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Stainless scrap off again amid uncertain demand

Keywords: Tags  stainless scrap, scrap demand, London Metal Exchange, nickel prices, Daniel Fitzgerald

NEW YORK — Stainless scrap processor buying prices have taken another tumble, with uncertainty over mill demand for April driving prices and purchasing activity down.

Prices for 304 clips and solids are in a range of $1,475 to $1,545 per gross ton, down from $1,525 to $1,570 a week ago, while 316 clips and solids are between $2,175 and $2,240 per ton, down from $2,200 to $2,260. Prices for 304 turnings also dropped, and are now in a range of $1,325 to $1,375 per ton compared with $1,350 to $1,400 previously.

"The market is getting uglier. Order books keep getting weaker and there is plenty of supply for the needed demand," one processor source told AMM.

"There are quite a few dealers holding material, but demand is so weak that it doesn’t matter," a second processor source said. "I think all the processors are still very long on material; they probably have enough material for April as it is."

A third processor source indicated there was uncertainty in the market as to where demand was heading in the near term. "Production levels at the mills are spotty, with almost zero forward lead times. They can barely tell you what they’ll be melting next week, let alone next month. So nobody has been willing to go forward to put in an order for three months because they don’t have the confidence," he said. "Everybody is pushing prices down, but nobody knows what the price should be."

Meanwhile, dealer prices are unchanged, with 304 solids and clips in a range of 53 to 55 cents per pound. "Surprisingly, these prices are still good today. However, we’re keeping a very close eye on it," one dealer source said.

"There’s still not a lot of material coming in the door, which is a bigger problem than pricing," a second dealer source said.

The London Metal Exchange’s cash nickel contract ended the official session March 19 at $16,610 per tonne ($7.53 per pound), down 2.1 percent from $16,970 per tonne ($7.70 per pound) a week earlier.

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