The previous report mentioned that, with most people away on holidays, business was generally quiet. The majority of people involved in the non-ferrous metals trade within the Benelux market have now returned to their respective desks. However, their return has not led to a change of pace or overall circumstances, meaning that business remains very quiet. The exception is zinc, consumers of which have a sound demand for Zn units. However, availability remains tight.
All other metals seem to be suffering from the opposite conditions: wider availability versus much lower demand. The best example is aluminium whose market is still challenged by oversupply. Foundries are carrying high inventories but are faced with poor demand for their end products. Ingot prices have taken a serious beating and comments from various contacts within the Benelux market all signal a similar trend. It is a challenge to get a hold of the aluminium buyer. On top of this, an oversupplied North American market continues to offer cheaper aluminium units within Europe.
As for stainless, foundries seem to have good inventory levels. With the absence of real pressure, pricing remains fairly stable but overall pricing has dropped significantly; this is regardless of whether the nickel market moves up or down.
For copper, the situation is not that different. The absence of demand from foundries and mills during the summer holiday period continues, besides the sporadic uptick left or right. Buyers for copper are in the market one day but are gone the next. Discounts have widened owing to weaker demand.
As with other metals, the driver behind this lack of demand is the struggling automotive industry which is faced with many hurdles. Some brass mills have stopped the intake of lead-bearing brass scrap too.
Against this background, everyone on the copper trading side is probably trying to track the progress of Aurubis’ acquisition of the Metallo Group - an example of the continuing trend towards consolidation within the European industry.
Metallo Belgium N.V., Board Member of the BIR Non-Ferrous Metals Division