(Updates first paragraph, clarifies paragraph 6)
LONDON, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Citibank deposited the bulk of aluminium that flowed into the London Metal Exchange’s warehouse network earlier in October, two sources with knowledge of the matter said, as higher interest rates cut the profitability of a common aluminium trade.
Much of the aluminium held separately outside the LME’s warehouse network is tied up as collateral in financing deals, which involve borrowing money to buy aluminium now in order to sell forward for a higher price.
The higher cost of borrowing money to finance that trade makes it less attractive. As existing financing deals have expired and have not been renewed, more aluminium has been deposited into exchange warehouses.
The finance deal backdrop is one reason why LME aluminium stocks have more than doubled to 587,100 tonnes since hitting 32-year lows in August.
Buyers looking to take delivery of aluminium on the LME for October had to pay for some time a premium for the metal - used widely in the transport, construction and packaging industries - due to concern over low LME stocks.
The premium, or backwardation, was one reason Citibank deposited large amounts of aluminium into LME approved warehouses in Port Klang, Malaysia, the sources said. Two sources said Citibank’s metal accounted for the majority of deposits into Port Klang.
Citibank declined to comment.
LME aluminium stocks in Port Klang, at 381,425 tonnes on Oct 19, were more than double the level seen on Oct. 10, while those in Singapore jumped 24% to 118,550 tonnes over the same period.
In Gwangyang, South Korea, LME aluminium stocks also jumped, though not to the same extent, due to Glencore delivering significant amounts of Russian-origin metal.
“All these (aluminium) units coming back onto the LME, shows there is plenty of material around,” an aluminium trader said.
The premium paid for October over the November LME contracts CMALV22-X22 was above $10 a tonne for some days before the October contract matured on Oct. 19.
Most of the recent aluminium flowing into LME warehouses is not newly made, and produced in India or the Middle East, consultancy Harbor Aluminum wrote in a note, adding that it expected a surplus of one million tonnes next year.
Macquarie analysts expect to see an aluminium market shortfall of 600,000 tonnes for 2022 compared with a forecast of a deficit of 1.8 million tonnes made earlier this year. They expect consumption to grow 0.9% to 69.3 million tonnes after a surge of 8.3% in 2021.
Analysts overall have pared back their expectations of large deficits due to slowing growth and demand in top consumer China and elsewhere.
Weak demand is reflected in the physical market premiums paid above the LME benchmark price. They have been falling since a jump earlier this year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine fuelled worries about disruptions to supplies of Russian aluminium.
Duty-paid physical premiums in the United States and Europe at $458 a tonne and $320 a tonne, respectively, have crashed more than 80% since hitting record highs in April and May, respectively.
Benchmark aluminium at around $2,310 a tonne has dropped 43% since hitting a record $4,073.5 a tonne in March. (Reporting by Pratima Desai; editing by Paul Simao)
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