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Scrap lead battery prices tick up; zinc steady

Keywords: Tags  lead scrap, zinc scrap, junk batteries, LME, Nathan Laliberte

NEW YORK — Free-market scrap lead battery prices have strengthened, with further increases expected, sources said.

Junk auto batteries increased to a range of 40 to 42 cents per pound Feb. 26 from 39 to 41 cents previously, with several sources telling AMM that a large smelter was paying higher prices for scrap batteries despite a recent drop in London Metal Exchange lead pricing. Sources also indicated that supply was still healthy, in part due to recent temperature drops in the Midwest and Northeast.

The LME’s three-month lead price ended the official session Feb. 26 at $2,290 per tonne ($1.038 per pound), down 4.1 percent from $2,388 per tonne (1.083 cents per pound) Feb. 12.

All other lead scrap grades were flat Feb. 26.

“The LME has fallen off, and yet battery prices are still strong,” one scrap battery buyer said. “One of the larger smelters has come into the marketplace and is aggressively overpaying the market to fill their needs and keep things running. That kind of activity creates a price war.”

“They are reaching a lot further then they normally do,” a second scrap battery buyer said. “It really started in the beginning of the year. It’s kind of annoying for us. They must have deep pockets to be able to afford the prices they are paying.”

Meanwhile, prices for zinc scrap were unchanged Feb. 26, sources told AMM.

“Right now the scrap market is largely sideways,” a seller of zinc scrap said. “I think the base metals markets are headed for a correction in the near term. Everybody gets busy when the markets go down because the orders start flying in.”

The LME’s three-month primary zinc price ended the official session Feb. 26 at $2,079 per tonne (94.3 cents per pound), down 5.1 percent from $2,191 per tonne Feb. 12.

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