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300-series stainless scrap prices sink

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

NEW YORK — Consumer buying prices for 300-series stainless scrap have plunged to their lowest level since June 2009, prompted by falling nickel markets and lackluster demand, although 400-series scrap prices have risen.

Buying prices for 316 solids dropped to $1,950 to $2,050 per gross ton from $2,200 to $2,250 previously. Prices for 304 solids dropped to $1,425 to $1,475 per ton from $1,550 to $1,600 previously, the lowest level since June 2009 when prices were at $1,300 to $1,325 per ton. The price range for 304 turnings also fell to $1,275 to $1,325 per ton from $1,400 to $1,450 previously.

The London Metal Exchange’s cash nickel contract ended the official session at $13,655 per tonne ($6.19 per pound) July 11, down 5.8 percent from $14,495 per tonne ($6.57 per pound) June 11.

Prices for 300-series scrap are diverging considerably with consumer demand flagging and nickel prices plummeting over the summer, market participants told AMM.

"There’s almost no across-the-board price. ... Consumers are trying to buy as cheap as they can, and it’s a competitive market in selling," one processor said.

"Because things are very fluid and highly negotiable, there are large spreads in the marketplace. In some ways, a $50 spread is not enough to show how widely divergent prices are. There’s a large spread against a backdrop of relatively poor demand and uncertainty, a second processor said.

Meanwhile, 430 solids moved up to $590 to $610 per ton from $560 to $580 previously, while 409 solids rose to $510 to $535 per ton from $475 to $500 previously.

"The falling chrome and nickel market is hitting the commodity-grade stuff, but with the 400-series (product) we’re doing well and can’t get enough of it," one consumer said.

Market participants told AMM earlier this week that 400-series scrap, which contains no nickel, has been buoyed by recent gains in prices for iron units (, July 9).

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