NEW YORK Stainless steel scrap prices have fallen further as London Metal Exchange nickel prices dropped below the $7-per-pound mark, and market participants doubt that demand will improve before the summer.
Processor/broker buying prices for 316 solids and clips dropped to a range of $2,050 to $2,105 per gross ton from $2,075 to $2,130 previously, while 304 solids and clips were between $1,380 and $1,435 per gross ton, down from $1,400 to $1,455.
Dealer buying prices also dropped, with 316 solids and clips generally between 74 and 76 cents per pound, down from 78 to 80 cents previously, and 304 solids and clips in a range of 48 to 50 cents per pound, down from 52 to 54 cents.
The LME cash nickel contract ended the April 23 official session at $15,085 per tonne ($6.84 per pound), down 4.1 percent from $15,730 per tonne ($7.14 per pound) a week earlier.
Market participants told AMM that the ongoing plunge in nickel prices was exacerbating continually weak demand.
"No one is really looking to purchase," one dealer source said. "And there is no real offshore demand, which has traditionally prompted more aggressive domestic demand."
"Were all unsure about orders for May," a processor source said. "Theres a lot of uncertainty right now."
"Were off to a pretty mediocre start to 2013, and it doesnt feel like its going to change in the next 30 or 60 days," a second processor source said.
A second dealer source, who reported selling a shipment of more than 70,000 pounds of Type 304 and 316 stainless last week, said that his company likely will sit out the market while prices are in a lull. "I cleaned out a big hole, and Im in no hurry to book any material this week," he said. "Stainless seems to be one of the worst metals on the board in the pricing drop-off. Im pushing out a lot of red metals and aluminum; thats where the emphasis is."