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Copper, brass scrap prices fall as Comex dips

Keywords: Tags  copper scrap, brass scrap, chris prentice

NEW YORK — Spreads on copper scrap narrowed and prices on brass scrap items fell Thursday, reflecting a sudden drop on Comex earlier this week.

Spreads on No. 1 copper scrap fell to a discount of 15 to 18 cents per pound off Comex copper prices from 17 to 20 cents previously, putting prices at $3.54 to $3.57 per pound Thursday. Spreads on No. 2 copper scrap narrowed to a discount of 39 to 41 cents per pound off Comex prices from 39 to 42 cents a week earlier, putting prices at $3.31 to $3.33 per pound.

A rebound in Comex prices Thursday was not reflected in scrap prices, with both buyers and sellers saying they would wait to see if the market stabilized next week. Comex copper for May delivery closed at $3.7205 per pound Thursday, up from $3.6395 per pound Wednesday after Comex prices plunged 7 cents to $3.65 per pound Tuesday.

Scrap sales slowed after the sudden Comex drop Tuesday, one trader said. "I think if the drop were to go through next week . . . some would start selling, but with the market climbing today, we’ll see," he said. "It’s slow. Scrap’s tight, the market’s coming down, it’s a very weird market."

"The only thing we can be sure of is that the markets are going to change," a second trader said of the copper price volatility.

"The market’s being gamed," one ingot maker source said.

Meanwhile, the domestic market is in relative balance between supply and demand, a second ingot maker source said. "There isn’t much scrap out there. There isn’t much business."

Prices for some brass scrap weakened as buyers used the Comex drop as an opportunity to push for lower prices. The range for radiators narrowed to $2.25 to $2.27 per pound from $2.25 to $2.28, while red brass prices fell to $2.67 to $2.70 per pound from $2.70 to $2.71.

"With red brass, the drop is related to Comex," the second trader said. "We broke through the floor of $3.70 per pound on Comex."

A lack of demand is of more concern to consumers, the second ingotmaker source said. "The only thing I’m concerned about is the lack of business. ... There hasn’t been any pickup in demand this spring."

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