Back to the future of scrap

Feb 01, 2011 | 04:17 AM |

Is it 2008 again? For ferrous scrap prices it almost looks like, as Yankee catcher Yogi Berra once said, déjà vu all over again. The steady climb over the past few months might make some believe that.

Ferrous scrap prices rocketed to as high as $500 per long ton. That may not match the $900-per-ton figure that prevailed for a brief period two-and-a-half years ago, before the market came crashing down at year's end. However, at that time it was factory bundles and other prime grades of industrial steel scrap that were racing ahead of the pack—in some instances by as much as $400 per ton. That's not the case now. If anything, the secondary grades are close on the heels of industrial steel scrap tags. No. 1 heavy melt was quoted at $440 per ton in key steelmaking cities like Chicago, Cleveland and Pittsburgh in January, with prices paid for shredded scrap ranging from about $450 to $480 per ton in most regions. There wasn't much of a price differential between shredded and No. 1 busheling in January—no more than $10 or $20 per ton in most regions—which some veteran brokers and dealers saw as a little odd, given the better yield melt shops normally get when using busheling....

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