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Has the slide in ferrous export finally steadied?

By Bill Beck - August 22, 2016

With the June numbers in for ferrous scrap exports, it appears that export markets have finally stabilized.

Industry Survey of Factors Affecting the Upcoming Market

Imagine having advanced notice of what your allies, competitors, peers and clients are thinking about what's to come in each new monthly scrap market. Scrap Trends Outlook, delivers an exclusive look at where prices, supplies, demand and other factors may be heading. Each month, Scrap Trends Outlook gives you a chance to listen in on the emerging industry conversation about the upcoming scrap market and provides a comprehensive tool for buyers and sellers to gaze into an industry consensus of where the price and availability of scrap may be heading.

Numbers and Letters

A quick look at key points expected to affect next month's markets


Prices have not risen across the board in a September market in six years, since 2010. Still, prices have dropped across the board in only four of the past 10 Septembers, meaning they were mostly up or sideways in the other years. Most of those changes were small, although 2008 experienced a large decrease as the financial markets collapsed.


The Scrap Trends Outlook indicator number for mill demand points to a slight increase in the need for scrap in September. This is based on two major factors: Although mills are coming out of summer slowdowns and shutdowns, the steel capacity utilization rate is holding steady, even if low; and market volatility could still affect production, orders.


The percentage of respondents in this month’s survey who expect scrap prices to fall or, at worst, be sideways next month. About 77 percent are looking for sideways. Prime and foundry grades lead the way in expected market drops, with cut grades looking stronger. Shredded scrap is expected to have the best shot at a sideways market.

Our Methodology

Scrap Trends Outlook Methodology: A numerical value is given to the overall trend for the upcoming month after all the survey results of a series of 15 indexes are calculated based on a weighted average. A number close to 50 will give a ‘sideways’ or ‘unchanged’ reading, while numbers above 50 will give a reading for a bullish trend. The closer to 100, the more likely it is that prices will trend upward. Conversely, a number below 50 will give a reading for a bearish trend. The closer to 0, the more likely it is that prices will trend downward. N/A means there were too few survey responses to publish a reliable figure.

Taking Account

A look at how Scrap Trends Outlook Index numbers for June stacked up against actual changes in last month's market.

Prime Grades

July Review
July Review
July outlook:
Bearish (46.4)
July's actual change:
Busheling: - $7/3% 
Bundles: - $7/3% 

Cut Grades

July Review
July Review
July outlook:
Bearish (48.0)
July's actual change:
No. 1 HM: + $2/1% 
P&S: + $5/2% 

Frag Grades

July Review
July Review
July outlook:
Bearish (43.3)
July's actual change:
Shred: - $1/0.6% 

Foundry Grades

July Review
July Review
July outlook:
Bearish (48.2)
July's actual change:
Punchings: - $5/1% 
Misc. Foundry: - $8/2% 

10 Things to Watch

Never miss what's going to happen in next month's ferrous scrap market again

Sign-up for the new free alert, 'Ten things to watch'  and we'll tell you what we're keeping an eye on for next month's ferrous scrap markets


Mill production and mill inventories are expected to flatten out or decline in September
Broker demand may remain steady or increase slightly
Demand for alternative irons will be steady
General economic signs remain mixed, unpredictable
Supply will be tight, mill demand may rise slightly
Mill orders are expected to decline, which may put a damper on the short-term need for scrap
Transportation may work against sellers this month
Export demand is expected to be more robust
Service center demand is expected to be down
Historically, prices are mixed in September markets

Notable Quotes about Next Month

" With all three mills in this district going down for maintenance, it will be challenging to find enough domestic buyers for the scrap that is available."
" The overall metals supply chain remains taught with lean inventories from scrap to finished steel."
" Barring any appreciable change in demand-supply fundamentals, pricing should remain stable."
" Maybe exports can offer some help, but even there it may not be enough."
" The market is in balance."
" Limited demand and limited supply."