US aluminium scrap, secondary alloy prices mixed on quieter market

Smelter-grade aluminium scrap prices moved in different directions in the week to Thursday February 23, with sources citing bouncing prices and changing export demand

One source said the prices were steady in the week “since every other day [prices are] up, and every other day, down.”

Fastmarkets’ assessment for aluminium scrap mixed low copper clips, buying price, delivered Midwest secondary smelters was 68-71 cents per lb on Thursday, unchanged from February 16.

The price of aluminum scrap old sheet, buying price, delivered to Midwest secondary smelters was also stable at 69-71 cents per lb on the same day.

The assessment for aluminum scrap old cast buying price, delivered to Midwest secondary smelters was similarly flat at 69-72 cents per lb.

The price for zorba 95/3 min, basis delivered US facility was also unchanged at 73-76 cents per lb, with sources noting export demand for zorba.

One source told Fastmarkets that the export markets for zorba were “still strong,” with another echoing the sentiment but noting that export demand was “starting to soften.”

Zorba prices impact non-ferrous auto shred

Sources also said that prices for zorba were affecting those for non-ferrous auto shred – also known as twitch – as well as export demand for twitch. One source indicated that “seasonal outages at shredders” were leading to “short-term tightness.”

The price of aluminum scrap non-ferrous auto shred (90% Al) buying price, delivered to Midwest secondary smelters increased to 89-92 cents per lb on Thursday, up from 85-89 cents per lb the week prior, following buying heard at 90 cents per lb and above.

Secondary aluminium alloy sources said the increased prices for scrap were impacting alloy markets, with one saying that prices for A380.1 have increased since the beginning of the year “based on zorba and twitch.”

The price of aluminium scrap turnings clean dry high grade, buying price, delivered to Midwest secondary smelters widened upward on Thursday to 56-60 cents per lb, from 56-59 cents per lb on February 16, with buying heard at the upper end of that range during the week.

One buyer said they were “trying to keep up with export,” and that it “seems the 60-cent number is getting holders to let loose units.”

Another buyer also believed that there “was still pressure on turnings,” and that it was “starting to get to the point” where margins were getting very tight.

The second buyer said that the export market is “definitely rallying,” and that “China opening back up had a lot to do with it.”

The buyer explained that even if China isn’t buying scrap directly from the US, they are buying from Malaysia or South Korea, which do take in US imports.

“If China is buying more off someone, it affects other regions,” the buyer said, adding that Chinese activity has “really picked things up a bit.”

The price of aluminum scrap turnings clean dry mixed grade (max 5% Zn) buying price, delivered to Midwest secondary smelters also increased to 49-53 cents per lb on Thursday, up from 48-51 cents per lb on February 16.

“A plethora of different people all came back into buying from overseas at the same time,” the second buyer said.

“[Over] the last three to four weeks, [we] have been hearing the same export numbers,” they added, indicating that the market “may be stabilizing a bit.”

For mill grade scrap, however, sources continued to note a lack of market activity.

“The spot activity is really quiet,” one mill source said on Thursday.

Aluminium scrap segregated low copper alloy clips 5052, mills specialty consumers’ buying price, fob shipping point US was assessed at $1.00-1.10 per lb on Thursday, unchanged from February 16.

Aluminium scrap segregated low copper alloy clips 3105, mills specialty consumers’ buying price, delivered consumers US was also unchanged at 84-87 cents per lb on the same day.

But the assessments for aluminium scrap mixed low copper clips, specialty consumers’ buying price, delivered consumer US and aluminum scrap painted siding, specialty consumers’ buying price, delivered consumer US decreased. They were assessed at 80-84 cents per lb and 77-81 cents per lb, respectively, declining by 2.96% and 4.24% from February 16.

“We are seeing a lot of destocking and inventory reduction at the mills,” a source said, but added that activity may pick up further into the second quarter.

The pricing comes amid increases in the London Metal Exchange’s three-month aluminium contract. The official session closed at $2,408 per tonne ($1.09 per lb) on Thursday, up from $2,382 per tonne ($1.08 per lb) February 16.

Fastmarkets’ assessment of the aluminium P1020A premium, ddp Midwest US was flat at 28.50-30.50 cents per lb on February 24, unchanged since February 17.

Quiet week of market activity for secondary aluminium alloys

For secondary aluminum alloys, sources noted a quieter week of market activity and prices largely steady.

“Prices are very well balanced and holding,” one alloy source said.

Fastmarkets’ assessment for secondary aluminium alloy A380.1, delivered Midwest widened downward to $1.44-1.47 per lb on Thursday, from $1.45-1.47 per lb on February 16, following sales heard done in the week between $1.44-1.46 per lb.

Several sources continued to note high input costs on Thursday, even as the price of silicon decreased on the day.

“We like seeing it come off,” one source said, referring to silicon prices, “but it still has a way to go.”

The price for silicon, ddp US was $1.90-2.60 per lb on Thursday, down from $2.20-2.80 per lb on February 16.

Other alloy prices were unchanged, with sources citing lower levels of activity, with the exception of A360.

Fastmarkets’ assessment for aluminium alloy A360.1, delivered Midwest rose to $1.87-1.91 per lb on Thursday, up from $1.86-1.90 per lb the week prior, following sales activity heard at higher levels.

What to read next
Steel industry participants in the United States are unclear whether Brazilian slab imports will be exempt from the 25% tariffs under Section 232 that will be levied on Mexican imports for steel that is not melted and poured in Mexico, the US or Canada, sources told Fastmarkets on Wednesday July 17
Fastmarkets has amended the name of MB-AL-0231 Aluminium P1020A all-in price, delivered Midwest US, US cents/lb as of Wednesday July 17.
Aluminum scrap generation in Europe is expected to decrease in the current quarter due to lower demand from downstream metal producers amid the domestic seasonal summer slowdown, according to the latest market overview from the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR)
The US government will impose tariffs on steel and aluminium shipped from Mexico that were made elsewhere, in a bid to curb trans-shipment and excess production, the White House said in a statement on Wednesday July 10, a move widely applauded by the pair of metals industries
Norway-based aluminium producer Hydro and German car manufacturer Porsche signed a long-term agreement on Tuesday July 9 for supply of low-carbon aluminium to further decarbonize the supply chain of Porsche’s sports cars. The agreement follows the letter of intent signed in April
Here are the key takeaways from market participants on scrap metal prices, market confidence, inventory and more from our July survey