NEW YORK Free-market mill-grade aluminum scrap prices fell a penny Jan. 14 as aluminum prices on the London Metal Exchange dropped and buyers sat out of the market.
Prices for 5052 segregated clips dropped to 96 to 98 cents per pound from 97 to 99 cents, while mixed low copper clips fell to a range of 81 to 83 cents per pound from 82 to 84 cents.
Used beverage cans dropped to a range of 79 to 81 cents per pound picked up from 80 to 82 cents, while mixed high-zinc clips were the sole secondary grade to move, dropping a penny to a range of 67 to 69 cents per pound.
Scrap market participants told AMM that activity has slowed over the past week, with some major buyers absent from the market.
"Usually at this time of year, you were never out of the market. Now, two weeks in Ive got guys saying that theyre quoting for February," one seller said. "I think they must not be using as much or they came into the year heavy on inventory."
LME cash aluminum prices fell to $2,002.50 per tonne in official trading Jan. 15, down from $2,077 per tonne Jan. 11.
Many buyers and sellers continued to report tight scrap flows, with some citing progressively colder weather.
All secondary alloy grades were unchanged, with A380.1 steady at $1.02 to $1.04 per pound.
The cash North American special aluminum alloy contract (Nasaac) traded at $1,815.50 per tonne (82.3 cents per pound) in the official session Jan. 15, down 4.5 percent from $1,900.50 per tonne (86.2 cents per pound) Jan. 11.
One die caster said he bought Nasaac metal at 98.5 cents per pound, having been quoted between $1.02 and $1.04 for A380.1 by producers, while one producer also continued to report sales at $1.05 per pound.
"Same story: no spreads and scrap is tight," he said. "Cold weather will only slow the flow more."
Several producers were experiencing solid demand from automotive consumers, which emboldened them to pursue higher quotes, they told AMM.
However, others said they had found little success in pushing prices up.
"Its been a little disappointing. I think well wait it out, I dont think well sell for less than $1.04," a second producer said."
"Very few people are getting $1.04," a third producer said.