NEW YORK Stainless steel distributors continue to be
conservative with their buying as demand remains tepid and
stainless surcharges look set to trend down again.
"Were not going out for more than we need. Were
certainly not looking at it and going, Were going
to load up here. It doesnt bode well for the
mills bookings in December," one Midwest distributor
A southern distributor source agreed, noting that continued
sluggishness in stainless demand was also keeping his
purchasing to a minimum. "Ive never seen it as quiet in
October. Its usually a bang-up month," he said.
Stainless surcharges rose for October and November following
a nickel price spike in September, but the base metal has since
fallen, with the cash contract ending the official session on
the London Metal Exchange at $16,150 per tonne ($7.33 per
pound) Friday, down 12.6 percent from $18,480 per tonne ($8.38
per pound) a month ago.
With nickel on the decline, it is likely that
Decembers stainless surcharges will be lower than those
for November, encouraging some would-be buyers to sit out for
According to market sources, grade 304 cold-rolled sheet is
now being sold for $1.36 per pound f.o.b. mill, up 2.3 percent
from $1.33 per pound a month ago mainly due to the higher
Most sources said base prices had been steady lately, albeit
at low levels, although some suspected discounts were available
for larger orders as mills look for bookings in a slow
"I didnt have any tons to shop for in November, but
people have called to see if we were buying anything," a second
Midwest distributor said.
Offers from foreign mills are also said to be more frequent
as stainless demand has slowed globally.
"Prices are going to be diluted by the fact that
theres so little demand and so many people trying to sell
it here," the southern distributor said, adding that he had
recently been offered a large volume of inventoried material
from an Asian stainless producer.