NEW YORK Copper scrap discounts remained largely unchanged at midweek as an ongoing supply shortage created increasingly difficult market conditions, market sources told AMM.
"There is no material, and there are too many scrap dealers. ... Everybody is short. I am getting calls from people I have not heard from in years. You name it, they are looking for it. Prices are still pretty good, but I dont have any metal to sell," one copper scrap trader said.
"Copper scrap is super tight right now, especially on bare bright and No. 1 (copper)," a second trader told AMM. "Spreads are narrowing, and there are sellers out there who are clearly short on metal that they need to deliver. Thats what is keeping prices up."
Comex copper for May delivery settled at $3.5205 per pound March 7, up slightly from $3.493 the previous day but down 1.3 percent from $3.567 a week earlier.
Light copper was the sole copper scrap grade to register a change, with the discount moving to 46 to 50 cents below Comex from a 45- to 49-cent discount a week earlier. Based on the March 7 Comex settlement, prices stood at $3.02 to $3.06 per pound.
Brass scrap prices also held steady, as sources said a supply crimp was keeping tags from following terminal markets down.
"If the last three or four years have taught me anything, its that I dont know anything," one brass ingot maker told AMM. "Copper has become a tool for hedge funds, it doesnt have anything to do with supply and demand anymore. It can be pretty frustrating,"
Other sources said that despite a robust equities market and strong numbers in housing and employment, copper scrap flows had fallen dramatically over the past week.
"Contrary to what you are seeing on CNN and MSNBC, were not busy; most of my customers are not busy (and) scrapyards are not busy," a second ingot maker said. "Its not a matter of price anymore; they just dont have the material."
All other secondary grades were unchanged.