Scrap Yard 1

A prediction for the April ferrous market? It's too early to tell

Written by Ray Peterson

It appears to me that the precipitous fall in ferrous scrap pricing in March might have run its course and we are possibly looking at a sideways market for April.

Of course, we have not yet received our marching orders from the usual suspects who normally determine the market, but from what I have heard, mill demand for scrap has not totally collapsed. Yes, the weather has begun to warm across the Midwest and Northeast; and the flow of scrap into the shredders has increased to an extent; but the current level of pricing is not sufficient to trigger a number of demo projects. And I don’t believe that the auto wreckers are emptying their yards of hulks to cash in on the bonanza. Fuel prices have taken an uptick recently, so the peddler trade is not so eager to be out picking these days either.

The Steel Industry is still melting at a reasonable rate, and I have not heard that the transportation shortages have evaporated.

The flat rolled producers have been working hard to stem the collapse of HRC and have used the threat of outages with some success. Auto production is still chugging along and the flow of prompt industrial scrap is still available. But I am hearing that some dealers have sold prime scrap at down significantly less than the $60/GT level established earlier this month. I have not talked to anyone this month who has been overwhelmed by the flow of scrap across their scales so maybe things are leveling out a bit.

We are in the midst of a presidential election season. No incumbent administration has ever failed to do whatever they can to keep the economy looking good, so I am thinking that we might be headed into a relatively flat scrap market for the next several months.

It is too early in the month to make an accurate prediction of the April market, and much can change in the next four weeks.

No, that is not a misprint.

If the market does not settle until the 12th of the month as in the past two months, we have four weeks to wait to see if my prediction of a sideways market is accurate. Maybe somebody ought to see if something can be done about that so we can have a 30-day market squeezed into one calendar month.

Editor’s note: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the content above belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Recycled Metals Update or its parent company, CRU Group.

Ray Peterson

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