NEW YORK Steel mills in
Chicago, St. Louis and other major steelmaking regions,
including parts of the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic, saw no
change in ferrous scrap prices this month as sellers refused to
consider weaker offers despite diminished demand from several
"Flat as a pancake. Zero change
by all," one scrap market source said of Decembers
Earlier market expectations of
higher ferrous scrap prices in December based on typical
seasonal trends meant buyers at most mills were content trading
flat, sources said.
There were sporadic reports of
some trades trekking about $5 per ton lower in regions like
Chicago, but those were viewed as "minor corrections" for
suppliers that garnered higher tags in November.
"Any down numbers are probably
getting someone back in line that had gotten a bigger number
last month for whatever reason," a second source said.
Most sources in Chicago and St.
Louis said that early attempts to soften prices even slightly
were quickly squashed after sellers refused to relent, forcing
both markets to settle sideways by Wednesday afternoon.
"We went sideways. On a few
small deals we managed to take it down a little bit, but that
was to suppliers we paid a bit more last month," said a buyer
for one Midwest mill, which nearly halved its December intake
compared to last months volume.
Several other Midwest mills also
entered with smaller buying programs for December as they look
to keep year-end inventories lean ahead of the upcoming
For a majority of the tons
traded, Chicago sources reported unchanged prices from November
levels, when No. 1 heavy melt settled at $359 per gross ton and
No. 1 busheling at $390.
Several sources also reported
sideways numbers for shredded scrap in Chicago, but with actual
transaction prices on some large tonnages still left to be
negotiated, shred stood out as the only major grade yet to be
settled in Chicago.
In St. Louis, No. 1 heavy melt
was unchanged at $335 per ton and shredded was unchanged at
Chicagos and St.
Louis sideways settlements came on the heels of a similar
trend in Detroit, which finished the bulk of its December trade
on Tuesday at flat numbers (
amm.com, Dec. 4).
Outside of the Midwest, the
trend also was largely sideways. Mills in the Ohio Valley and
parts of the Southeast so far have seen November prices roll
into December, sources said.
"Everyone is sideways on all
grades with no exceptions," said an Ohio scrapyard broker who
sells into both areas.
In Youngstown, Ohio, shred is
selling for $400 per ton, No. 1 busheling is at $395 and No. 1
heavy melting scrap remains at $355.
Following the sideways move, one
Ohio scrap executive said the annual expectation of better
prices in the new year is off his radar. "There is a hope that
January is going to pop, but it is crystal clear to me that is
not the case. If you think January and February are going to be
strong months, youd best get off that delusional train at
the next stop. Things look pretty bleak," he said. "There is
not a lot of scrap out there, but there is not a lot of demand
Birmingham, Ala., also recorded
a lateral move. One mill initially offered up $5 per ton to
secure its needs but altered its course and headed sideways
after it became apparent that the market was flat.
In Pittsburgh, where prices have
not yet settled, a mill buyer said that the general malaise
gripping the economy is apparent in his mills softening
In Cleveland, mills also are
still out shopping for their December needs. One mill picked up
some shred and cut grades at a $5-per-ton discount to November
levels, but Cleveland nonetheless appears to be preparing to
join the ranks and settle sideways.
Talks also are continuing in the
Carolinas, where some mills completed their buys at sideways
numbers and other mills continue to hold out in hope of
securing their needs at a $5 discount. With export activity
waning, some traditional exporters are said to be offering
scrap into the domestic market on the southeastern seaboard,
supporting the possible downward trend.
"Whatever it is, it is. Demand
is just not as strong as it has been in previous Decembers," a
southeastern mill buyer said.
Lisa Gordon, Pittsburgh,
contributed to this story.