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Prices of CR Austenitic Stainless Sheets Hold at around $2,400 CFR
Although the LME nickel price comes close to the level dipping below $6 per pound, prices of cold-rolled (CR) austenitic stainless steel sheets in the Asian region hold at around $2,400 CFR. It is the usual case that panic sale comes out from each country but such case cannot be found this time for the time being. Meantime, the Japanese mills consider that prices of stainless sheets to SUS304 are not the level to be able to get orders and have focused on sale of those to SUS316, dual phase stainless steel sheets and those to specific steel grades owned by each mill.

In July this year when the LME nickel price became $6.10 and was thought to fall below the level of $6 per pound if this went on, prices of CR austenitic stainless sheets dropped to $2,200 CFR. It was concerned that it became the situation for those prices to drop again drastically this time too. However, cheap prices have not been floated around from Korea, Taiwan and so on. In case of POSCO, the appreciated won seems to become a factor to prevent its reduction of prices. If this level of prices goes on, a price recovery will be expected.

Usually, the cheapest price of nickel is recorded in November. It falls on the account closing month in December in the Asian countries starting with China and Europe. Accordingly, as customers reduce their inventory of CR austenitic stainless sheets, the nickel price drops naturally. And, it is usual that both prices of nickel and CR austenitic stainless sheets fall.

There is a possibility that it follows the similar pattern this year too. Considering such situation, if prices hold to drop, it seems to be soon for prices of CR austenitic stainless sheets to recover as there is a factor for the balance of supply and demand to become tightened hereafter in Asia.

It is because Korea's POSCO is said to be planning to make a large-scale periodic maintenance of austenitic stainless sheet production facilities and equipment from February next year till July. During this period, the company is reported to stop its operation of annealing furnaces and repair them. Its production capacity of hot-rolled (HR) austenitic stainless sheets is 2 million tons a year, and that of CR austenitic stainless sheets is 600 thousand tons a year.

Its production decrease during the works is said to be 80 thousand tons for CR sheets and 200 thousand tons for HR coils. Such HR coils are supplied to domestic rerolling mills, and they are said to be concerned about the possibility that its production decrease becomes not only 200 thousand tons but also 400 thousand tons. In any case, there is a possibility for POSCO to disappear from the export market in the 1st half of next year. If so, it is certain that the balance of supply and demand becomes tightened more than at present.

In Europe and the USA, the European and US mills raised their base prices by 50 EUR and $77 per ton respectively each in August and October. There is a viewpoint that their price increase in August was penetrated while that in October fell through. Meantime, the surcharge was raised by 29 EUR in Europe and by $52 in the USA respectively for December shipment. Without moving in tandem with fluctuations of the nickel price, prices of CR sheets have not fallen.

Taiyuan Iron & Steel (TISCO) of China has not set out its domestic prices for December shipment yet as of 25th. According to an observation of the market, the company reduces its prices but as the market does not change much, there is a possibility for the company to leave its prices unchanged. If TISCO maintains the current prices, it is expected that price recovery of CR austenitic stainless steel sheets in Asia is accelerated earlier.
last modified : Fri 29 Nov, 2013 [15:37]
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