US lead scrap prices surged by 3-6¢/lb on Wednesday as exports continued to boom despite a muted domestic market.
The weekly Davis Index for whole undrained batteries inched up further this week, increasing by 1.4¢/lb to 32.1¢/lb delivered US consumer on Wednesday.
Exporters have seen the demand for scrap batteries inching up especially after South Korean buyers re-entered the market for the material. The current oversupply in the batteries market in the US means that there is enough material for both the upcoming winter season for the domestic market as well as exports, according to a market participant. However, rising exports of scrap batteries are also likely to tighten supply enough to elevate the prices in the domestic market, a producer with operations on the East Coast and the Midwest told Davis Index.
Battery prices may be inching up, but the demand for scrap lead, especially soft lead scrap has surged over the week as more overseas buyers are looking to purchase the material. Export prices have mostly remained in the range of 79-80¢/lb fas US port for soft lead, though some market participants are hearing offers at as much as 85¢/lb fas for the material.
Hard lead has also increased in tandem, though to a lesser extent, according to a supplier from the East Coast. According to another supplier, the dwindling stocks in LME warehouses along with rising freight costs, is also causing scrap prices to rise.
The Davis Index for heavy soft lead increased the most of all grades, rising by 6.5¢/lb to 78.6¢/lb delivered US consumer, while hard lead climbed by 3¢/lb to 68.2¢/lb delivered.
The annual contracts for lead ingots were settled this week at lower-than-expected prices, leading Lead ingot premiums to correct slightly with the index declining by 0.2¢/lb to 10.2¢/lb under the three-month LME Lead contract.
The LME Lead prices declined this week with the official three-month LME Lead contract closing Wednesday at $2.049.50/mt down by $54/mt from $2,103.50/mt on Dec 9.