Why did the Core Lithium share price go backwards in May?

It was a flat month for Core Lithium even before yesterday’s selloff.

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Key points

  • The Core Lithium share price was rangebound in May even before yesterday's selloff in ASX lithium shares
  • The stock struggled last month even while lithium carbonate prices remained buoyant 
  • Despite yesterday's plunge, the Core Lithium share price is up 88% this year to date

Even before yesterday’s brutal selloff of ASX lithium shares, the Core Lithium Ltd (ASX: CXO) share price was rangebound in May and struggled to find buyers.

The company’s shares ended the month slightly in the red, opening trading on 2 May at $1.40 apiece and finishing on 31 May at $1.395.

This came as the S&P/ASX 300 Metals & Mining Index (ASX: XMM) extended its rally in May and climbed 33 basis points.

So what was going on with Core Lithium last month?

What’s was up with the Core Lithium share price?

Investors weren’t really biting at the emerging lithium company’s shares during the past month of trade.

The Core Lithium share price hit a monthly low of $1.12 on 12 May, however, managed to finish the month only slightly lower than where it started it.

It seems the sideways movement wasn’t linked to the lithium price with lithium carbonate holding steady on commodity markets in May and finishing the month on a 2.2% upswing.

This appeared to have inflected positively on Core Lithium’s share price around about the same time.

On 17 May, the company updated the market on progress at its wholly-owned Finniss Lithium Project, south of Darwin. It said the project remained on track to start production by the end of the year.

Finniss is set to be Australia’s first lithium-producing mine outside of Western Australia and has received Major Project Status from the federal government.

So what happened to ASX lithium stocks yesterday?

The first day of trading for June marked a dismal day for ASX lithium stocks. The Core Lithium share price plunged 20.71% to close at $1.11, Pilbara Minerals Ltd (ASX: PLS) finished just over 22% lower, and Allkem Ltd (ASX: AKE) lost 15.39%.

The selloff first appeared to be sparked by a note from Goldman Sachs forecasting the bull market for battery metals is over. Goldman analysts predicted the lithium price could fall from its current level of around US$60,350 per tonne to $16,372 per tonne by 2023. This would mean an almost 73% crash in lithium prices.

Today, however, further news has emerged that electric vehicle company BYD is looking to buy six lithium mines in Africa, which is more likely to be the real reason behind Wednesday’s carnage.

Share price snapshot

Despite yesterday’s savage selloff, the Core Lithium share price is still up by more than 80% in 2022 so far and is around 340% higher in the last 12 months.

The company has a market capitalisation of around $1.9 billion.

Motley Fool contributor Zach Bristow has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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