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Ferrous - UK market overview - 13 July 2012

In the north-east, most of the region’s yards are reporting scrap price reductions of £10 per tonne. Demand from the local mills remains patchy at best. Some merchants note that planned summer maintenance downtime has been brought forward a few weeks, as the poor economic climate and lower demand has tempered production rates.

Yards in Midlands have little to report, as the home steelworks have yet to settle prices and deliveries for July. Merchants say current price levels are more than likely to roll over before the summer holidays kick in properly.

In the north-west, merchants continue to report a quiet period of trading, with slow but steady business coming through the gates. Unlike the neighbouring north- east, scrap prices remain unchanged and some traders are hoping that these will hold during the quieter summer period.

Any further reductions may prompt some sellers to sit on material in the hope that the market will improve during the coming weeks. But as one merchant pointed out, this would ultimately “pull wagons off the road”.

Merchants in the south report that prices have come off all grades of scrap by around £10 per tonne, and they warn that prices could fall further if the broader economic climate does not improve. But even with this decrease, merchants feel that prices remain high enough for people to steal from yard skips.

Despite the fact that dockside prices are still falling, steelworks in south Wales have cut across-the-board prices for July by only £10 per tonne. This is seen as a surprisingly small reduction which one direct supplier attributes to ongoing shortages of all the usual grades.

He says: “Some of the big exporters have got thousands of tonnes of metal stockpiled on the docks, but there is very little unsold stock remaining in processors’ and collectors’ yards.”

In addition, the shortage of all types and grades of raw materials shows no signs of improvement, and day-to-day yard intakes throughout the area remain low.

With the Scottish home market outlets restricted to a few small foundries and the export markets declining rapidly, prices throughout the area are at least £15 per tonne below June levels.

As one merchant told MRW: “Prices and demand are not the main problems. I don’t think we would get much more into the yard, even if we could pay more. But industry, manufacturing and car breakers are on their knees, and you can’t buy what does not exist.”

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