US Scrap Prices Slip Again in May, June on Shaky Ground

US scrap prices fell across the board in May, and expectations are that June could move lower still on weaker global demand.

“Domestic demand was generally decent aside from several mills in the Ohio Valley that had substantially reduced buy programs,” one scrap source said.

“Ironically, Ohio is still home to the strongest ferrous scrap market in the country thanks to one mill there in particular with a large buying program coming out early to buy scrap at higher levels than what ultimately were had in the rest of the country,” he added.

A continuing decline in global scrap prices was the main factor driving the scrap market in the East and South lower.

“Expect this dichotomy to correct in June as the market will likely trade lower in further response to export demand weakness,” the source said.

Globally, the market for finished steel and semis is oversupplied, he said, noting that Turkish demand is in a holding pattern until that market gains some clarity following presidential elections there in mid-May.

“Scrap purchases in Turkey are fewer and further between than usual due to political uncertainty, a depreciating currency, and liquidity problems to finance scrap purchases,” the source said.

He expects export demand will be lower for at least the first half of May and probably for longer.

With scrap tags settled, SMU’s scrap pricing for May stands at:

• Busheling at $490-530 per gross ton, averaging $510, down $25 from the previous month.

• Shredded at $440-470 per gross ton, averaging $455, decreasing $30 from the previous month.

• HMS at $320-350 per gross ton, averaging $335, falling $50 from the previous month.

“There was a wider disparity this month since northern mills needed more scrap and did not want to risk losing it to springboard buyers,” another source said.

Heading into next month, a third source said: “Expectations for June are sideways to down with all eyes on domestic order books and the scrap export market.”

Editor’s note: SMU members can chart scrap prices as far back as 2007 using our interactive pricing tool.

By Ethan Bernard,

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