Stainless steel scrap mill buying prices continued to rise this
month, with numerous industry participants saying that
tightness in available material and escalating raw material
costs have driven up the market and thinned margins.
consumer buying price for Type 316 solids increased to $2,000
to $2,050 per gross ton from $1,950 to $2,000 at the end of
December; 304 solids jumped to $1,525 to $1,590 per ton from
$1,455 to $1,500 in the same comparison; and 304 turnings rose
to $1,340 to $1,390 per ton from $1,270 to $1,320. Prices for
400-grade material increased by $10 per ton, with 430 bundles
rising to $620 to $650 per ton and 409 bundles moving to $545
to $575 per ton.
Mill and processor
sources confirmed the price increases, with most noting a
prevailing tightness in material available for purchase on the
spot market. Raw material costs also contributed to the climb,
with London Metal Exchange nickel prices rallying in the wake
of Indonesias ore export ban and the ferrous market also
seeing gains in recent weeks.
three-month nickel contract averaged $13,976.50 per tonne
($6.34 per pound) in December, up 1.3 percent from $13,798.57
per tonne ($6.26 per pound) in November.
"Consumer prices are
rising in lieu of significant shortfalls in availability," one
processor source told AMM, citing an influx in scrap
consumption spurred by Outokumpu Stainless USA LLCs
stainless mill in Calvert, Ala. "Its putting a lot of
pressure (on the market)."
The increase in prices
has not improved margins, however, with "processors buying at
break-even and sometimes loss levels," the source said.
"The overall scrap
market is tight, but the ability to squeeze the mills for more
money is relatively nonexistent," a second processor source
said. "I think weve probably reached a point of mutually
assured destruction because (mills) cant pay any more
money and the flow of material wont get better unless
they pay more money."
"I think its
still a battle," he added. "Theres a need for consumers
to pay a bit moreand reluctance on their part. Even at
the lower (price) levels, theyre barely breaking