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Sting in the tail for stainless in 2015

Global – Nobody in the stainless steel sector will be sad to see the back of this year. Market participants had not expected a further decline in stainless steel scrap prices before the end of the year but falling nickel values produced a different outcome.

The 304 grade saw its value plummet from US$ 1000-1050 per tonne at the time of Recycling International’s late-October report to US$ 890-940, while 316 retreated over the same period from US$ 1310-1360 to US$ 1200-1250.

Chrome scrap prices also suffered, with 409 material sliding from US$ 250-290 to US$ 200-240 per tonne and the 430 quality dropping from US$ 350-390 to US$ 300-340. Nickel prices have left the US$ 10 000 per tonne mark way behind.

Although more than half of nickel producers are believed to be losing money based on cash costs of production, the output cuts required to address the market oversupply have been few in number outside of China.

According to the latest information from the International Nickel Study Group, the market was in surplus to the tune of 55 700 tonnes by the end of the third quarter. Although nickel stocks in LME warehouses are still abnormally high at around 412 000 tonnes, the volume has fallen by over 40 000 tonnes in the past six weeks.  

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

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