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Commodity News

Ferrous Ferrous scrap prices reportedly rebounded in the fourth quarter of 2019 but benchmark grades are still down around $100 per gross ton as compared to the end of 2018:



As iron ore and scrap prices advanced late in the year, Fastmarkets AMM reports that U.S. steelmakers continue to push for sheet price hikes: “Nucor intends to raise flat-rolled steel prices by at least $40 per ton ($2 per hundredweight) effective immediately. The move applies equally to hot-rolled, cold-rolled and galvanized products, the steelmaker said in a letter to customers dated Monday December 16… The announcement means that North America’s largest electric-arc furnace steelmaker has joined ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, in a fourth round of US flat-rolled price increases. US mills are now officially seeking prices that are $150 per ton higher than they were in late October… Fastmarkets' daily steel hot-rolled coil index, fob mill US was calculated at $28.22 per hundredweight ($564.40 per ton) on Friday December 13, up 21.9% ($5.07 per cwt) from a late-October low - the lowest point for HRC prices in three-and-a-half years - of $23.15 per cwt.”

The latest weekly U.S. steel production numbers from the American Iron and Steel Institute show that for the week ending December 7, 2019, raw steel production in the United States was down 0.8% from the preceding week and down 2.1% from the corresponding week last year to 1.821 million net tons as the capacity utilization rate came in at 78.7 percent. For the year-to-date, AISI estimates U.S. steel production is up 1.9 percent to 90.74 million tons through December 7th with an average capacity utilization rate of 80.1 percent.

According to trade data from the Census Bureau, the U.S. exported 1.57 million metric tons of aluminum scrap (including UBCs and RSI) during the first 10 months of 2019, up 11% as compared to Jan-Oct 2018 despite a 25% drop in shipments to mainland China. The largest net market gains so far this year by volume have been to Malaysia (+68.5 kt), Hong Kong (+53 kt), India (+52.5 kt), South Korea (+30.4 kt), and Indonesia (+25 kt).


However, by dollar value YTD U.S. aluminum scrap exports are reportedly down 8% year-on-year to $1.96 billion as aluminum scrap prices have declined sharply this year. Through November, average old sheet and cast prices were reportedly down 26 percent for the year-to-date:


Plastic Scrap
Among the major scrap commodities, plastic scrap exports from the United States have had the worst performance this year, declining 40% by volume during Jan-Oct 2019 as compared to the first 10 months of 2018 as shipments to mainland China plunged 62% lower to just over 15,000 tons. Other significant market losses occurred in Malaysia (-79%), Vietnam (-77%), Thailand (-75%), Taiwan (-36%), and Indian (-27%), among others as market participants increasingly turned to demand from domestic consumers.


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