Given the recent trade spat between China and the US over the past weekend with their renewed vigor to tax, I mean tariff, their citizens, I thought that I would shed some light on our metals market. In addition, to share some trends that we are seeing with our client base and discussions with other yards in our region.
We are seeing what I think is a cyclical slowdown in automotive production and this, I believe, is having a major impact on the large sector of our manufacturing space that relying on the automotive market. We are seeing the impact on the high level by looking to our stock market (re: Magna just has a huge hit to their earnings) and the dealer incentives to move cars (impacting Honda and Toyota’s recent earnings). However, our manufacturing economy is larger than ‘just’ automotive.
I think what we are seeing is that the market is healthy, but not growing at the pace economist had predicted over the past few quarters. We are seeing healthy volumes of scrap come through our facilities and our consumers are telling us that they have no problems filling orders – so I don’t think we have a supply problem – and thereby a healthy manufacturing base. I think that we are seeing an area where mills have purchased enough supply to meet their needs for their foreseeable quarter or two and are moving to a buy when I need it mentality – and at the price I want to pay.
We are seeing this play out with mills with our consumers cutting their buys or of other mills reducing their buys, putting more scrap in the market. One thing that we have spoken about here in the past is the lack of export market to relieve this pressure, due to the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. The de-facto result of the tariffs is creating a captive market where North American mills can decide the quality and quantity without concern of losing their flow of scrap metal feedstock.
So as the article I have attached from a recent AMM report on stainless notes – “The bloom is off the rose…”. This reality is not excluded to just nickel stainless, but we are seeing it across the board.
What we believe we are seeing here is a healthy cyclical process with the addition of tariff’s making the pricing more volatile. I haven’t seen base commodities being this politicized in my 15 years in the recycling industry. In the past, it was the investment bankers that were throwing the wrenches at us – now it is seems like everyone is.
We believe that we will be experiencing a tradition summer decline in commodity pricing across the board for scrap metal – with both ferrous and non-ferrous pricing coming under pressure. There will be spikes up and down, but overall, I feel the trend will not be our friend. Baring a resolution between China and the US, I don’t see a near term reversal. However, the decline in scrap metal pricing should predicate a lower new material pricing (although the tariffs are skewing this a tad) – always looking for the silver lining….
We cannot fight the market – but we can ensure that we are doing our job to best market your scrap materials and give you the tools to do efficiently and effectively. No rabbits being pulled out of a hat, just old fashion hard work and making sure that your getting the best value for your scrap metal.
If you have any questions about your scrap metal program give me a call or an e-mail.
Ami Tsarfati at 11:45 AM
Thank you to our community
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
THANK YOU – TO OUR COMMUNITY
On behalf of our team, we would like to thank our region’s emergency response teams for coming to our aid yesterday.
We experienced a small fire in our yard that our team was unable to contain, so we called 911. Our fire department was able to easily contain the isolated fire and get immediate aid to our team member who suffered some flash burns – who has since returned safely to work, thank goodness.
We would also like to extend a thank you to our customers and community members who have reached out to us in our challenging time to ensure that our team was safe and offered us support.
We take pride in being part of the fabric of our community. We are humbled by our community’s support in our challenging time.
Ami Tsarfati at 8:23 AM
Stainless Steel Market Update January 2019
Friday, January 4, 2019
Happy New Year!
I trust that we have all enjoyed some festive time over the past few weeks.
We certainly have enjoyed our time off the regular schedule – though both my wife and I are looking forward to January 7th…. back to school day!!
Looking back at the year, from a scrappers lens, we have enjoyed some ups and down. On the ups side, ferrous scrap streams, have for the most part, been relatively stable and year over year stronger. However, from the non-ferrous side, we have seen a major pull back in pricing in Copper, Aluminum, Lead and Stainless prices.
As discussed in my previous e-mail in late November, the trend in stainless scrap is still on a negative trend. As noted in this AMM article, stainless steel scrap tags continue to falter. Although nickel prices seem to have their floor, what the consumers are telling me now is that the spread on the price for nickel units is widening. In scrapper talk, earlier in the year, the mills were giving us a rate of 80% a nickel unit, we are moving towards a 6-67% nickel unit world now.
So expect some continued softening in non-ferrous scrap metal streams. Specifically with stainless, we continue to see this trend for the short to medium term – unless something fundamental changes.
So enjoy the last few days of the winter break. For all of us parents, our holiday will start on Monday!
Ami Tsarfati at 9:40 AM
Stainless Steel Market Update
Monday, November 26, 2018
The song remains the same…
Just as Led Zeppelin released an album of the same name in the 70’s, the stainless market appears to be stuck in the same cord of softening prices.
Indeed, the nickel market has recently hit a psychological ‘blow’ with nickel trading below $5/lb – AMM quotes one dealer stating the LME is at the edge of the cliff!
The song of lowering scrap metal prices has unfortunately been sung by myself since spring, as market pricing and consumer demand appear to working in concert – resulting in yet continued price deterioration.
The dance floor that is underpinning the LME continues to drop. This is main driver of declining pricing is the decline that the LME has experienced over the past 12 months. However, back to our economics 101 – there is enough supply to keep the mills working, so there is no pressure on mills to tighten spreads or look for supply. It’s a broken record, but based on the article I read recently in the AMM, there doesn’t appear to be a change in the needle until late winter/early spring for scrap metal pricing to firm up.
As I have said before, the pricing is still no where near the levels of yesteryear when dealers were selling 304 stainless for 25 cents. However, the scrap metal pricing softness is affecting both 300 series stainless and ferritic (400 series/magnetic) stainless all the same. So brace yourselves for softer scrap metal pricing for your stainless and nickel alloy scrap metal pricing.
As you know, we watch the markets closely in order to get you the best value for your scrap materials.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Ami Tsarfati at 5:06 PM
Scrap Battery Prices Update
Monday, November 26, 2018
Is the sky falling?
Luckily, the sky is not falling, but the price for scrap lead acid batteries has been. According to a recent article in the AMM, recent price drops at smelters have pushed prices to a 2 year low.
The combination of a volatile and lower moving LME price for lead coupled with ample supply, the smelters appear to be taking full advantage of the situation, and as the article illustrates, are pushing the prices paid for scrap lower.
Based on my discussions with our consumer and other dealers, the fact is, there is a lot of supply out there and smelters are only going to pay what they have to.
So as we enter the winter season, we anticipate further price drops for scrap lead acid batteries. With cold weather killing battery cells, we anticipate the supply of batteries to remain constant or increase, giving the consumers no incentive to tighten their spreads or pricing. As the article notes, I would expect them to test the floor for their pricing.
As you know, we are keeping our ear to the ground and will constantly look to provide you value for your scrap batteries and all other metals and alloys.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Ami Tsarfati at 5:05 PM
Friday, October 19, 2018
As we experienced our dusting of snow this past week it made me realize that our last blog occurred when the thought of anything below 30 degrees was an eternity away! However, here we are there are number of items to briefly touch on.
Fall Clean Up
Since Thanksgiving, we have experience 25+ degrees to below zero. Not to dwell too much on the weather, but as the ‘Starks’ keep on reminding us, ‘Winter is Coming’. If your shop, business, farm, property is in need of bins to help remove the clutter that have been building all year, give us a call and we can set you up. Best to get the rubbish and misc. scrap out before the snow flies and buries it again for another year.
We are continuing to experience a lot of noise and volatility in the market place. Although I would suggest that pricing in general is still very healthy, it would be fair to say that there is now a clear disconnect between scrap metal pricing and new material – whether ferrous or non-ferrous.
Tariffs and trade wars continue to disrupt the market and the flows of scrap materials. A major looser in this has been aluminum. Prior to China banning the importations of scrap metal, a lot of lower grade materials that required additional sorting and handling tended to end up in China, such as the aluminum bi-product from shredding tin and cars (called ‘Zorba’ and ‘Twitch’). Now this material is staying in the local North American market, and smelters are beginning to use this product, which is a lower grade alum product, as a substitute input in their aluminum melts. In short, this has caused the price of prime grade alum scrap material to falter, as there is not need for the higher priced material in the mill’s melts.
As with the aluminum scrap taking a ‘hit’ relative to the LME market price, we are also seeing ferrous scrap rangebound with export markets drying up due to tariff pressures on the imported steel. We are noting that our customer’s new steel pricing has continued to rise to levels not seeing in the past, where as scrap metal pricing is not longer moving in tandem with these price increases. I suspect that this situation will continue until tariffs are removed or the export market finds a new growth market for their steel products to increase offshore demand for scrap.
If you haven’t been around our yards, please come and visit. We have recently put into operation a new material handler with a twist. Our new Fuchs 350 excavator is state of the art with a quick connect option that allows the crane to operate as a shear or a material handler/loader. From safety to efficiencies, this machine will ensure that we are serving our clients needs and we are doing so in an environmentally responsible way, as our machine is equipped with a Tier IV engine exhaust system.
Enjoy the fall and stay tuned for our next update!
Ami Tsarfati at 2:49 PM
Copper and Tarriffs
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Good morning guys,
As I was thinking about the subject line – copper and tariffs – I realized that the word tariff has come up more in more in my conversations with colleagues about scrap over the past few months. This 6 letter word is quickly replacing many 4 letter words that I use….
All kidding aside, for many of you receiving this e-mail, scrap copper is a major part of your scrap metal programs – if not is volume at least in value. So I wanted to take a moment to share with you what is transpiring in the copper world.
Over the past few years, as some of you may be aware, China, the main driver for most commodities, has been trying to reform their economy and control their pollution. As part of this effort, the government has been making the importation of lower grade materials more challenging to prohibitive. Perhaps since the Olympics in Beijing 10 years back, there have been various curbs from increased duties on items, increased inspections on materials coming into the country to more recently, deeming certain scrap materials, such as low grade coppers (including insulated wire) as ‘waste’ and aiming to prohibit the general importation of these items by 2020.
This past week, China has decided to respond the recent round of US tariffs by applying a 25% tariff on the importation of copper scrap from the US. As this AMM article more eloquently communicates, this will now effectively stop all meaningful trade of copper scraps between the US to China, leaving more material in the domestic market. When I dusted off my old economics 101 book, increased supply to a market that is in ‘equilibrium’ will cause the price to decline if new demand to make up for the new supply isn’t found. Based on my export consumers, they are laying the foundation for new Asian markets, but there is no real alternative market to the Chinese market at this point. So unless mining slows down or another home for this scrap opens up, there will be a potential bottleneck coming our way of scrap copper.
This doesn’t mean a collapse in the price of copper – though we may experience some additional volatility in the LME/COMEX pricing and I would suspect a gradual decline in pricing. However, this is a globally traded commodity, like oil, and as our world economy appears to be chugging, like oil, copper is an integral ingredient to the world economy. They don’t call it Dr. Copper for nothing.
As always, if you have any questions or want to discuss ‘scrap’, give me a shout or an e-mail.
Ami Tsarfati at 8:08 AM
Hedging Our Bets
Friday, June 22, 2018
The roller coaster we call the scrap metal market continues to live up to its reputation of being unpredictable to say the least. Whether it is tariffs, NAFTA, interest rates, international trade issues or simply a strike at a copper mine in Chile, these global events are having a major impact on our metal markets – both ferrous and non-ferrous. Its important that you can work with a partner that can educate you about the markets and give you the tools to help make the best decisions for your company’s recycling needs. Joseph & Company is this type of company to partner with you.
We believe that working with a recycler doesn’t need to a zero-sum game with one party winning at the other party’s expense. Our unique approach to marketing your scrap material means that we will be a partner in ensuring we are marketing your scrap for the best prices and we have the tools to ensure that your getting consistent value, especially in volatile markets.
If you’re a generator of scrap and would like to learn more about our approach to recycling and marketing your scrap metal, give us a call and find out why we are the region’s recycler of choice.
Ami Tsarfati at 4:25 PM
What the Trump is Going On?
Friday, June 1, 2018
So I dusted off my old economics text books from my days at McMaster to find out what a tariff is and what this means to our scrap metal industry. Needless to say, beyond the basic definition of ‘tax’ and the resulting ‘trade wars’ that these decisions generally make, I didn’t come away with a text book answer of what to expect in the upcoming weeks and months.
This climate is new territory for many of us and I do not think that our consumers (mills) have an answer for what this means on their business climate. Quite frankly, I do not think that industry expected ‘Section 232’ to result in Canadian/US tariffs. What we do know, is that at 12:01 on June 1, tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% aluminum imports took effect.
We are expecting this summer to be a roller coaster as our mills and our suppliers find out how these tariffs will be affecting their business. We will be keeping our fingers on the pulse and ensure that we are able to get the best markets for your scrap material – regardless of what is going on in the market place.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!
Ami Tsarfati at 12:31 PM
Stainless Steel Market update May 2018
Tuesday, May 8, 2018
With spring and comes change and it appears that change, or at least a shift, in the metals market is underway.
Nickel and chromed based scrap materials are starting to face headwinds that defy the LME and business fundamental – and seem to be more based on trade wars.
I would suggest that this will likely be played out with other base metals as well as the tariff negotiations between the USA and the world play out.
In short, we are beginning to feel a slight chill in the pricing in the past few days as compared to a few weeks ago, as this AMM article is suggesting. Nothing to cause anyone to jump out of a window, but certainly, history has shown me that trends are your friend and if the pendulum swings a new direction, it may overshoot until it finds its new balance.
We will keep on eye on the market and ensure that we are able to get strong pricing for your scrap material. However, as we see market changes, we like to keep our suppliers and friends in loop.