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May nonferrous scrap exports mixed

Keywords: Tags  scrap exports, nonferrous scrap, aluminum, copper, lead, zinc, Sean Davidson

NEW YORK — U.S. nonferrous scrap exports rose month on month in May, but continued to trend below year-ago volumes for the seventh successive month.

Strict changes earlier this year to policies governing Chinese imports and an overall decline in demand from China—the largest importer of U.S. nonferrous scrap—have had an adverse impact on U.S. exports of aluminum and copper and brass scrap, according to market participants.

Monthly export volumes have finished well below the corresponding months of 2012 since last November. Nonferrous scrap exports totaled 287,886 short tons in May, down 10 percent from 319,901 tons in May 2012 although up 13.5 percent from April.

Aluminum scrap shipments abroad, excluding used beverage cans (UBCs), stood at 164,832 tons, down 12.1 percent from 187,466 tons in May 2012 but up 12.9 percent from April this year. China (including Hong Kong) took in 115,756 tons of the light metal in May, with South Korea a distant second at 13,769 tons.

Meanwhile, UBC exports in May fell 34.3 percent to 3,031 tons from 4,612 tons a year earlier tons but rose 18.7 percent from the previous month.

Red metal scrap exports totaled 106,423 tons in May, down 6.7 percent from 114,081 tons in May 2012 but up 15.3 percent from April. China (including Hong Kong) took 81,201 tons in May, with Canada second at 5,716 tons.

Nickel scrap exports totaled 2,384 tons in May, down 25.1 percent from 3,184 tons a year earlier but up 28.2 percent month on month.

Lead and zinc scrap bucked the trend, posting year-on-year gains of 10.3 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively. On a month-on-month basis, lead scrap exports rose 26.3 percent while zinc scrap fell 4.2 percent in the same comparison.

For the first five months of the year, nonferrous scrap exports declined 11.6 percent to 1.38 million tons from 1.57 million tons a year earlier.

Aluminum scrap exports took the biggest hit in the January-to-May period, falling 12.4 percent to 794,999 tons, while copper and brass exports of 511,043 tons were down 9 percent in the same comparison.

Lead scrap was the sole item of the six key categories tracked by AMM to post a year-to-date gain, with exports rising 25 percent to 16,056 tons.

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