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Tight supply drives aluminum scrap prices up

Keywords: Tags  aluminum scrap, mill-grade scrap, old sheet, old cast, UBCs, used beverage cans, aluminum, scrap A380.1

ST. LOUIS — Some free-market aluminum scrap prices rose Feb. 11 as buyers continued to compete for adequate supplies of scrap.

Prices for mill-grade 5052 segregated low-copper alloy clips increased to a range of 97 to 99 cents per pound from 96 to 98 cents Feb. 7, while 3105 clips rose to 86 to 88 cents per pound from 85 to 87 cents previously.

Mill-grade mixed low-copper alloy clips also strengthened to 84 to 86 cents per pound from 83 to 85 cents, while painted siding rose 1 cent to 79 to 81 cents per pound from 78 to 80 cents previously.

"Scrap seems to be getting tighter and tighter," one buyer of mill-grade material said. "I think we will see prices continue to increase, especially if the (London Metal Exchange) stays up."

"Everything is following the LME right now," a seller of mill-grade product said. "Plus, because of colder weather we are not seeing a whole lot of peddler scrap coming in right now. It’s a very lean environment for good scrap."

The cash primary aluminum contract on the LME ended the official session at $2,076 per tonne (94.2 cents per pound) Feb. 11, up 0.5 percent from $2,066.50 per tonne (93.7 cents per pound) Feb. 7. However, the contract lost ground Feb. 12 to end the session at $2,059.50 per tonne (93.4 cents per pound).

Some secondary smelters’ grades also rose Feb. 11, sources told AMM.

Old cast strengthened to 75 to 77 cents per pound from 74 to 76 cents Feb. 7, although old sheet held steady at 73 to 75 cents per pound.

High-grade turnings were up a penny to 73 to 75 cents per pound from 72 to 74 cents, while mixed turnings moved to 67 to 68 cents per pound from 66 to 67 cents.

Used beverage cans (UBCs) held steady at 79 to 80 cents per pound Feb. 11.

The cash North American special aluminum alloy contract (Nasaac) closed the LME’s official session at $1,910 per tonne ($86.6 cents per pound) Feb. 12, up 0.2 percent from $1,905.50 per tonne (86.4 cents per pound) a day earlier and nearly 1.3 percent above $1,885.50 per tonne (85.5 cents per pound) Feb. 7.

Gains in some secondary aluminum alloy grades were due to stronger demand from the automotive sector, sources said.

Prices for A380.1 rose a penny to $1.04 to $1.05 per pound from $1.03 to $1.04 per pound previously.

"With scrap tighter and demand slightly higher, smelters are starting to get a backbone. ... I think we will see prices head toward $1.06 by the end of February," one A380.1 seller said.

"Car sales were really good in January," a second A380.1 seller said. "We have been very busy over the past month. If people keep buying cars, my business will continue to grow."

Prices for 319.1 edged up to $1.08 to $1.10 per pound from $1.07 to $1.09 per pound, while 356.1 strengthened to $1.10 to $1.11 per pound from $1.09 to $1.10.

All other secondary grades were unchanged.

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