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Ni-Based Stainless Steel Prices Surge In Asia; Inquiries Border On Peak Levels
Transaction prices of nickel-based stainless CR sheets are surging in Asia, mainly in China. They have advanced by US$200-300/ton for the past one week. Stainless steel users have made active inquiries to stainless steel mills in various nations under the conclusion that prices of Ni-based stainless CR sheets have bottomed out after an upswing in LME nickel prices. As a result, the existing inquiries border on peak levels in the past.

Japan's stainless steel producers have responded with resumed offers of Ni-based CR sheets for export. Also, they stay selective in the export deals they negotiate while expecting a more advance in transaction prices.

LME nickel prices stood at US$4.30/lb April 1. But they rose to US$4.80/lb April 8 and to US$5.60/lb April 14. China's Wuxi market for stainless steel has reacted sensitively with a continued surge. The Wuxi market stood at Yn15,100/ton (US$2,200) after tax April 1 for Ni-based CR sheets of 2mm thick. Then, the Wuxi market moved up to Yn18,700/ton (US$2,750) after tax late last week, indicating an increase of as much as Yn3,600 (US$529) during last week. The increase translates into a surge of Yn4,500/ton (US$662) for Ni-based CR sheets of 0.5mm thick.

Among China's major stainless steel manufacturers, Taiyuan Iron & Steel Group Co (Tisco) reduced the price of Ni-based CR sheets March 31 by Yn400 (US$59) to Yn15,400/ton after tax. Then, Tisco raised the price by Yn200 April 7 and by Yn500 (US$74) April 14 to Yn16,400/ton (US$2,412) after tax. As a result, the Wuxi market went beyond Tisco's asking price after a long time. Tisco is expected to announce its quotation soon for the renewal this week, in which an increase of around Yn2,300/ton (US$338) is forecast. Meanwhile, the Wuxi market indicates an increase of Yn300 (US$44) so far for chromium-based stainless CR sheets, but the increase is seen as none of a solid one.

Transaction prices of Ni-based stainless CR sheets began to fall in Asia from May last year. At the time, it was uncertain how far they would come down. Since then, various users have limited their purchases to immediate requirements. At present, both stainless steel distributors and users have little or no inventory of Ni-based CR sheets. Therefore, various users have turned eager to take what they require now that prices of Ni-based CR sheets are thought to have bottomed out. Some of them have placed orders for 1,000 tpm this time, way up from a usual contract volume of around 300 tpm. Others, who marked time until recently, have made inquiries for 500 tpm. The inquired quantities for the past one week are comparable to peak levels in the past, according to market sources.

To those inquiries, Japan's stainless steel producers have responded with resumed offers of Ni-based CR sheets for export. On offer is a price increase of US$200 to US$2,200/ton C&F. The Japanese steelmakers favor taking orders piecemeal in anticipation of a more advance in transaction prices.

By comparison, Taiwan's stainless steel producer Yieh United Steel Corp (Yusco) has executed a price increase of US$200-300/ton for the past two week in its exports of Ni-based CR sheets. South Korea's integrated steelmaker Posco, too, has put a similar price increase into effect in its exports of Ni-based stainless CR sheets. Still, it is understood that both Yusco and Posco are poised to respond with order intakes in small quantities to any inquiries.

The world's demand for Ni-based stainless CR sheets in 2009 is reported as less by 30% than the level of 2007. At present, various users' inquiries to take what they need are intended to build an appropriate level each of inventory for Ni-based stainless CR sheets. But there are signs that their orders for new supplies have yet to become what will meet actual demand. In China, the demand season for Ni-based stainless CR sheets sets in after May Day. Accordingly, it is a matter of attention how things will go in China and elsewhere from mid-May.
last modified : Mon 27 Apr, 2009 [10:48]
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