Tuesday, May 8, 2018

What’s Spooking Boeing and Ford? Wild Aluminum Prices

By Amrith Ramkumar,  Scott Patterson and  Sarah McFarlane

Wild swings in aluminum prices have jolted buyers and sellers of the metal, threatening profits of companies that make everything from jets to beer cans.

Last month, the U.S. sanctioned a big Russian aluminum producer, curtailing supplies. In some cases, buyers delayed shipments or canceled orders. Others have left shipments of the metal they received untouched, fearful of falling afoul of Washington’s restrictions.

Aluminum executives say they can’t remember anything as jolting to the industry. Jeff Henderson, president of the Aluminum Extruders Council, which represents aluminum-product makers, says he was flooded with calls in the first few days following the announcement of the sanctions on April 6.

“The aftereffects were complete shock and awe to the industry,” Mr. Henderson said.

The price for aluminum deliveries in three months’ time has hit a more than
six-year high. During April, prices also swung over their widest monthly range since at least 1997, the oldest data available, according to an analysis by WSJ Market Data Group.

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