Australian lithium stocks rise on positive Albemarle earnings, demand outlook

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Australian lithium stocks rise on positive Albemarle earnings, demand outlook
Credit: © Reuters. Shares of Australian lithium producers rose on Friday, tracking a bounce in Albemarle Corp (NYSE: ALB ) after the world’s largest lithium producer clocked strong earnings and said it expected demand for the key battery metal to improve. 

Piedmont Lithium Ltd (ASX: PLL ), Mineral Resources Ltd (ASX: MIN ), Liontown Resources Ltd (ASX: LTR ), Pilbara Minerals Ltd (ASX: PLS ) and Arcadium Lithium PLC (NYSE: ALTM ) all rose between 3.5% to 6% in morning trade.

Albemarle had added 2.7% on Thursday after the firm clocked record annual revenue on sales from its specialty chemicals unit Ketjen, which was launched in January 2023. 

Albemarle CEO Kent Masters also said that lithium prices must rise to ensure what he forecast as a “tripling” in demand by 2030, and that the low lithium prices seen today were “unsustainable.” 

Lithium prices had plummeted some 80% over the past year amid waning demand for electric vehicles, forcing Albemarle to slash costs and lay off workers as it grappled with increasingly dire margins. Australian lithium producers had also endured similar conditions, as overseas demand from key EV makers, particularly Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA ), trended lower.

But lithium prices may improve in 2024, especially if major consumer China sees an improvement in economic conditions. China was a sole bright spot for EV demand over the past year, and as of December 2023, was the largest global market for EVs by total sales.

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