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Stainless steel business remains sluggish

Global – In line with a softer nickel market over recent weeks, 304 stainless steel scrap prices have slid from US$ 1340-1390 per tonne in late March to US$ 1280-1330 a month later while 316 values have suffered under the influence of molybdenum weakness and have dropped over the same time period from US$ 1800-1850 to US$ 1700-1750.

However, a firmer steel scrap market has prompted an increase in chrome scrap values, with 409 material edging up to US$ 300-340 per tonne and the 430 quality to US$ 400-440 from, respectively, US$ 290-330 and 390-430.

During the course of April, the nickel market has remained weak and its price registered a new low for this cycle of US$ 12 250 per tonne. Supply remains abundant, as evidenced by still-record LME stock levels, while demand remains subdued against a backdrop of limited restocking and consumers operating on a hand-to-mouth basis.

Delegates at the 40th Stainless Steel Seminar organised by Heinz H. Pariser Alloy Metals & Steel Market Research of Germany were informed that global production growth over the next two years is likely to be lower than the 8%-plus levels recorded of late.

Following stainless steel production of 41.973 million tonnes in 2014 and a projected increase of only 3.9% to 43.598 million tonnes this year, the total for 2016 is being estimated at 45.597 million tonnes, or an increase of 4.6%.

Global stainless steel scrap availability amounted to 9.588 million tonnes in 2014 and is expected to climb 5.5% to 10.12 million tonnes this year, according to Pariser.

*The full version of Recycling International’s latest nickel and stainless steel market analysis will appear in its May 2015 issue.

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