NEW YORK Stainless scrap processor buying prices have taken another tumble on lackluster mill demand and continued weak nickel prices.
Prices for 304 clips and solids are now trading at $1,525 to $1,570 per gross ton vs. $1,525 and $1,600 per ton a week ago, with 316 clips and solids now at $2,200 to $2,260 per ton compared with $2,200 to $2,275 per ton previously.
"The mills are not buying. Its rough. Usually the end of the first quarter is a booming time for us," one processor said, attributing the lack of activity to slack end-user demand in a sluggish economy.
As a result, processors are dropping prices to attract less material and pare inventories.
"Slow? They dont even want it anymore," one dealer said.
There was little expectation of a near-term pickup in demand as the first quarter has been the strongest for stainless over the past few years.
"Were done until the fall now," a second processor said, citing the recent "sequestration debacle" as one factor keeping economic activity in check.
However, sources generally were stumped about which stainless end market was primarily responsible for the drop in demand.
"If I knew what it is, Id be on Wall Street not Somerset Street," a second dealer said.
The cash nickel contract on the London Metal Exchange ended the official session at $16,505 per tonne ($7.49 per pound) March 5, down slightly from $16,525 per tonne ($7.50 per pound) a week ago.