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Stainless steel scrap prices tick up

Keywords: Tags  stainless steel, stainless scrap, nickel, London Metal Exchange, LME, Outokumpu Stainless USA, Rey Mashayekhi

NEW YORK — Stainless steel scrap prices rose marginally this week, with market participants citing climbing nickel prices as well continuing tightness and weather-related logistical challenges.

Broker/processor buying prices for Type 316 solids edged up to $2,000 to $2,080 per gross ton from $1,970 to $2,060 last week, 304 solids increased to $1,545 to $1,590 per ton from $1,525 to $1,570 and 304 turnings rose to $1,390 to $1,410 per ton from $1,365 to $1,385.

Dealer and processor sources said that movement in the market was driven by slightly higher London Metal Exchange nickel prices as well as tightness in available material due to logistical issues caused by inclement weather.

The LME’s three-month nickel contract closed the official session Feb. 19 at $14,525 per tonne ($6.59 per pound), up 2.5 percent from $14,165 per tonne ($6.43 per pound) Feb. 11 and 4.1 percent higher than $13,950 per tonne ($6.33 per pound) Feb. 4.

"It appears that broker/processor prices have increased in the past week," one dealer source told AMM. "My speculation is that their volumes are low, mainly due to the recent weather, and that they don’t want to be caught short by not having enough material for the mill if needed."

"I think there is tightness within the physical market and decent demand for the material," one processor source said. "I hear the ramp-up at Outokumpu (Stainless USA LLC’s Calvert, Ala., mill) is under way. When that eventually moves to levels that significantly impact the market, the short supply that we have now is going to be more prevalent."

Still, pressure on stainless scrap availability appears to have come "more (from) the prompt supply side," he added. "The weather has a great deal to do with it. The jury is still out on whether or not the supply side straightens itself out once the severe weather conditions are over."

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