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Copper scrap prices rise on supply squeeze

Keywords: Tags  copper scrap, No. 1, No. 2, red brass, Comex, copper, scrap, Nathan Laliberte

NEW YORK — Growing concerns about copper scrap availability caused prices for some grades to rise Feb. 13, sources told AMM.
Discounts on brass mills' No. 1 copper scrap narrowed to 7 to 9 cents below Comex to a range of $3.65 to $3.67 per pound Feb. 13, up a penny from $3.64 to $3.66 per pound Feb. 6.
Discounts on refiners’ copper scrap No. 2 also tightened Feb. 13 to a range of 35 to 37 cents, putting prices at $3.37 to $3.39 per pound. That’s down from a prior discount of 36 to 38 cents, with prices at $3.36 to $3.38 per pound.

“There’s definitely demand and it’s hard to find metal, especially for some of the higher grades,” one trader told AMM. “We feel that spreads will continue to tighten as long as supply is low.”

Brass ingot makers’ No. 1 bare bright tightened to a range of 8 to 11 cents, putting prices at $3.63 to $3.66 per pound Feb. 13, down from a 9- to 12-cent discount Feb. 6. Meanwhile, the No. 2 discount narrowed to 34 to 38 cents from 36 to 40 cents previously, putting prices at $3.36 to $3.40.

“There is less flow overall,” a second trader said. “You always have dealers who are sitting on metal, waiting for higher prices. Either way, everyone thinks that the reserves are being depleted.”

Several sources told AMM that supply for copper scrap is becoming so tight that sellers are hesitant to part with their material even at above-market rates.

“The frustrating thing is (that) even if we paid a nickel above the market, it doesn’t mean that we are going to get the metal,” a third trader noted. “Consumers are frustrated right now. They could use the metal, and it’s difficult to find.”

A fourth trader speculated that recent snowstorms across much of the Midwest and Northeast could be partly to blame for the supply crimp.

“When you put three feet of snow on the ground, you don’t have peddlers going to the yards,” the trader said. “That type of thing goes all the way up the food chain.”

Meanwhile, prices for some brass scrap grades also increased Feb. 13.

Composition solids, or red brass, increased to a range of $2.69 to $2.72 per pound from $2.68 to $2.70, while borings and turnings strengthened by a penny to $2.65 to $2.67.

All other scrap grades were unchanged.

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