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United Kingdom

Regarding the LME, the very start of 2024 was consistent with the end of 2023. The UK market experienced a strong December and many merchants purchased quantities of stock for export in the new year. However, market prices fell within the first week, leading to tentative trading conditions and prompting many merchants to hold on to stock while waiting for a higher LME. And while writing this report, an increase in the LME has had the positive effect of more offers of non-ferrous.

Security problems in the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden have also affected the market. Freight rates from the UK to India and the Far East have risen by almost 70% owing to shipments being directed around Africa. In addition to impacting pricing and sales of material to these regions, shipments made in the latter part of 2023 have been taking longer than originally expected to reach their destinations, in some cases affecting cash-flow and therefore purchasing power.

As a result of the difficulties with container exports, European markets have become more attractive for the UK. Despite the shipping problem, the positive news is that there still seems to be a demand for all grades of non-ferrous out of the UK. 

Elections in the UK and the USA during 2024 could lead to more uncertainty in trading conditions although there are still hopes that, after a sticky start, we can look forward to a positive year in the trade.