NEW YORK Free-market scrap lead battery prices have fallen another 2 cents per pound, with further drops forecast by market sources, while other lead scrap grades moved up along with gains on the London Metal Exchange.
Junk auto batteries dropped to a range of 36 to 38 cents per pound from 38 to 40 cents previous, while lead scrap moved up to 78 to 80 cents per pound from 74 to 75 cents and lead cable rose to 80 to 82 cents per pound from 78 to 80 cents.
The LMEs three-month primary lead price ended Wednesdays official session at $2,238 per tonne ($1.015 per pound), up 4.2 percent from $2,148 per tonne (97.4 cents per pound) on Nov. 21.
While one broker reported an isolated case of a smelter paying 40 cents per pound for an order of junk batteries, the majority of business reported to AMM was at lower numbers.
Market sources expect prices to fall further with the onset of winter. "Its going to be 33 to 35 cents soon," one buyer said, and the broker agreed. "I can see 35 cents before too long," he said.
Prices have come off recently as supply improves and major consumers of the item exit the market, with the broker noting that one major buyer currently is not even giving quotes.
However, sources dont expect demand to taper off to the extent that prices will stabilize just yet. "Our inventories are in good shape, but we plan on staying in the market," a second buyer said.
"People buy batteries and dont sell because theyll go back up eventually. Batteries dont take up much space," a second broker said.
Meanwhile, historically high spot premiums for primary lead may have played a part in rising prices for mixed lead scrap and lead cable.
"The non-battery items have gone up as the LME has gone up. Scrap continues to be the better buy as opposed to paying the premiums on primary lead. Anyone who can subsist on scrap is best advised to do that," the first broker said.
Primary lead is currently trading at a premium of 13 to 15 cents per pound over LME.