Aluminum Prices Fall Despite New Tariffs

US President Donald Trump signs off on tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum
AFP

Economic data is stubbornly refusing to follow the narrative that Trump’s trade policies are going to ruin everything.

The stock market stubbornly refused to crash for a second day Thursday despite China’s announcement that it would slap tariffs on $50 billion of goods imported from the U.S. The trade war panic will have to wait for another day.

More surprisingly, the new tariffs on aluminum are not weighing on American consumers and manufacturers as so many predicted. In fact, aluminum prices have fallen since Trump imposed the tariffs.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

U.S. aluminum prices are falling despite a tariff aimed at boosting domestic production of the metal.

That’s good news for manufacturers of products such as beer cans and car hoods, which are paying 3% less for aluminum than they were before the Trump administration announced the tariff on March 1. These manufacturers said at the time that the 10% tariff on foreign aluminum could push up prices and cause a domestic aluminum shortage just as their orders pick up in a strong economy.

And while a delivery premium applied to aluminum in the U.S. rose more than 40% in the weeks before the tariff order went into effect on March 23, that surcharge has fallen recently in anticipation of adequate supplies in the months ahead. Overall, the U.S. price for aluminum last week was $2,415 per metric ton, down 6% from a recent peak in February.

One reason tariffs are not sending prices through the roof is that U.S. aluminum producers are increasing supply. Another is that the Trump administration has shown a lot of flexibility when it comes to the tariffs, nimbly exempting some of the top aluminum producing countries.

Of course, just as many market pundits are convinced the trade war crash will come someday, those who predicted skyrocketing consumer prices due to higher aluminum prices are not admitting any mistake. The reckoning has simply been delayed, they claim. Prices are certain to go higher, any day now, really.

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