Ferrous Scrap Prices Drop on All but Prime Grades

Written by John Packard

SMU scrap sources on Friday divulged that negotiations have been slow with many mills not yet having bought as of this past Friday.  Price indicators are running from sideways on prime grades (busheling/bundles) to down $10, $20, $30 in the Ohio Valley, Midwest and Southeast. The east coast was referenced as being down by even greater amounts due to the dropping prices in Turkey and the resulting lack of exports off the east coast.  Our indications from one of our east coast scrap sources is obsolete grades will be down by as much as $50 per gross ton.

Prime grades were reported to be in shorter supply due to the strength of the order books at the EAF sheet mills. Prime grades will remain tight as we enter the summer months due to seasonal outages being taken at the automotive stamping plants which produce the majority of the prime scrap feedstock.

One large national scrap company told us on Friday, “Late yesterday some volumes began to be transacted at even levels from May on Bush/Bundles, shred and cut grades seem to be trending at down $25-30/gt.  However, shred may actually firm a bit in coming days/weeks as the price differential between shred and prime may prompt some consumers to consider increasing their shred usage.”

From the east coast we heard, “We are seeing prices for shredded scrap falling $25-$30 in the Mid-west and South, and by as much as $50/GT on the East and Gulf Coasts where demand from exporters is softer than it was.  That would put shred in the Mid-west generally in the $250-$60/GT range del mills.  Prices for prime grades are now trading as much as $40/GT higher than shred, which is the widest spread I can recall in some time.  For the most part, dealers are insisting on getting sideways prices for prime grades and in many cases the mills are complying with that demand though they have been trying to push the prices lower by $10-$15/GT.”

The dealers expect the domestic mills will be hard pressed to come up with enough prime grades they will need for the month of June and this will help tighten the shred market and bring prices back into balance.

We understand that the Detroit market settled down $20 on shredded, down $10 on HMS and other cut grades and sideways on bundles/busheling.

We learned from one of our east coast source, “Demand for scrap from overseas, and especially Turkey and Taiwan, is, on the other hand material weaker than it’s been.  Prices for 80/20 delivered to Turkey are talked about all over the board – from the low $220s to reflect recent sales of short-sea vessels done recently, to higher numbers in the $240s to reflect current offer prices from scrap exporters. In any event, it does not appear that there has been a sale from the US to Turkey in more than a month and Chinese and CIS billet offer price have failed to near somewhere in the range of $300 – $340 cif, though it’s difficult to gouge exactly what is a reliable price for that material.  Until there is clarity in the semi-finished market, the overseas scrap market will continue to be opaque as well. “

We should have a better idea as to exact pricing by region by Tuesday or Wednesday of this week.

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