• Weekly Market Report

Commodity Market Developments

Ferrous: Thanks to everyone who joined us for our virtual ferrous spotlight last week, and especially to our moderator Brandi Harleaux and guest speaker Blake Hurtik, who both did a fantastic job.

Two slides of particular interest from Mr. Hurtik’s presentation covered the recent price development for the major scrap grades, including the strength in prime scrap prices:


And here are the planned restarts for the major auto makers, including restarts from the big 3 scheduled for today:


As for first quarter global steel production, here are the year-to-date changes by major producer/scrap consumer, including the nearly 10% increase in year-to-date Turkish steel production


In corporate news, Reuters reports that “German conglomerate Thyssenkrupp is in talks with international rivals about consolidating its loss-making steel business, a person familiar with the matter said. The talks, to be announced as part of a strategy revamp later on Monday, follow a 372 million euro ($402 million) loss that Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe, Germany’s largest steelmaker, reported in the first half of the group’s fiscal year. The update is expected to accelerate Thyssenkrupp’s dismantling, a process that started last year when the group essentially put most of its divisions, including car parts, warships and plant building on the block. Shares in Thyssenkrupp, which have lost nearly two-thirds of their value over the past 12 months after a raft of profit warnings and dwindling investor confidence, were 7% higher at 1147 GMT.”

Nickel, Stainless, Alloy Scrap Exports
According to trade data from the Census Bureau, U.S. exports of nickel-based scrap increased more than 12% by volume during Jan-Mar 2020 as compared to the first quarter of 2019. Stainless steel scrap exports were reportedly up 3.5% in the first quarter (see details below), while alloy steel scrap exports (excluding stainless) declined nearly 21% year-on-year due to sharply reduced volumes to Canada, Hong Kong, India, and other markets.

The reported increase in U.S. stainless steel scrap exports stemmed from increased shipments to India and Mexico, which more than offset weaker trade flows with Taiwan and Canada. Stainless scrap exports to India – currently the largest overseas market for U.S. stainless scrap – increased 31% during the first quarter of 2020 to more than 37,000 metric tons, while shipments to Mexico reportedly jumped to nearly 25,000 metric tons. Exports to Pakistan reportedly approached 10,000 tons, although as our readers have pointed out previously, there’s no known stainless production within Pakistan, throwing into question the validity of some of these numbers.


Plastic scrap exports decreased nearly 17 percent in the 1st quarter 2020 from the same period a year ago. The volume of plastic scrap exported was 141,147 metric tons, down 28,371 metric tons from a year ago. The concentration of the top 15 countries receiving U.S. exports increased in Q1 2020 to 92.4 percent, up from 89.7 percent in 1st quarter 2029. Canada remains the top country followed by Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Vietnam. As U.S. companies continue to adjust to foreign market changes, three countries are in the top 15 this year that weren’t there last year: Pakistan, Ecuador, and Latvia.  And three countries dropped out of the top 15 this year: China, Senegal, and Philippines.


U.S. Plastic Scrap Exports by Commodity Type
The two largest types of plastic scrap, PE and PET, fell over 21 percent in the 1st quarter 2020 to a combined 99,644 metric tons, accounting for nearly 71 percent of total U.S. plastic scrap exports. (Down from an 81 percent share a year ago.) PVC scrap exports reportedly boomed in the 1st quarter 2020 to 16,809 metric tons, up 141 percent from a year ago.


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