Feeling Sideways, COVID-19 & Scrap – 3/25/20

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Good Day iScrappers!

Oh baby baby it’s a wild world. I think that phrase gives us a really good idea of what’s going on right now with all the craziness that is happening in the economy and the world. We hope that everyone is staying healthy and listening to your local and national government’s warnings as much as possible. With such funny times upon us, every single day seems like we’re trying to figure things out in a new and better way.

We are definitely going to talk about some of the commodity prices that we have seen over the last few weeks as the markets have changed in different ways than before. We have seen the iron and steel market dropping aggressively with changes of over $50 per ton taking place over the last week and a half if you add everything together. Copper has been extremely surprising and resilient with all things considered right now. The only thing that we consider more resilient is the US and the world as we work through these problems.

Quick Numbers

  • 7% – Global demand for copper goes towards the auto industry.
  • $45 – Amount per ton that steel prices have dropped the last few days. 
  • $2.09 – National gas average price per gallon right now.

Social Scrap from Our Facebook Group

Watching people’s reactions to shutting down for a short while makes us smile. It is always refreshing to see a little humor in tough times (especially through any type of social media channel!). Thanks goes out to Dave E. for giving us a laugh and also showing us the great tools under those future scrap cans!

 

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Non-Ferrous Market News

Let’s get aluminum out of the way as the market does not seem to change in any way shape or form even while all of the crazy stuff is going on. We have seen the aluminum market remain relatively unchanged all of this year and really for the last six months. As it is one of the most common metals used in so many applications as multiple manufacturing facilities shut down we will see less aluminum being used and possible scrap prices getting driven down even more.

Let’s talk about everyone’s favorite red metal and that would be copper. We have seen an overall drop of about $0.50 since the beginning of February but we have seen some resiliency overall in the copper markets. While the stock market has seemed to average daily gains or losses of 500 points or more, we have been able to see the copper market remaining relatively resilient. On Tuesday, we saw the market increase about $0.10 per pound and while we saw small pullbacks earlier today, that’s still pretty good considering everything else that’s going on right now.

The problem that we see now is whether scrapyards are open or closed and that seems to be a big factor in what people are doing. How many people are upset that their scrap yard or similar scrapyards in the area have closed, you have to think about the health perspective from a scrapyard’s point of you. While dealing with dozens or hundreds of customers a day all of the scrapyard employees are exposed to different outlets that cause health concerns in such a funny time. These are some of the reasons that scrap yards are putting on their temporary clothes or shut down for one and two weeks to protect their workers from any health problems. How so many people are upset at this? We have to know that this is a short term problem to help solve and cut off a potential long-term issue.

Reported Non-Ferrous Scrap Prices (3/18 – 3/25):

Location

Material

Price

Starke, FL Aluminum Cans $0.25 / lb
Rockaway, NJ #1 Bare Bright Copper Wire $1.75 / lb
Bristol, PA Aluminum #3 $0.25 / lb
New Richland, MN #1 Copper Tubing $1.48 / lb
Dallas, TX Car/Truck Batteries $0.18/ lb
Lakeland, FL Aluminum Turnings $0.22 / lb
Chicago, IL #1 Bare Bright Copper Wire $1.45 / lb
Potomac, MD Sheet Aluminum $0.18 / lb
Sherman, TX Aluminum 6063 $0.40 / lb
Gainesville, FL Insulated Copper Wire $0.39 / lb
Vicksburg, MS #1 Bare Bright Copper Wire $1.65 / lb
Miami, FL Low Grade Boards $0.05 / lb
CHECK CURRENT PRICES

Ferrous Market News

With oil prices continuing to fall and jump all over the place, we are trying to watch to see how iron and steel will be affected. One of the big factors we have seen is multiple large manufacturing facilities shutting down such as car plants. Those plants that we first talked about account not only for a large amount of copper but also a large amount of steel and aluminum. With the car plants shut down as well as multiple other non-essential manufacturing facilities shut down it has been tough to gauge levels needed. With the global demand almost at a standstill…so many factories and furnaces across the world shut down . We have seen prices drop between $30 and $50 per ton this week alone and that is not including the drops of $30-$50 per ton that we saw last week.

Suggested Reading: Why Do Oil Prices Affect Scrap Prices?

This might become an unfortunate new normal over the next few weeks as we wait to see how the market reacts once we get back into the swing of things. Overall this is going to be very dicey and very hard to navigate as we have not seen the price drops like this in a very long period of time.

Reported Ferrous Scrap Prices (3/18 – 3/25):

Location

Material

Price

Scottville, KY Shreddable Steel $0.02 /lb
Studio City, CA Light Iron $60 /ton
Oklahoma City, OK Light Iron $40 /ton
Columbus, OH Light Iron $0.05 /lb
Louisville, KY Light Iron $110 /ton
Pendleton, IN Light Iron $85 /ton
Austin, TX Light Iron $0.03 /lb
CHECK CURRENT PRICES

Other Markets

Gold Is Up!

Well, we have always given you reports on other precious metal markets and this seems to be a week that is much stranger both in good and bad ways than normal. Let’s first talk about gold. Gold has seen some of its highest prices in years with so much speculation, and surety and market questions that have arisen we have seen gold prices hit $1,700 per ounce. Compare that to the all-time highs back in 2008 of almost $1900 per ounce and we’re right around the corner from getting close to that record.

What does that mean for you and your electronic scrap? With relatively few buyers looking to take such large gambles on gold prices going up so quickly, you might not see as much of an increase as you would expect. Unless you’re trading gold futures or physical gold that is off of circuit boards or in bullion for- it is going to be very difficult to see large increases with buyers being very pessimistic that these high prices will last for a long period of time.

In the Catalytic Converter market, we have seen all three prices rebound over the last week since a large market erosion took place. We saw Platinum and Palladium have nice 5 to 10% increases as the Rhodium markets have slightly stabilized even though there are many that are pessimistic that the market will improve as drastically as we saw the first 10 weeks of 2020. One thing that we have seen and heard is that multiple large catalytic converter buyers have been hurt by these large price drops while holding hundreds if not thousands of catalytic converters that were purchased at a much higher price point than they are today. We’re talking about prices that could be anywhere from 30 to 60% off of their highs and many people are holding large losses for their catalytic converter’s. Our sister company, www.RRCats.com is continuing to buy and has not shut their doors or quoting abilities as well as purchasing for anyone.

Thank You.

The only thing that we truly wish for you right now as well as for your friends and families is health. We thank all the healthcare workers in the front lines in the hospitals, as well as the first responders for doing all that they are right now during such incredibly difficult economic and social times. Please adhere to social distancing as well as have a massive amount of optimism that our country will get through this and become stronger than we were before.

– Tom

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