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Scrap price indices inch higher in January

Keywords: Tags  Producer Price Index, steel, ferrous scrap, copper, aluminum, titanium, nonferrous scrap, Bureau of Labor Statistics IHS Global Insight

CHICAGO — Copper scrap pricing rose 1.8 percent in January following a 5.3-percent gain in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest producer price index (PPI) report.

The copper scrap index was put at 620.3 last month, up from December’s figure of 609.2, not seasonally adjusted, while the PPI for copper and brass mill shapes inched up 0.6 percent to 434.7 after climbing 1.5 percent in December.

The PPI for iron and steel scrap moved up 0.3 percent in January atop a 0.9-percent gain in December, but was down 19.9 percent from January last year.

The steel mill products PPI of 198.4 was virtually flat with December but down 8.3 percent from a year earlier.

The aluminum scrap price index of 243.3 climbed 0.7 percent from December and 2.9 percent from January last year, while the aluminum mill shapes PPI of 178.6 rose 0.3 percent from December but was down 0.1 percent from a year earlier.

The titanium mill shapes price index was the biggest loser, falling 6.2 percent to 175.4 in January after staying flat in December.

The PPI on all finished goods rose 0.2 percent in January, seasonally adjusted, after falling for three consecutive months. The main drivers of that increase were food and pharmaceuticals, while energy prices fell.

"The underlying picture for inflation remains quiet, although energy prices will not be so benign (going forward) as recent increases in gasoline prices come through," Nigel Gault, chief economist at Lexington, Mass.-based IHS Global Insight, said.

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