Skip to main content

Eastern Europe

At the time of writing, Poland has administered over 14 million COVID vaccine doses. Assuming that every person needs two doses, this equates to the vaccination of approximately 18.8% of the country’s population, which represents significant progress over recent months but is still way behind the EU target of 70%. The average number of new infections reported each day has fallen by more than 9500 over the last three weeks to 34% of its previous peak.

The situation is also improving in Russia, with new cases at only 28% of the peak number and 22 million vaccine doses administered, equivalent to 7.8% of the population. A modified single-shot Sputnik V Light vaccine has been introduced in the spring and is supposed to help cover a larger percentage of the population.

Although vaccination roll-out is proceeding quite strongly, public gatherings such as at theatre performances, concerts and trade shows are mostly still prohibited in the EU part of Eastern Europe. However, this does not apply to Belarus or Russia where one of the largest metal recycling conventions was held offline in mid-April.

The copper rally has been at the front and centre of market participants’ attention of late, with the LME price exceeding its best-ever levels. This has kept scrap yards busy and has stimulated red metal flows, although supply is still lagging behind demand. Some are being tempted to hold on to available inventory in the hope of even higher LME levels, especially smaller companies with weaker hedging practices.

The negative side is that higher prices and margin calls are putting additional pressure on companies’ finances, with the same volumes requiring more working capital. On a larger scale, building and infrastructure projects risk outstripping their budgets, with supply chains disrupted by higher raw material prices.

The stainless market in Russia is also booming. Traditionally, the first two quarters of the year are the peak time for government military contracts, so buying is very strong on the local market and little activity can be seen in the export of stainless scrap.