North American aluminum orders rose sharply in July as demand for auto body sheet enters the first stage of what some analysts are calling an explosive growth cycle, driven primarily by increased usage of lightweight aluminum alloys by major automakers.
Orders (excluding can sheet) increased by a seasonally adjusted 14.1 percent compared with June, with those for nonheat treatable sheet up 23 percent, heat treatable sheet up 7 percent, plate up more than 30 percent, foil up 15 percent and can sheet up 7 percent, according to Lawrence Capital Management Inc. calculations, based on Aluminum Association data.
Based on July orders, most industry analysts are maintaining bullish growth estimates for 2014, Timothy Hayes, principal of New York-based Lawrence Capital Management, said.
“July’s jump in orders also gives us comfort with our forecast for 4-percent growth for North American shipments this year,” he said in a research note. “Only a month ago we questioned if we were a bit too bullish.”
Extruded product orders rose 12 percent to a nearly eight-year high in July.
Demand from nearly all key end markets rose in July, including building and construction and truck trailers, several extruder sources said.
“Everybody is taking all the metal they can get. For some reason everything is just kind of busy,” one seller of aluminum extrusions said. “Banks are lending more, things have loosened up a bit and everything seems to be breaking away. It’s not a bad time right now. I have certainly been through worse.”