Aluminum Reaches Six-Week High as GM Profit Signals Demand Gains

Aluminum advanced to a six-week high as rising global auto sales and further signs of economic recovery in the U.S. bolstered the outlook for demand.

General Motors Co. said today that fourth-quarter earnings jumped 65 percent. The Aluminum Association estimates that North American vehicles use about 350 pounds (159 kilograms) of the lightweight metal. U.S. jobless claims last week fell by 27,000, the most in a month, to 341,000, lower than any projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists, the government said today.

Aluminum content in vehicles is rising about 5 percent a year and growth will accelerate in the next decade as drivers seek improved fuel economy and lower emissions, according to Gayle Berry, a London-based analyst at Barclays Plc. World automobile sales exceeded 80 million for the first time in 2012 and will advance this year, according to LMC Automotive Ltd., a researcher based in Oxford, England.

“The market is becoming more and more confident that global aluminum demand will gather pace again this year,” Commerzbank AG analysts including Frankfurt-based Daniel Briesemann said in a report today. “The automotive industry’s efforts to build lighter and lighter cars is likely to be one of the main drivers of the anticipated growth in demand.”

On the London Metal Exchange, aluminum for delivery in three months rose 0.7 percent to close at $2,157 a metric ton at 5:50 p.m. local time. Prices earlier reached $2,166.50, the highest since Jan. 3. The metal has climbed 4.1 percent in 2013.

Copper for delivery in three months advanced 0.2 percent to $8,240 a ton ($3.74 a pound) on the LME. Lead also gained, while zinc, tin and nickel were lower in London.

In New York, copper futures for delivery in March slid 0.1 percent to settle at $3.7375 a pound on the Comex.

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