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European stainless flats prices under pressure

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Weakening nickel prices and end-user reluctance to conclude any new business have started weighing on European domestic prices for flat-rolled stainless steel, market sources told Metal Bulletin on Thursday May 3.

“People are tending to wait,” one trader said.

Last week’s base price offers and deals for grade 304 cold-rolled stainless sheet in 2mm gauge were unchanged from the previous weeks at €1,130-1,200 ($1,485-1,577) per tonne delivered, sources said.

While the June alloy surcharge on stainless flats did not reflect as steep a decline as originally expected, due to higher chromium prices, there is renewed concern about which way it is likely to move for July after the base metal’s prices started weakening late last week.

“My main concern is often nickel,” a second trader said.

The London Metal Exchange’s daily official price was $17,470-17,475 per tonne on Thursday, reflecting a 4.7% decrease from $18,325-18,330 on Friday April 27.

Falling prices in East Asia are also putting pressure on European prices, the second trader said.

One Italian producer is offering stainless sheet from an East Asian producer to the European market at less than €1,000 per tonne delivered, sources also confirmed.

The material on offer is not premium quality, however, the second source warned.

“You are comparing apples with pears,” the second source added.

The poor demand and depressed stainless scrap prices have already affected bright bar values, sources also noted.

Offers for Grade 304 stainless bar for July rolling are now about €1,050-1,100 per tonne delivered, down €50 from €1,100-1,150 for June production, sources also told Metal Bulletin.

Import prices for 18/8 stainless scrap solids on Friday were €1,460-1,490 cif main European port a widening from €1,470-1,480 in the previous week.

Christopher Rivituso
crivituso@metalbulletin.com

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