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Copper scrap market wary on Comex swings

Keywords: Tags  copper scrap, comex, red brass, Nathan Laliberte

NEW YORK — Copper scrap discounts continued to tighten May 1 as market participants grappled with wide fluctuations on Comex that one trader said are not "necessarily reflective of actual supply and demand figures."

The discount for refiners’ No. 2 copper scrap fell to 24 to 26 cents per pound below Comex from 25 to 27 cents previously, putting prices in a range of $2.82 to $2.84 per pound.

The discount for brass ingot makers’ No. 2 copper scrap fell to 23 to 25 cents per pound below Comex from a 24- to 26-cent discount a week earlier, putting prices at $2.83 to $2.85 per pound based on a July-delivery Comex copper contract settlement price of $3.08 per pound May 1.

"Nobody knows what’s happening in this market," one copper scrap seller said. "Are these drops on Comex real—based on business and looking at technical analysis? Or is this just the speculators doing trades in hopes of making some extra cash?"

"Demand has been pretty steady over the past few months," a second seller said. "But it’s really a supply issue at this point. There just isn’t a lot of material out there."

Meanwhile, prices for brass scrap were mostly steady May 1, with sources indicating that overseas demand—particularly from China and South Korea—had picked up over the past few weeks.

Red brass (No. 1 composition solids) was the only grade to register a price change May 1, falling to a range of $2.50 to $2.53 per pound from $2.51 to $2.54 previously. One seller indicated that he sold a straight load of red brass to export clients at $2.55 per pound. "They needed the material immediately and were willing to pay up," he said. "I am pretty sure it was going to Korea."

All other secondary grades were unchanged.

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