Steel prices for 2016 kickoff a brand new ballgame! Historically prices in the first quarter are somewhat stronger and because mills purchased scrap inventories modestly over the past several months, supply and demand tends are favoring better prices. January starts off the year with modest price increases as the market is gathering some strength stemmed by increased demand in regional markets. These stronger prices are likely just mills restocking their depleted scrap inventories and may not be a strong indication of healthier market conditions. Only time will tell if prices will hold or begin to retreat.
The price of new steel products has also begun to claw their way back from historic lows and customers in the construction and HVAC sectors have a more positive outlook for business in 2016.
Even with the slight uptick in in prices and customer forecasts, concerns continue to mount over declining oil prices and how they historically track very closely with steel. At the moment, oil and steel prices are not moving together, but that relationship could re-align in the months ahead.
Overall, the “Big Picture” appears to be gravitating towards somewhat better times in the steel scrap market, but only time will tell if these better conditions are temporary re-stockings efforts or sustained market strength demanding additional tons.
Prices on base metals continued their weak trend in December and closed out 2015 in negative fashion across the board – falling double digits. Precious metals, gold and silver, ended the year in negative territory but gave up less than 10% of their overall value in 2015 and escaped the year in the best condition. The silver lining to notice here is that base metals have slowed their rate of decline and only fell 1-3% during December, an improvement over the past months. The New Year will likely be a difficult one for commodity prices due to cooling Chinese growth and demand, a strong U.S. dollar and an oversupply of inventory in the world marketplace.
|As of January 8, 2016||% Change|
|COMMODITIES||1 Month||6 Month||12 Month|
|Copper Comex ($/LB)||$ 2.03||-1.1||-19.2||-29%|
|Aluminum 3Mo ($/LB) – LME||$ 0.67||-0.3||-11.8||-21%|
|Nickel 3Mo ($/LB) – LME||$ 3.81||-3.3||-23.3||-44%|
|Lead 3Mo ($/LB) – LME||$ 0.74||-3.3||-8.1||-13%|
|Zinc 3Mo ($/LB) – LME||$ 0.68||-2.4||-24.6||-32%|
|Silver ($/OZ)||$ 14.04||-0.9||-7.3||-8%|
|Crude Oil ($)||$ 33.30||-14.6||-38.6||-35%|
|Scrap Steel Prices – No. 1 Heavy Melt||-49%|
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