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Aluminum scrap prices slide with LME

Keywords: Tags  aluminum scrap, LME, Nasaac, A380.1, UBCs, Nathan Laliberte


NEW YORK — Prices for most aluminum scrap grades fell March 4, with market participants telling AMM that despite a precipitous drop in terminal markets, continued tightness in scrap and solid demand continue to support secondary prices.

Prices for 5052 segregated low-copper alloy clips fell to 91 to 93 cents per pound from 92 to 94 cents Feb. 28; 3105 clips declined to 82 to 84 cents per pound from 83 to 85 cents; the range on mill-grade mixed low-copper alloy clips widened to 80 to 82 cents per pound from 81 to 82 cents; and painted siding weakened to 75 to 77 cents per pound from 77 to 78 cents.

The cash primary aluminum contract on the London Metal Exchange ended the official session March 4 at $1,927 per tonne (87.4 cents per pound), down 1.7 percent from $1,960 per tonne (88.9 cents per pound) Feb. 28 and down 7.3 percent from $2,079 per tonne (94.3 cents per pound) a month earlier.

“The LME is coming down. That is combined with the fact that things are usually pretty quiet on the first few days of the month,” said one mill-grade scrap buyer. “Plus, steel is looking better right now. Yards that handle ferrous scrap are going to focus on that for the time being.”

Meanwhile, prices for most secondary smelters’ scrap grades also decreased March 4, though not as dramatically as primary tags, sources said.

Prices for mixed low-copper clips fell to 75 to 77 cents per pound from 77 to 78 cents previously; mixed high-copper clips weakened to 75 to 76 cents per pound from 76 to 78 cents; mixed high-zinc clips narrowed to 69 to 70 cents per pound from 69 to 71 cents; 1-1-3 sows moved to 77 to 79 cents per pound from 78 to 80 cents; painted siding fell to 72 to 74 cents per pound from 73 to 75 cents; mixed clips fell by 2 cents to 72 to 74 cents per pound from 74 to 76 cents; old sheet slipped to 71 to 73 cents per pound from 72 to 74 cents; and old cast widened to 74 to 76 cents per pound from 75 to 76 cents previously.

Aluminum-copper radiators fell to a range of $1.74 to $1.79 per pound from $1.75 to $1.80, and used beverage cans fell to 74 to 76 cents per pound from 75 to 77 cents.

“At these numbers, it’s almost impossible not to buy—that is, if we can get the material,” noted one secondary buyer.

The LME’s cash North American special aluminum alloy contract (Nasaac) plummeted to a six-month low, closing the official session March 4 at $1,801 per tonne (81.7 cents per pound), down 2.4 percent from $1,845 per tonne (83.7 cents per pound) Feb. 28 and down 6.2 percent from 30 days prior.

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 March 4 from their prior levels, with 319.1 trading at between $1.09 and $1.11 per pound; 356.1 trading in a range of $1.11 to $1.12 per pound; and low-copper A360.1 and A413.1 alloys in ranges of $1.10 to $1.11 per pound and $1.10 to $1.12 per pound, respectively.

“There are times when you walk the line—covering costs, just kind of getting by—but now is not the time,” an alloy producer told AMM. “Demand is still good, and we need to be profitable at this point.”

“Volume is still good. We just need to have a little price discipline,” a second alloy producer said.

All other secondary scrap grades were unchanged.

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