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Aluminum scrap down on LME drop

Keywords: Tags  aluminum scrap, mill-grade aluminum, LME, Nasaac, Comex, Nathan Laliberte

NEW YORK — Prices for secondary aluminum smelter-grade scrap maintained their slide May 2, with sources telling AMM that buyers continue to test the lower levels of the market.

Prices for mixed low-copper clips fell to 72 to 74 cents per pound from 74 to 76 cents previously; mixed high-copper clips fell 2 cents to 71 to 73 cents per pound from 73 to 75 cents previously; mixed high-zinc clips weakened to 67 to 68 cents per pound from 69 to 70 cents; 1-1-3 sows moved down to 75 to 77 cents per pound from 77 to 79 cents; painted siding fell to 70 to 72 cents per pound from 71 to 73 cents; mixed clips slipped to 71 to 73 cents per pound from 73 to 74 cents; and high-grade and mixed-grade turnings each decreased a penny to stand at 70 to 72 cents per pound and 64 to 66 cents per pound, respectively.

Prices for aluminum copper radiators weakened 4 cents to a range of $1.60 to $1.65 per pound from $1.64 to $1.69 previously on a fluctuating Comex. U.S. aluminum producers’ UBC scrap prices also decreased to 73 to 75 cents per pound from 76 to 78 cents.

Old sheet and old cast—which serve as feedstock for most secondary aluminum alloys—each fell by 2 cents to stand at 70 to 72 cents per pound and 73 to 75 cents per pound, respectively.

Meanwhile, prices for mill-grade aluminum scrap continued to respond to weakening terminal markets May 2, with most participants telling AMM that tags were down about 2 cents across the board.

Prices for 5052 segregated low-copper alloy clips weakened to 86 to 88 cents per pound from 88 to 91 cents; 3105 clips fell to 79 to 81 cents per pound from 81 to 83 cents; mill-grade mixed low-copper alloy clips declined to 77 to 79 cents per pound from 79 to 81 cents; and painted siding slipped to 74 to 76 cents per pound from 76 to 78 cents previously.

“For the most part, these drops are purely reflective of the (London Metal Exchange),” one mill-grade buyer said. “Sellers will say they don’t have enough material to sell, but I am not so sure that it’s true. I can certainly still buy material in a down market; the only difference is that I have to call my sellers instead of them calling me.”

The cash primary aluminum contract on the LME ended the May 2 official session at $1,803 per tonne (81.8 cents per pound), down 2.3 percent from $1,846.50 per tonne (83.7 cents per pound) April 29. The contract recovered slightly May 3, closing at $1,828 per tonne (82.9 cents per pound).

Secondary alloy tags continued to hold steady May 2, as sources said producers are attempting to hold the line on prices and maintain margins despite a decline in scrap prices.

“Our consumers react to drops on the LME, not necessarily a weakening scrap market,” one alloy producer said, adding that he hoped the LME would strengthen as the scrap market continues to weaken.

Most producers said A380.1 sales remained at $1.04 to $1.05 per pound, with one major producer telling AMM that contract sales were strong and that being selective, not reactive, was proving to be a better sales strategy.

All other major alloys were unchanged, with 319.1 at $1.09 to $1.10 per pound; 356.1 at $1.11 to $1.12; A360.1 at $1.09 to $1.11; and A413.1 at $1.10 to $1.11 per pound.

The LME’s cash North American special aluminum alloy contract (Nasaac) closed the official session May 2 at $1,730 per tonne (78.5 cents per pound), its lowest level in nearly three and a half years. However, the price edged 3.2 percent higher May 3, ending the official session at $1,785 per tonne (81 cents per pound).

All other secondary grades were unchanged.

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