Steel Mills

Scrap Prices Slip in April After Rising Since December

April scrap prices have fallen from March levels on weaker market conditions, market participants told SMU.

“The four-month streak of price increases from December-March finally came to an end this month with some disparate price declines across the various grades traded and geographically where the trading happened,” one scrap source told SMU.

steel scrap

He noted that, seasonally, this is not a surprise. “Obsolete scrap flows often increase in April and May, causing mills to bid lower prices and (causing) dealers to be more inclined to sell scrap rather than accumulate inventory.”

“In addition, we’ve experienced recent price weakness in Turkey, driven mainly by weaker rebar sales there, a lack of export opportunities for their rebar, and rising global scrap availability,” the source added.

He cited several reasons for regional differences in price.

“Poor flows in the North caused Midwest shred and prime grades to trade sideways, while a lack of demand for HMS pushed prices lower for that,” he said.

He noted that better flows in the South left shredders more inclined to sell shred at down $20 per gross ton, while primes traded mostly sideways there.

For the East, weaker export sales and an improvement in scrap and substitute imports in March moved shred prices lower by $10-$20 and cut grades lower by $20-$30, he said.

Looking ahead, he sees prices falling further, “especially in the Midwest, which was the strongest market in April.”

Much depends on Turkish demand over the next several weeks.

“Turkish mills need to buy scrap for May delivery, and with lower electric costs there, they don’t have to be so quick to drop scrap bids as their spreads are still good,” the source added.

Another scrap source agreed with the weak outlook.

“With regards to ferrous pricing, the current situation is stable/balanced,” the second source said. “However, the future is clearly bearish. Usually it’s not so clear cut.”

SMU’s scrap pricing for April stood at:  

• Busheling at $520-550 per gross ton, averaging $535, down $15 from last month.

• Shredded at $470-500 per gross ton, averaging $485, off $25 from last month.

• HMS at $370-400 per gross ton, averaging $385, falling $30 from last month.

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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