NEW YORK Molybdenum prices in the domestic market have softened as spot activity has slowed.
"Its dead or dread at the moment, depending on how you want to look at it," one trader said.
Sources expressed some surprise at the slowing spot market after steel capacity utilization rates recently hit a three-and-a-half-year high (AMM, April 15).
"The only way I can explain it is that producers expanded their capacity since the downturn and consumers can just go back to their contract supplier for more volumes," a second trader said.
"I think consumers might have overbought in the first quarter," the first trader added. The spot market was said to be very active early in the year, driven largely by stainless mills looking for more material (AMM, Feb. 6).
Molybdic oxide is now trading between $14.10 and $14.30 per pound compared with $14.20 to $14.40 previously, while ferromolybdenum has held up somewhat better, only falling 5 cents at both ends to $16.20 to $16.35 per pound from $16.25 to $16.40 per pound.
"Ferromoly(bdenum) seems to be in a little tighter supply," the first trader noted.
Prices have been steady around the $14-per-pound mark for oxide and about $16 per pound for ferromolybdenum since early this year. Oxide traded around $17 per pound and ferromolybdenum around $19 per pound during the same period a year ago, even as steel capacity utilization rates were almost 7 percentage points lower.