Russia's Rusal Q4 aluminium sales down 7.1% y/y

MOSCOW, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Russian aluminium producer Rusal on Monday reported a 7.1% fall in its fourth-quarter aluminium sales compared with a year before due to a high base effect and still weak demand amid a nascent market recovery.

Hong-Kong listed Rusal, the world’s largest aluminium producer outside China, said its aluminium sales totalled 1.028 million tonnes in October to December 2020, up 2.0% quarter-on-quarter.

In 2020 Rusal’s aluminium sales fell 6.0% year-on-year to 3.9 million tonnes. The group attributed the fall to a high base effect, as sales volumes in 2019 had been boosted by the sale of inventories accumulated over 2018 as a result of U.S sanctions.

The company said it had adjusted its regional sales geography in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which changed the market environment.

Sales to Europe as a proportion of the total fell 9 percentage points year-on-year to 45%, while Asia’s share grew by 8 pp to 25%.

“This shift reflects the less severe lockdown measures in Asia and an arbitrage opportunity in China underpinned by the country’s fast economic recovery,” Rusal said.

In 2020 global aluminium demand fell 1.7% to 63.9 million tonnes, improving from a 2.6% decline year-on-year in the first nine months, Rusal said. Global aluminium production grew by 2.3% to 65.3 million tonnes, it added.

En+ Group, which owns 56.88% of Rusal, said the end of 2020 was marked by a recovery in global aluminium demand, with a positive impact on prices.

The market has potential to grow in 2021 but the outlook remains uncertain because of the COVID-19 pandemic, En+ said. (Reporting by Anastasia Lyrchikova; Editing by Jan Harvey)