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Aluminum scrap prices follow LME higher

Keywords: Tags  aluminum scrap, aluminum alloys, aluminum ingot, lme, nasaac, daniel fitzgerald

NEW YORK — Free-market aluminum scrap prices largely recorded gains Thursday on the back of rising London Metal Exchange prices, although alloy producers say they continue to be undercut by the North American special aluminum alloy contract (Nasaac).

Used beverage cans (UBCs) moved up to a range of 70 to 72 cents per pound from 69 to 71 cents previously, while aluminum-copper radiators rose to $1.59 to $1.64 per pound from $1.57 to $1.62.

Mill-grade scrap prices also increased, with painted siding moving up to 72 to 74 cents per pound from 71 to 73 cents.

However, high-grade and mixed-grade turnings fell, as one major consumer of the material reported it was slowing its buying rates after filling most of its needs earlier in the week.

High-grade turnings slipped to a range of 66 to 68 cents per pound from 67 to 69 cents, while mixed-grade turnings dropped to 61 to 63 cents per pound from 62 to 64 cents.

"I know other smelters are complaining about the lack of flow, but we’re taking the opportunity to drop numbers because we see the flow increasing," a source at the consumer said.

The LME’s Nasaac cash price closed Friday’s official session at $1,825.50 per tonne (82.8 cents per pound), down 1.1 percent from Tuesday’s close at $1,845.50 per tonne (83.7 cents per pound).

Sellers reportedly are still hesitant to release material at depressed LME prices, with one seller telling AMM that he is primarily selling on a "need-to" basis. "We’ve had a couple of consumers reach out to us. People are looking for metal, but there are no aggressive solicitations," he said. "We always have open orders; there’s not one item on our books that I don’t have an order on right now."

Meanwhile, A380.1 alloy prices were unchanged at 97 to 99 cents per pound.

"The guys moving Nasaac out of the warehouse are undercutting the market, and we’re fighting back trying to keep some business," one producer source said. "Scrap has got to come down or our price has got to start coming up, because the margins aren’t very healthy. It’s lasted a while, but people will start getting tired of losing money."

Nasaac stocks continued their sustained drop, with the Detroit and Louisville, Ky., warehouses releasing a total of 120 tonnes over the course of the week.

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