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Warming economies encourage trade in ferrous metals

Prices rise and furnaces are re-lit as global markets rebuild.

The recovery in headline cfr prices for shipments of HMS 80/20 heavy steel scrap from the EU – a benchmark for Recycling International’s charts on the in this section – has been maintained. The June high of US$ 252 reported in the previous issue was followed by orders in July of US$ 261 in July, US$ 271 in August and – at the time of writing – US$ 277 in September.

The ferrous supply chain has had to cope with major and unprecedented market shifts this year, including plunging steel mill capacity utilisation rates, frozen US car production and curtailed scrapyard operations. But resurgent US steel prices following the Covid-19 pandemic encouraged a positive approach during an online forum organised by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.

The panel included Blake Hurtik, editor of Argus Media, who re-traced the movement of average ferrous prices for mill delivery in the US during the year and noted they had largely returned to pre-April levels or were even bettering them with surging mill demand. He said ferrous markets had increased in the past month by ‘a healthy US$ 30 to US$ 50 per tonne’.

A strong export picture was boosted by momentum from Turkey whose ‘resilience drove the global scrap market’. Fellow speaker Spencer Johnson, a risk management consultant at StoneX (formerly Intl FCStone), took encouragement from future rates for Turkish HMS 80/20 although he pointed out that margins were small.

Hurtik pointed out that mill capacity utilisation in the US was also improving. The pre-Covid-19 level of around 80% had shrunk to 50% by April and was currently back to 65%. ‘Could we be entering a period when supply comes more in line with demand? And is this going to bring scrap out of the woodwork?’

Stay tuned! You can read the full ferrous market analysis in the upcoming issue of Recycling International.

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