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Aluminum scrap prices up, Dec. shortage seen

Keywords: Tags  aluminum scrap prices, aluminum alloy prices, aluminum ingot prices, LME, Nasaac, Daniel Fitzgerald

NEW YORK — Free-market mill-grade aluminum scrap prices rose again Thursday as buyers continue to enter and exit the market to control inventory levels for the remainder of 2012.

Prices for 3105 segregated clips rose to a range of 80 to 81 cents per pound from 79 to 81 cents, while mixed low-copper clips moved up to a range of 78 to 80 cents per pound from 77 to 79 cents previously.

Aluminum used beverage cans increased to a range of 74 to 75 cents per pound from 73 to 75 cents, while aluminum-copper radiators moved up to $1.68 to $1.73 per pound from a range of $1.65 to $1.70 per pound.

A360.1 and A413.1 also both moved into tighter ranges of $1.07 to $1.08 per pound from $1.06 to $1.08 previously, while A380.1 remained unchanged at 99 cents to $1.01 per pound.

The cash North American special aluminum alloy contract (Nasaac) closed the London Metal Exchange’s official session at $1,872 per tonne (84.9 cents) Friday, down 0.7 percent from Tuesday’s close at $1,886 per tonne (85.5 cents per pound).

One mill-grade scrap buyer reduced its quotes on Thursday as "most of our needs are covered for the rest of the year," the buyer said.

"We’re buying at a level that I’m comfortable with. We’re close to the end of the year and don’t want to have huge inventory," another secondary scrap buyer told AMM.

"We’ve been getting calls from all kinds of people reaching for metal. So there’s demand there, but the prices weren’t all that sensational," a scrap seller added.

Meanwhile, market participants also forecast scrap shortages in December due to sustained alloy demand from the automotive sector.

"Typically, there is a lull in scrap buying followed by a lull in production from the smelters. We don’t expect that’s going to happen; we think everybody is probably slightly overbooked for December. So there’s not going to be as much scrap as there normally is in December," a third scrap buyer said.

However, "the consensus is that numbers will be easing in the first quarter of 2013. With the fiscal cliff scenario, people may tighten their belts a bit," one broker added.

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