As Monthly Stainless Steel Price Index Falls, Forecast for the Metal Cools

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The stainless steel price index took the biggest hit this month, falling 7.1 percent from 98 in February to 91 in March, on the back of significant price drops for nickel.

Some analysts, including those from MEPS, have forecast weak stainless prices over the next few months, but overall 2013 price improvements. The forecast comes about as a result of weak domestic demand and overcapacity.

“In falling markets, buyers tend to wait until the last minute to make purchases to take advantage of the latest lowest price,” said Lisa Reisman, managing editor of MetalMiner, “and though LME nickel has bobbled around in recent days, this caution on behalf of buyers may have the effect of limiting stainless steel price rises in the near term.”

European demand has softened while nickel inventories have increased, all leading to more sluggish price support for nickel.

Organizations such as MAPI (Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation) have forecast only a modest 3 percent growth rate for the household appliance market, a large end-market for stainless steel.

Primary Price Drivers of Stainless Index

The 3-month price of nickel declined 9.2 percent on the LME over the month to $16,755 per metric ton. Also on the LME, the nickel spot price closed the month at $16,705 per metric ton after dropping 9.1 percent. The price of Chinese primary nickel fell 8.2 percent over the past month to $18,961 per metric ton.

Chinese 304 stainless steel scrap prices dropped by 3.8 percent this month to $2,844 per metric ton. The price of Chinese 304 stainless coil fell 3.8 percent to $2,844 per metric ton. Chinese 316 stainless coil fell 1.9 percent to $4,258 per metric ton. Hovering around $2,683 per metric ton for the month, Chinese 316 stainless steel scrap remained relatively unchanged.

The Allegheny Ludlum 304 stainless surcharge closed the month at $0.81 per pound after gaining 3.3 percent. The Allegheny Ludlum 316 stainless surcharge closed the month up 2.1 percent at $1.14 per pound.

The price of Chinese ferro-chrome dropped very slightly over the past month, ending up at $1,334 per metric ton. The price of Chinese ferro-moly also drifted down a tiny bit, ending at $23,299 per metric ton.

The Stainless MMI® collects and weights 14 global stainless steel and raw material price points to provide a unique view into stainless steel price trends over a 30-day period. For more information on the Stainless MMI®, how it’s calculated or how your company can use the index, please drop us a note at: info (at) agmetalminer (dot) com.