NEW YORK Free-market scrap automotive battery prices have dropped further as leading buyers are believed to be flush with supply, with one trader forecasting that prices could reach the mid-30-cent-per-pound level soon.
Whole auto batteries dropped to 38 to 40 cents per pound from 40 to 41 cents previously. All other lead scrap prices were unchanged.
"Theres no real push in the market. Most of the smelters tell us theyre getting all they need," one broker said.
"Everybody is getting what they need and more right now," a scrap buyer agreed.
Some leading players have left the market because their warehouses are full, a second scrap buyer told AMM.
One major battery manufacturer confirmed Tuesday that it wasnt buying on the spot market and was subsisting on returned junk batteries from its closed-loop supply chain.
Market participants forecast further price declines as winter conditions set in and as demand is removed from the market by Milton, Ga.-based Exide Technologies closure of its Frisco, Texas, plant on Nov. 30 (amm.com, Nov. 7) and its Reading, Pa., facility by March 31, 2013 (amm.com, Nov. 9).
"Im pretty sure were headed to 35 to 36 cents per pound," the broker said. "Soon well start to see the effect of Exide closing that Reading plant, because that will open an even bigger pool of material."
The broker added that the reduction in demand from U.S. smelters has made the export market more attractive to some sellers.
"The Canadian smelters around Montreal and Toronto seem to be paying a pretty good price," he said.
Meanwhile, new zinc clippings moved up to a range of 62 to 64 cents per pound from 60 to 62 cents, while old zinc increased to 47 to 49 cents per pound from 45 to 47 cents.
The three-month zinc contract closed the London Metal Exchanges official session at $1,923.50 per tonne (87.2 cents per pound) Wednesday, up 0.9 percent from $1,907 per tonne (86.5 cents per pound) Nov. 7.