Stainless MMI: Index declines for first time in five months

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The Stainless Monthly Metals Index (MMI) fell by 1.9% for this month’s reading.

October 2021 Stainless MMI chart

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Base price and surcharge increases

North American Stainless (NAS) increased 304, 304L and 316L effective Oct. 1 by reducing the discount by two points. For 304, this is an increase of approximately $0.0350/lb.

NAS increased 430 and other 200 and 300 series by reducing the discount by three points. Non-430 ferritics will increase by $0.04/lb, which makes for a total increase in 2021 of $0.31/lb.

Furthermore, alloy surcharges are increasing in October. NAS’ October alloy surcharge for 304 is $1.0641/lb, a decrease of $0.0038/lb compared to September.

U.S. imports

U.S. stainless steel imports decreased by 6.7% from a value of $343.6 million to $320.5 million, according to US Census Bureau data from July to August.

While most forms of stainless steel imports declined, wire rods imports nearly doubled. Imports jumped by 57.6% to a value of $4.4 million during the same period.

Stainless steel wire rod is mostly used to manufacture stainless steel wire, which has a wide range of usage due to its non-corrosive attribute. Stainless steel wire is used in household appliances in the form of springs and meshes. It is similarly used in food processing products, automobile, aerospace and medical devices.

Nickel prices decline

The power and real estate crisis in China currently is affecting most base metals prices.

LME nickel prices have declined since mid-September as the crisis intensifies, bringing power cuts to stainless steel mills around the country. Low mill production and overall lower manufacturing of durable goods is causing concerns over Chinese economic growth.

Moreover, nickel demand is threatened by the real estate crisis in China. Nickel is mostly used in stainless steel manufacturing, which is widely used in the construction sector.

Nomura Holdings and China International Capital Corp. (CICC) has downgraded its full-year Chinese growth rate estimate to 7.7% from 8.2%. CICC also expects inflation to rise at least 9% in 2021 from a year earlier.

Actual metals prices and trends

The Allegheny Ludlum 304 stainless surcharge declined by 3.6% month over month to $1.07 per pound this month. Meanwhile, the Allegheny Ludlum 316 surcharge declined to $1.57 per pound.

Chinese 316 cold-rolled coil jumped 7.9% to $4,695 per metric ton as of Oct. 1. Similarly, 304 cold-rolled coil climbed by 4.3% to $3,424 per metric ton. Chinese primary nickel dropped by 5.0% to $21,870 per metric ton.

LME three-month nickel price continued to decline, falling by 4.7% to $18,560 per metric ton.

Indian primary nickel increased by 0.4% to $19.70 per kilogram.

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