Despite concern that planned Midwest auto production cutbacks will eventually ripple into aluminum scrap markets, current pricing is generally flat. One smelter trimmed its price on mixed low-copper clips, but boosted old aluminum sheets and aluminum casts; while a seller in the Southeast reported prices generally up a penny. The across-the-board shifts in pricing were absent.

One factor cushioning markets against a price drop is that despite the headline-making auto production cutbacks, the automarkers are no longer the behemoths they once were. Inertia also plays a part in the current flat pricing. August traditionally is a quiet period, without ferocious bargaining.

At some yards, high prices for stainless steel scrap are pushing aluminum activity into the shadows. Some smelters are likely sitting on their hands for strategic reasons. Cutting aluminum scrap prices in a potentially weak ingot market can drag down the negotiated value of aluminum alloy.

AMM’s smelter buying prices show no change for mixed low-copper clips at 78 to 79 cents a pound or for old aluminum sheets and aluminum casts at 72 to 74 cents a pound.

American Metal Market August 24, 2006