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Cold weather hits copper scrap supply

Keywords: Tags  Copper scrap, scrap prices, bare bright copper scrap, radiators, Nathan Laliberte

NEW YORK — Copper and brass scrap prices moved mostly sideways this past week, with some grades shifting a penny in either direction as the market awaits stronger cues from the supply chain.

Market participants said that an increasingly scarce supply due to the cold weather could narrow price spreads between scrap and terminal markets.

Discount spreads off Comex for bare bright copper scrap sourced by ingot makers inched up to 9 to 12 cents per pound from 8 to 11 cents previously, while spreads on brass mill No. 1 scrap—commonly called Candy—also rose a penny to 8 to 10 cents per pound from 7 to 9 cents.

Most other copper scrap grade prices remained unchanged for the week, although sources said radiator prices inched up a penny to a range of $2.26 to $2.29 per pound due to tighter supply conditions brought on by the cold weather.

The main topic of conversation among buyers and sellers this week was the potential impact of dramatically lower temperatures.

"Weather will kill 75 percent of our customer base," one supplier said. "People don’t want to load in this weather, and it’s hard for customers to get around."

A second supplier said supply was tightening. "Scrap peddlers simply don’t want to go out into the cold," he said.

"Cold spells mean metal doesn’t move as much," one consumer said. "If someone needs material right now, they are probably going to have to pay up a little bit."

"Equipment issues arise when the cold hits hard," a third supplier said. "Our trucks have more trouble getting on the road and our sorting equipment breaks more frequently."

Temperatures across the nation are likely to remain frigid for the next week, according to the National Weather Service, with snow storms expected in the Midwest and East Coast on Jan. 25.

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