NEW YORK Stainless steel scrap processor prices have remained largely unchanged, with market demand and official nickel prices holding steady, although a rise in nickel prices in January pushed up consumer prices on several grades.
Processors are buying 304 solids in a range of $1,700 to $1,790 per gross ton vs. $1,700 to $1,765 previously, while 316 solids are steady at between $2,350 and $2,420 per ton. The price range for 430 solidsthe only other processor grade to movewidened to $465 to $520 per ton from $480 to $520.
The London Metal Exchange cash nickel price closed the official session Feb. 12 at $18,285 per tonne ($8.29 per pound), down 1.5 percent from $18,565 per tonne ($8.42 per pound) a week earlier.
"As long as nickel stays in (the) $8.20 range, I dont see anything changing too much," one scrap dealer said.
"We dont seem to be making much progress above $8.25. Theres enough flownot great, but enoughto meet demand," a processor source said. "We dont need nickel to go up; we need demand to go up."
Meanwhile, consumers purchased 316 solids in a range of $2,475 to $2,525 per ton, up from $2,420 to $2,465 previously, and 304 solids at between $1,800 and $1,890 per ton, up from $1,790 to $1,865.
One consumer source said that the increase had been prompted by a recent rise in official nickel pricing, with the LME January average of $17,464.77 per tonne ($7.92 per pound) up marginally from $17,406.58 per tonne ($7.90 per pound) in December. "Some people are buying, and the order books are okay," he said. "I dont see a stress on demand. Theres plenty of scrap out there."
However, some processors told AMM that the trend was likely to reverse this month due to slack demand.
"The market is very stagnant right now, the mill demand is weak and prices are really too high," a second processor source said. "With nickel falling and mill demand weak, we could see a downturn in price over the next couple of weeks."