Base Metals Price Outlook Economic Forecast

Base Metals Price Outlook

Base metal prices slump in February amid faltering industrial activity in China

Base metals fell 5.1% on a monthly basis in February, after inching up 0.3% in the first month of this year. February’s  result marked the sharpest drop in prices since July 2018.

Flagging  industrial activity in China due to the worsening coronavirus outbreak led to marked downturns in its major metal-consuming industries in February, weighing severely on the prices of most base metals. Slumping prices for zinc, iron ore, nickel and copper led the overall downturn amid a darkening metal demand outlook, although disruptions to global supply chains led to a shortage of some base metals, thus softening the overall contraction. As the pandemic started to extend more rapidly outside of China at the end of February, mounting fears of a global recession depressed base metal prices further.

FocusEconomics  panelists see base metal prices edging up 0.6% annually in Q4 2020 (previous edition: +2.0% yoy), as Chinese factories gradually come back online, the supply of key base metals remains largely constrained and global trade relations improve. That said, the global Covid-19 pandemic is a major risk to the outlook: An imminent economic downturn is expected in most industrialized nations, threating to significantly curb demand for base metals through to year-end. For 2021, our panelists forecast prices to rise 2.5% in Q4 2021 in annual terms.

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Base Metals Historical Price Data

2015  2016  2017  2018  2019  
Aluminium1663.69  1604.6  1968.4  2107.64  1794.37  
Alumina377.2  310.14  348.34292307692  472.02134615385  333.93521072797  
Copper5508.57  4871.3  6171.78  6527.31  6008.57  
Nickel11835.3  9596.5  10414.13  13110.42  13917.88  
Lead1787.3  1866.99  2313.17  2239.45  1996.65  
Zinc1929.03  2092.83  2890.89  2920.33  2548.76  
Tin16053.44  17960.96  20068.1  20134.02  18633.23  
Iron Ore55.82  58.61  71.77  69.67  93.88  
Steel (USA)461.14  519.95  619.92  828.46  603.52  
Steel (Europe)422.10344827586  455.12260536398  601.75  649.11877394636  530.27969348659  

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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