- China’s lithium prices trend down amid weak demand, bearish sentiment
- East Asian lithium prices decline amid poor demand, weakness from China
- European, US lithium prices due to muted demand and Asian weakness
Lithium prices elsewhere also exhibited the same downtrend amid weak global demand.
“It’s still the same picture in China’s domestic market. Sentiment remains bearish, while demand remains limited. Market participants are showing a pessimistic attitude toward lithium demand next year,” a Chinese lithium producer source said.
Downstream consumers were heard to be pushing for bigger discounts on 2024 long-term contracts given the expectation of weak lithium demand for the year, sources told Fastmarkets.
Market participants noted that despite the limited transactions of lithium salts in China’s spot market, spot lithium prices still trended downward almost every day, albeit at a slower pace, due to bearish sentiment.
“Since it’s the end of the year, consumers are primarily destocking their lithium inventories. Spot demand for lithium carbonate is weak,” a second Chinese lithium producer source said.
A Chinese lithium trader added, “The lithium hydroxide market is much more sluggish than the lithium carbonate market. The spot market inventories of hydroxide are large, while the spot demand is almost muted given the weak nickel cobalt manganese (NCM) battery sector in China.”
Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment of lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China was 158,000-165,000 yuan ($21,591-22,547) per tonne on Thursday, down by 2,000-5,000 yuan per tonne by from 160,000-170,000 yuan per tonne a week earlier.
Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment of lithium hydroxide monohydrate LiOH.H2O 56.5% LiOH min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China was 145,000-160,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday, widening downward by 5,000 yuan per tonne from 150,000-160,000 yuan per tonne a week earlier.
East Asian lithium prices maintain downtrend amid weak demand and China’s weakness
Spot lithium prices in the East Asian market also trended downward over the past week following the weakness seen in China’s domestic market, while market participants observed an inactive spot market where spot demand was muted.
An East Asian consumer source told Fastmarkets that they have no demand for any spot lithium salts and acknowledged the downtrend in the spot market, attributing it to weak market fundamentals in East Asia.
“We have enough inventories of lithium hydroxide and haven’t done any spot deals for a while and won’t buy any spot units in the near future. I think the weakness in the lithium market can persist in to the first quarter of 2024,” the East Asian consumer source said.
A third Chinese lithium producer said, “While Chinese lithium prices are still trending downward, it’s natural that the East Asian prices show the same trend.”
A fourth Chinese lithium producer indicated that the demand outlook of lithium salts in the East Asia market is also not optimistic for 2024 amid a gloomy global macroeconomy.
“The negotiations for 2024 long-term contract are going to be tough. The customers want less volume [than this year] of lithium hydroxide but bigger discount [than this year],” the producer said.
Fastmarkets’ daily price assessment of lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot prices cif China, Japan & Korea was $21-23 per kg on Thursday, unchanged since October 27, but down by $1 per kg from $22-24 per kg a week earlier.
Fastmarkets’ daily price assessment of lithium hydroxide monohydrate LiOH.H2O 56.5% LiOH min, battery grade, spot price cif China, Japan & Korea was $21.00-23.00 per kg on Thursday, unchanged since October 27, but down by $0.50-1.00 per kg from $21.50-24.00 per kg a week earlier.
Europe, US spot lithium prices continue downtrend on lingering weak demand, bearish sentiment
Spot lithium prices in Europe and the United States continued to move lower across the board over the past week, with sources citing a spot demand that struggles to pick up and bearish sentiment for the near term stemming from ongoing weakness in Asian markets.
Fastmarkets latest price assessment of lithium carbonate 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price ddp Europe and US was $21.50-24.00 per kg on Thursday, down by $0.50-1.00 per kg from $22.00-25.00 per kg.
Similarly, Fastmarkets latest price assessment of lithium hydroxide monohydrate LiOH.H2O 56.5% LiOH min, battery grade, spot price ddp Europe and US at $21.50-24.00 per kg on Thursday, down by $0.50-1.00 per kg from $22.00-25.00 per kg.
The price parity reached between lithium carbonate and hydroxide battery grade compounds in the Europe and the United States regions mirrors a pattern observed in the more liquid seaborne Asia market.
The technical grade lithium spot prices in Europe and the United States tracked a similar bearish sentiment. However, lithium hydroxide technical grade maintained a marginal premium on the lithium carbonate technical grade equivalent due to the higher production costs for lithium hydroxide and the smaller market compared with those in Asia that allows for less aggressive offers downward.
“I think international lithium prices between carbonate and hydroxide still maintain parity despite the hefty discount that we are seeing in lithium hydroxide in domestic China where the level of inventories remains high,” a converter active in Europe and Asia said.
Keep up to date with the latest lithium prices, data and forecasts on our dedicated lithium price page.
Read the full article here