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Mill demand pickup lifts stainless scrap

Keywords: Tags  stainless scrap, 304 clips and solids, 316 clips and solids, scrap prices, nickel, nickel prices, LME, London Metal Exchange Thorsten Schier

NEW YORK — Stainless scrap prices have risen due to improved mill demand, although some sources assert that they have failed to see a pickup.

"Things have become a little bit more robust. The year’s off to a good start and February looks like it’s going to be pretty good, too," one stainless scrap processor said.

"This is the restocking month for us," a purchasing source confirmed, adding that his company’s stainless production was set to increase significantly in January.

A broker source agreed with the assessment that mills were buying more early in the year, but he added that there was some question regarding how long the pickup would last.

"There are orders out there for January and there will be continued demand for February. Beyond that, it is a question mark," he said.

Processors are now buying 304 clips and solids at $1,725 to $1,790 per gross ton, up from $1,680 to $1,750 per ton previously, and 316 clips and solids at $2,375 to $2,420 per ton, up from $2,310 to $2,350 per ton.

However, a second processor said he failed to see a significant pickup in January. "I don’t see a whole lot happening at this point. In years past in January, they (the mills) have been busy as hell," he said.

A third processor agreed that January demand had been rather tepid, saying that some mills had purchased more in December and subsequently hadn’t increased their purchases for January as much as expected. "It’s kind of evened out," he said.

The rise in buying prices comes even as nickel prices on the London Metal Exchange have fallen over the past few days, with the cash contract closing the official session at $17,145 per tonne ($7.78 per pound) Tuesday, down 0.4 percent from $17,215 per tonne ($7.81 per pound) a day earlier and 2.3 percent below the $17,540-per-tonne ($7.96-per-pound) level seen Jan. 3.

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