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Aluminum scrap flat; sellers bide time

Keywords: Tags  aluminum scrap, London Metal Exchange, LME, Nasaac, A380.1, used beverage cans, Nathan Laliberte

NEW YORK — Prices for most aluminum scrap grades remained steady March 7 as sellers headed for the sidelines in hope of seeing terminal markets recover from recent losses, sources told AMM.

"People are just taking a wait-and-see attitude," one aluminum scrap trader said. "They are hoping for some good news that will move the market back up. All in all, we’ve had a very quiet week. The market needs a little consolidation."

"Usually when the market drops like this, people are selling like crazy," a second trader said. "I think they are afraid that this thing will come right back up and they will miss the boat."

The primary aluminum cash contract on the London Metal Exchange ended the official session March 7 at $1,910.50 per tonne (86.7 cents per pound), down 0.9 percent from $1,927 per tonne (87.4 cents per pound) at the beginning of the week and 7.5 percent below $2,066 per tonne (93.7 cents per pound) a month earlier.

Used beverage cans (UBCs) were the only secondary smelters’ grade to move March 7, strengthening to 75 to 77 cents per pound from 74 to 76 cents previously.

"Contrary to what people think, UBC prices don’t always move in step with the LME," a UBC buyer said. "There is always a lag. Plus, volumes are good and sales have been pretty strong. There would be no reason for UBCs to follow the LME right now."

All other secondary smelters’ grades were unchanged.

Prices for secondary mill-grade aluminum stabilized March 7 after two straight weeks of decline, according to market participants.

Prices for 5052 segregated low-copper alloy clips were steady at 91 to 93 cents per pound, 3105 clips held at 82 to 84 cents per pound, mill-grade mixed low-copper alloy clips remained at 80 to 82 cents per pound and painted siding held firm at 75 to 77 cents per pound.

The LME’s cash North American special aluminum alloy contract (Nasaac) closed the official session March 7 at $1,801 per tonne (81.7 cents per pound), unchanged from the beginning of the week.

Prices for secondary alloys held steady March 7 in response to the Nasaac’s lack of movement. A380.1 remained in a range of $1.04 to $1.06 per pound, although some sources indicated that a looming price push is on the horizon, especially if terminal markets show improvement.

Alloy 319.1 held at $1.09 to $1.11 per pound, 356.1 was unchanged in a range of $1.11 to $1.12 per pound, A360.1 remained at $1.10 to $1.11 per pound and A413.1 stayed at $1.10 to $1.12 per pound.

"We’re still fairly busy," a source at an alloy producer said. "Demand from the automotive sector is pretty strong. Now all we need is some margin."

All other scrap grades were unchanged.

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