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Ferrous metals - UK market overview - 24 August

The home steel mills finally settled August prices last week and, overall, they have lifted by an average of £5 per tonne.

Current demand from the mills remains subdued, and a shortage of particular grades, such No 2 steel, has been the main driver in the modest price rises this month. But lack of available scrap continues to be the key factor in keeping prices range- bound for the present.

In traders’ yards, gate trade is unseasonably quiet and merchants are uncertain that business will pick up by the time September arrives.

Home market prices are holding the £10 per tonne rise they gained at the beginning of this month and are still firmer than export markets, which remain moribund.

Some foundries increased prices by £10 per tonne last week, but the move is said by merchants to be due to raw material shortages rather than any increase in the production of new steel or cast iron. With only tiny amounts of any grades available for processing, many yards are barely ticking over.

Despite no demand from European steelworks and intermittent interest from the Far East, exporters are still buying all the usual grades. But stocks are once more building up as very little is being shipped out, and prices seem to have weakened slightly at some sites.

A chronic shortage of all grades persists, and several merchants attribute fairly stable prices to this factor.

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