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Aluminum scrap prices fall amid oversupply

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

NEW YORK — Some grades of secondary smelters’ aluminum scrap fell May 23, as participants said that domestic supply has loosened as a result of improving weather conditions across much of the Midwest.

Prices for old sheet and old cast, which serve as primary feedstock for the production of aluminum alloy A380.1, each fell a penny to ranges of 68 to 70 cents per pound and 70 to 72 cents per pound, respectively. Mixed clips weakened to 70 to 72 cents per pound from 71 to 73 cents.

“Now that material is becoming available, we are starting to see prices come down,” one scrap trader said. “Plus, we’re headed into a seasonal slowdown where demand tends to fall off a little; we should see a lot more metal on the market over the next month.”
The cash primary aluminum contract on the London Metal Exchange ended the May 23 official session at $1,826 per tonne (82.8 cents per pound), up slightly from $1,811 per tonne (82.1 cents per pound) May 20.

Used beverage cans (UBCs) largely followed trends on terminal markets May 23, with prices for picked-up material moving to 74 to 76 cents per pound from 73 to 75 cents previously.

Prices for nonferrous auto shred, commonly known as twitch, were unchanged May 23, as sources indicated that a supply glut caused in part by China’s Operation Green Fence could weaken prices in the coming weeks.

“There is a ton of twitch being manufactured right now,” one scrap buyer said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see prices fall another 3 to 4 cents by the middle of June.”

Despite a weakening scrap market, prices for secondary aluminum alloy were unchanged May 23, as producers indicated that they were attempting to make up for months of margin pressure.

“I don’t want to sell at anything below $1.04 per pound,” one alloy producer told AMM. “I know there are guys selling lower, but I am not going to give material away at this point.”

Most producers said that A380.1 sales remain at $1.02 to $1.04 per pound, with one source telling AMM that demand from the automotive sector was “very robust.”

All other major alloys were unchanged, with 319.1 at $1.08 to $1.09 per pound, 356.1 at $1.09 to $1.11 per pound, and A360.1 and A413.1 at $1.09 to $1.10 per pound.

Meanwhile, prices for mill-grade aluminum scrap were mostly steady, sources said. The only grade to show a price adjustment was painted siding, which fell a penny to 73 to 75 cents per pound from 74 to 76 cents May 20.

All other secondary grades were unchanged.

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