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Ferrochrome prices continue to fizzle

Keywords: Tags  High-carbon ferrochrome, price trends, imports, supply/demand balance, spot market, contract business, supply overhang, Thorsten Schier

NEW YORK — High-carbon ferrochrome prices continue to soften as suppliers chase diminishing spot business with no signs of any impending tightness in supply.

"There seem to be a lot of willing sellers out there," a consumer source said.

Spot transactions remain slow over the traditionally quiet summer months as stainless mills are seeing a dearth of service center buying brought on by declining nickel prices.

"There is just no volume at the moment," a producer source said.

Prices are now between $1.11 and $1.13 per pound, down from $1.12 to $1.15 per pound the prior week, and are trending toward lows last seen in January.

Spot sales for truckload volumes were made within the material grades AMM tracks this past week, while intertrade offers were reported as low $1.10 per pound. Higher-quality material outside of AMM’s grade specifications is still said to be trading at a premium to the current range, sources said.

The fall in prices comes as the domestic market is well-supplied, even though less material has made its way here in the first five months of the year than in 2011, U.S. Customs figures show. Year-to-date imports through May total 237,982 tonnes, down 15.9 percent from 282,993 tonnes in the year-ago period. Even so, sources said there was still an overhang of material shipped in last year.

"There’s more than enough material here. A lot of it is committed on contract deals, but the producers always bring a little bit extra for spot," a second trader said.

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