According to The Australian Financial Review, Japan's aluminium premium for shipments during the April to June quarter has been set at $US128 per tonne, up about a third from the prior quarter due to higher overseas prices, five sources directly involved in the pricing talks said.
Japan is Asia's biggest importer of aluminium and the premiums, which consumers pay to producers on top of the London Metal Exchange cash price for primary metal shipments, set the benchmark for the region.
The new premium is 35 per cent higher than the $US95 per tonne premium in the previous quarter and is the second quarterly increase in a row and the highest in two years.
The quarterly pricing negotiations began last month between Japanese buyers and global producers, including Rio Tinto, South32 and Alcoa, with offers at $US135 a tonne.
The increase comes after US and European spot premiums have risen by about $US20 to $US50 per tonne over the past few months amid output disruption at Alcoa's Portland smelter and a production cut at Rio's Boyne smelter in Australia where costs of power have been rising.
Aluminium stocks at three major Japanese ports rose 3.3 per cent to 282,000 tonnes in February from the previous month, according to trading house Marubeni.
"Still, overall demand for aluminium is pretty healthy here, backed by wider use of the metal in automobiles," Akio Hamaji, chairman of the Japan Aluminium Association, told a news conference on Wednesday.
The association said the country's demand for aluminium products rose 1.7 per cent in the financial year ending this month and would increase 0.7 per cent next year to 4.156 million tonnes.
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