 63.53 million mt and for 2021 cut by 13% to 62.42 million mt.

Price declines were also forecast for lithium and zinc over the three-year outlook period, while copper and nickel prices were forecast to rise.

Surging supply of lithium is forecast to see the spodumene price drop to $639/mt in 2019 from $857/mt in 2018, before extending the slide to $517/mt by 2021, the department said.

Zinc prices were forecast to drop to $2,320/mt by 2021 from $2,989/mt in 2018 due to increasing production and China's slowing economy.

However, copper prices were forecast to rise to $6,328/mt by 2021 from $6,668/mt in 2018 and nickel to $15,784/m from $13,420/mt over that same period due to growing consumption, the department said.

-- Nathan Richardson,

-- Edited by Wendy Wells,