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‘Less attractive price environment’ looms for stainless scrap

Global – Stainless scrap values are currently ‘on the high side relative to primary raw materials’ and so there is ‘a high probability of a less attractive price environment during the third and fourth quarters’, concludes Joost Van Kleef, chairman of the BIR world recycling organisation’s stainless steel & special alloys committee.

Writing in the committee’s latest Mirror market summary, he describes the first six months of this year as ‘challenging’ for the recycling industry, not least because of ‘significant price volatility’. The second half of 2017 is expected to be even more difficult, partly because China ‘is again exporting its oversupply of stainless’.

During the second quarter, stainless steel mills’ demand for scrap was on a general downtrend in China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. At the same time, many of Asia’s stainless scrap suppliers are facing high material costs ‘and are in no rush to sell at a loss’, it is reported.

In India, meanwhile, the GST tax reform triggered a slowdown in trade this June but the country’s stainless steel scrap imports showed signs of improvement in July, with further growth anticipated for August. That said, domestic mills are under pressure to lower prices for their finished products and therefore have been ‘conservative’ in their scrap purchasing activities.

Elsewhere, order books for US stainless mills are reported to be ‘good and holding’ while the nation’s imports of finished materials are continuing to fall, ‘leading to anticipation of increased US product demand come the end of the summer period and into the fourth quarter’. However, margins against current supply commitments are described as ‘limited at best’.

This article is based on the latest World Mirror on Stainless Steel & Special Alloys produced by the BIR world recycling organisation for the benefit of its members.

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