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United Kingdom

Twenty million people in the UK are now fully vaccinated against COVID and 36 million have had their first dose. More restrictions were lifted on May 17, allowing restaurants, pubs, cinemas and bars to finally reopen. Office staff and traders are steadily beginning to quit their home offices and return to their pre-COVID workplaces.

Non-ferrous prices are extremely competitive in the UK as more merchants attempt to expand their businesses by purchasing new equipment such as shredders and granulators or starting to export material directly.

The record-breaking LME copper price did not encourage any new material into this tight market. Recent volatility and price fluctuations have left traders struggling to set their daily prices and most are now sending out their price lists later in the day. There is still strong demand from Chinese and Far East markets, and the margins have not widened as would normally be expected with such a significant price rise. Some days, Indian buyers have been reluctant to quote for copper and brass owing to the market volatility.

There is still strong demand from India for certain aluminium grades, in particular alloy wheels. UK traders and merchants are still shipping to India despite concerns over the rapid rise in COVID cases there. Demand from UK aluminium consumers is also strong.

Demand and supply of lead within the UK has remained stable, with little movement in the market.

The January increase in transportation costs to Europe has remained in place owing to the additional paperwork burden, but few real problems are being reported. In general, the choice by UK merchants and traders of where to sell is now dependent on the quality of the material rather than the price.