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Scrap markets settle on cues from Detroit mills

Keywords: Tags  ferrous scrap, market trends, scrap prices, Sean Davidson

NEW YORK — Scrap dealers and steel mills in Chicago and Indiana continued to look for direction on prime scrap prices for October, but other markets were quick to follow trends established by Detroit in another busy day of trading.

A late push by most Detroit-area mills Oct. 2 to trade at prices that were mostly unchanged from September set the tone for other markets as mills in Canada and Texas followed suit a day later.

AMM’s price assessments for Detroit were mostly unchanged, barring No. 1 heavy melt and 5-foot plate and structural, which slipped $2 to $341 and $358 per gross ton, respectively, brought on mostly by a single mill that successfully lowered tags ever so slightly.

The same mill was able to push No. 1 bundles in Detroit down $5 per ton, putting AMM’s assessment at $390 per ton.

Meanwhile, prices for shred and No. 1 busheling in Detroit were unchanged at $354 and $400 per ton, respectively.

A mill buyer in the region said the decision to trade sideways on No. 1 busheling was prompted by dealer threats of reduced supply if prices dropped. "The understanding from the dealers was that they would pull tons back if we went down some, so buyers accepted dealer terms. If prices start falling in October and November, it goes up a lot in December. We may have averted that," he said.

In the St. Louis area, market participants said most grades traded sideways to September despite attempts by some buyers to drive down prime prices by as much as $10 per ton. Some sources reported prime trades at sideways to down $3 per ton, with all other grades trending sideways.

In Chicago, sources said there was still some uncertainty on where prices for obsolete and prime grades will finish as dealers continue to push for better pricing on the last tons.

Outside the Midwest, mills around the Houston area and in Canada reportedly booked all grades at prices unchanged from last month, and sources suggested that other regions could follow suit.

However, sources in Alabama said prime grades could move down slightly when the dust has finally settled. Some mills reportedly managed to pick up some tons at down $10 per ton, but several deals at sideways prices also were recorded.

In the Carolinas, sources said deals on cuts and primes were being done at sideways to down $9 per ton. "The market is sideways to off just a little bit. It all depends on who you sell to and where you are going with it, but the market has bottomed," a broker said.

Market participants across the Southeast suggested that mills are increasing their buys as they sense the market has bottomed as winter approaches.

Pittsburgh and Cleveland are still firming up, but aside from prime scrap these cities are expected to move sideways, sources said. They added that prime scrap prices could slip a little following some deals at down $10.

Lisa Gordon, Pittsburgh, contributed to this story.

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