The USA has seen more banking turmoil of late, with the second-largest bank failure in history and the third large failure this year. The new virtual banking world in which we live allows for quick movement of money, which accelerates withdrawals on any sign of weakness in the system. The Federal agencies are working to keep up with the fast-moving news, with hopes of keeping runs on banks to a minimum.
Recent economic news has been disappointing, with GDP growth in the first quarter coming in below the expected 2% at just 1.1%. Annualized inflation continues to drop and is trending well below the 8.5% rate for 2022, but this year’s March reading of just below 5% is still above the 2% targeted by the Federal Reserve. The combination of tempered inflation and ongoing banking struggles may keep the Fed from raising rates much more. The most recent rate hike of only 0.25% may mark the end of the increases, but the jury is still out.
A recent conference showed that manufacturing appears healthy in the US aerospace, food packaging and automotive sectors whereas building/construction and can sheet are struggling. The consensus was that recessionary fears may be self-fulfilling, as we have been talking up an imminent recession for quite some time.
Demand among domestic mills is in alignment with the above market sentiment, with most buying very little prompt metal and with wider spreads. Billet cast houses are especially slow, with housing-related operations down significantly. On the secondary ingot side, business remains stable as the auto build rate is heading towards 14.5 million units - some one million ahead of 2022. All-in primary aluminium pricing has remained range-bound, with little change since the previous Mirror, although the Midwest premium is slowly drifting downwards. Die cast alloy has been in a very tight range for quite a while, with few signs of movement.
Brass demand remains strong domestically, with ingot makers in need of scrap. Copper spreads are as before, in a lower terminal market.