Scrap Outlook Mixed for September

Written by Ethan Bernard

SMU sources have a mixed outlook for US scrap prices for September.

One source said the market for prime scrap is a bit soft and could go down slightly, “but shredded and HMS looks sideways to up $10-20 per gross ton.”

“This could change if there is a UAW strike,” the source added.

A second source said “primes are really up in the air at this point.” He added that “some mills will seek to drop prices to try and maintain margins, while others will keep prices stable heading into autumn.”

Prices should increase for grades such as HMS and turnings, according to the second source. “Demand for these grades are on the rise as mills seek to take advantage of their low prices relative to other grades,” he said.

Regarding prime, a third source said prices should remain firm — despite mills saying they will go down — if mills want to own the prime scrap now in light of a possible UAW strike. 

He said with export prices up and firm, “I expect no worse than a sideways US domestic market in September,” and maybe up for some grades. 

“Cut grades remain tight, and shredder feed flows are not overwhelming,” the third source noted.

“Demand is good but not great and mills may temper some buy programs to align with upcoming maintenance outages,” the third source said.

Respondents to SMU’s most recent survey took a mostly sideways view (67%) to prime scrap prices for September. Only 12% expected prime scrap tags to rise.

The third source said that the “bottom line is that with export and domestic pricing relatively at par, we are trading in a relatively narrow pricing band for the time being until demand materially drops or increases.”

SMU’s August scrap prices stood at:

• Busheling at $430-470 per gross ton, averaging $450, up $5 from the previous month.

• Shredded at $370-410 per gross ton, averaging $390, unchanged from the previous month.

• HMS at $310-350 per gross ton, averaging $330, up $20 from the previous month.

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