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Stainless steel scrap in a deep depression

Global – Recent weeks have brought further steep declines in stainless steel scrap prices amid some of the toughest market conditions seen in a long time.

Since the start of October, the price range for the 304 grade has slid from US$ 1410-1460 per tonne to US$ 1280-1330 while the 316 quality has dropped from US$ 2040-2090 to US$ 1890-1940 owing to a continuing absence of demand from the mills. As regards chrome scrap, both 409 and 430 material have shed US$ 50 to reach, respectively, US$ 300-340 and US$ 400-440 per tonne.

Most traders are now said to have abandoned any realistic hope of an improvement in market conditions before the end of the year. LME Week participants expressed bullish long-term views on nickel, based on the assumption that Indonesia would continue to enforce its ore export ban.

But for the moment, it is clear that fundamentals are weak, with stainless steel demand subdued and nickel supply very abundant. According to the International Nickel Study Group, production of the metal could reach 1.93 million tonnes this year and consumption 1.92 million tonnes. Nickel output and consumption are both being estimated at 1.97 million tonnes for 2015.

The full nickel & stainless market report will appear in Recycling International’s November 2014 issue.

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