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Revved-up demand drives aluminum wheels

Keywords: Tags  scrap wheels, aluminum wheels, A356.1, alloy prices, aluminum scrap, LME, Nathan Laliberte

NEW YORK — Scrap aluminum wheel prices have risen since the middle of August as demand continues to outpace supply.

Free-market transaction prices for 356.1 wheels are between 86 and 89 cents per pound, up from 85 to 88 cents Aug. 13, traders said.

One trader noted that he had seen an uptick in trading activity over the past week, which he said was likely a function of alloy producers ramping up production schedules following annual furnace overhauls.

"Rims are a hard-sought item right now. Sellers are sold out and interest from buyers remains very strong," he said. "Because of these factors, we have been able to achieve sales that were 1 to 2 cents higher from last week."

Demand from the automotive sector continues to be robust, one rim seller said. "We’re up a penny from last month. This is because of basic supply and demand fundamentals. The automotive business is still really good."

Prices for 356.1 alloy, primarily used in automotive production, have held steady over the past two weeks, with most producers pegging the market at $1.09 to $1.11 per pound.

The primary aluminum cash contract on the London Metal Exchange ended the official session Aug. 27 at $1,828 per tonne (82.9 cents per pound), down 0.6 percent from $1,839.50 per tonne (83.4 cents per pound) two weeks earlier.

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