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Aluminum scrap prices dip with LME

Keywords: Tags  aluminum scrap, London Metal Exchange, LME, A380.1, 5052, lower-copper alloy clips, 3105 clips, Nasaac UBCs

NEW YORK — Some grades of secondary and mill-grade aluminum scrap declined Feb. 25 as buyers and sellers alike complained of reactionary conditions amid weakening terminal markets.

Prices for 5052 segregated low copper alloy clips fell to 94 to 96 cents per pound from 96 to 98 cents Feb. 21, while 3105 clips declined to 85 to 86 cents per pound from 87 to 88 cents. Mill-grade mixed low copper alloy clips weakened to 82 to 84 cents per pound from 84 to 85 cents, while painted siding fell to 77 to 79 cents per pound from 78 to 80 cents.

The cash primary aluminum contract on the London Metal Exchange ended the Feb. 25 official session at $2,004 per tonne (90.9 cents per pound), down 1 percent from $2,024.50 per tonne (91.8 cents pound) the previous day and down 2.1 percent from $2,047 per tonne (92.9 cents per pound) Feb. 21.

"People are trying to buy lower and lower right now and see how far it goes," one mill-grade scrap buyer said. "Everyone is just trying to live to fight another day."

Meanwhile, prices for some secondary smelters’ grades also followed terminal markets down, sources said.

Prices for 1-1-3 sows fell to a range of 79 to 81 cents per pound Feb. 25 from 80 to 82 cents previously, while mixed clips weakened to 74 to 76 cents per pound from 75 to 77 cents. Used beverage cans (UBCs) fell to 76 to 78 cents per pound from 79 to 81 cents.

"Nobody seems to know why the primary market is falling," one scrap trader said. "Things seem okay in terms of volume and supply, and you would think the market would go up. We are confused."

Others felt that recent economic turmoil overseas had caused downward trends to emerge in domestic markets. "I just don’t like what I am reading in the world," a secondary aluminum buyer said. "There are too many contradictions in the numbers coming out of China and Europe."

The LME’s cash North American special aluminum alloy contract (Nasaac) ended the Feb. 25 official session at $1,890.50 per tonne (85.8 cents per pound), down 1.5 percent from $1,920 per tonne (87.1 cents per pound) Feb. 21.

Despite the overall weakness, a mixed scrap market offered alloy makers sufficient support to hold on to a $1.04- to $1.06-per-pound range for sales of A380.1, sources told AMM.

All other major alloy prices remained unchanged Feb. 25 from prior levels, with 319.1 trading between $1.10 and $1.11 per pound, 356.1 was in a range of $1.12 to $1.13 per pound and the low copper A360.1 and A413.1 alloys were $1.10 to $1.11 per pound and $1.11 to $1.12 per pound, respectively.

"I am hoping my competition follows the trend upward," an alloy seller said. "Even though prices are holding, nobody is admitting to making money. That’s probably because scrap is still tight and margins are tough."

All other secondary scrap grades remained unchanged.

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