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Nucor move boosts silicomanganese prices

Keywords: Tags  silicomanganese prices, silicomanganese demand, Nucor tender, Daniel Fitzgerald

NEW YORK — Silicomanganese spot prices have ticked up and may continue to strengthen over the course of 2013, traders say, as steelmaker Nucor Corp. has finalized its "request for quote."

AMM's Silicomanganese prices moved up to a range of 53 to 57 cents per pound from 52 to 56 cents.

Market sources told AMM that Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor booked business in a wide range from 52 cents per pound for "bottom barge" material in the South to as high as 62 cents per pound, although one trader said this was for deliveries comprising "a fair amount of freight."

"There was an enormous spread depending on where the delivery was," he said.

The same trader said Nucor opted to book material for four of its mills for only the next two quarters rather than through the end of 2013, as it did for the remainder of the mills covered by the request for quote.

"(Those mills are) still banking that some of the higher prices they see now are going to come off," he said. "But all of the other mills booked through the end of the year, which indicates there is still an expectation that prices are going to firm up."

One consumer source said that each Nucor mill covered in the request for quote "was able to choose if they wanted to participate and for how long, from one quarter through to the balance of the year."

Several traders said that with the majority of volume believed to have traded at a higher rate than previously published prices, silicomanganese prices were likely to rise further in 2013.

"To me, Nucor has always been a good indicator of demand. To see them react in the way they did—taking higher prices for the long term—is a clear indication that they expect prices will move up," the first trader said. "It indicates that those 52-cent-per-pound numbers aren’t ‘about’ anymore, and that’s in line with everyone’s expectations as well. I don’t think it will go far beyond the low-60s level, and will settle in the mid- to high 50s."

Nucor representatives could not be reached for comment.

"I would imagine we’ll see silicomanganese prices go on the rise in the U.S.," a second trader said, adding that "nobody is going to ship to the U.S. as long as pricing is depressed, and there’s a shortage developing."

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