A white-hot corner of the aluminum market that for months defied a broader slide in metal prices is finally slumping, flashing a warning that major industrial economies are stumbling toward a recession.
While commodity-grade aluminum ingots have been tumbling since March on the London Metal Exchange, until recently the premiums paid for specialized products like billets remained sky-high.
Now those premiums for aluminum billets — a cornerstone industrial product used to make extruded parts in buildings, cars and machinery — are slumping from record highs in Europe.
That’s one of the first signs that investor fears about a broad-based industrial slowdown are starting to line up with conditions on the ground in physical metal markets. It’s a sharp turnaround for the billets market, which became a microcosm for Europe’s pandemic supply chain travails.
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